... blog post:


Lacock Abbey; the desk in the study of Henry Fox Talbot FRS FRSE FRAS the British inventor of photography, who produced his first ‘photogenic drawings’ in 1834 and in 1835 made his first in camera negative. 

He refined the process to create what in 1840 became known as the calotype or talbotype which produced a negative through the development of a ‘latent’ image.


By exposing the calotype negative, produced in the camera, placing this developed negative in contact with a further sheet of sensitised paper a positive image was produced, you could do this as many times as you wished creating multiple 'prints' off the same negative.

Subsequent derivatives of Talbot’s negative-positive process were to become the dominant form of photography until they were superseded in the digital age in the early 2000's some 165 years later, though there continues to be a niche crowd of negative film users to this day who still prefer to use this medium for their photography.

It is good to know that the place and the very desk where H F Talbot, as he preferred to be called, made these great photographic inventions are preserved for all to see by The National Trust. Mind you he was a polymath and was a pioneer in the fields of spectroscopy, optics, botany, mathematics, astronomy, ancient languages, chemistry and archaeology too.


As Larry J Schaaf wrote of him, "The inventor's name is preserved in various scientific fields: in mathematics, there is Talbot's curve; in physics Talbot's law and the Talbot (a unit of luminous energy); in botany two species are named after him; in astronomy a crater of the moon is named after him; and there is the persistent testimony of an art that has become so pervasive in society that its products are sometimes as invisible to us as are his latent images. In his lifetime, Talbot had published seven books and nearly sixty scientific and mathematical articles".


Bright fellow! He died at this desk in his study at his country house Lacock Abbey on the 17th of September 1877. Quite poignant really.