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World's first photographer astounds scientists
19th Oct 2010
A previously undiscovered method used by the man acknowledged to be the world's first photographer has been unveiled by scientists.
New analysis of three of the finest examples of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's work, part of the national collection of photographs at the National Media Museum in Bradford, has astonished researchers.
The photographs, previously thought to be simple etched plates of pewter, created using a process that involved bitumen, have been revealed to owe their creation to a chemical process not previously discovered, involving baked lavender oil.
The technical analysis, carried out by Dusan Stulik and Art Kaplan at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, has amazed photographers the world over with the pioneering technique.
The revelations shed new light on the early development of photography and raise Niépce's star status even higher. The three images on pewter plates were created by a process Niépce called heliography which he brought to England in 1827.
Dusan Stulik said, “This is something completely new in the history of photography. My eureka moment was finding that the plate was not an etched plate we spent some time not believing what we were seeing.
“Our findings are shining a different light on the early history of photography than has been previously described in literature.
“We can really demonstrate that everything related to photography that surrounds us today digital cameras, film, TV, even 3D and video games go back to his inventions," he added.
Despite being the founding father of photography even Joseph Nicéphore Niépce would be a little out of touch with modern photography and need to brush up on his skills. If you feel you could also use some help, take a look at our beginners photography course? It's easy to follow and written in everyday language with an evident sense of humour.