What is the oldest photograph in the world?

The oldest photo ever taken, the View from the Window at Le Gras by French inventor Nicéphore Niépce
A restored and colorized version of the oldest surviving photo taken in circa 1826.
Credit: Angelina Karpunina

This is the oldest photo to be known to exist. It was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in circa 1826 from a window on his estate ‘Le Gras’ in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France.

The view in the photograph was taken from a window high up in a building on the estate of Nicéphore Niépce and some buildings, trees, and land that sat on his ‘Le Gras’ estate. To the left, right, and foreground center of the photo, you can see buildings, and towards the back of the image, you can see trees and the surrounding countryside.

Known as the ‘View from the Window at Le Gras’, it is believed to be the oldest photo ever taken of the world. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used the process of heliography (a process that he invented), taking between 8 hours and several days of exposure in order to capture this image.

The oldest photo original plate
The original plate of the oldest surviving photo created by Nicéphore Niépce.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This version of the oldest photo has been restored, and then colorized by digital colorization artist Angelina Karpunina. It is very difficult to see the photo on the original plate. Thanks to digital tools we are able to make out what is in the image, and now we can see it with some color thanks to the process of colorization!

For many years, this photo was believed to be lost to history but was thankfully rediscovered in 1952 by photography historian Helmut Gernsheim. Thanks to this rediscovery Helmut, this image is now known as the oldest surviving photograph from nature.

If you enjoyed this article, you can learn more about “photography firsts” by founding out Who was the First President to be Photographed?

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