photography timeline


16 century


Brightness and clarity of camera obscuras improved by enlarging the hole inserting a telescope lens

17 century


Camera obscuras in frequent use by artists and made portable in the form of sedan chairs



Professor J. Schulze mixes chalk, nitric acid, and silver in a flask; notices darkening on side of flask exposed to sunlight. Accidental creation of the first photo-sensitive compound.


1800 - 1850

Thomas Wedgwood makes "sun pictures" by placing opaque objects on leather treated with silver nitrate; resulting images deteriorated rapidly, however, if displayed under light stronger than from candles.Nicéphore Niépce combines the camera obscura with photosensitive paper Niépce creates a permanent image
Henry Fox Talbot creates permanent (negative) images using paper soaked in silver chloride and fixed with a salt solution. Talbot created positive images by contact printing onto another sheet of paper.
Louis Daguerre creates images on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide and “developed” with warmed mercury; Daguerre is awarded a state pension by the French government in exchange for publication of methods and the rights by other French citizens to use the Daguerreotype process.
Talbot patents his process under the name “calotype”.


1851 - 1890

Frederick Scott Archer, a sculptor in London, improves photographic resolution by spreading a mixture of collodion (nitrated cotton dissolved in ether and alcoohol) and chemicals on sheets of glass. Wet plate collodion photography was much cheaper than daguerreotypes, the negative/positive process permitted unlimited reproductions, and the process was published but not patented.Nadar (Felix Toumachon) opens his portrait studio in Paris
Adolphe Disderi develops carte-de-visite photography in Paris, leading to worldwide boom in portrait studios for the next decade.Beginning of stereoscopic era. Direct positive images on glass (ambrotypes) and metal (tintypes or ferrotypes) popular in the US. Scottish physicist James Clerk-Maxwell demonstrates a color photography system involving three black and white photographs, each taken through a red, green, or blue filter. The photos were turned into lantern slides and projected in registration with the same color filters. This is the "color separation" method. Mathew Brady and staff (mostly staff) covers the American Civil War, exposing 7000 negatives. Ducas de Hauron publishes a book proposing a variety of methods for color photography. Center of period in which the US Congress sent photographers out to the West. The most famous images were taken by William Jackson and Tim O'Sullivan. Richard Leach Maddox, an English doctor, proposes the use of an emulsion of gelatin and silver bromide on a glass plate, the "dry plate" process. Eadweard Muybridge, born in England as Edward Muggridge, settles "do a horse's four hooves ever leave the ground at once" bet among rich San Franciscans by time-sequenced photography of Leland Stanford's horse. Dry plates being manufactured commercially. George Eastman, age 24, sets up Eastman Dry Plate Company in Rochester, New York. First half-tone photograph appears in a daily newspaper, the New York Graphic. First Kodak camera, containing a 20-foot roll of paper, enough for 100 2.5-inch diameter circular pictures. Improved Kodak camera with roll of film instead of paper Jacob Riis publishes How the Other Half Lives, images of tenament life in New york City


