Fox Talbot revealed his method of ‘photogenic drawing’ to the world in January 1839, prompted by the announcement from France of a similar breakthrough by Louis Daguerre. By September 1840 he had refined his process to allow the production of photographic positives from paper negatives via contact printing. This ‘calotype’ method, the term being derived from the Greek ‘kalos’ (beautiful), did not produce images as detailed as a Daguerrotype, but had the overriding advantage of allowing multiple prints to be made from a single negative, whereas Daguerrotypes were unique and could not be reproduced. Fox Talbot patented his method in February 1841, and it was introduced to Scotland shortly after by his friend and fellow scientist Sir David Brewster. Fox Talbot accepted Brewster’s advice that it would not be worthwhile patenting the process in Scotland, clearing the way for the partnership of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, who began producing the country's first calotypes soon after.
Charles George Hood Kinnear (1830-1894) was born in 1830 at Kinloch House, near Collessie, Fife, into a wealthy banking family. In 1849 he was articled to Edinburgh architects William Burn and David Bryce. It is suggested in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects that he may have learnt photography from Bryce, though the dates in this album, 1846-8, indicate that his photographic experiments pre-date their known professional association.
Kinnear became a founding member of the Photographic Society of Scotland in 1856, and in the same year entered into partnership with Edinburgh architect John Dick Peddie. In 1857 he went on an architectural and photographic tour of northern France using a new form of camera with conical bellows, which provided the model for nearly all subsequent cameras.
Kinnear’s final public exhibition of photographs was in 1864, after which his architectural work absorbed most of his efforts; the firm of Peddie & Kinnear had become hugely successful, securing major commissions for private houses, public buildings and churches throughout Scotland which remain major landmarks to this day, including Edinburgh's Cockburn Street, and the hydropathics at Dunblane, Craiglockhart and Callander.
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