History of photography - Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries, relating to seeing an image and capturing the image. The discovery of the camera obscura ("dark chamber" in Latin) that provides an image of a scene dates back to ancient China. Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid independently described a camera obscura in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. In the 6th century CE, Byzantine mathematician Anthemius of Tralles used a type of camera obscura in his experiments.
The Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) also invented a camera obscura as well as the first true pinhole camera. The invention of the camera has been traced back to the work of Ibn al-Haytham. While the effects of a single light passing through a pinhole had been described earlier, Ibn al-Haytham gave the first correct analysis of the camera obscura, including the first geometrical and quantitative descriptions of the phenomenon, and was the first to use a screen in a dark room so that an image from one side of a hole in the surface could be projected onto a screen on the other side. He also first understood the relationship between the focal point and the pinhole, and performed early experiments with afterimages, laying the foundations for the invention of photography in the 19th century.
Leonardo da Vinci mentions natural camera obscura that are formed by dark caves on the edge of a sunlit valley. A hole in the cave wall will act as a pinhole camera and project a laterally reversed, upside down image on a piece of paper. Renaissance painters used the camera obscura which, in fact, gives the optical rendering in color that dominates Western Art. It is a box with a hole in it which allows light to go through and create an image onto the piece of paper.
The birth of photography was then concerned with inventing means to capture and keep the image produced by the camera obscura. Albertus Magnus (1193–1280) discovered silver nitrate, and Georg Fabricius (1516–1571) discovered silver chloride, and the techniques described in Ibn al-Haytham's Book of Optics are capable of producing primitive photographs using medieval materials.