Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Bite 41: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce - View from the Window at Gras, 1826

View from the Window at Gras, 1826
The first 'photograph'. Although controversially regarded so, Niépce's View from the Window at Gras is none-the-less widely seen as the earliest existing photographic image.

The technology for the recording and fixing of light - through the invention of the camera obscura and the discovery of light sensitive silver halide - existed for many years prior to this image being created. Here Niépce brings the two discoveries together - one chemical, the other optic.

Taken from an upstairs window of his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône by an eight hour exposure - light can be seen on opposing buildings - the grainy image can only be seen with intense manipulation and an increase in contrast. Then a blurry landscape emerges. 

Taken as an experiment, Niépce surely had no full comprehension of how radical this breakthrough was, how world changing the birth of this medium would become.