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What Was The First Photograph Taken At Night?

One of the most difficult lighting conditions to shoot in is during that half of the day when you want to open your vintage camera bags but do not have the natural light of the sun to help light the shot.

Night photography is an exceptionally difficult art to master to this day; given that cameras rely on light to function at a most basic level, even modern cameras can struggle without adequate lighting.

After the first photograph of any kind, View from the Window at Le Gras was taken in 1922 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, it would take nearly two decades for the same feat to be completed at night.

In January 1839, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype photographic method is credited for taking the first successful photograph at night, but there are several caveats to this.

First of all, the picture he took was of the moon through a telescope, which sadly ended up blurred. Even more tragically, the evidence of this picture was lost to time due to a fire.

A year later, John William Draper used a complex method involving a double convex lens and a specially prepared development plate to capture the moon in a photograph.

This picture features a distinctive halo around the celestial object itself, giving it an ethereal quality that became a distinctive feature of many early nighttime shots.

It was also the start of a trend of astrophotography, where people started to capture the secrets of distant stars using cameras connected to telescopes.

Back on terra firma, however, George Shiras capture the first known photograph of an animal at night, when three deer jumped away from the sight of his camera flash in 1893.

Whilst other pioneers created the potential for night photography, Mr Shiras is credited with using techniques such as jacklighting, bait, camera tripwires and traps that allow a photographer to remain at a distance before taking a shot.