Early history of aerial photography

Photography was started in 1839 with the public disclosure of the pioneering photographic processes of Nicephore Niepce, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre. As early as 1840, Argo, Director of the Paris Observatory, advocated the use of photography for topographic surveying. The first known aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by a Parisian photographer named Gaspard-felix Tournachon. Known as “Nadar”, he used a tethered balloon to obtain the photograph over Val de Bievre, near Paris. Balloon photography flourished after that. The earliest existing aerial photograph was taken from a balloon over Boston in 1860 by James Wallace Black.

As an outgrowth of their use in obtaining meteorological data, kites were used to obtain aerial photographs beginning in about 1882. The first aerial photograph taken from a kite is credited to an English meteorologist, E. D. Archibald.

The airplane, which had been invented in 1903, was not used as a camera platform until 1908, when a photographer accompanied Wilbur Wright and took the first aerial motion picture (over Le Mans, France).

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