Mini Project 2 – Photography – History

28 Feb

We have recently been set a Photography task at Uni so I have been doing some research into the techniques and history behind Photography. Although photography can be traced back to 1827 when Joseph Nicephore Niepce took the first known photographic image with a piece of technology called the camera obscura. 


Camera Obscura

Mary Bellis (2014) described the process.

“Niepce placed an engraving onto a metal plate coated in bitumen, and then exposed it to light. The shadowy areas of the engraving blocked light, but the whiter areas permitted light to react with the chemicals on the plate. When Niepce placed the metal plate in a solvent, gradually an image, until then invisible, appeared. However, Niepce’s photograph required eight hours of light exposure to create and after appearing would soon fade away.”

Doing this further research into the history of photography and where it all started was very interesting and I learnt a lot and makes you think about how easy it is to take photos today. We just click away as much as we want and don’t have to worry about how long the whole process takes.

The old history of photography was fascinating however for more relevant content for this brief would be better suited so I set out to learn more about digital photography. The first consumer purchasable digital cameras that where connectable to home computers via serial cable came available from Apple in 1994 and Kodak in 1995 (Bellis, 2014).


Apple Quicktake 100



Kodak DC40

Although Kodak aggressively marketed the idea of digital photography the new technology was available and photography giants such as Canon and Nikon jumped on board and we now have Digital SLRs that are consumer available for professional high quality imagery.

I then wanted to focus on the techniques that have been used throughout history and are still used to this day to help produce a professional still image rather than just a snap-shot. The first technique is the ‘Rule of thirds’ this is the idea that the photo is split into a 3×3 grid and depending on the style of photo you are trying to achieve you can weigh different subjects on different lines or areas (Guy, 2008).


Rule of Thirds

Another technique is line and shape, the three well know line directions that can help guide the viewers eye when looking at a photo are Horizontal, Vertical and Diagonal. For example horizontal lines portray stability, vertical can help emphasise hight, and diagonal lines can be used to show perspective (Busch, 2011).

Shape is another important technique that can be overlooked, the space inside a shape is referred to as +ve and the space outside is -ve. This is important as to make sure you compose the image to make the -ve interesting/there for a reason. I then went on too look at a few more techniques that I shall make sure to always consider when doing this task, these included Balance, Dynamic and Depth.


Guy, N. 2008. The photographer’s dictionary. Crans-Près-Céligny: RotoVision.

Bellis, M. 2014. History of Photography and the Camera. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 26 February 2014].

Stieglitz, M 1996, ‘Photography/Digital Imaging: Comparative Histories’, Exposure (00988863), 30, 3/4, pp. 29-36, Art & Architecture Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 February 2014.

Busch, D. D. 2011. David Busch’s mastering digital SLR photography. Boston, MA: Course Technology PTR.


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