By Brian | October 28, 2010 | Share on Facebook
Megan McArdle just pointed me to this picture, which purports to be the first picture ever taken of a human being:
According to the blog post it came from, the picture was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838. Louis Daguerre invented a process called Daguerreotype, which creates an image by exposing a chemically treated metal plate to light for ten minutes.
What’s really interesting about this picture (to me, anyway) is that the street was very crowded and busy when the picture was taken. But all of the people, horse-drawn carriages, etc. were moving, so they didn’t make any impression on the metal plate. Only the one gentleman, who appears to be having his boots shined, stood still enough for long enough to be captured. Everyone else around him was, unknowingly, a ghost – disappearing in the final daguerreotype. But this guy’s image was preserved forever – the first human being ever caught on film.
And, because the Internet can sometimes be as awesome as a daguerrotype from 1838, here is an image lifted from Google maps, showing the same street corner today (lifted from the same blog post: