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"Singular Images, Failed Copies"William Henry Fox Talbot and the Early Photograph$
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Vered Maimon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816694716

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816694716.001.0001

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Singular Images, Failed Copies

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"Singular Images, Failed Copies"

Vered Maimon

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the way the early photograph was historicized, analyzed and discussed by its early practitioners in reviews on photography in journals and newspapers that appeared in the 1840s. It argues that for early practitioners the photographic image was conceived to be very different from the image of the camera obscura. While in the camera obscura the image forms itself instantaneously and uniformly, the photograph develops through time. Thus the camera obscura image was always the same because it excluded time from its process of formation, whereas the photograph introduced time as a differentiating element into its form of production, resulting in a variety of contingent unaccountable effects. The chapter analyses Talbot’s botanical images, John Herschel’s vegetable photographs and Robert Hunt’s early histories of photography.

Keywords:   Photograph, Camera obscura, Botanical images, William Henry Fox Talbot, John Herschel, Robert Hunt, History of photography

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