Most Ancient Historical Photographs

For times immemorial, people have tried to reproduce their surroundings into pictures of their own. They have used techniques of paintings, carving and sculpturing and for years images have been projected onto surfaces. Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Chinese and Greek philosophers described a pinole camera. But it was until Ibn – al – Haytham (965 – 1040) a Muslim scientist made significant contributions to the principles of optics and invented the camera obscura which is a prototype of today’s modern camera. While this early prototype may have had modest usage in its time, it was an important step in the evolution of the invention.

1.  Earliest Known Photograph [1825]

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Earliest known, surviving heliographic engraving in existence, made by Nicéphore Niépce in 1825 by the heliography process. His illustration is of an etching printed from a metal plate that was etched following alteration of the ground by sunlight; the image is of a 17th Century Flemish engraving showing a man leading a horse.

2. The First Photograph Ever Taken “View from the Window at Le Gras” [Circa, 1826]

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The first permanent photograph (later accidentally destroyed) was an image produced in 1822 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. His photographs were produced on a polished pewter plate covered with a petroleum derivative called bitumen of Judea. View from the Window at Le Gras (La cour du domaine du Gras) was the first successful permanent photograph, created by Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. Niépce captured the photo with a camera obscura focused onto a sheet of 20 × 25 cm oil-treated bitumen. As a result of the 8-hour exposure, sunlight illuminates the buildings on both sides.

3. The First Photograph of a Human ”Boulevard Du Temple” [Paris, 1838]

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Boulevard du Temple, taken by Louis Daguerre in late 1838, was the first-ever photograph of a person. It is an image of a busy street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the city traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is a man in the bottom left corner, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show up in the picture.

4. The First Light Picture and Human Potrait Ever Taken [Oct,Nov 1839]

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Robert Cornelius, self-portrait, Oct. or Nov. 1839, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype which is a procedure invented in 1839 using silver on a copper plate. The back reads, “The first light picture ever taken.” This self-portrait is the first photographic portrait image of a human ever produced.

5. Roger Fenton’s Photographic Van [1855]

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Roger Fenton (20 March 1819 – 8 August 1869) was a pioneering British photographer, one of the first war photographers. In 1855 Fenton went to the Crimean War on assignment for the publisher Thomas Agnew to photograph the troops, with a photographic assistant Marcus Sparling and a servant and a large van of equipment. Despite high temperatures, breaking several ribs, and suffering from cholera, he managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives. An exhibition of 312 prints was soon on show in London.

6. Phineas Gage (Around 1850)

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A daguerreotype image believed to be of railway worker Phineas Gage holding a tamping iron that went through his head during an explosion on a worksite in 1848. Phineas P. Gage (July 9?, 1823 – May 21, 1860) was a railroad construction foreman now remembered for his incredible survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying one or both of his brain’s frontal lobes, and for that injury’s reported effects on his personality and behavior—effects so profound that friends saw him as “no longer Gage.” Gage recovered from the accident and retained full possession of his reason, but his wife and other people close to him soon began to notice dramatic changes in his personality. Phineas Gage’s brain was not subjected to any medical examination at that time, but seven years later his body was exhumed so his skull could be studied. Today Gage’s skull is on permanent display at Harvard’s Countway Library of Medicine.

7. Bridge of Boats over Indus Attock [SubContinent 1861]

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Attock a part of Pakistan now passed one of the biggest rivers in the world, the Indus connecting the India and Pakistan largest canal system in the world  before the Pakistani Independance.

8. Lahore Fort (Pakistan, 1864)

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The Lahore Fort, locally referred to as Shahi Qila is citadel of the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It is located in the northwestern corner of the Walled City of Lahore. The trapezoidal composition is spread over 20 hectares. It is not known who built the fort and neither is it known when it was built. Origins of the fort go as far back as antiquity, however, the existing base structure was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605), and was regularly upgraded by subsequent rulers, having thirteen gates in all. Thus the fort manifests the rich traditions of Mughal architecture. Its not known who took the photograph but it was one of the finest and first photographs from asia.

9. The Photo of the first Photographic Studio [1893]

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A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a 19th-century photographic studio.

10. First Color Photograph [1861]

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Although color photography was explored throughout the 19th century, initial experiments in color resulted in projected temporary images, rather than permanent color images. Moreover until the 1870s the emulsions available were not sensitive to red or green light.The first color photo, an additive projected image of a tartan ribbon, was taken in 1861 by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell.

11. Lincoln’s Second Inauguration [1865]

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The photo above was originally mislabeled as President Grant’s inauguration ceremony. A curator discovered the photographs while reviewing a log book noticed the caption “Lincoln” in the margins. After careful comparison between the only known photos of the inauguration (just two existed) it was concluded that this photo is actually a crowd scene at Lincoln’s second inauguration. There are two recently discovered photographs of Lincoln but they have not been officially verified. This Photo was discovered this year in a personal album of President Ulysses S. Grant and apparently shows Lincoln in front of the White House.

12. First Subtractive Color Photograph [1872]

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Before the autochrome process was perfect in France, this photograph was taken by Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron who invented the subtractive (cyan, magenta, and yellow) color method of taking photographs. Louis was a French pioneer in color photography and he worked in both subtractive and additive (red, green, and blue) color. This particularly photograph is called “Landscape of Southern France”.

13. First High Speed Photograph [1878]

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In 1887, using a series of trip wires, Eadweard Muybridge created the first high speed photo series which can be run together to give the effect of motion pictures. High speed photography is the science of taking pictures of very fast phenomena. In 1948, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) defined high-speed photography as any set of photographs captured by a camera capable of 128 frames per second or greater, and of at least three consecutive frames.

14. Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan [1888]

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Keller with Anne Sullivan vacationing at Cape Cod in July 1888. The photo was discovered while combing through a large family photo collection that was donated by a New England Historic Genealogical Society member. The photo was taken in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and shows eight-year-old Helen Keller hand in hand with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Both Keller and Sullivan indicated later in their journals that “doll” was the first word Helen Keller learned in sign language in March 1887. This photograph was taken about sixteen months later and is believed to be the only known photograph of Helen Keller holding one of her dolls.

15. First Motion Picture [1888]

This film is the first celluloid film created and it gives us a true look at how people looked and, more importantly, carried themselves. The film only lasts for two seconds but it is enough time to see the characters walking. It was recorded at 12 frames per second by French inventor Louis Le Prince. It was filmed at the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England on October 14 and the people who appear are Adophe Le Prince (Louis’s son), Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley, and Harriet Hartley.

16. Looking Down Sacramento Street, [San Francisco, April 18, 1906]

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Looking Down Sacramento Street, San Francisco, April 18, 1906 is a black and white photograph taken by Arnold Genthe in San Francisco, California on the morning of April 18, 1906 in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. This photograph shows the results of the earth quake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people. It was taken the morning of the first day of the fire. Shows Sacramento St. at Miles Place (now Miller Place) near Powell St.

17. First Autochrome Lumière [1907]

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It is an early color photography process. Patented in 1903 by the Lumière brothers in France and first marketed in 1907. It remained the principal color photography process available until it was superseded by the advent of subtractive color film during the mid 1930s.

18. Only Color Photograph of King Edward VII (1909)

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This recent find could be the only color photograph of King Edward VII. The photograph shows the King in Highland costume enjoying the autumn grouse season in Scotland. The picture is also an autochrome, making it the only autochrome of the King. The picture was found alongside 700 other images from the early 1900s, including this one which is probably the first color photograph of London Zoo, taken in 1909.

19. The Lynching of Young Blacks [Indiana, 1930]

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Lawrence Beitler took this iconic photograph on August 7, 1930, showing the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, two young black men accused of raping a white girl. A mob of 10,000 whites took sledgehammers to the county jailhouse doors to get these men; the girl’s uncle saved the life of a third by proclaiming the man’s innocence. Lynching photos were made into postcards designed to boost white supremacy, but the tortured bodies and grotesquely happy crowds ended up angering and revolting as many as they scared. The photo sold thousands of copies, which Beitler stayed up for 10 days and nights printing them. Ironically, this photo which had become iconic image of lynchings was taken at Marion, Indiana, whereas most of the nearly 5,000 lynchings documented between Reconstruction and the late 1960s were perpetrated in the South. (Hangings, beatings and mutilations were called the sentence of “Judge Lynch.”) The photo was so iconic that it has been the inspiration for many poems, books and songs down the years, “Strange Fruit” by the Jewish poet Abel Meeropol (later sung by Billie Holiday) being the best example.

20. Hitler in Paris [Paris, 1940]

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This photograph was taken of Adolf Hitler visiting Paris with his architect Albert Speer, on June 23, 1940. Hitler’s army had captured Paris and Hitler went to check out his new City.

21. Victory Over Japan (V-J) Day [New York, 1945]

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Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. This The famous LIFE magazine photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945 from V-J Day. The soldier and the nurse are unknown but people have come forward to claim the fame. Apparently the nurse slapped the soldier immediately after. The event was the celebration of the end of the war and it was taken in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

22. Soviet Flag raised above the Reichstag [Berlin, 1945]

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Raising a flag over the Reichstag is a historic photograph taken on May 2, 1945, by Yevgeny Khaldei. It depicts a number of Soviet Troops raising the flag of the Soviet Union atop the German Reichstag building during the Battle of Berlin in World War II. The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. It came to be regarded around the world as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.

The true identities of the men in the picture are shrouded in mystery along with the photographer (Khaldei), who was only identified after the Soviet Union fell. The photograph represented a historic moment; the defeat of Germany in a war that had cost the Soviet Union tens of millions of lives. Celebrated as the image is, it was the reconstruction of a moment that had happened earlier but had been missed by the camera.

23. First Digitally Scanned Photograph [1957]

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The first image scanner ever developed was a drum scanner. It was built in 1957 at the US National Bureau of Standards by a team led by Russell Kirsch. The first image ever scanned on this machine was a 5 cm square photograph of Kirsch’s then-three-month-old son, Walden. The black and white image had a resolution of 176 pixels on a side. Technically, this is the very first digital photograph – all these years later, digital cameras are only just beginning to have the full capabilities of film cameras.

24. Footprint on the Moon [Lunar, 1969]

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On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the rocky Moon. It was the first human footprint on the Moon. This photograph was taken by Buzz Aldrin. It was part of an experiment to test the properties of the lunar regolith. The first footprints on the Moon will be there for a million years.

25. Phan Thị Kim Phúc [Vietnam, 1972]

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Phan Thị Kim Phúc, O.Ont (born 1963) is a Vietnamese-Canadian best known as the child subject of a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph taken during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972. The iconic photo taken in Trang Bang by AP photographer Nick Ut shows her at about age nine running naked on the street after being severely burned on her back by a South Vietnamese napalm attack. Contrary to popular myth, the US Air Force were not involved in the attack, and only two US troops were within 60 mi (97 km) of the scene, neither of whom had any say in the bombings.

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