The First Underwater Photograph


William Thompson, a natural historian from Dorset, was the first person to make a photograph underwater. It can be argued though that his attempt wasn’t entirely successful. In February 1856, Thompson and a friend rowed out into Weymouth Bay to conduct an experiment. On shore, a portable dark room tent had been used to prepare a glass plate negative. A camera was placed in a wooden box with its lens uncapped, while a sliding shutter was used to protect the plate from exposure. It was then attached to an iron tripod and taken out to sea. They lowered this device into the water and attempted to make the first underwater photograph in history. The box they had dropped into the sea had a glass plate front and the wooden shutter could be controlled by Thompson with the help of a string running up to the surface. While they had calculated the depth to be not more than 18 feet, the pressure had forced water to seep through the corners of the box. On their second attempt, where they made an exposure of ten minutes, an image had been obtained.