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Significant PEOPLE in the early history of Photography
BREWSTER, Sir David
b. 11 December 1781; d. 10 February 1868
Sir David Brewster was an outstanding scholar who had the distinction of going to the Edinburgh University at the tender age of eleven. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1815, was a founder of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and was responsible for numerous inventions. He did early work on the properties of light, and the kaleidoscope. He was in touch with Fox Talbot and it was he who suggested the use of the photographic process to David Hill, as an aid to his painting. He clearly favoured Talbot's Calotype process over the Daguerreotype.
"While a Daguerreotype picture is much more sharp and accurate in its details than a Calotype, the latter possesses the advantage of giving a greater breadth and massiveness to its landscapes and portraits...
In point of expense, a Daguerreotype picture vastly exceeds a Calotype one of the same size. With its silver plate and glass covering, a quarto plate must cost five or six shillings, while a Calotype one will cost as many pence.... In the Daguerreotype the landscapes are all reverted, whereas in the Calotype the drawing is exactly conformable to nature..
"The great and unquestioned superiority of the calotype pictures is their power of multiplication. One Daguerreotype cannot be copied from another, and the person whose portrait is desired must sit for every copy that he wishes. When a pleasing picture is obtained, another of the same character cannot be reproduced. In the Calotype, on the contrary, we can take any number of pictures, within reasonable limits, from a negatives; and a whole circle of friends can procure, for a mere trifle, a copy of a successful and pleasing portrait.
In the Daguerreotype the landscapes are all reverted, whereas in the Calotype the drawing is exactly conformable to nature..
The Daguerreotype may be considered as having nearly attained perfection.... whereas the Calotype is yet in its infancy..."
In 1849 Brewster invented the Stereoscope, a viewer for stereoscopic prints. These became popular items in Victorian drawing-rooms. His book (The Stereoscope, its history, theory and construction) is still a good introduction to stereoscopic photography, though the author rather spoilt it by his unpleasantries concerning Wheatstone, who had actually invented stereoscopy.
CAMERON, Julia Margaret
b. 11 June 1815; d. 26 January 1879
Julia Margaret Cameron was an English photographer known for her portraits of eminent people of the day, and for her romantic pictures which, despite their technical imperfections, stand the test of time.
Her involvement in photography came about as a result of the kindness of her eldest daughter. Julia Margaret, by this time was aged forty-nine, her children had grown up, and her husband was often abroad on business. As a result she suffered from loneliness, and her daughter, to make her life more fulfilling, bought her a camera. From this simple beginning a new hobby began, which was to turn into an obsession. The comments in her book give a delightful glimpse of this lady:
"I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied. Its difficulty enhanced the value of the pursuit. I began with no knowledge of the art. I did not know where to place my dark box, how to focus my sitter, and my first picture I effaced to my consternation by rubbing my hand over the filmy side of the glass..."
isle mull photography Hannah Morris