Chemistry/History: The invention of photography by Nicephore Niepce

Michael Mosley, Cassie Newland and Mark Miodownik describe the scientific achievements of Nicephore Niepce.

He is thought of as the father of photography for he took the first photograph in 1826. He adapted the camera obscurer (a simple lens-based device) which had been used for over 1000 years.

Niepce realised that he could fix images by dissolving asphalt in a thinner and painting this onto a metal plate covered in silver nitrate. The photograph was then taken on this surface using the camera obscurer.

This clip is from the series The Genius of Invention.

Teacher Notes

This clip would be ideally suited to showing students the significant achievements of Niepce.

It could set the scene for a project on this or other famous historical scientists.

Students could stain their written work with tea bags to make it look as if it were written many years ago.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Chemistry and History. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

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