I took a photography class in High School, which afforded me the distinct honor of earning my first and only F- (Thanks Mr. Sally). Out of everything I didn't learn, the only thing I vaguely remember about that class was the time the origin of photography was discussed, coincidentally, at the same time while I was desecrating my Pee Chee folder.
One of the few things I actually miss about High School.
If I may get a little Paul Rudd from Anchorman, from what a recall, some guy who was... like a Chemist (or something), left a plate of chemicals on his windowsill. When he came back the next day, there was a faint image of the buildings from across the street on the plate once the chemicals settled.
How that probably went down.
Boom! Next thing you know, photography was born. Or not. I don't know. I tried to research the validity of my hazy recollection and couldn't find one story that supported this occurrence. What I did learn is that there were two different men whose combined experiences contributed greatly to the birth of photography. Which probably mutated into a single, poorly recollected, story as it seeped it's way into my thick teenage skull.
Above we see View from the Window at Le Gras captured by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Taken in 1826, this is credited as being the first permanently fixed image. Originally starting as an attempt to create reproductions of drawings, Joseph began experimenting with light sensitive materials. Using a modified Camera Obscura (Latin for "dark chamber") fitted with a plate coated in Bitumen of Judea (a naturally occurring asphalt which hardens in proportion to its exposure to light), Joseph used this method, which he referred to as "heliography", to capture the view outside his second floor window. After an 8 hour exposure, he washed the image in a chemical mixture of lavender oil and white petroleum. After which, only the hardened areas of Bitumen on the plate remained.
Boulevard du Temple, with Unicorn by Louis Daguerre
Three years later, Louis Daguerre, a french artist/physicist joined forces with Niépce in an effort to drastically reduce the 8 hour exposure process required for heliography. After leaving a silver spoon ontop of an iodized silver plate, Louis noticed the shape/design of the spoons shadow was transferred to the silver plate after it was exposed to light.
With Niépce passing in 1833, Louis pressed on, eventually developing a more advanced process. He discovered that he could capture a faint image by exposing silver coated copper plates for a shorter period of time, then develop it into a more distinct visible image with the use of chemicals. Naming this process after himself, Daguerreotype became the first public/commercial photography process in history.
While there were many other occurrences, instances, inventions, and happy accidents to take place before and after the experiments of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce & Louis Daguerre, the fortitude and ingenuity of these two men allowed those of us born 200 years later to enjoy a multitude of societal advances through photography... such as the belfie.
The only picture of sweet delicious buns I can post that WONT get me fired.