John Draper ~ Better Photography Through Chemistry

| March 23, 2013

John_William_DraperIt is widely believed that John Draper was the first to photograph the moon.

It is more accurate to say he was the first to take a “clear” photograph of the moon in 1840.

Actually, he was the first to take any “clear” photograph of anyone.

As a chemist, he improved on the process of photography in the form we know it as today – at least with what became film / celluloid.

Before Draper’s process, photography was printed on copper plating that had been silvered and treated to retain a positive image known as Daguerreotype … That was only invented three short years earlier.

Daguerreotype at the time took around 10 minutes to make an exposure in sunlight – so it was pretty much impossible to get a clear photograph of a person.

1840_1st_Moon_photograph_-_John_William_DraperDraper improved the chemical process so the portrait was now possible. It still took around a minute to expose an image on a plate – but it was possible to get an adult to hold still that long.

I suppose that because of the lengthy minute to hold still for the exposure, if the subject blinked their eyes it would not show on the captured image.

His profession was medicine and chemistry … not photography.

His contribution to photography was only possible because of his expertise in chemistry and no doubt a curious mind.

Next time you snap a photo, use a computer or even drive a car, thank a chemist.

Category: Tony Rollo Blog

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