John Johnson (inventor)

Last updated
John Johnson

John Johnson photo 1871.jpg

circa 1870
Born(1813-05-28)May 28, 1813
Saco, Maine
Died May 3, 1871(1871-05-03) (aged 57)
Saco, Maine
Nationality American
Occupation Mechanic
Known for
  • was first portrait picture taken
  • partner of first portrait studio

John Johnson (May 28, 1813 – May 3, 1871) was an instrument maker of dental supplies. He was a nineteenth-century pioneer photographer and an inventor. He made with Alexander S. Wolcott the world's first commercial portrait studio.

Contents

Early life

Johnson was born in Saco, Maine on May 28, 1813. His father was William Short Johnson. [1]

Saco, Maine City in Maine, United States

Saco is a city in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 18,482 at the 2010 census. It is home to Ferry Beach State Park, Funtown Splashtown USA, Thornton Academy, as well as General Dynamics Armament Systems, a subsidiary of the defense contractor General Dynamics. Saco sees much tourism during summer months due to its amusement parks, Ferry Beach State Park, and proximity to Old Orchard Beach.

Mid life

Johnson lived his childhood and got his initial schooling in Pembroke, New Hampshire. After high school when a young man he worked for a watchmaker in New York City for a few years. Later he went into a business with Alexander Simon Wolcott, an instrument maker, and they formed a partnership with their photography firm in New York City. [2]

Pembroke, New Hampshire Town in New Hampshire, United States

Pembroke is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 7,115 at the 2010 census. Pembroke includes part of the village of Suncook. The center of population of New Hampshire is located in Pembroke.

Photography

Camera light path from reflecting mirror ('C') of a person's portrait image with the rays concentrated onto a light sensitive treated plate ('B'). Wolcott camera light path.jpg
Camera light path from reflecting mirror ('C') of a person's portrait image with the rays concentrated onto a light sensitive treated plate ('B').

Johnson took to Wolcott on October 6, 1839, a detailed copy of the specifications on Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre's method of capturing a likeness of a person. [3] [4] Wolcott was familiar with the mechanics of optics and experimented on improving Daguerre's basic methods of using lenses. [5] Wolcott came up with the concept that exposure time could be reduced by an improvement on the mechanical arrangement of the image focusing process. [6] This was by using a concave reflector of a 3–4 inch diameter that produced a short focus length. [7] The focused image was formed onto a chemically treated silver surface that was sensitive to light. The image stored on this chemically treated plate of about 2 by 2.5 inches could hold the picture indefinitely. [8]

Wolcott then made a camera that day with improvements on Daguerre's method. [2] The camera was a wooden box 15 inches long, 8.5 inches high, and 8 inches wide. There was a 7-inch concave mirror in the back of the camera. [9] The camera was constructed so that it had a large opening in front where the light rays of the person of the portrait passed through an aperture. The photo-sensitive 2 inch exposure plate was in a detachable frame in the center of this aperture opening, just inside the box. The operator of the camera would set up the focusing of the portrait picture on an unsensitized plate first. Then once the camera was focused with all of the mechanical items involved, then the camera operator would replace the focusing plate with the sensitized plate to take the picture. [9]

Aperture Hole or an opening through which light travels

In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture and focal length of an optical system determine the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane.

William S. Johnson (John Johnson's father) getting portrait taken at Beard's London studio in the 1840s using Wolcott style mirror camera. W S Johnson portrait pose.jpg
William S. Johnson (John Johnson's father) getting portrait taken at Beard's London studio in the 1840s using Wolcott style mirror camera.

Photography historians Dr. Robert Taft and Patrick Robertson stated that Wolcott took a picture of Johnson as the first portrait in the world on October 7, 1839. [10] [11] [12] [13] On March 4, 1840, they opened the first studio in the world as a commercial enterprise for taking pictures of people. [8] [14] [15] The customer would sit for their likeness to be captured on a permanent medium for future viewing. [16] [17] The commercial photography studio was located in New York City at Broadway and Chamber Street. [18] Johnson with Wolcott created the world's first photography portrait studio as a business. [19] [20] [21] [22] They opened their commercial daguerreotype photography portrait studio in March 1840. [23] [24] [25]

