It’s not easy to remember life before Photoshop. When we do, we think of a world where picture were straightforward, always showing exactly what happened to be in front of the lens when the exposure was taken. But that’s not entirely the case.
Trick photography has been around for centuries, and even though the folks in Victorian times weren’t nearly as concerned with artificially slimming down, they did like to have some photographic fun once in a while. This set of headless photographs from the 19th century is a great example of the kind of ‘fun’ we’re talking about.
Yesterday marked the 109th anniversary of the first aviation photograph ever snapped. Back on December 17th, 1903, an amateur photographer named John Thomas Daniels Jr. captured the now-iconic photograph above showing the Wright brothers’ first flight.
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.
To “raise awareness of the social and economic challenges the city of Detroit,” website Detroiturbex explores and photographs abandoned buildings and places in and around the city. One of its recent projects focuses on Lewis Cass Technical High School, which had its building devastated by a major fire in 2007 (the building was subsequently demolished).
By combining old photographs of the school with new views of the abandoned building, it offers us a look into two different times: one that shows a vibrant campus and one that shows empty ruins.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.