Astonishing inventions in photography

From Daguerre to spy cameras.

Notre-Dame de Paris et les bords de SeineMusée des arts et métiers

The birth of photography

Between 1820 - 1840, French pioneers Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) and Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) revealed the first viable photographic processes, making photography one of the major inventions of the nineteenth century.

Nadar élevant la photographie à la hauteur de l'ArtMusée des arts et métiers

In 1839, the French National Assembly decided to freely grant the patent to the world.

Inventors and scientists from all walks of life will continue to evolve photography and its uses.

Portrait de DaguerreMusée des arts et métiers

Louis Daguerre, inventor, artist, painter, improves the work of Niépce.

Between 1835 - 1839 he developed the photographic chamber with a drawer for the daguerreotype, known as "dark room".

Daguerreotype camera with drawer (Circa 1835) by Louis Jacques Mandé DaguerreMusée des arts et métiers

Ancestor of the camera, the darkroom consists of two bodies joined by a drawer to ensure the focus.

To take a picture, it is necessary to treat the plate of copper silver, before exposing it to the room.

The unique image that then appears on the plate is then fixed with the help of marine salts.

Les bons bourgeoisMusée des arts et métiers

With the daguerreotype the exposure time was reduced considerably, from several hours to ten minutes.

New processes are being developed to help models standing in front of the camera stay perfectly immobile.

Croquis parisiens : "poses gracieuses"Musée des arts et métiers

Probably uncomfortable, they are essential to obtain "graceful poses", as mentioned in this caricature of Honoré Daumier.

Touriste' view camera (1881) by Ernest Théophile EnjalbertMusée des arts et métiers

Photography and tourism

In 1880, Ernest Théophile Enjalbert filed a patent for a dark room called "Le Touriste", whose "chassis-box" can contain several plates. With this device, it was no longer necessary for photographers to process and develop plates themselves, instead this could be entrusted to a professional. This invention accompanies the development of tourism at the end of the 19th century.

Tricycle photographiqueMusée des arts et métiers

Tourism and photography reveal a common and reciprocal interest.

This gave rise to new inventions... this "photographic tricycle for tourists" developed by Mr. D. Rudge and Co., in order to combine bike tourism and landscape photography.

La photographie dans les voyages d'explorationMusée des arts et métiers

The multiple uses of the photographs are listed in journals and books of the time, such as "The wonders of photography", published by the Hachette et Cie Bookstore in 1874.

Fusil chronophotographiqueMusée des arts et métiers

First burst photographs

In 1882, the physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), was interested in photography in the perspective of decomposing and analyzing the movements of the living body. He developed a camera adapted to a modified traditional rifle, allowing him to take continuous photographs with his invention, the chronophotographic rifle.

Chronophotographic view made with Chronophotographic gun "Bird in flight" (1880/1888) by Étienne Jules MareyMusée des arts et métiers

Its sensitive circular plates would rotate inside a kind of large barrel, and could capture twelve successive photos in series.

Vol d'oiseauMusée des arts et métiers

His photography experiments included capturing bird flight.

Analyse de la locomotion humaine : un "marcheur", et "un sauteur"Musée des arts et métiers

These experiments on analyzing human locomotion broke down the movements of a walker and a jumper.

Photographie judiciaire : mise en scène d'un cadavreMusée des arts et métiers

Photography enters the crime scene

From the end of the nineteenth century, police services increasingly resorted to new techniques to help make investigations more effective.

Photographie judiciaire : mise en scène d'un cadavreMusée des arts et métiers

In 1902, Alphonse Bertillon, head of the Forensic Identification Department and considered one of the pioneers of the scientific police, developed a method of anthropometric photography - used to identify people.

Appareil de photographie métriqueMusée des arts et métiers

With Bertillon's method you could take several photographs of a corpse or a crime scene, and then take precise measurements from the photographs obtained.

Photographie judiciaire : fiche signalétiqueMusée des arts et métiers

The police also use photography to identify suspects on report cards.

Photographie métrique : crâneMusée des arts et métiers

It is also useful for scientific purposes, such as taking the measurements of a human skull.

Appareil photographique de type espion en forme de chapeau melonMusée des arts et métiers

Spy cameras

As techniques evolved and cameras became increasingly miniaturized, the intelligence world began to take advantage of them.To stay out of sight, devices would be hidden inside everyday objects, or simply remain invisible due to their tiny size.

The Musée des arts et métiers maintains a collection of spy camera devices, such as this bowler hat...

Photo-revolverMusée des arts et métiers

...this "photo-revolver" seen in spy movies...

Appareil photographique de type espion en forme de montre braceletMusée des arts et métiers

...or this watch-shaped device, which is among the most discreet.

Le Palais du LuxembourgMusée des arts et métiers

To discover more about the history of photography and the image by visiting the Communication collection of the Musée des arts et métiers.

Credits: Story

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© Photothèque du musée des Arts et Métiers

© Cnum - Conservatoire numérique des Arts et Métiers

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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