Wolcott's camera technology was taken to London by Johnson's father, William S. Johnson, in February 1840. A European franchise financial arrangement was worked out by W. S. Johnson with Richard Beard, a coal merchant and entrepreneur. [18] [26] They hired John Frederick Goddard, a chemist and lecturer in optics. Goddard came up a chemistry formula to make the image plate sensitive to light so that an image would develop on it much faster than the daguerreotype cameras of the time. [27] The image plate used iodine chloride to make the plates sensitive to light, which helped to shorten the camera exposure time. The concave mirror reflector improvement and the photo-sensitive plate were the key innovative features Wolcott based his 1840 camera invention on that made portraits a possibility. This made exposure time to as low as a few minutes in bright sunlight, and since a person could be still for that long it make portraits possible using this state-of-the-art photography. [28] [29] Beard then opened the first public portrait studio of Europe in London in March 1841, [27] the Daguerrean gallery at the Polytechnic Institute. [30] Beard developed franchises of portrait studios throughout England. [31]

Later life

Johnson died on May 3, 1871, in Saco, Maine. [32]

Related Research Articles

Camera optical device for recording or transmitting photographic images or videos

A camera is an optical instrument to capture still images or to record moving images, which are stored in a physical medium such as in a digital system or on photographic film. A camera consists of a lens which focuses light from the scene, and a camera body which holds the image capture mechanism.

Calotype an early photographic process

Calotype or talbotype is an early photographic process introduced in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot, using paper coated with silver iodide. The term calotype comes from the Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful", and τύπος (tupos), "impression".

Daguerreotype First commercially successful photographic process

The daguerreotype process, or daguerreotypy, was the first publicly available photographic process, and for nearly twenty years it was the one most commonly used.

Astrophotography specialized type of photography for recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky

Astrophotography is photography of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky. The first photograph of an astronomical object was taken in 1840, but it was not until the late 19th century that advances in technology allowed for detailed stellar photography. Besides being able to record the details of extended objects such as the Moon, Sun, and planets, astrophotography has the ability to image objects invisible to the human eye such as dim stars, nebulae, and galaxies. This is done by long time exposure since both film and digital cameras can accumulate and sum light photons over these long periods of time.

Panoramic photography is a technique of photography, using specialized equipment or software, that captures images with horizontally elongated fields of view. It is sometimes known as wide format photography. The term has also been applied to a photograph that is cropped to a relatively wide aspect ratio, like the familiar letterbox format in wide-screen video.

William Shew American photographer

William Shew (1820-1903) was a prominent American photographer in the 19th century. He made a name for himself as a Daguerrotype portrait artist in the United States. He maintained a mobile studio in a wagon that he called his "Daguerrotype Saloon."

Tintype photographic process

A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and it has been revived as a novelty and fine art form in the 21st.

History of photography the invention and development of the camera and the creation of permanent images

The history of photography began in remote antiquity with the discovery of two critical principles: camera obscura image projection and the observation that some substances are visibly altered by exposure to light. There are no artifacts or descriptions that indicate any attempt to capture images with light sensitive materials prior to the 18th century. Around 1717 Johann Heinrich Schulze captured cut-out letters on a bottle of a light-sensitive slurry, but he apparently never thought of making the results durable. Around 1800 Thomas Wedgwood made the first reliably documented, although unsuccessful attempt at capturing camera images in permanent form. His experiments did produce detailed photograms, but Wedgwood and his associate Humphry Davy found no way to fix these images.

Samuel Bemis American photographer

Dr. Samuel A. Bemis (1793–1881) was one of the earliest photographers in the United States. A small number of his daguerreotypes have survived.

Richard Beard (photographer) British photographer and businessman

Richard Beard was an English entrepreneur and photographer who vigorously protected his photographic business by litigation over his photographic patents and helped to establish professional photography in the UK.

Photography in Australia

Photography in Australia started in the 1840s. The first photograph taken in Australia, a daguerreotype of Bridge Street, Sydney, was recorded as having been taken by a visiting naval captain, Captain Augustin Lucas (1804-1854) in 1841. The existence of the photograph was indicated in a note published in the Australasian Chronicle on 13 April of that year. Lucas had arrived aboard the Justine, captained by his younger brother Francois Lucas. Lucas, late commander of the Naval School expedition, intended to sell his camera and equipment which he put on display in the office of Messrs. Joubert and Murphey, in Macquarie Place.

John Jabez Edwin Mayall English photographer

John Jabez Edwin Paisley Mayall was an English photographer who in 1860 took the first carte-de-visite photographs of Queen Victoria.

John Plumbe Wales-born American photographer

John Plumbe Jr. was a Welsh-born American entrepreneurial photographer, gallerist, publisher, and an early advocate of an American transcontinental railroad in the mid-19th century. He established a franchise of photography studios in the 1840s in the U.S., with additional branches in Paris and Liverpool. He created a lithographic process for reproducing photographic images, called the "plumbeotype."

