Photogenic Drawings


William Henry Fox Talbot began contemplating the idea of imprinting natural images in a durable manner after futile attempts to sketch a scene using a drawing aid called the camera lucida. In experiments conducted in 1834, he realised that a sheet of fine writing paper, coated with salt and brushed with a solution of silver nitrate would darken when exposed to sunlight. Following this, he discovered that a second layer of salt hindered further darkening or fading. He made use of this process to make accurate tracings of botanical specimens by pressing a plant onto sensitised paper and then covering it with a sheet of glass. The space where the plant blocked the light ensured that the paper would remain light in colour, while the rest of the sheet turned dark. When in 1839, news of Daguerre’s invention reached him, he scrambled to stake claim to his findings.

Tags: black and white, Black and White photography, botanical specimens, did you know, Drawings, futile, history of photography, Inventor, lucida, negative, photogenic, photography process, pioneer, sensitised paper, silver nitrate, sketch, William Henry Fox Talbot