Can you identify the image in the world's oldest photograph?

Illustration for article titled Can you identify the image in the world's oldest photograph?

French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was one of the pioneers of photography, and in 1826, he took what is now the oldest surviving photograph with his camera obscura. Can you identify the subject depicted in the photo?

What's impressive is that, fuzzy as it is, the photo does present an identifiable image. The photograph is titled "View from the Window at Le Gras," and its subject is the roof and building of Niépce's countryside estate in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. He covered a polished pewter plate with bitumen of Judea, placed it inside his camera obscura, and uncapped the lens in front of a window. The photo is the result of an eight-hour exposure, which is why the building is illuminated on both sides. This heliograph is the earliest-known permanent photograph.

Niépce tried and failed to interest the Royal Society in heliography, and ended up gifting the photograph to a botanist. It was eventually acquired by photohistorian Helmut Gernsheim, who tasked the Kodak Research Center with making a reproduction of Niépce's work. It currently resides at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

Advertisement

The First Photograph [Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center via The Smithsonian via mental_floss]

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`

DISCUSSION

It's obviously a Star Destroyer studio model under construction. The triangular object in the center is the model, bow facing the camera-left; on the left side foreground are cabinets of parts with two open drawers toward the back and on the right side foreground is a stack of large cardboard boxes with the flap being open on the top-most. Two ILM'ers stand along the Starboard aft side of the model with the one in the foreground possibly being a bearded George Lucas.

What? You mean not everybody sees that?