Photography in Denmark

Photography in Denmark has developed from strong participation and interest in the very beginnings of the art in 1839 to the success of a considerable number of Danes in the world of photography today.

Sergey Lvovich Levitsky Russian photographer and inventor

Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky, is considered one of the patriarchs of Russian photography and one of Europe's most important early photographic pioneers, inventors and innovators.

The French firm Susse Frères manufactured a daguerreotype camera which was one of the first two photographic cameras ever sold to the public. The company was also engaged in the foundry business and owned a large foundry in Paris.

François Fauvel Gouraud French engineer; pioneer of photographic techniques and mnemotechnics

François Fauvel Gouraud was a French expert in photography and mnemonics.

Noël Paymal Lerebours French photographer and camera maker

Noël Marie Paymal Lerebours was a French optician and daguerreotypist. He is best known today for his Excursions Daguerriennes, books of views of the world's monuments, based on early photographs redrawn by hand as Aquatint engravings.

Alexander S. Wolcott American photographer

Alexander Simon Wolcott was a maker of medical supplies. He was a nineteenth-century pioneer photographer and inventor. He made with John Johnson the world's first commercial photography portrait studio and patented the first US camera that made photographs.

Frederick Langenheim was a German-American photographer and pioneer of stereoscopic photography. With his brother, he made the first set of panoramic pictures of Niagara Falls and a sequential set of pictures of the first American total solar eclipse ever photographed.

References

  1. Rinhart, Floyd; Rinhart, Marion (April 1977). "Wolcott and Johnson; Their Camera and Their Photography". History of Photography . Benezit Dictionary of Artists (Oxford University Press): 99–109, 129–134.
  2. 1 2 Heathcote 2002, pp. 87–89.
  3. "Next Year Will Be Celebrated The Centennial of Photography". The Times-Independent. Moab, Utah. November 24, 1938 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  4. Simkin, David (2005). "John Johnson (1813–1871)". Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  5. Watson, Elmo Scott (June 13, 1940). "Again is Raised the Question of Who Made the First Camera in the U.S." The Times-Independent. Moab, Utah. p. 2 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  6. Watson, Elmo Scott (November 25, 1938). "The First Portrait". The Pleasant Grove Review. Pleasant Grove, Utah. p. 7 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  7. Taft 2008, p. 33-35.
  8. 1 2 Robertson 2011, p. 580.
  9. 1 2 Gernsheim 1955, p. 91.
  10. Taft 2008, pp. 3335.
  11. Watson, Elmo Scott (November 25, 1938). "Photography and the American Scene". The Ironwood Times. Ironwood, Michigan. p. 10 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg . On October 7, 1939, Wolcott made a successful portrait of Johnson and this Taft calls the first.
  12. Watson, Elmo Scott (November 24, 1938). "The First Portrait". The Cambridge City Tribune. Cambridge City, Indiana. p. 2 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg . On October 7, 1939, Wolcott made a successful portrait of Johnson and this Taft calls the first.
  13. Watson, Elmo Scott (June 14, 1940). "Took The First Photographic Portrait". Piute County News. Junction, Utah. p. 6 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg . Wolcott, who was an instrument maker and manufacturer of dental supplies, took a daguerrotype of his partner, John Johnson, on October 7, 1839, according to Taft, and this was the first photographic portrait.
  14. McGraw-Hill 1969, p. 459.
  15. Neblette 1949, p. 12.
  16. Kane 1997, p. 414.
  17. Glenner 1990, p. 11.
  18. 1 2 SPSE 1957, p. 6.
  19. "Timeline". The History of Photography Archive. 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  20. "America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839–1862". Library of Congress. 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017. In 1840, the first commercial portrait gallery, New York's Wolcott and Johnson, used large mirrors mounted outside the studio to project as much sunlight onto the customer as possible, in a sitting that could last for as long as eight minutes.
  21. Karad 2014, p. 49.
  22. "Early Portraiture". The Central News. Perkasie, Pennsylvania. December 30, 1897. p. 4 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  23. Marzec 2004, p. 49.
  24. Martin 1988, p. 34.
  25. PJA 1868, p. 175.
  26. Chaudhuri 2007, p. 64.
  27. 1 2 KodakMuseum 1989, p. 21.
  28. Coe 1978, p. 18.
  29. Rosenblum 1997, p. 196.
  30. "Beard's Coloured Photographic". The Guardian. London, England. May 18, 1850. p. 4 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  31. "New York Correspondence". Photographic Journal of America. 5 (49): 175–177.
  32. Heathcote 2002, p. 87.

Sources