nadar, the first aerial photographer
“what purity of lines, what extraordinary clarity of sight in the smallness of this microcosm where everything appears to us with the exquisite impression of a marvellous, ravishing cleanliness! I found neither slag nor stain. Nothing but distance to escape all ugliness … The invitation to the lens was in this case more than formal, imperative, and, so intense that our absorption was pushed to the vagueness of a dream, in truth it would have been necessary never to have even half-opened the door of a laboratory so that we wouldn’t have been immediately taken by the thought of photographing these marvels.”
this is what felix gaspard tournachon otherwise known as ‘Nadar’ wrote about his reaction to ascending above Paris in a hot air balloon.
Nadar produced the world’s first aerial photographs, by ascending in a hot air balloon using the wet collodion process to produce images while flying above paris.
a friend of charles baudelaire, photographing from above seems for nadar a logical extension to the notion of being a flâneur in baudelarian terms:
How to infer the individuality, so personal, and the strangeness, so ingeniously and perfectly sincere, of that complicated man Baudelaire … ? Photography, which was just being born, offered, at least to my lack of ability, the virtue of not exhausting the good will of my models for too long, even as it opened paths of which I had hitherto been unaware.
In the last book of roland barthes, his final meditation on photography; camera lucida, barthes refers to this photograph as the most beautiful photograph in the world.