Category Archives: Travel to Photography

A travel to the history of Photography

A different way to search for travel destinations

As a member of Travel Bloggers Greece (TBG) I was invited to a presentation of a Greek start-up company called Tripinview that took place last Thursday at the Village Cinemas at the Mall in Μarousi, where many pleasant surprises awaited me. First of all, before the presentation started, I came across a very dear, old friend and peer, Sokratis Efstathopoulos who is one of the main factors of the project…the photographer.

Tripinview began with the original idea of presenting videos in high definition and outstanding photography taken by helicopter of the entire coastline of popular tourist regions and countries starting with Greece. Of course nothing was easy and Tripinview faced big challenges, how could all this precious material (more than 800,000 images and more than 300 hours of video to date), first of all to be recorded correctly, and then how to be able to present it to the visitor –Internet user in a user-friendly and fully functional way.

The surprises continued as I started to browse through the pictures and the website videos as the material is excellent in photographic terms (what can I do, it is a matter of my professional perversion) you watch the video easily and in perfect synchronisation with the relevant photos that can be seen more close up or you can go back to the map and then again can be taken with a single click to the triple option of video, photos and more close-up photos. In order for this to happen the Tripinview developers had to design many features from the scratch by making applications that someone might have thought unrealized. Certainly important is that they did their best. The Tripinview website is fully functional and very easy to navigate around and you will find it by your selves visited

Tripinview exists as a mobile app for android and iphone but I have not tried them out yet and more to come on this in a next blog post. Traveling and photographing on the ground myself for the past 35 years, many times in the same places that has been photographed by the Tripinview helicopter,  if I am jealous of anything it is neither the outstanding photographic images that someone can take from above, nor their use of excellent equipment, what I really envy is the outstanding team, is the human resources of Tripinview at all levels, and the last pleasant surprise for me… is that they are all Greeks. Tripinview so far covers the Mediterranean coastlines of Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Monaco, France, Spain and Portugal and of course there are big plans for future expansion. So place Tripinview in your browser favorites I am sure that will become the main way to search for travel destinations.

The mother of all modern DSLR cameras

The idea of ​​an SLR camera with a pentaprism finder that gives a proper viewfinder image existed before World War II, thus the first SLR cameras were created. During the war we can’t talk about the development of cameras, except maybe that of different systems that were used for military purposes. Immediately after the war when photographic companies became active again, the first SLR cameras started to be produced.

Historians disagree among themselves about which camera with a pentaprism finder was actually first released onto the market; therefore I will present to you the first 2 cameras that are considered to be the mothers of all modern cameras. These 2 cameras were presented to the public in 1949.

Alpa Prisma Reflex

Alpa Prisma Reflex

Alpa was the brand name which was manufactured by a camera design company from Switzerland that made parts for Swiss watches, the Pignons SA. In 1949, Pignon introduced its first 35mm SLR camera sporting a pentaprism finder, the Alpa Prisma Reflex.

Contax S

contax s

Contax S was another 35mm SLR camera with a pentaprism finder that was also firstly introduced in 1949 by VEB Zeiss Ikon this time by a company in East Germany.

However observing their shape it is clear to be seen that the Contax S was the camera that was the stantard in terms of design of all the future SLR cameras though even the more sophisticated like the current DSLR ones.

Since this post is about the Mother of all modern cameras, I want to show you a model that was the first camera SLR with pentaprism from Japan; this showed the world that Japanese companies besides copying European prototypes could design originals that could be regarded as archetypal of technological evolution. Please admire the Asahi Pentax of 1957 a wonderful camera and an excellent example of a combination of simple design and flawless functionality.

