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The Birth of Sun Paintings
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Between 1844-6, William Henry Fox Talbot used the title The Pencil of Nature for his set of published prints which featured images of botanical specimens, photograms, still life and landscapes. Photography was very young at the time of the Pencil of Nature; this set being the first published photographically illustrated book. Talbot first investigated the usage of the camera obscura and camera lucida to aid his sketches by tracing the image projected onto the paper through the prism; "it was his inability to draw which caused him to experiment with a mechanical method of capturing and retaining an image" Leggat,...
and sun drawings, and is quoted in Scharf's Pioneers of Photography as stating that they were "impressed by Nature's hand" p15. This is true, to put the process of photography simply. With the help of chemicals, it is light and shadow that is recorded on the roll of film in our camera, and light which allows us to expose the image in printing. Photography is a very common term now, but in Talbot's time it was looked upon with fresh eyes and the process explained in words which to us now, seem too wondrous for such a familiar method.
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