Posts Tagged ‘historical’

Double Exposure: A Clever Photo Prank From Half a Century Ago

When the engineering students and staff of King’s College in London gathered together to take a faculty portrait, the photographer used an old camera that panned from left to right in order to capture an extremely long panorama of the entire group in one frame. It worked a bit like the panorama features on modern smartphones: start the exposure on one side of the frame, and then gradually sweep the camera across the scene while everyone in the frame stays as still as possible.
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Pilgrimage: A Photographer’s Journey to One of the Birthplaces of Photography

If you’re at all interested in the history of photography, Henry Fox Talbot is a pioneer that you need to be familiar with. Although French pioneer Louis Daguerre is often credited with being “the father of photography,” Talbot, based in England, had announced his own photographic process in the same year. Daguerre’s daguerreotype process dominated the industry early on, but Talbot’s process — one that involved creating photographic negatives and then printing photos with them — eventually became the standard model used in the 20th century.
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Iconic Photo: Watching Bwana Devil in 3D at the Paramount Theater

This iconic photograph by LIFE magazine photojournalist J. R. Eyerman turned 60 this past week. Shot at the Paramount Theater in Hollywood in 1952, the image shows the opening-night screening of the first ever full-length, color 3D movie, titled Bwana Devil.
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Razor-Blade Model: Polaroid and Kodak Never Existed to Sell Cameras

Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid, has authored a lengthy piece for the Washington Post on what Kodak — and whoever buys its film lines — can learn from the fall of Polaroid. The article offers some interesting facts about, and insights into, the film photography industry:

Yes, Polaroid and Kodak made hundreds of millions of cameras. But that was never their principal business: The hardware existed mostly to sell film. This is what business-school professors call the razor-blade model, pioneered by Gillette: The razor is sold at minimal profit or even given away, and the blades sell for years afterward at a healthy profit margin. Amazon does the same with the Kindle, selling it cheaply to encourage enthusiastic e-book buying.

More than anything else, Polaroid’s desire in the 1990s to keep film sales up and film factories humming was what killed the company. When it should’ve been diving into a variety of digital businesses, Polaroid doubled down on analog-film production, building new production equipment and trying to economize.

The business model Bonanos describes is also known as freebie marketing.

What Kodak could still learn from Polaroid [The Washington Post]


Image credit: razor blade by scottfeldstein

René Burri’s Contact Sheet That Led to an Iconic Photo of Che Guevara

Imagine you were a newspaper photo editor back in 1963, and Swiss Magnum photographer René Burri handed you the contact sheet above filled with portraits of revolutionary Che Guevara. Which photograph would you select for publication?

You might recognize one of the photographs, since it has become one of the most iconic portraits created of Che.
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‘The Photographer': A 1948 Documentary on the Life and Work of Edward Weston

Here’s an interesting 26-minute documentary about the life and work of 20th-century-photographer Edward Weston, a man who is considered to be one of the most influential American photographers and one of the masters of photography during his era. The 1948 film, titled “The Photographer,” was shot by American filmmaker Willard Van Dyke, an apprentice of Weston’s, who went on to become a very notable photographer in his own right.
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Analog Instagram: A Brief History of the Lomography Movement

Stephen Dowling of BBC News has an interesting piece that tells the story of the Lomography movement and how it may be instrumental in saving film photography:

In 1991, a group of Austrian art students on a trip to nearby Prague found […] a curious little camera […] it produced pictures unlike anything they had seen before. The little camera was the Lomo LC-A – Lomo Kompact Automat, built in Soviet-era Leningrad by Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association (Lomo) – and very soon a craze was born. It was an analogue Instagram in the days before digital photography.

This Lomo craze may have ended up helping save film photography from an untimely end. In 1992, the students set up Lomographic Society International, exhibiting shots taken on unwanted Lomos they had bought up from all over Eastern Europe. Then, in the mid-90s, having exhausted the supply of left-over Lomos gathering dust in Budapest, Bucharest or East Berlin, they went to the camera’s manufacturers […] and persuaded them to restart production. The negotiations were helped along by the support of the city’s then deputy mayor, Vladimir Putin.

According to Dowling, there is speculation that Lomography is a potential suitor for Kodak’s film business that is currently for sale.

Did the Lomo camera save film photography? [BBC News]


Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!


Image credit: LOMO LC-A e pensieri by hummyhummy

1998 Review of Sony Mavica Shows How Far Digital Cameras Have Come

Back in 1998, PC World magazine published a review of the Sony Mavica MVC-FD71 as the digital camera industry was beginning to pick up steam. He’s what they wrote:

[…] the original model took about 8 seconds to save a photo to a disk, this version averaged a more tolerable 4 seconds. In addition, Sony has added some nifty new features. These include the ability to make copies of floppies using just the camera–very handy if you want to hand out extra disks on the spot. A new quarter-resolution (320 by 240) option also makes it faster to e-mail photographs. (The camera’s full resolution is 640 by 480.) A built-in menu on the MVC-FD71’s LCD screen permits you to easily take advantage of useful new options such as these.

My main complaint? The high price tag. List-priced at $799, the Mavica costs more than many high-quality 35mm cameras. And as with most digital cameras, this model fails to deliver image quality that is comparable to the quality produced by a 35mm.

The reviewer also commends the camera for weighing in at just 1.2 pounds.

Sony Mavica Camera Slims Down, Speeds Up [PCWorld via MetaFilter]


Image credit: Sony Mavica MVC-FD71_0433 by Bobolink

The First Hoax Photograph Ever Shot

The mid-1800s was a busy time for photographic firsts. In 1838, daguerreotype inventor Louis Daguerre captured the first ever photo of a human being. One year later, in 1839, photograph pioneer Robert Cornelius stepped in front of his camera and created the first self-portrait. 1840 held yet another interesting development: the first hoax photograph.
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A Mirror Self-Portrait Captured in 1917

Snapping mirror self-portraits may have gotten a huge boost from the introduction of digital photography and smartphoneography, but it is by no means a new activity limited to our era. The photograph above was created back in 1917 — nearly 100 years ago! It was snapped by an Australian flying ace named Thomas Baker when he was 20 years old.
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