History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

27 November, 2012

The Civil War, Tinted

I haven't had a people of the civil war post in a long time, which is a shame as the photographs are striking to look at and started me into this blog in the first place. Fortunately I got sucked into the Library of Congress's collection for a few hours today (when I should have been studying for a photo history exam, ironically), so I have rather a lot of material now to draw from! Expect more of this in the coming months. 

Today's theme: hand-tinting. People were crazy about photography right away, but sad it didn't yet come in colour. So a market sprung up for the tinting of photographs with paints, aided by the fact that photography put many former painters of miniatures out of work. They tinted daguerreotypes (like this one), and when they moved on to tintypes, ambrotypes, and glass negative-paper photography, they tinted those even more. You almost always see some degree of tinting in ambrotypes and higher-end tintypes, especially the cheeks. Jewellery and buttons are also often painted with gold. (just glance through this post of civil war portraits!). However, it didn't always stop there. Parts of clothing, all the clothing, parts of the backdrop, tablecloths... all were potentially coloured. Sometimes this is a nice effect. Sometime it's.... not. (Though, granted, sometimes the different rates of deterioration in the imaging substance and the paints means the colour looks more drastic today than it did originally. Sometimes, though, it was just flat out badly done).

Portraits were done very widely in the civil war, as ambrotypes and tintypes, and there was a similar wide variety of tinting going on.

From the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress

A Confederate captain. Ambrotype. Source

Library of Congress

Union soldier with bayoneted musket. Ambrotype. Source

Library of Congress

Unidentified Confederate soldier. Ambrotype. Source

25 November, 2012

The Photographer Photographed

People's pictures of people taking pictures

 Gjon Mili, LIFE © Time Inc.

Composer Darius Milhaud taking a photo of photographer Gjon Mili, San Francisco, 1957. Source

Library of Congress. 

A little girl photographing her doll, c.1917. Source

State Library and Archives of Florida

Photographers taking pictures of a model, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 1946. Source

16 November, 2012

More Life in Early Colour

I am off to George Eastman House today to look at early colour photographs, so it seemed like a good time to have another set of them here. These are autochromes, the first commercially viable means of photographing colour. Soon I hope to go back and add more information about processes and photographers to these posts, but for now, an autochrome is a colour positive on a glass slide, commerically produced from 1907-1932. And they're lovely. 

If you missed the earlier autochrome posts: The Art of Early Colour, Life in Early Colour, and World War One in Colour Part One and Two

Mostly from the George Eastman House, though a few from the Bibliotheque de Toulouse, and one each from the Swedish National Heritage Board, and the State Library of New South Wales. See source links for specifics. 

State Library of New South Wales

Sisters, c. 1909, Killara, Australia. Source

George Eastman House

A nurse and child, c. 1907-1932, by Charles C. Zoller. Source

George Eastman House

Nurses and "Uncle Sam" at a WWI support parade, US, c. 1917, by Charles C. Zoller. Source

11 November, 2012

Remembrance Day

Another in the series of portraits of soldiers of the First World War, for the 94th anniversary of Armistice Day. The Imperial War Museum is now doing their own "Faces of the First World War", posting one a day (here); these are all drawn from that collection. For an image focus I've kept captions minimal, but many contributors have added loads of information in the IWM posts, so do follow the links.

Imperial War Museum

Lieutenant William Hamo Vernon, from Kent, killed October 7, 1916, aged 21.  Source

Imperial War Museum

Captain W. M. L. Escombe, from Kent. Source

Imperial War Museum

Private Frank Joseph Butterworth of Queensland, Australia, killed August 4, 1916, aged 22. Source

06 November, 2012

Election Day

As you may have heard (even if you're outside of the United States), it's Election Day. As a break from voting, and/or checking the results, and/or trying to avoid election coverage, some elections of former days!

From various collections; see source links. 

Paul Schutzer, LIFE

Senator Robert F. Kennedy after voting (for his brother, the caption notes, though isn't that supposed to be confidential...?) 1960. Source

Woodrow Wilson Presidential  Library Archives

President Woodrow Wilson voting, 1916. Source

Nationaal Archief

Dutch women voting for the first time, Amsterdam, 1921. Source

03 November, 2012

California by Stereograph

A stereograph, for those who don't know, is two images (usually photographs, but not always) taken and printed a certain distance apart so that, when viewed though a proper viewer, they combine to create one, 3-D-looking image (a demonstration here). These were insanely popular throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, with hundreds of thousands of views created. 

These particular stereos are by Carleton Watkins, who travelled west with railroad companies to create a visual record and share images of the still-new (to white Americans) country. These images c. 1879. 

By the way, if you don't have a stereo viewer on you, it is possible to get the effect without one, by unfocusing and refocusing your eyes in the same way as a Magic Eye. Though I'm  not to blame for any headaches created in this attempt!

From the Library of Congress. 

Library of Congress

El Capitan mirror view, Yosemite. Source

Library of Congress

The Yosemite Falls. Source

Library of Congress

Cathedral spires, Yosemite. Source

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