1900 - 1950

Kodak Brownie box roll-film camera introduced. Alfred Stieglitz organizes "Photo Secessionist" show in New York City. Availability of panchromatic black and white film and therefore high quality color separation color photography. J.P. Morgan finances Edward Curtis to document the traditional culture of the North American Indian. First commercial color film, the Autochrome plates, manufactured by Lumiere brothers in France. Lewis Hine hired by US National Child Labor Committee to photograph children working mills. Oscar Barnack, employed by German microscope manufacturer Leitz, develops camera using the modern 24x36mm frame and sprocketed 35mm movie film. Nippon Kogaku K.K., which will eventually become Nikon, established in Tokyo. Man Ray begins making photograms ("rayographs") by placing objects on photographic paper and exposing the shadow cast by a distant light bulb; Eugegrave;ne Atget, aged 64, assigned to photograph the brothels of Paris. Leitz markets a derivative of Barnack's camera commercially as the "Leica", the first high quality 35mm camera. André Kertész moves from his native Hungary to Paris, where he begins an 11-year project photographing street life. Albert Renger-Patzsch publishes The World is Beautiful, close-ups emphasizing the form of natural and man-made objects; Rollei introduces the Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex producing a 6x6 cm image on rollfilm.; Karl Blossfeldt publishes Art Forms in Nature. Development of strobe photography by Harold ("Doc") Edgerton at MIT. Inception of Technicolor for movies, where three black and white negatives were made in the same camera under different filters; Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Edward Weston, et al, form Group f/64 dedicated to "straight photographic thought and production".; Henri Cartier-Bresson buys a Leica and begins a 60-year career photographing people; On March 14, George Eastman, aged 77, writes suicide note--"My work is done. Why wait?"--and shoots himself. Brassaï publishes Paris de nuit. Fuji Photo Film founded. By 1938, Fuji is making cameras and lenses in addition to film. Farm Security Administration hires Roy Stryker to run a historical section. Stryker would hire Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, et al. to photograph rural hardships over the next six years. Roman Vishniac begins his project of the soon-to-be-killed-by-their-neighbors Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. Development of Kodachrome, the first color multi-layered color film; development of Exakta, pioneering 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. Development of multi-layer color negative films. Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Carl Mydans, and W. Eugene Smith cover the war for LIFE magazine. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour start the photographer-owned Magnum picture agency. Hasselblad in Sweden offers its first medium-format SLR for commercial sale; Pentax in Japan introduces the automatic diaphragm; Polaroid sells instant black and white film. East German Zeiss develops the Contax S, first SLR with an unreversed image in a pentaprism viewfinder.


1950 - 2005

Edward Steichen curates Family of Man exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Nikon F introduced. Garry Winogrand begins photographing women on the streets of New York City. First color instant film developed by Polaroid; Instamatic released by Kodak; first purpose-built underwater introduced, the Nikonos. William Wegman begins photographing his Weimaraner, Man Ray. 110-format cameras introduced by Kodak with a 13x17mm frame. C-41 color negative process introduced, replacing C-22. Nicholas Nixon takes his first annual photograph of his wife and her sisters: "The Brown Sisters"; Steve Sasson at Kodak builds the first working CCD-based digital still camera. First solo show of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, William Eggleston's Guide. Cindy Sherman begins work on Untitled Film Stills, completed in 1980; Jan Groover begins exploring kitchen utensils. Hiroshi Sugimoto begins work on seascapes. Elsa Dorfman begins making portraits with the 20x24" Polaroid. Sony demonstrates Mavica "still video" camera. Kodak introduces disk camera, using an 8x11mm frame (the same as in the Minox spy camera). Minolta markets the world's first autofocus SLR system (called "Maxxum" in the US); In the American West by Richard Avedon. Sally Mann begins publishing nude photos of her children. The popular Canon EOS system introduced, with new all-electronic lens mount. Adobe Photoshop released. Kodak DCS-100, first digital SLR, a modified Nikon F3. Kodak introduces PhotoCD. Founding of (this Web site), an early Internet online community; Sebastiao Salgado publishes Workers; Mary Ellen Mark publishes book documenting life in an Indian circus. Material World, by Peter Menzel published. Rob Silvers publishes Photomosaics. Nikon D1 SLR, 2.74 megapixel for $6000, first ground-up DSLR design by a leading manufacturer. Camera phone introduced in Japan by Sharp/J-Phone. Polaroid goes bankrupt. Four-Thirds standard for compact digital SLRs introduced with the Olympus E-1; Canon Digital Rebel introduced for less than $100. Kodak ceases production of film cameras. Canon EOS 5D, first consumer-priced full-frame digital SLR, with a 24x36mm CMOS sensor for $3000; Portraits by Rineke Dijkstra

marine biology

1200 BC

1200 BC

1200 BC when the Phoenicians began ocean voyages using celestial navigation. References to the sea and its mysteries abound in Greek mythology, particularly the Homeric poems "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey". However, these two sources of ancient history mostly refer to the sea as a means of transportation and food source.


