Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry

Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-00970-8
On a hot August day in 1835 in the small village of Lacock, Wiltshire, British former parliamentarian, amateur scientist, and writer Henry Fox Talbot was experimenting with permanently capturing images from nature and created a small, delicate image of a latticed window—the first photographic negative. Little did he know that stage designer Louis Daguerre had been pursuing the same goal since the 1820s, and had begun collaborating with amateur scientist Nicephore Niépce to develop a photographic process. Here, historians Watson, curator of the Fox Talbot Museum, and Rappaport (The Last Days of the Romanovs) offer an energetically written and deftly paced history of photography’s origins, including the intricate rivalries surrounding Talbot and Daguerre’s laborious attempts to permanently capture images seen through the camera obscura. A brief, though informative, history of optics, the camera obscura, and the Lunar Men (a small society of inventors and amateur scholars whose published accounts would be essential to photography’s realization) preface the authors’ portraits of Daguerre and Talbot. Daguerre garnered the bulk of the fame for announcing his discovery in 1839, four years after Talbot had created the first photograph. Though Daguerre reaped many more commercial rewards, Talbot emerges as a humble, hardworking genius in this gripping popular history. Two eight-page color photo inserts. Agent: Charlie Viney, the Viney Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 11/26/2013
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 306 pages - 978-1-4472-1258-4
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-06141-6
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-0-230-76886-4
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-0-230-76457-6
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-250-03832-6
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