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Old 12-03-2019, 09:24 AM
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When were self-timers for cameras invented?


The title says it all, but here's some background:

In this thread I posted a photo of some guys on a cross-country road trip in 1923. The first photo shows four guys taking a break beside their car. A fifth guy could have taken the photo. But in the second photo there are three guys in the car, so the fourth is probably taking the picture.

The fifth guy could have been relieving himself behind a tree but it doesn't look like there's room in the car for five. So I'm wondering, how likely is it that the camera had a timer?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:36 AM
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Maybe 1902.

But, even without a self timer there were was to take “selfies.” Pneumatic bulbs on long tubes could be used to trip the shutter. Surprisingly, they are still available,
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:44 AM
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Very interesting. In the first photo, the 2nd guy from the right could be holding a bulb in his left hand. And he's the only one looking at the camera.

Last edited by Bumbershoot; 12-03-2019 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:44 AM
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I was curious so I went googling. I found a lot of references to the Kodak self-timer, which dates to 1918. It seems to have been popular enough to be the most likely used in your photos.

The earliest I found so far though was a device called a Slow Speed Timer from 1894.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:48 AM
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Before that, film speeds were so slow that the photographer could uncover the lens, walk in front of the camera, and pose for about a minute before stopping the exposure. The first selfie was in 1839.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terminus Est View Post
Before that, film speeds were so slow that the photographer could uncover the lens, walk in front of the camera, and pose for about a minute before stopping the exposure. The first selfie was in 1839.
This leads naturally to the follow-on questions: Who and when was the first Darwin Award Candidate to die while taking a selfie?
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Maybe 1902.

But, even without a self timer there were was to take “selfies.” Pneumatic bulbs on long tubes could be used to trip the shutter. Surprisingly, they are still available,
Not that old, but I've still got one of those around somewhere.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:25 PM
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There's a reference in Cheaper By The Dozen (the book) to a camera self-timer used in the 1910s. The timed interval was maddeningly inconsistent, causing some... interesting candids.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terminus Est View Post
Before that, film speeds were so slow that the photographer could uncover the lens, walk in front of the camera, and pose for about a minute before stopping the exposure. The first selfie was in 1839.
I wouldn't call that a real selfie. People have been taking timer shots for a long time. A selfie is taken by the subject either by holding the camera away while pointing it towards themselves or shooting into a mirror (the classic selfie).

For that distinction I submit my grandparents from 1917: https://imgur.com/aSqOTNp

Dennis
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Terminus Est View Post
Before that, film speeds were so slow that the photographer could uncover the lens, walk in front of the camera, and pose for about a minute before stopping the exposure. The first selfie was in 1839.
Nitpick - it wasn't really "film" at that point, it was a plate. By the mid 19 century, that trick probably wouldn't work - the wet plate collodion process, such as used by Mathew Brady, had exposure times which varied greatly, but were generally a few seconds in decent lighting. The major hassle with that process was that the plate had to be prepared, shot and developed within about a 15-30 minute window, essentially requiring that the photographer cart their darkroom around with them. The much more convenient gelatin plate came along in the 1870s, and brought exposures down to "snapshot" times after Charles Bennett discovered that baking the things made them much more light sensitive.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:53 PM
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Lewis Carroll: Hiawatha's Photographing.

From his shoulder Hiawatha
Took the camera of rosewood,
Made of sliding, folding rosewood;
Neatly put it all together.
In its case it lay compactly,
Folded into nearly nothing;

But he opened out the hinges,
Pushed and pulled the joints and hinges,
Till it looked all squares and oblongs,
Like a complicated figure
In the Second Book of Euclid.

This he perched upon a tripod -
Crouched beneath its dusky cover -
Stretched his hand, enforcing silence -
Said, "Be motionless, I beg you!"
Mystic, awful was the process.

[...].

Finally my Hiawatha
Tumbled all the tribe together,
('Grouped' is not the right expression),
And, as happy chance would have it
Did at last obtain a picture
Where the faces all succeeded:
Each came out a perfect likeness.

Then they joined and all abused it,
Unrestrainedly abused it,
As the worst and ugliest picture
They could possibly have dreamed of.
[...]

Last edited by Melbourne; 12-04-2019 at 05:55 PM.
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