Nicephore Niepce-The First One To Explore Photography

General News | Nov-18-2023

Nicephore Niepce-The First One To Explore Photography

Joseph Nicephore Niepce popularly known as Nicephore Niepce was a French inventor. He was born in a wealthy family of a lawyer on 7th March 1765 in Chalon-sur-Saone; France. He later changed his name from Joseph to Nicephore while studying at Oratorian College in Angers in honor of the 19th-century patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Nicephorous.

He is said to have served as a staff officer in the army of Napoleon were due to health issues he had to quit, after that, he also served as an administrator of Nice. Later on, he quit the position to take on his journey of inventions with his brother Claude. Although he made many other inventions he was well known for his invention in Photography.

His first-ever invention was the Pyreolophore(an internal combustion machine) in the year 1807, which he claimed to use to power a boat. He used lycopodium powder to fuel the Pyreolophore. It is a word derived from combining three different Greek words that mean, fire, wind, and I produce.
In 1813, Lithography became a popular hobby in France, which intrigued Nicephore’s interest in the same but his unstable hand at drawing and very rare availability of resources made him bend towards the idea of permanent pictures.

The first-ever photograph that he took was the engraving of Pope Pius VII in an obscure box which was later destroyed by the scientist when he tried to make copies of it. Later he experimented with different materials on different sheets which gave him no results with darkened images. He then shifted his experiment to a bitumen paper. He dissolved bitumen paper in lavender oil and then put that mixture on a pewter plate which he fixed to the end of an obscure box and obtained the results desired by him. 8 hours later he took out the image and washed it in lavender oil to treat portions that were left unexposed.

It took 20 years to achieve the desired results by Nicephore, they named his experiment Heliograph also known as a sun drawing. The first-ever image that he took from this experiment was of a courtyard outside his house that showed a building a barn and a tree.

Later in his life, he joined hands with Daguerre, who was studying the same subject, they both experimented together and refined the technique used by Nicephore. They remained in partnership for around 4 years before Nicephore’s death in the year 1833. Daguerre continued his findings after the death of Nicephore, he refined the technique and named it the Daguerreotype. He then sold his invention to the French government. In 1939, Dauguerre decided to benefit from a yearly stipend of 6,000 francs, and an amount of 4,000 francs was given to the estate of Nicephore yearly by the government of France.

By: Arushi Bansal