James Wallace Black (1825-1896)


James Black's career was one marked by experimentation and innovation. He began his career as a painter, but when that didn't work out he bacame a daguerrotype plate polisher and broke into the field of photography. He started his career taking portraits and scenic photographs like all other photographers at the time. Two of his more famous portrait subjects were John Brown and Walt Whitman. After taking standard photographs for a while he found a field of photography that was far more interesting. Two years after Felix Nadar tried the first aerial photographs, James Black decided to try his hand. He charted a hot-air balloon to hover 1,200 feet above boston while he took photographs. Only one of the eight glass plates came out clear, but it was a historical event as it marked the first aerial photo taken within the United States and the first clear aerial image ever. He named his image "Boston as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It" and it is his most famous work. Later in his career he became the leading authority on candle slide projection, the early predecessor to todays projectors.



"Boston as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It" Courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aerial_photograph_of_Boston,_1860.jpg
"Boston as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It" Courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aerial_photograph_of_Boston,_1860.jpg
James W. Black  Courtesy of: http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2008/11/05/pages/6266/Black-2008-62.jpg
James W. Black Courtesy of: http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2008/11/05/pages/6266/Black-2008-62.jpg