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Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

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Joseph NiépceJoseph Niépce

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833), French inventor, who made the first permanent photographic images. Niépce was born in Chalon-sur-Saône. He began his photography experiments with his brother Claude in 1793, using light-sensitive compounds of silver. These early experiments were not successful, but Niépce continued his photography work and also attempted to develop an improved method of making plates for lithographic printing. In 1826 he successfully made the first surviving permanent photograph, of the courtyard of his house, using a bitumen-coated pewter plate exposed in a camera obscura (a forerunner of the camera).

Niépce found no financial support for his process, perhaps because he kept the details of his discoveries secret. In 1829 he formed a partnership with L. J. M. Daguerre, another experimenter with the camera obscura. Niépce's dreams of perfecting a new printing technology were unrealized at his death in 1833. In 1839 Daguerre announced a practical method for making images photographically, a precursor to today's technology. However, Niépce is recognized as a significant contributor to the science of photography.

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