Posts Tagged ‘historical’

The State of Professional Photography Back in 1946

Want to know what the professional photography industry was like over half a century ago, and what advice was commonly given to aspiring professionals? Check out this 10-minute vocational guidance film from 1946 that offers a quick overview of the various types of photography that people went pro in at the time. Suggested careers include portrait photography, commercial photography, and photojournalism. Here’s how the video starts off:

Photography is often called “the universal hobby.” It is a means of creative expression within the reach of people in all walks of life, and it speaks a language that everyone can understand.

The camera lens is a mechanical eye: seeing everything, and recording everything. It captures actions that will never again be repeated.

It’s fascinating to see how much the industry has changed in some ways, while remaining virtually unchanged in others. The brief glimpses of negative retouching are probably quite foreign to many modern day photographers, while the tip on starting photography as a hobby first is still heeded by many an aspiring photographer today.

(via The Atlantic via ISO 1200)

Civil War Reenactments Photographed with a Wet Plate Camera

At first glance, New York-based photographer Richard Barnes‘ Civil War photos might look like they were taken from some museum or historical photographic archive. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll begin to notice things that are quite peculiar. In one of them, there’s a pickup truck parked in the background. In another, a man wears a T-shirt and baseball cap — certainly not the fashion you’d expect to see in a mid-1800s photo.

The truth is, Barnes creates beautiful war photos that appear to be from over a century ago by using the Civil War-era process of wet plate photography to capture modern day Civil War battle reenactments.
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Iconic “Atop a Skyscraper” Photographs May Have Been Staged Publicity Stunts

Lunch atop a Skyscraper is one of the most recognizable photos of the 20th century. The 1932 photo shows 11 construction workers taking a lunch break on a girder 850 feet above New York City. A second photo from the same shoot shows four of the men sleeping on the beam. The images are iconic and epic, but may not be as candid as they seem.

New emerging information about the images is casting doubt on the fact that they’re simple snapshots showing ordinary workers on the job. Instead, the photos were reportedly staged as part of a promotional effort for the Rockefeller Center.
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This is What Camera Shops Looked Like a Century Ago

Check out this photo showing the inside of a camera shop (and pharmacy) from 1910. It’s the image on a postcard that’s currently being auctioned over on eBay (with a starting bid of $100) by a seller named 2raccoons. Here’s the description:

Up for auction is this extraordinary photograph of a woman in standard Gibson dress standing at a store counter purchasing a Kodak folding camera. The store employee is wearing a jacket and bow-tie which adds charm to the photograph. It is uncertain if the woman is actually buying the Kodak camera, or if the scene here is “staged,” but $25 is about what one would have paid for the Kodak folding camera at that time, which can be seen on the cash register.

$25 for a top-of-the-line camera. Not bad. Add a couple zeros to that price and you’ll get what many DSLRs are selling for these days.
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This Old US Army Camera Had a 100-Inch Infrared Lens and Required a Spotter

Check out this beastly camera used by Signal Corps during the Cold War. It featured a 100-inch infrared lens that was capable of seeing through over twenty miles of hazy air — perfect for capturing reconnaissance photographs of enemy strongholds. The camera was so massive that it required two people to operate: one to frame the shot, and one to snap the photo.

100-inches is 2540mm and the camera appears to use 4×5 large format film, so the equivalent 35mm focal length of this cannon-like lens is roughly 760mm.
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The World’s First Color Moving Pictures Discovered, Dating Back to 1902

The world’s first color moving pictures have been discovered, dating back to 1902. The film sat forgotten in an old metal tin for 110 years before being found recently by Michael Harvey, the Curator of Cinematography at the National Media Museum in England. The pictures were part of a test reel of early color experiments by an Edwardian inventor named Edward Raymond Turner, and show Turners children, soldiers marching, domesticated birds, and even a girl on a swing set.
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Casio QV-10: The First Digital Camera that Offered an LCD Screen and Live View

Did you know that LCD screens and live view didn’t arrive until a number of years after digital cameras hit the market? The first consumer digital camera that featured those technologies was the Casio QV-10 (seen above), which hit store shelves in 1995. However, the screen was purely for framing shots, not for eyeballing exposure, and it took roughly 10 years for live view as we know it to become ubiquitous.

The first prosumer camera to use live view for both exposure control and preview framing was the fixed-lens Canon PowerShot G1 from 2000, although this was still in the line of compact cameras.

The first DSLR to use live view for framing preview only was the fixed-lens Olympus E-10 from 2000. The first interchangeable-lens DSLR to use a live preview was the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro, which was launched in October 2004. Its “Live Image” mode could display a live, black-and-white preview of the subject that could be magnified for manual focusing purposes, although the preview was limited to a duration of thirty seconds. [...] The first general-use interchangeable-lens DSLR with live view for framing preview only was the Olympus E-330 of 2006. The first general-use interchangeable-lens DSLRs with live view for both exposure simulated preview and framing preview were the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III and Canon EOS 40D of 2007.

Just in case you were wondering, the terms “live view” and “live preview” are interchangeable.

Live Preview on Wikipedia (via Casio via NPhoto)

Glimpses of the 1906 Earthquake Seen in Modern-Day Photos of San Francisco

Two years ago, San Francisco-based photographer Shawn Clover began to create an amazing series of images, titled 1906 + 2010: The Earthquake Blend, featuring photographs captured during the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake blended into views of what the city currently looks like.
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How Hyperspectral Cameras Are Being Used to Uncover Ancient Mysteries

Hyperspectral cameras are those that can capture information in the electromagnetic spectrum, far beyond what the human eye — and consumer cameras — can see. American Photo Magazine has a fascinating feature that tells of how researchers around the world are using the cameras to uncover century and millennium-old mysteries:

The historic discoveries are just getting started. No one yet knows how much researchers and scholars will find with this new generation of hyperspectral technology. More than a hundred years ago, in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, archeologists found piles of illegible papyrus. Recently, University of Oxford researchers found that they contained fragments of a lost tragedy by the ancient author Sophocles, of whose plays only seven were known to have survived. New imaging methods have also found portions of a poem by Archilochus that reveal new details about the genesis of the Trojan War. The research at St. Catherine’s could settle long-standing debates over the origins and foundation of some of the world’s major religions.

Discoveries using hyperspectral photography so far include revisions to the US Declaration of Independence, hidden words in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a possible Abraham Lincoln fingerprint on a copy of the Gettysburg Address.

Peeling Back the Hidden Pages of History With Hyperspectral Photography [American Photo]


P.S. Last year, a group of scientists was able to create a hyperspectral camera using an ordinary Canon 5D and random off-the-shelf parts.


Image credits: Photographs by Abby Brack Lewis and the Library of Congress

Photoshopped Photos From Before the Days of Photoshop

Although Adobe Photoshop’s introduction in 1990 spawned the term “Photoshopping”, the manipulation of photos has been around pretty much as long as photography itself. To show this fact, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will be holding an exhibition titled, “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop.” The show will feature 200 ‘shopped photographs created between the 1840s and the 1990s, providing a glimpse into how photographers of old use their work to humor and deceive.
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