I came across this NPR blog that featured a write up on a set of pictures taken of the Cincinnati skyline in 1848.
I just happen to be from Cincinnati, and I just happen to have a print of the exact same photographs, all pieced together to form a panorama shot, hanging above my desk at home. Needless to say, the article sparked my interest.
The blog post is cool. You can smoothly adjust each plate, zooming in extremely tight to pick up the tiniest detail. And those silver daguerreotype photographs of the era are miraculously sharp. Modern digital photography might be able to capture images this crisply now with HD cameras, but keep in mind these were taken from the northern Kentucky side of the Ohio River in 1848 and had to be exposed for probably ten minutes or so.
What’s awesome is that becuase of the sharpness of these extremely old photos, we can even pick up figures of humans near the bank of the river. The author throws out the idea that these may be the first candid pictures of a human being – all others before being staged portraits.
But, of course, not soon after this post, someone out there found an earlier picture, this one of Paris in 1838, where a figure can bee seen near the sidewalk.
No matter what, these photos are fantastic. They are great testaments to the merits of silver-based photography (all back and white film uses silver). It can produce incredibly sharp images that have the possibility of holding up over hundreds of years! Awesome.