384 BC - 322 BC

It wasn't until the writings of Aristotle from 384-322 BC that specific references to marine life were recorded. Aristotle identified a variety of species including crustaceans, echinoderms, mollusks, and fish. He also recognized that cetaceans are mammals, and that marine vertebrates are either oviparous (producing eggs that hatch outside the body) or viviparous (producing eggs that hatch within the body). Because he is the first to record observations on marine life, Aristotle is often referred to as the father of marine biology.

james cook

1723 - 1779

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) in 18th century Britain. Captain Cook is most known for his extensive voyages of discovery for the British Navy, mapping much of the world's uncharted waters during that time. He circumnavigated the world twice during his lifetime, during which he logged descriptions of numerous plants and animals then unknown to most of mankind.

charles darwin

1831 - 1836

Charles Darwin who, although he is best known for the Theory of Evolution, contributed significantly to the early study of marine biology. His expeditions as the resident naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836 were spent collecting and studying specimens from a number of marine organisms that were sent to the British Museum for cataloguing. 4,717 new species; The first systematic plot of currents and temperatures in the ocean; A map of bottom deposits much of which has remained current to the present; An outline of the main contours of the ocean basins; andThe discovery of the mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Station Biologique de Roscoff


The oldest marine station in the world, Station Biologique de Roscoffwas established in Concarneau, France founded by the College of France in 1859.

Spencer Fullerton Baird


In 1871, Spencer Fullerton Baird, the first director of the US Commission of Fish and Fisheries (now known as the National Marine Fisheries Service), began a collection station in Woods Hole, Massachusetts because of the abundant marine life there and to investigate declining fish stocks

Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)


Also at Woods Hole, the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) was established in 1888 by Alpheus Hyatt, a student of Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz who had established the first seaside school of natural history on an island near Woods Hole.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

1903 - 1912

An independent biological laboratory was established in San Diego in 1903 by University of California professor Dr. William E. Ritter, which became part of the University of California in 1912 and was named the Scripps Institution of Oceanography after its benefactors. Scripps has since become one of the world's leading institutions offering a multi-disciplinary study of oceanography.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute was created in 1930 in response to the National Academy of Science's call for "the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research" and was funded by a $3 million grant by the Rockefeller Foundation.

William Beebe and Otis Barton


In 1934 William Beebe (1877-1962) and Otis Barton descended 923 m/3,028 ft below the surface off the coast of Bermuda in a bathysphere designed and funded by Barton.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

1937 - 1951

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a scientist and writer who brought the wonders of the sea to people with her lyrical writings and observations about the sea. Although she was a biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, she devoted her spare time to translating science into writings that would infect the reader with her sense of wonder and respect for nature. She published an article in Atlantic Monthly in 1937 titled "Undersea" which was followed by a book in 1941 titled "Under the Sea-Wind." These publications described the sea and the life within it from a scientist's point of view, but in the words of a naturalist. In 1951, she published "The Sea Around Us" a prize-winning bestseller on the history of the sea. The success of this book allowed her to resign from federal service and write full-time. Shortly after, her focus turned to the negative impact of pesticides, a cause to which she remained devoted to by fighting to raise public awareness until her death in 1964.

depth record


depth record was not broken until 1948 when Barton made a bathysphere dive to 1,372 m/4,500 ft. During the interim, Beebe was able to observe deep sea life in its own environment rather than in a specimen jar. Although he was criticized for failing to publish results in professional journals, his vivid descriptions of the bathysphere dives in the books he published inspired some of today's greatest oceanographers and marine biologists.

Challenger Deep


In 1960, a descent was made to 10,916 m/35,813 ft in the Challenger Deep of the Marianna trench—the deepest known point in the oceans, 10,924 m/35,838 ft deep at its maximum, near 11° 22'N 142° 36'E—about 200 miles southwest of Guam. The dive was made in the bathyscape Trieste built by Auguste Piccard, his son Swiss explorer Jean Ernest-Jean Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. The descent took almost five hours and the two men spent barely twenty minutes on the ocean floor before undertaking the 3 hour 15 minute ascent.

Dr. Robert Ballard (1942-)


Dr. Robert Ballard (1942-), also a deep-sea explorer, may be best known for finding the Titanic using technologies he helped to develop, including the Argo/Jason remotely operated vehicles and the technology that transmits video images from the deep sea. His earlier deep sea explorations led to the first discovery of hydrothermal vents during an exploration in a manned submersible of the Mid-Ocean Ridge.