Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Graphics Technology

The First Photograph of a Human 138

wiredog writes "The Atlantic has a brief piece on what is likely to be the first photograph (a daguerreotype) showing a human. From the article: 'In September, Krulwich posted a set of daguerreotypes taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter in Cincinnati 162 years ago, on September 24, 1848. Krulwich was celebrating the work of the George Eastman House in association with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Using visible-light microscopy, the George Eastman House scanned several plates depicting the Cincinnati Waterfront so that scholars could zoom in and study the never-before-seen details.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The First Photograph of a Human

Comments Filter:
  • Re:No, it isn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erstazi ( 1304229 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @08:47PM (#34044926)

    It's likely that this was a busy street at the time, but because the image would have taken several minutes to form, only the figure standing still -- getting his boots shined? -- shows up.

  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @09:05PM (#34045046) Journal

    Speak for yourself when you say 'we'.

    People who used daguerrotypes weren't exactly exactly numbering in the millions... the camera, plates, development equipment, etc. required cost a pretty penny even back then.

    So let's take an objective look at things... I don't know which size that particular photo was, but one site on the interwebs lists as the largest daguerrotype plate a 6.5 x 8.5 inch plate. That's -huge-, but let's roll with it.

    Now let's see what other photography equipment you're not likely to find with a typical tourist... how about a LEAF APTUS-II digital back? It's only 53.7mm x 40.3mm and has a resolution of 10,320 x 7,752 pixels.

    Let's blow that sensor up to the size of that plate. The aspects don't quite match.. Losing a bit off the length there you're left with 52.7x40.3mm and 10,127 x 7,752 pixels.

    So now on 8.5" we've got 10,127 pixels or ~1,191.4DPI and on 6.5" we've got 7,752 pixels or ~1192.6DPI.

    Let's call it a round 1190DPI. I'd say that's pretty tight and you'd need at least a magnifying glass to see details no larger than a few pixels - which the blobby messes from the photograph discussed can pretty much be labeled as. (Note that the two photos in the article linked to are different photos - the detail from the photo referenced in the 'microscopy' section can be found on the original page: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2010/10/22/130754296/first-photo-of-a-human-being-ever [npr.org] )

    That's not even counting large format digital camera backs or -scanning- digital backs (sure, exposure sucks, but daguerrotypes weren't exactly 1/800s wonders either - the second image was a 10-minute exposure) that will give you a much greater resolution yet.

    And all that without the fuss and nasty chemicals and a result you can copy again and again and physically handle any which way you want (other than setting it on fire and electrocuting it, I suppose) without fear of smudging off the exposed elements, etc.

    Then again.. most people don't care to have that much resolution in the first place. The primary mode of display these days is on the internet. While that's gone beyond the 800x600 'e-mail size' photos, by far the most gallery sites still do not post a full 5MP picture, never mind the 10MP that's just about standard now, unless it's a site specifically for great photos or panorama photos (which you most certainly would need a microscope for if printed out at the size specified above.).
    In that respect.. it certainly is interesting.. and makes me wonder why so many people still buy into the megapixel race.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @10:01PM (#34045348)

    Why would they get deleted out of hand? Keeping the digital image around is orders of magnitude easier than keeping around negatives or bothering to make prints from them and keeping those.

    I would expect the digital camera user to also just shoot and shoot and shoot and check the photos afterwards as well. With the cost of each click being far less to boot.

    Sure going through them afterwards is also going to be difficult due to the sheer volume. Whenever I dowload images from my camera they get put in YYYY-MM-DD folders and nothing ever gets deleted. A professional photographer is going to produce far more pictures but they also likely have far more disk space to burn too.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann