THOMPSON, William

UK (1822-1879)

Last updated: May 15, 2018 at 14:32 pm

Naturalist; pioneer of underwater photography; took the world’s first underwater photo and the first half & half image (split shot, over-under) in 1856. The camera inside a housing made of wood and iron was mounted on a tripod that was lowered to a depth of 5.5 m (18 ft) by means of a rope. Thompson got the idea while watching a wave-battered bridge from a public house. Thompson used the collodion process to take the single photo during which the camera flooded. Although the resulting image was by no means a masterpiece, it was nonetheless a technical success.

“Should a pier of a bridge require to be examined, you have but to suit your camera, and you will obtain a sketch of the pier, with any dilapidations; and the engineer will thus obtain far better information than he could from any report made by a diver.” — William Thompson (1856)

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