nadar and the first aerial photographs

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.


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