mid century development

Lichfield’s medieval city seal (devised in 1548) depicts three martyred Christian knights. In the mid-13th century, a legend developed that in around 300AD, a thousand Christians were massacred by a Roman army under orders of the Emperor Diocletian and their bodies left unburied in a place that would become known as the ‘Field of Corpses’ aka Lichfield (from the Old English “lic” - corpse).  However, this legend is unsupported by either archaeological evidence or the cathedral chronicles.

Lichfield, April 2017.

HISTORY MEME → [3/6] Inventions: Photography

The history of photography has roots in remote antiquity with the discovery of two critical principles, that of the camera obscura (darkened or obscured room or chamber) and the fact that some substances are visibly altered by exposure to light, as discovered by observation. As far as is known, nobody thought of bringing these two phenomena together to capture camera images in permanent form until around 1800, when Thomas Wedgwood made the first reliably documented, although unsuccessful attempt. In the mid-1820s, Nicéphore Niépce succeeded, but several days of exposure in the camera were required and the earliest results were very crude.

Niépce’s associate Louis Daguerre went on to develop the daguerreotype process, the first publicly announced and commercially viable photographic process. The daguerreotype required only minutes of exposure in the camera, and produced clear, finely detailed results. It was commercially introduced in 1839, a date generally accepted as the birth year of practical photography. The metal-based daguerreotype process soon had some competition from the paper-based calotype negative and salt print processes invented by William Henry Fox Talbot. Subsequent innovations made photography easier and more versatile. New materials reduced the required camera exposure time from minutes to seconds, and eventually to a small fraction of a second; new photographic media were more economical, sensitive or convenient, including roll films for casual use by amateurs. In the mid-20th century, developments made it possible for amateurs to take pictures in natural color as well as in black-and-white.

The commercial introduction of computer-based electronic digital cameras in the 1990s soon revolutionized photography. During the first decade of the 21st century, traditional film-based photochemical methods were increasingly marginalized as the practical advantages of the new technology became widely appreciated and the image quality of moderately priced digital cameras was continually improved.

Bizarre Victorian fact of the day...

When photography began to take off it captured the public imagination. Throughout the mid-19th century a craze developed for people to have portrait photographs taken of themselves and made into visiting card-sized prints. Such a print was known as a carte de visite or ‘pho’. People exchanged these portraits with family and friends and displayed their collections in specially made albums. As this hobby increased in popularity it became fashionable to collect and trade prints of famous and influential people such as artists, actors, politicians, and royalty.