British photographic history

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Fictionalising the bio of 19th-century photographic innovator Julia Margaret Cameron, David Rocklin creates, in Catherine Colebrook, a woman fascinated by the dawning of scientific photography. The novel opens in 1836 in South Africa, where Catherine is preparing to depart for Ceylon, a British colony off the coast of India (present-day Sri Lanka). Colebrook is fascinated by the process of capturing images on tin or copper; she has heard about the technique from Sir John Holland, a visiting lecturer, and so the story goes ....

Over the course of February and March, Catherine and Sir John experimented with various chemical combinations. They used guncotton to bathe the plates in silver salt. They lacquered skins of collodion onto them and potassium mixed with oil of lavender to lend flexibility. They conversed in drams and durations. Light and shadow became their accomplices. … Sir John taught her and Eligius how to grind and polish glass for lenses. They reconfigured the camera’s plate holder with a spring-loaded trap of imported rosewood. For the collodion and silver salt, Eligius constructed vertical baths so the plates might be coated evenly. On his own he experimented with mirrors and angles. By spring he’d created his own topography of the light’s possibilities in Holland House. (p. 219).

One reviewer went all the way to say "This fascinating story made me want to run to the library and learn everything about the 19th century British photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron". 

You can be the judge of this yourself as you can read more reviews of the book here, or get a copy yourself using the Amazon link on the right.

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