100 Fixing the Calendar 1582



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37  Fixing An Image 1826 
SURELY THERE HAVE been windows more legendary. Rapunzel's. Juliet's. Hitchcock's rear one. But in 1826 a window swung open wider than any before, revealing a new way of seeing. The window was an attic perch on an estate in Burgundy. And it was from this pastoral vantage point that Joseph-Nicééphore Niéépce took the world's first photograph--a ghostly picture of a courtyard and a granary, framed by a pigeon house and a bread oven's chimney. Niéépce, who would soon join forces with brilliant promoter Louis Jacques Mandéé Daguerre, was the first man to fix an image, subtly rendering its essential light and shadow in permanent form. Using a primitive camera, a pewter plate and light-sensitive chemicals, he took a daylong exposure of the view, creating what he called a heliograph. From these humble beginnings, photography changed our perspective on the world: It helped elect Lincoln (Mathew Brady's campaign portrait), offered tangible proof of the horrors of war (journalists began carrying cameras into battle) and brought us to the nuclear brink (spy planes). Most important, Niéépce's invention has allowed us to fix our own images of faraway places and familiar faces--and share them with friends, strangers and future generations. 



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