7 SEPTEMBER 1951, Page 12


Tint Institute of British Photographers is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with an impressive exhibition, " British Achievement in Photography," which will -be on view at the Overseas League, Park Place, St. James's, until September 14. Among the historical exhibits, none is more significint than W. H. Fox Talbot's pencil drawing made with the help of the camera lucida at Lake Como in 1833, a sketch which so dissatisfied him that it turned his thoughts towards photography, and led to the publication in January, 1839, of his negative-positive process, six months before Daguerre's was made known. A copy of Fox Talbot's book The Pencil of Nature (1844), the first book to be illustrated by photographs, lends point to this story, and a replica of his earliest dated negative now existing —a window in Lacock Abbey taken from the inside—can be com- pared with the same subject recorded by modern colour photo- graphy. Other outstanding eat, photographs on show are a portrait of R. S. Rintoul, the first editor of the Spectator (here reproduced

by courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society) taken in 1843 by David Octavius Hill, the Scottish painter who was the first artist to use photography ; and a photograph of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort at the opening of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham in 1854, which is claimed as the first documentary Press photograph. The advances of photography in recent years are abundantly demonstrated and explained—photo-telegraphy, flashlight photo- graphy, colour work, airgraphs, X-rays, " photo-finishes " at race meetings, the employment of the Kinetheodolite by the Army, the development of underwater photography by the Royal Navy, and the Radar-controlled air surveys undertaken by the R.A.F. But nothing is, perhaps, more immediately impressive to the layman, who is best attuned to simplicity in what he does not understand, than the collection of early cameras and equipment and such a self-explanatory freak as the smallest camera in the world (about the