Little Bits of History

June 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2017

1878: Proof of how a horse runs is captured. Eadweard Muybridge (born Edward James Muggeridge, but changed his to what he believed to be the original Anglo-Saxon form) was born in England in 1830. He came to America at age twenty but returned to England at age 31. He then took up the craft of photography and gained two British patents around the idea of the wet-plate collodion process. He returned to America and took large photographs of the Yosemite Valley which made him world famous. He 1874, he shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns, his wife’s lover, but was acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide. He then traveled in Central America on a photographic expedition. In the 1880s, he created over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion while at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

By filming individual frames of stop action movement, it was possible to see what the eye could not. The movements were disrupted in mid-pose. At speed, the human eye cannot see the flow of the movements. Leland Stanford commission Muybridge to create a series of still photographs of a horse galloping. Stanford was interesting in the exact gait of a moving horse, specifically, if all four hooves were off the ground at one time. He owned a large farm where he bred and trained horses, both Stanardbreds and Thoroughbreds. The former were used for trotting races while the latter where ridden by jockeys. In order to improve their running styles, Stanford needed to know what that was.

During July 1877, Muybridge attempted to learn the four-hoof answer by taking ever sharper images of Occident, one of Stanford’s trotters, running at racing speed gait. He managed to catch a still shot of the horse with all four feet off the ground. However, when the image was sent to the press, it was found the negative had been retouched and it was disqualified. Although retouching was permitted at the time and Muybridge won an award with the picture, the press was not impressed. So on this day, a new experiment was carried out.

Sallie Gardner, a Thoroughbred, was photographed at 1.40 gait (about 36 mph). Muybridge set up 24 cameras, each 27 inches apart from the prior one. The shutters were controlled by trip wires triggered by the horse’s legs. The pictures were taken one twenty-fifth second apart. The series of photographs could then be viewed in rapid succession using a zoopraxiscope and Sallie Gardner did, indeed, have all four hooves off the ground at once. In  1880, the images were projected to a large screen at the California School of Fine Arts and so began the moving picture industry.

In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. – Alfred Stieglitz

Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is. – unknown

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it. – Edward Steichen

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them. – Diane Arbus


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 4, 2013
Kodak camera advertisement

Kodak camera advertisement

September 4, 1888: US patent # 388,850 is issued to George Eastman. He was 34 years old at the time. He had been working as an office boy (to support his widowed mother and sisters) since the age of fourteen. He first became interested in photography at the age of twenty. Taking a picture was awkward in 1874. A glass plate was coated with a liquid emulsion and the picture had to be captured before it dried. Eastman experimented for years and came up with a gelatin emulsion in 1877. He patented it in both the US and in Britain. In 1880, 26-year-old Eastman opened his own photographic business.

He started with his dry photographic plate but even that was too inconvenient. So he next invented something to get rid of the glass plate. The process was greatly simplified in 1884 when his photo-emulsion was spread on to paper rolls. The process of picture taking was now faster and it was possible to record multiple images. But it was still a problem for the average Joe to take pictures. So he then invented a camera to use his rolls of film. He was granted his patent for the camera and film on this day.

He not only received his patent, but got a trademark for the Kodak name. His Kodak Camera would be sent in with a processing fee of $10 (≈ $300 2009 USD) and he would print out the 100 pictures. The customer not only got the prints, but the next roll of 100 exposure film. The early cameras sold for $25 ($750 in 2009) and 100 were sold by 1896. In order to bring photography into the mainstream, Eastman created the Brownie camera which sold for $1 ($30 in 2009) in 1900. The cardboard box camera took 2 ¼ inch square pictures.

Today, Eastman Kodak is still headquartered in Rochester, New York. Antonio M. Perez is the chairman and CEO of the international company. In 2007, revenues were $10.301 billion with $676 million of income. They employed 26,900 people in 2008. The company continues to offer film and printing services. They sell both film and digital cameras. They are committed to imaging innovation and remain a world leader in that respect. They were voted as one of the top twenty companies by an Israeli survey, putting them in the same category with Microsoft, Intel, Google, and other world renowned businesses.

“When you buy a 1/4-inch drill bit, what you really need is a 1/4-inch hole. Clients don’t need photographers, they need photographs.” – Bill Westheimer

“Photography is like making cheese. It takes a hell of a lot of milk to make a small amount of cheese just like it takes a hell of a lot of photos to get a good one.” – Robert Gillis

“Photography is like an open book to the world.” – Lisa Jones

“When photography was invented artists thought that it would bring ruin to art but it is shown that photography has been an ally of art, an educator of taste more powerful than a hundred academies of Design would have been…” – Anonymous Philadelphia Photographer, April 1868

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: While Kodak film and processing came down in price over the years, a new system was also under development. The first attempt at a digital photograph was made in 1975 when Steven Sasson, an engineer with Eastman Kodak, built a camera. It weighed about 8 pounds, recorded only in black and white onto a cassette tape, and had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels (about 10,000 pixels). It took 23 seconds to capture a picture. The first true digital camera which recorded computerized files was a Fuji DS-1P built in 1988. It had a 16 MB internal memory card. The first commercially available digital camera was the 1990 Dycam Model 1. The pixel (picture element) count is the resolution which is the number of dots horizontally multiplied by the dots vertically. A typical resolution would be 1,920,000 pixels in a 1600 x 1200 image. Because old computer screens were 4:3 ratio, our digital pictures maintain this legacy ratio for sizing.

Also on this day: Ginger or Mary Ann? – In 1967, the last Gilligan’s Island show is aired.
Seven Golds – In 1973, Mark Spitz won his seventh Olympic gold medal.
The South – In 1950, the first Southern 500 was held.

Instant Camera

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2010

Polaroid Land Camera, Model 95

November 26, 1948: The first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Model 95, sells for $89.75 ( about $865.00 in 2009 USD) at the Boston, Massachusetts Jordan Marsh department store. The camera produced a 3.25 by 4.25 inch dry print. These early cameras used roll film; in 1963 peel-apart pack film came into use.

The term “photography” was first used in 1839 by John F.W. Herschel, combing the Greek “photo” for light and “graph” for to draw. In the summer of 1827 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took eight hours to produce the first lasting photographic image. By 1839 Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was producing lasting pictures in less than thirty minutes. Daguerreotypes could not be copied, the pictures were one of a kind.

William Henry Talbot invented the negative to positive process in 1841, making it possible to create copies of pictures. Frederick Scott Archer came up with a Collodon process in 1851 that took the time down to 3 seconds for creating a picture. But the negative needed immediate developing. So in 1871, the next step was taken by Richard Leach Maddox and development of the film could be delayed. Celluloid film was brought to market in 1898 by Hannibal Goodwin and mass produced Kodak Brownie cameras came on the scene in 1900. Kodacolor film was introduced by Kodak in 1941.

Polaroid brought the largest patent lawsuit against Kodak on April 26, 1976 citing several patent infringements. Polaroid held many of the patents for the instant photography method. After five years of pre-trial preparation and a 75 day trail, Kodak was found to be in violation concerning 12 patents held by Polaroid. Kodak was forced to remove its camera from the market and could no longer make film for existing cameras. They not only lost the case, but compensated Kodak Instant Camera owners whose cameras were now useless without the film.

“Photograph:  a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams

“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” – Eudora Welty

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Lewis Hine

Also on this day, in 1917 the National Hockey League was founded.

First Tornado Photograph

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2010

First photograph of a tornado

August 28, 1884: Near Howard, South Dakota a tornado is photographed for the first time. The process of taking photographs came to the public in 1839 and was named as such by Sir John Herschel. The first photo was taken in 1827 by Joseph Niépce and required an exposure time of eight hours. Niépce went into partnership with Louis Daguerre and the exposure time was quickly dropped to a mere thirty minutes.

The early process allowed for only one copy of any picture to ever be made. By August 1835, a negative on paper was produced by William Fox Talbot in a process called Calotype. It allowed for many copies of the picture to be made. These first pictures were not quite as nice as Daguerreotypes. However, the less defined pictures was offset by the ability to make copies. In fifteen years, the number of photographic shops more than doubled.

By 1884, the negatives were being made on celluloid or film. Color photos were possible in 1907 when the first color film was introduced. Digital photography was introduced in 1981 when Sony first marketed a camera for the public. That camera saved images to a disk and they were displayed on television screens. The first truly digital camera arrived in 1990 from Kodak.

Warren Faidley bills himself as the first full-time professional storm chaser. Roger Jensen began chasing storms in 1951 and is generally said to be the first storm chaser ever. Storm chasers seek out all types of weather: lightning storms, thunderstorms, hurricanes, fires, blizzards, hail storms, and of course, tornadoes. There was even a movie about this, called appropriately – Twister.

“To photograph is to confer importance.” Susan Sontag

“Every day we have some weather, and yesterday was no exception.” – John Carr

“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.” – Sam Abell

“One of the things about a tornado, it comes so quickly you don’t have time to get in a panic. If you do, you’re probably not in one.” – Mike Huckabee

Also on this day, in 1845 Scientific American begins publication.

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