Photography Facts You May Or May Not Know

October 11th, 2020

1. Harry Pointer and His Cat Photo

Cat photos. We've all seen them. Most of us love them. Heck, there's even a ton of funny ones out there. We've seen an influx of these photos in recent years that has also began trending on almost all social media platforms. It's one of the most popular searches on Google, but here's what you might not know. The first cat photo was taken in the 19th Century when Harry Pointer took a photo of his cat. He started by taking photos of his cats in normal poses. Sleeping in a basket, drinking milk and resting. Sometime around 1870, he started posing them in unusual ways. Something that would create humour or that mimicked human activities - a cat riding a tricycle, cats roller-skating and even a cat taking a photograph with a camera. He quickly realized that a cat photograph could be turned into an amusing image by adding a written caption such as Happy New Year. They could turn them into greeting cards and send them to their friends and family.  Who knew the 19th Century held such a gem!?

A Harry Pointer cat photo

2. View From The Window At Le Gras. It's Nearly 200 Years Old.

Joseph Niepce took this photo, almost 200 years ago. It took 8 long hours to capture. It was taken in a place in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France. It is called 'view from the window at Le Gras.' The process used to capture this photo was quite complex. But, simplified, a sensitized plate made of pewter and lightly coated with bitumen. The bitumen hardened in the light areas, but in the dark areas it remained soluble and was washed away with a solution of lavender and white petroleum. It is estimated this photo was taken in 1826 or 1827. This type of "camera" was called a Camera Obscura.  The literal Latin translation meaning "Dark Room." It became the prototype for today's cameras.

Niepce also invented some more well-known inventions you probably heard of. Propellers and boats. Yup. Nothing like a camera. Guess what else? He also invented the first internal combustion engine. He called it the Pyréolophore and he invented it with his brother in 1807.

View From The Window at Le Gras

3. First Colour Image Captured in 1861

Keeping with the first image theme, the first colour image was captured in 1861 by Thomas Sutton with the help of a mathematical physicist Thomas Clerk Maxwell. He was an inventor and photographer who came up with the process. He also created the first SLR camera! He layered 3 separate images of red, green, and blue filters. They were then projected onto photosensitive paper with the appropriate filters.

Sutton also earlier invented the panoramic picture with a wide-angle lens in 1859.

The First Colour Photograph by Thomas Sutton

4. First Digital Camera Invented In 1975

The first digial camera was invented in 1975 by Steven Sasson who worked for Eastman Kodak. It weighed 8lbs. Which is 4x the average weight of today's DSLR's at approx 2lbs.

Steven Sasser's First Kodak Camera

5. Auto-Focus Invented in 1979

The first SLR camera was invented in 1861 by Thomas Sutton shortly after he captured the first colour photograph. It wasn't until over 100 years later when Polaroid finally made an auto-focus feature. They typically get their name from instant cameras and film cameras. But they were the first to invent the auto-focus feature. Minolta then created what would be the standard for the SLR camera.

Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera. First Camera With Auto-Focus

6. Coffee Is A Developer

Coffee can develop black and white images. Caffenol is a real thing. You can use coffee, vitamin c and washing soda to develop your black and white negatives. The coffee and vitamin c creating a binding agent and form a developer. The washing soda is then used as an alkaline in the solution allowing you to develop your images. Mind. Blown!

Coffee, Vitamin C and Washing Soda can be a developer

7. Bliss

The most viewed photograph in history. It's called 'Bliss.' It's the Windows XP background. We all know it. Almost all of us have seen it. It was captured by Charles O'Rear in 1996.

Charles O'Rear's 'Bliss' taken in 1996

8. The No Smile Squad

Old photographs depict scores of people. Grumpy people. People who never smiled. We heard the joke in 'A Million Ways To Die In The West' when they joked about one guy smiling in a photo, to which she proves it later in the movie. Do you know why people never smiled in photos before? We all figured it was because it took so long for the exposure to happen. Thinking 5 or 10 minutes was a long time. Wrong, but somewhat right. It was a long exposure. But it's not what you think. It would take HOURS Often including neck and head braces to keep the pose.

Maybe they were dead people? Some of the most popular photos in the 1800s were of dead people. This was how people recorded a memory and physical appearance for a deceased family member. How weird!

Smiles? Who needs em

9. Your Eye has an F-stop

You eye in light has an F-Stop of F8.3. But it has to be in light. In the dark it has an F-stop of about F2.0.

Bonus Fun Fact

If you stare into someone's eyes for 10 minutes it'll induce and altered state of mental consciousness. In 2015, an Italian psychologist paired 20 people up (15 of them women) to stare at each other for 10 minutes. It was light enough to easily make out features of their partners face but low enough to diminish their overall colour perception. They had strange "out-of-body" experiences. On top of that they had hallucinations of monsters, their relatives, and themselves in their partners faces. More can be found at the link below.

This would be an interesting test to do

10. That's Not A Moon. It's a... Oh Wait, It Is The Moon

The pictures of the Moon were captured by Hasselblad cameras. Twelve of them on different trips to be exact.  They left them there too. They were left to carry the 25kg of moon rock samples they were bringing back because they were so heavy. Hasselblad's phenomenal picture quality was chosen by photography enthusiast and prosective astronaut Walter Schirra. After a strip-down of the 500C and a new film magazine to have 70 exposures instead of 12 and a matte finish to reduce reflections, the Hassleblad went into space in October 1962. This camera captured the first spacewalk in 1965 during the Gemini IV made by Edward White with photos taken by James McDivitt. The following is an excerpt taken from the Hasselblad website about being in space and on the moon along with pictures from Hasselblad and NASA.

"What could be deemed as one of the most iconic moments of Hasselblad in space was when the Apollo 11 mission successfully landed the Eagle on the Moon on 20 July 1969, signifying humanity's first steps off our own planet. A silver Hasselblad Data Camera (HDC) with Réseau plate, fitted with a Zeiss Biogon 60mm ƒ/5.6 lens, was chosen to document the lunar surface and attached to astronaut Armstrong's chest. A second black Hasselblad Electric Camera (HEC) with a Zeiss Planar 80mm ƒ/2,8 lens was used to shoot from inside the Eagle lunar module. The HDC had never been tested in space before, adding to the pressure of this once in a lifetime moment. Would the one Hasselblad camera used to shoot on the lunar surface capture the results everyone was hoping for?

Working perfectly under the extreme conditions of the lunar surface, the HDC produced some of history’s most iconic photographs. After the successful shooting on 21 July 1969, the Hasselblad was hoisted up to the lunar lander with a line. Securely removing the film magazines, both cameras with lenses were left behind on the Moon in order to meet narrow weight margins for successful return.

The journeys home from the Moon made very special demands on what could return regarding weight; from Apollo 11 to the final Apollo 17 mission, a total of twelve camera bodies were left behind on the lunar surface. Only the film magazines containing the momentous images were brought back. The resulting photographs captured the history of humanity in the making."