Late in the 16th century, the Italian scientist and writer Giambattista della Porta demonstrated and described in detail the use of a camera obscura with a lens.
While artists in subsequent centuries commonly used variations on the camera obscura to create images they could trace, the results from these devices depended on the artist’s drawing skills, and so scientists continued to search for a method to reproduce images completely mechanically.
Usually, but not necessarily, the lens in a camera.
Upon exposure to the light forming the image, the sensitive material undergoes changes in its structure, a latent (but reversed) image usually called a negative is formed, and the image becomes visible by development and permanent by fixing with sodium thiosulfate, called “hypo.” With modern materials, the processing may take place immediately or may be delayed for weeks or months.
The seemingly automatic recording of an image by photography has given the process a sense of authenticity shared by no other picture-making technique.
The photograph possesses, in the popular mind, such apparent accuracy that the adage “the camera does not lie” has become an accepted, if erroneous, cliché.
His discovery, in combination with the camera obscura, provided the basic technology necessary for photography.
It was not until the early 19th century, however, that photography actually came into being.
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