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Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Chinese philosopher Mo Di and Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid described a pinhole camera in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. In the 6th century CE, Byzantine mathematician Anthemius of Tralles used a type of camera obscura in his experiments,

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Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) studied the camera obscura and pinhole camera, Albertus Magnus (1193–1280) discovered silver nitrate, and Georg Fabricius (1516–71) discovered silver chloride.Techniques described in the Book of Optics are capable of producing primitive photographs using medieval materials.

Daniele Barbaro described a diaphragm in 1566.[17] Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect) in 1694. The fiction book Giphantie, published in 1760, by French author Tiphaigne de la Roche, described what can be interpreted as photography.[

The discovery of the camera obscura that provides an image of a scene dates back to ancient China. Leonardo da Vinci mentions natural cameras obscura that are formed by dark caves on the edge of a sunlit valley. A hole in the cave wall will act as a pinhole camera and project a laterally reversed, upside down image on a piece of paper. So the birth of photography was primarily concerned with inventing means to fix and retain the image produced by the camera obscura.

The first success of reproducing images without a camera occurred when Thomas Wedgwood, from the famous family of potters, obtained copies of paintings on leather using silver salts. Since he had no way of permanently fixing those reproductions (stabilizing the image by washing out the non-exposed silver salts), they would turn completely black in the light and thus had to be kept in a dark room for viewing.

Renaissance painters used the camera obscura which, in fact, gives the optical rendering in color that dominates Western Art. The camera obscura literally means «dark chamber» in Latin. It is a box with a hole in it which allows light to go through and create an image onto the piece of paper.

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