Photo Of The Day: See The First Photograph Ever Taken For the 1st Time

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(TIML HISTORY) What looks at first like a rudimentary charcoal sketch or some kind of strange Rorschach test is actually one of history’s most important images: the very first photograph ever taken.

The earliest known photograph was taken by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in either 1826 or 1827. While it was a simple black and white whose poor quality is inconceivable in 2016, it was a technological marvel of its day.

Niépce was, as you’d guess, one of the very first pioneers of photography. Allegedly, he couldn’t draft images by hand, so he invented a process, heliography, by which he could produce an image chemically.

Heliography starts with coating a pewter plate with an ancient asphalt called bitumen of Judea. Niépce would then use a rudimentary camera to expose the plate to sunlight for as much as eight hours. Because the asphalt hardens the more it’s exposed to light, the less hard areas (those exposed to less light) would be swept away when the plate was eventually washed with an oil of lavender and white petroleum solution. Thus, the hardened areas would remain, leaving you with a photograph.

The very first photograph, “View from the Window at Le Gras,” was created on a permanent, positive-image pewter plate — meaning that it can’t be reproduced (like later images could, from their photographic negatives).

That also means that it isn’t the easiest piece of work to analyze; in fact, it’s hard to even decipher what the image is at all. The above enhanced version of the image from 1952 gives a little more insight into Niépce’s intentions.

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