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Fox Talbot Process
Henry Fox Talbot is the father of the negative-positive photography process. Analogue or film-based photography, after falling out of favour as use of digital photography became widespread, is making a comeback. This resurgence it not too different to the re-emergence of vinyl records. Fox Talbot invented his analogue process in the 1830s. Unknown to Fox Talbot at the time, rival French inventor, Louis Daguerre was working on his own process. The Fox Talbot process had an advantage over the Daguerroypes though. Daguerre’s process created only one single print. Before the invention of the digital scanner, this meant you were stuck with single copy of the photograph. Although Fox Talbot could not produce prints directly with his camera, the ‘negatives’ he produced were much more useful. Negatives are essentially a recording of the image on film (with the modern process). If you hold a processed negative up to a light you will see the tones are reversed: the darkest parts (for example a tree trunk) would appear lightest and the lightest parts (for example white clouds in the sky) would appear darkest. This is not a major issue as the negative is an intermediate stage of the Fox Talbot process and the tones are reversed in printing. In fact the advantage is that the negative, from the intermediate stage, you can create as many prints as needed. Additionally, you can use negatives to make larger photos or even posters.
Henry Fox Talbot developed his Fox Talbot process at Lacock Abbey. We made the image of the windows above using a modern analogue film camera. Fox Talbot himself made a photograph from the very same position using his own invention in 1835. It is the earliest surviving negative. If you visit Lacock Abbey with your phone or camera, you can go to the same window and take your own image. National Trust also have a visitor museum where you can find out much more on the Fox Talbot process.
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