Matthew Brady

Mathew B. Brady (May 18, 1822 – January 15, 1896) was one of the first American photographers. He studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York in 1844, and photographed Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, among other celebrities. When the Civil War started, his use of a mobile studio and darkroom enabled vivid battlefield photographs that brought home the reality of war to the public.  The thousands of photographs which Mathew Brady’s photographers (such as Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan) took have become the most important visual documentation of the Civil War, and have helped historians and the public better understand the era – wikipedia

I’ve always loved looking at some of these old portraits of historic figures of the past. In the early days of photography, Matthew Brady had a simple “shutter”. When they were ready to expose the film, they simply removed the lens cap by hand and then put it back on after a predetermined length of time. Since the photographic plates used in those days were not very sensitive, exposures of five or ten minutes were common. – NYIP

photos by Matthew Brady

First Photographs

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This is the first photo ever produced of a person (lower left) by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839 on a daguerreotype – a silver-plated sheet of copper. He did this with a wood box with a lens on one end that produces an image onto a frosted sheet of glass on the other end. He revealed this process and some of his images publicly on August 19, 1839 (my Birthday!). Most of his photos were of still-life subjects, but this long exposure photo captured a person near a road in Paris. It appears he is getting his shoe shined. Below is the first ever photograph produced that is in existence today. It was made by Nicéphore Niépce in 1827 and is called Point de vue du Gras (View from the Window at Le Gras).

Point de vue du Gras

Point de vue du Gras

 

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Close up of the original plate

Time Shots

We played around more with shutter speed in my next assignment for ART142 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. This assignment was called time shots. Basically we experimented with both freezing the object in motion by a faster shutter speed or blurring the object by slowing down the shutter. The shutter speed is the valve that controls how long the light flows through the lens and onto the image sensor. The smaller the aperture, the longer it will take a given amount of light to flow through the funnel and the longer the required exposure will be. This was a fun assignment and it usually requires a trip-pod. I took some of these photos of the Valley Metro light rail around ASU campus.

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I’ve become quite the traveling photographer recently!