I stumbled on the fact that today is World Photography Day, courtesy of Facebook informing me of this odd fact. Given that it is estimated that around 250,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute and around 2 billion (2,000,000,000) are added to the internet each day, I would think that every day is really a photography day, rather then just today! And these numbers are increasing as more and more of the world gets smart phones.
It’s amazing to think how far we have come since the early days of photography in the third decade of the 1800s, when we first managed to capture light directly onto a more permanent medium without going through an artistic representation involving brush strokes.
The truth, in all its glory or horror, could be shared more widely.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited with the first (surviving) photograph using the technique of heliography, in 1826. The image through an upstairs window is still visible (after enhancement) on the hardened bitumen layer on the glass in which it was captured. There is a great article on PetaPixel from 2013 regarding this that is well worth the read.
We have traveled far with technology since then. And so has our delivery of the truth through this objective medium.
It is an enlightening insight on the human psyche that from early on some photographers sought to mislead the public by clever editing and manipulation in the darkroom. Sometimes this was for humorous effect, such as the famous giant animal series, an example of which I offer here:
…but also for propaganda reasons too, such as manipulation of scenes in the famous photos of Abraham Lincoln and his new body,
Ulysses S. Grant’s battlefront composite shot (nicely done)…
…through to the removal of people in official state photographs by Stalin …
… Mao Tse Tung…
…Adolf Hitler, and many others.
These days, with digital images and easy to use software, we are bombarded on social media with photographs that purport to show some bizarre scene. Often they are so well edited that it is difficult to determine if they are fake, without resorting to forensic image analysis.
So, although the old adage “the camera never lies” still hold true, for when the image was actually taken, the same has never been true when processing the image for final viewing – even in the days of the Daguerreotype!
With that in mind, I leave you with a rare shot of the elusive Striped Rhino fish: