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Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry Hardcover – November 26, 2013
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“A dual biography of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot, two men who separately announced inventions of photographic processes in France and England in 1839. The book is very readable, even exciting--good on the science and particularly good on the characters and social backgrounds of the two men. . . . Silver nitrate has been superseded by pixels for image making, but it was once the cutting edge, with all the excitement that goes with the miraculous.” ―Wall Street Journal
“A well-timed and welcome history of the invention and spread of photography in the nineteenth century.” ―Booklist
“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 . . . gripping popular history.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Rappaport offers an absorbing, perceptive, and detailed picture of a constitutional monarchy in crisis.” ―Publishers Weekly on A Magnificent Obsession
“As shocking and immediate as a thriller. . . . [A] gripping read.” ―People magazine, 3 ½ stars on The Last Days of the Romanovs
“Quite simply, stunning. . . . Chilling and poignant, this is how history books should be written.” ―Alison Weir, author of Henry VIII: The King and His Court on The Last Days of the Romanovs
Top Customer Reviews
People had dreamed of being able to obtain clear, accurate photographic images for years, but the process seemed hopelessly complicated and doomed to failure, despite numerous attempts. Then in the early nineteenth century two very different men, without knowing anything about the other's existence, began to make progress. In France Louis Daguerre, from an humble background and with limited education, began to experiment as part of his employment as an illustrator and creator of large displays called panoramas. In England Henry Fox Talbot, scion of a noble family, began to investigate the possibilities of creating permanent images at about the same time. Watson and Rappaport do a fine job of creating a dual biography of the two men, describing the laborious experiments, repeated time and again with different, sometimes hazardous, materials over many years before each began to produce shadowy images. Inventors are often perceived as hidden away from the world with few human contacts, but both Daguerre and Talbot had many friends and associates and very supportive families. Indeed, Talbot likely would not have succeeded without the encouragement of his strong minded mother.
While Daguerre's process became highly popular and widely used, Talbot's process, which had some advantages over his French rivals, was never as well known.Read more ›
The book is written to an eye toward the social and political history of the day and takes what would be a dry subject for most- especially if merely presenting the technical steps taken in these mens' quest into a portrait of the men, their families and their unique personalities and genius.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More bio than anything else. Little technical info. No great "Eureka!" moments. It's fine.Published 16 months ago by Joseph B. Gioielli
Good book for my relative who is a professional photographer!Published 16 months ago by BettyAnn Leeseberg-Lange
The book is very informative, well written and easy to read. It details information that was not know to me and important to the history of the art of photography.Published on March 28, 2014 by John W. Galbreath
Definitely a book I'd read again. . .and maybe again. All photographers. . .this is a must read! It's how IT all began.Published on March 16, 2014 by Jim J.