The First Photograph
After experimenting with light-sensitive materials to permanently capture images for almost 30 years, French scientist and inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce would make history on a summer day at his family estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France. There is debate over the year being 1826 or 1827, but on that historic day, Niépce's experience with lithographs, optical instruments and chemical solutions culminated in Point de vue du Gras, the world's first photograph from nature.
Niépce coated a pewter plate with bitumen of Judaea (a type of asphalt dating to ancient Egypt), placed the sheet inside a camera obscura, then focused the camera on the estate's courtyard and outbuildings visible from his upstairs window. The exposure lasted at least eight hours, causing the bitumen exposed to the sunlight to whiten and harden.
After the exposure, Niépce used lavender oil and petroleum to wash away the unexposed bitumen, leaving a direct positive of the hardened leftover behind on the plate, creating View From The Window At Le Gras, the oldest photograph.