Capturing the Light starts with a tiny scrap of purple-tinged paper, 176 years old and about the size of a postage stamp. On it you can just make out a tiny, ghostly image of a gothic window, an image so small and perfect that it ‘might be supposed to be the work of some Lilliputian artist’: the world’s first photographic negative.
This captivating book traces the lives of two very different men in the 1830s, both racing to be the first to solve one of the world’s oldest problems: how to capture an image and keep it for ever. On the one hand there is Henry Fox Talbot: a quiet, solitary gentleman-amateur tinkering away on his farm in the English countryside. On the other Louis Daguerre, a flamboyant, charismatic French showman in search of fame and fortune.
Only one question remains: who will get there first?