dubbed FRS herself. The father John George Children should be given more credit because, after a home-lab conflagration >!whooomph!< he recommended the use of safety-goggles. Anna was a family friend of William Henry Fox Talbot and Sir William Herschel, whom we've met before discovering planets with his sister Caroline. Talbot and his oppo Louis Daguerre in France were independently developing the technology and techniques (different!) of photography in the late 1830s standing on the shoulders of chemists of the previous generation. Their discoveries and tastes dictated the way in which photography became available. It could have gone in different directions using different chemical reactions but it worked and that put a damper on blue-skies research to discover other Ways of Seeing. William Herschel invented a totally novel chemical technique for recording fine detail. He required the process as an early form of backup, so that his notes and diagrams could be recorded indelibly. The chemistry involves mixing 8% potassium ferricyanide and 20% ferric ammonium citrate and slapping it on an absorbent material - usually paper or cloth. On exposure to light the iron is reduced to form a complex called Iron(II,III) hexacyanoferrate(II,III) aka ferric ferrocyanide aka Prussian Blue, an insoluble blue dye.
The advantages of this cheap and cheerful process were immediately recognised by technologists, engineers and architects and gave us the word blueprint - as a fundamental and accurately reproduced template. It exercised the adopters of the alternative silver-based process in ways out of all proportion to the issue at hand. Why not have a landscape with a blue tinge? Why did the monochrome have to be black? Very interesting essay on the photographic angle.
Anna Atkins wasn't having any of that - she wanted an accurate record, she wanted it fast and she didn't give a tuppenny damn if it was blue. Brilliant!