The white chocolate shortbread may be gone, but this week has been a good one for feeding my early photography obsession.
First of all Rob Douglas, the contemporary calotyper who I met in St Andrews, sent me prints of his own calotypes. I apologise for giving you a poor digital version of Burnside Farm and the Spindle Rock taken exactly as they would have been by John and Robert Adamson in 1843. Rob’s originals, on plain paper of course, are much more detailed and evocative. Take a look at his website for bigger and better versions.
I’ve also been deeply aware in the last few weeks or how long it is since I read Sara Stevenson’s Personal Art of David Octavius Hill, the definitive work on his calotypes and which I had at one time on (very) long loan from Bath Spa University Library. Surely no serious writer on the subject should be without this book.
So yesterday it arrived and even before dipping back into the text I was bowled over by the number and quality of the plates .
No wonder it inspired me. If only I’d had it before I went to St Andrews I could have got Sara to sign it (name-drop alert, I did meet her you know) . How amazing that would have been. But at least I have it in its rightful place on my bookshelf – some of the other books on it are listed here.
Finally yes, I did read Silver Harvest – inspired by the cover image of Sara’s book – on Monday evening at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and loved being there with the Stroud Short Stories gang. I’ll put up a longer report later. But for now I’d like to leave you with something Rob said yesterday in an email:
The sun shone this afternoon and I managed 3 decent Calotypes which are hanging up to dry now.
This gave me goose-bumps – as if the ghost of John Adamson had entered the room.
Magical – and better than shortbread.