Capturing the Light by Helen Rappaport
The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry

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This dramatically staged narrative certainly gives you some sense of the closeness of the race between the two main rivals who claimed to be the inventors of photography.
-Guardian

Synopsis

An intimate look at the journeys of two men—a gentleman scientist and a visionary artist—as they struggled to capture the world around them, and in the process invented modern photography

During the 1830s, in an atmosphere of intense scientific enquiry fostered by the industrial revolution, two quite different men—one in France, one in England—developed their own dramatically different photographic processes in total ignorance of each other's work. These two lone geniuses—Henry Fox Talbot in the seclusion of his English country estate at Lacock Abbey and Louis Daguerre in the heart of post-revolutionary Paris—through diligence, disappointment and sheer hard work overcame extraordinary odds to achieve the one thing man had for centuries been trying to do—to solve the ancient puzzle of how to capture the light and in so doing make nature 'paint its own portrait'. With the creation of their two radically different processes—the Daguerreotype and the Talbotype—these two giants of early photography changed the world and how we see it.
Drawing on a wide range of original, contemporary sources and featuring plates in colour, sepia and black and white, many of them rare or previously unseen, Capturing the Light by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport charts an extraordinary tale of genius, rivalry and human resourcefulness in the quest to produce the world's first photograph.

 

About Helen Rappaport

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ROGER WATSON is a world authority on the early history of photography. He is currently the Curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey and an occasional lecturer at DeMontfort University in Leicester. HELEN RAPPAPORT is a historian with a specialization in the nineteenth century. She is the author of eight published books, including The Last Days of the Romanovs and A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy.
 
Published November 26, 2013 by St. Martin's Press. 319 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Capturing the Light
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Sep 16 2013

Photojournalism pursued war and politics. Improvements in commercial printing and color processes promoted photography. Today, snapshots of Martian landscapes are commonplace. An unbiased, worthwhile recollection of the marvelous invention of photography.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sean O'Hagan on Apr 20 2013

This dramatically staged narrative certainly gives you some sense of the closeness of the race between the two main rivals who claimed to be the inventors of photography.

Read Full Review of Capturing the Light: The Birt... | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Peter Pesic on Dec 27 2013

Mr. Watson and Ms. Rappaport's finest pages summon up the sense of wonder in the earliest photographs. Their descriptions of the marked sharpness of daguerreotypes, as contrasted with calotypes, excite the desire to see them both more closely.

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