Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot revealed a rival photographic process just weeks after Daguerre’s announcement in 1839. Unlike the daguerreotype—a one-of-a-kind object distinguished by its clarity and detail—Talbot’s process produced a paper negative that could be used to print multiple positive photographs, each with a soft, atmospheric character. Just three years after the invention of his process,
Talbot was not merely taking documentary images of the world, but creating images with clear artistry. With dark, entwined tree limbs that resemble the fine lines of a drawing, Winter Trees, Reflected in a Pond is graphic, bold, and nearly abstract. In this complex picture, the subject matter and composition reveal the striking artistic possibilities of Talbot’s process.