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Sunday, 08 August 2010


You said it first, but all of these pictures (and more) are available on the LOC site in high res files that are great for printing.

I have a couple of beautiful Edward Curtis prints I made from files from the LOC. The scans are pretty decent and with a little dusting they make really beautiful prints.

Here's a link to the Curtis collection:

PS not sure if I mentioned it in my post above, but the LOC also has a flickr feed that's much easier to access than their website (website is getting better though). I don't think everything is on the flickr page, but there is a lot of interesting stuff there:

FWIW, here's one from today's New York Times, Tracking the Rise of Color on Film, about the '70s and later.

Great stuff. And it turns out that Rosie the Riveter is African American. Cool.

Is this..... Kodachrome?

Gary, I love this quote from the NYT article: "And Ansel Adams weighed in on a William Eggleston photograph this way: “If you can’t make it good, make it red.” " This is funny because in another article in the NYT last week about the sudden influx of 3D motion pictures some critics of 3D use a variation of that same comment: "if you can't make it good, make it 3D". That said, I'm very much in favour of color photography and, based upon my past few experiences with the recent 3D movies, it's still very much a gimmick.

Curses. Discovered!



Ahhh. Pie Town. Yum.

Don't drive through without stopping at Kathy and Stan's Pie-O-Neer Cafe. I'm hoping to get out there again before the home-grown rhubarb runs out...


While I am a big fan of good black-and-white photography, I have become something of an early colour photography buff over the last few years. You see - when I was a kid all the photos and essentially all the films I saw that had been made before the war were black and white, and I always tended to think of that era in monochrome. Imagine my surprise when I first saw WWII and preWWII colour photos and newsreels! A world I had thitherto known only in black-and-white suddenly came alive.

I became very-very excited and tried to locate more early colour photos. I found a few 35mm slides in a local library's collection that were taken in my home town in the 1930s. The Agfacolor transparencies have retained their true-to-life colours surprisingly well and some of them depicted buildings that were later destroyed by aerial bombardment or artillery fire during WWII.

I started to read up on the history of colour photography and found out that Kodachrome came out in 1935 for the motion picture industry, and was released for still photographers in 1936, the same year Agfa launched the Agfacolor.

But these films and processes weren't the first means of producing true colour photographs. Autochromes had been in available for about three decades before these films hit the shelves, whereas three-colour separation processes had already been used in the 19th century too.

Interested readers should check out the home page of the French ministry of culture, which has autochromes of the First World War: http://www.mediatheque-patrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/fr/archives_photo/visites_guidees/autochromes.html

The apex of three-colour separation processes was the body of work produced from 1905 to 1915 by a Russian photographer by the name of Mikhail Sergeyevich Prokudin-Gorskii, which can be seen at the Library of Congress website: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/

Processes involving two or three film strips and filters also were used in motion pictures - you should check out YouTube for Kinemacolor, Berthon-/Keller-Dorian and Technicolor examples. Technicolor in particular remained in use well into the 1960s - you can see a ton of Traveltalks episodes by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer's James A. Fitzpatrick, produced from 1934 to 1953 at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=traveltalks+technicolor&aq=f

The latter series includes films showing preWWII Los Angeles, New Orleans, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bombay, Bangkok etc. in colour.

Thanks for the link Mike, the railroad photos look very exotic to this British viewer's eyes.
Just as we tend to think of the world pre WWII looking monochrome then supposedly the 40's/50's have these strange Kodachrome tints in our imaginations - however....

I recently bought some books about British railways in the 50's & early 60's which unusually featured just colour photos (no B&W) and although presumably a large percentage of the shots were taken using Kodachrome (perceived wisdom has it that no other colour film has its longevity in storage), the colour did not have this "strange Kodachrome tint".
Scanning methods? Improved or changed colour management in the digital age? or is there a different colour aesthetic for old photos between our two continents?
I'm sure that if Ctein had scanned and "restored" these slides they would have looked very different (better?).

Darn, I thought I would be the first Pie Town commenter here. . . My family and I ate there on a vacation in 2002.

Is it just me, or does the woman in red look like the Queen. Just sayin'.

You have moved the market. My order through Amazon for a used copy @ $14.95 (Used -- like new, one of several a few days ago) was just cancelled. Remaining offers (aside from the vendor that cancelled my order) range from $33.78 to $70.47.

Very nice to see the Russell Lee and Delano color work. Russell Lee was an outstanding photographer and I had the pleasure of knowing him while he was the photography instructor at the University of Texas Art School. He was also sympathetic to photojournalism students taking his course, and befriended many of us. He also taught many of us the ropes on fine Scotch. While more known for his FSA black/white work, Lee did some outstanding color work, just not that much of it. By the way, after Lee retired from the University, they hired Gary Winogrand as the next photo instructor. What contrasting styles ...

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