Asahi Pentax

asahi pentax

The biggest Camera


George R. Lawrence was a unique photographer but mainly was a man of innovation and patenting. He began his artistic career by making enlargements of passport photos using crayons. As his workplace he had a small space that he had rented in a photographer’s studio. When the photographer disappeared one day, his whereabouts unknown, he left behind his equipment and darkroom.

the biggest camera

He convinced a photographer to teach him the basics of the development and processing of photos, but from there on he was self taught. Within seven years he had become a famous commercial photographer specializing in large prints. The slogan of his photography studio was ‘The Hitherto Impossible in Photography Is Our Specialty’. The big challenge didn’t take too long to arrive. The Chicago & Alton Railway asked him to photograph their new train in a large photo to send to the International Exhibition of Paris in 1900, the same International Exhibition for which the Eiffel Tower was built.

In order for Lawrence to achieve this imagery, he built a huge camera named Mammoth and succeeded once again in the impossible. The Cramer Company of St Louis manufactured the 8 x 4½ ft glass plates and also produced the large sheets of sensitized paper used in making the contact prints. Bausch and Lomb Optical Company of Rochester made ​ two lenses for the camera, a wide angle and a telephoto lens. The construction of the camera  took two and a half months.

The three final photos picture cost 5000 dollars, which was an enormous amount for that time. But they gained by the huge advertisement and the main feature is the slogan used in literature, ‘The Largest Photograph in the World of the Handsomest Train in the World.’ Lawrence won the ‘Grand Prize of the World for Photographic Excellence’ with his photos in the Paris World Exhibition.

In the photo I have attached you can see Lawrence next to the massive lens camera holding the lens cap underneath his arm, at the time the photograph was taken.

For the life of George R. Lawrence, you can read more at vikipedia

The first travel photographer

Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly Lotbinière

The year 1839 was a milestone for Photography. That time  was in Paris a truly imaginative guy, Mr Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly who had married a wealthy aristocrat in Canada and added to his name the surname of his wife, de Lotbinière.

Pierre-Gustave was an exceptional traveler for his time. His family was involved in the wine trade, and from his youth had traveled to different countries to find new markets and to make new agreements. First in Europe, from Switzerland where he was born, to France, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia, and across the Atlantic to South America,  the USA and Canada where in Montreal he met and married his wife Julie-Christine Chartier de Lotbinière.

athens first photos

In 1839 this well-traveled chap was in Paris planning a voyage to the Middle East. He learned about photography in Paris and the daguerreotype process that had just been announced to the French Academy of Science. Immediately, he supplied himself with all the necessary equipment by Noël Paymal Lerebours in order to take pictures of the antiquities of the places to which he would travel.

He arrived in Athens Greece via Malta and he was the first photographer to take photos of the Acropolis (The first photos of Athens). From there, he continued his journey on to Egypt and then to the Holy Lands, Syria and Turkey. On this trip he took 92 photos in total and some of them were published by Lerebours in his book ‘Excursions daguerriennes’ (1840-41) along with some others by the architect Hector Horeau in his book ‘Panorama from Egypt and Nubia’ (1841).

first travel photos

After this trip, it appears that he never took any more pictures again. The fascination with the invention of Photography led a lot of people to get involved in travel photography. Especially the French publishers, financed pionner photographers who had the desire to travel. The photos taken by Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly in Athens, all suggest that they were the first travel pictures ever taken. On the journey that he continued after Greece he was accompanied by other photographers traveling in East for the same purpose. The first photographs of Athens and the Acropolis make Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly the first travel photographer in the history of Photography.

The first portrait 1840

John William Draper was an American who was born in England in 1811. Like many other scientists of his time he worked in many scientific fields, he was a doctor, chemist, philosopher and historian. When the invention of photography was announced in The French Academy of Sciences in 1839, he was one of the first Americans to become involved with the new instrument. His knowledge of chemistry helped him  improve Daguerre’s method and this resulted in exposures of about 60 seconds in sunlight.

Among the first images he had taken was a photo of his sister Dorothy Catherine Draper which currently is considered to be the first portrait in the history of photography. This photo became known to the ​​public when Draper sent a copy of the image to Sir John Frederick William Herschel in 1840 to demonstrate the improvements he had made in the process of daguerreotype.

first portrait

John William Draper was also the first photographer who took pictures of the moon, but we will talk about this in a following post.

Find more about John William Draper

The first photo of a man 1838

In the early days of photography, it required  a long period of time of exposure to capture an image. (See the first photo that needed 8 hours of exposure).

These long exposure times resulted in anything that moved could not have been recorded in images. So the first pictures were either landscapes or still life. Even though the first photographers were taking pictures of the everyday life of a city, people could not be captured because of the long time exposure.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre with his photographic method that was later called Daguerreotype, managed to reduce these exposure times. In 1838, he had already managed to have pictures taken outside in the sunlight with only 10 minutes exposure. In one of his first photographs though almost nothing alive has been recorded, if we look at it carefully we will see two people standing relatively motionless during the exposure. It’s an image of a shoe polisher and his client standing upright.

first human photo

This photo from the Boulevard du Temple in Paris in 1838 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, was the first photograph that had ever recorded people and for this reason this photo will remain forever in history. A humble French shoe polisher with his box at his position on the sidewalk at the corner of Grand Boulevard and his dandy customer!

I have referenced an enlargement of the original image  in which you can get a closer look of these two people.

first man photo

Guerman Titov the first space photographer 1961

We all know Yuri Gagarin who became known in history as the first man to fly into space on April 12th 1961. So as is usual, nobody remembers the second guy. What we do not know is that Gagarin’s deputy, the Cosmonaut Guerman Titov flew into space on August 6th 1961 aboard the spaceship Vostok-2 and was the first man to take photos of the Earth from space. This made him the first space photographer.

Guerman Titov quickly overcame the disappointment that Gagarin was the first man to fly into space aboard the Vostok-1, when it was announced that he was to be on the crew aboard the Vostok-2. The objective of his mission apart from himself orbiting the Earth was to take pictures and short film stills from space.

Guerman Titov

Guerman Titov with a Konvas-Avtomat

For this reason he was given 60 hours of training to learn the operation of the Russian film camera Konvas-Avtomat which he would take with him aboard the spacecraft and basic photography lessons.

first photo from space

Guerman Titov not only surpassed Gagarin’s record stay in space of 108 minutes by staying in orbit around the Earth for 25 hours, he did just fine as a professional photographer-filmmaker, giving us the first pictures of the Earth from space. Titov still holds another record for being the youngest person to fly into space, as on the day of lift-off of the Vostok-2 he had not yet turned 26 years old. first photo from space color

The first selfie 1839

The term ‘selfie’ was first used in 2002 in an Australian forum and in 2003 is named Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year. The dictionary describes the word ‘selfie’ as «a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a Smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website».

However, the term has been known for decades in the photo family  as ‘self portrait’ and many photographers have dealt with this difficult type of photography. And don’t forget the self-timer button that many old cameras had. On the other hand there are a only few photographers who resisted the temptation to take a photo of themselves, or to include themselves in a picture by just capturing their shadows.

first selfie

Which is the first ‘selfie’ that was ever shot? According to all indications, it is a self-portrait that was taken by one of the pioneers of photography, Robert Cornelius in October 1839, the same year that photography was invented.

Read more about Robert Cornelius

The first photo 1826

The first photo ever taken was by a French inventor and pioneer of photography Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. It is a photo taken from the window of his studio that took 8 hours of exposure (yes 8 hours!). The English title is “View from the Window at Le Gras”. The procedure used was a complex process of photo-sensitization of a metal plate and exposure to light through a camera opscura. The method was named Heliography and was presented to the Royal Society of London, but the truth is that it made ​​no impression and unfortunately at that time received no special recognition.

first photo ever

We are used to seeing modern reproductions and copies of this photo. What we usually can’t see is the original, which is a small metal plate, which is far from being reminiscent of a photo. So I want to present it to you as a tribute to the pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who put us on the path to the discovery of photography. To remember how much hard work and effort it required for photography to become what we rejoice in today.

first photo

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras. c. 1826. Gernsheim Collection Harry Ransom Center / University of Texas at Austin.

Read more about Joseph Nicéphore Niépce