|Dates: ||1829 - ?|
A cotton manufacturer, magistrate, and eventually captain of the Rifle Volunteers, Neild was typical of many amateur photographers who had both manipulatory skills and the blocks of free time that, surprisingly, seem to come to particularly active people. A vice president of the Manchester Photographic Society in 1856, he had an excellent understanding of all the processes in use. Neild singled out the calotype for his presentation to the society, modestly claiming that perhaps his was not the best method but stressing that it was based on experience and successful for him. He favored Turner’s paper for being the most uniform in texture, critical for calotype negatives, and used Talbot’s first method of brushing on the coatings. More than many of his colleagues who thought they could compensate for poor exposure in developing, Neild understood the importance of proper timing in the camera. Overexposed negatives acquired “a dull red appearance . . . destitute of vigor and sharpness.” When underexposed, “the high lights are hard and black with neither middle tints nor detail in the shadows.” Neild displayed nine calotypes, all of architecture, in the 1856 exhibition of the Manchester Photographic Society. He had the unusual but very sensible advice that often “there are very strong shadows with fine and interesting detail; but if we give sufficient time to bring out the dark parts of the picture, the sky and light parts will be heavy and devoid of beauty and interest.” Neild cautioned, “take care of the shadows.” Opaquing would correct the sky, “whereas nothing will restore half tones and detail which may have been sacrificed to obtain” a uniform sky.
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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