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Tuesday, 02 May 2017


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You'll probably appreciate this Eastman tidbit from local author Richard Reisem:


My sister, once an ambitious landscape architecture student at Cornell, spent two Summers working at the gigantic Kodak Park factory complex where her job was maintaining George's gravesite. Eternal flame and all that jazz.

I visited the Eastman House about 30 years ago,
but my memory of it has faded like the pencil sharpener made from a 35mm film cartridge, that I got in their gift shop.

The standard George Eastman biography is Elizabeth Brayer's 700+ page book initially published in (I think) 1996. It's comprehensive and includes a lot of details about Eastman's post-Kodak philanthropy, and it's back in print in paperback form. Not a bad book at all, and it won a Pulitzer, but the author was on the staff of Eastman House, so I can't help thinking it may be just a bit sanitized. Eastman was clearly a fascinating and quirky fellow.

I've found that curators at many well regarded institutions are delighted to have ordinary folks like me set up an appointment to view vintage prints from their collections that are rarely if ever exhibited. Most people never think to ask, but the staff are often flattered to get the interest. Some of my most fun museum visits have been to see my own private exhibit. But I've never had the pleasure at GEM.... thanks for the reminder.

Mike, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. The GEM had a lot to do with my becoming a photographer and making it my career. My parents took me there regularly from as far back as I can remember. My wife was working there when we met, as well. It is a remarkable resource, worth visiting on a regular basis. (I'll also recommend Beaumont Newhall's autobiography 'In Focus'; he of course turned it into a photography museum, rather than a camera hoard in a mansion).

Mike - As you had a date, I forgive you for not letting me know you were in town. :)

One of the treasures of GEM is its film (cinema) series that are screened, principally, in the Dryden Theatre. There are rare movies, new prints of classics, programming for children, even a nitrate festival, which is on now. There are always interesting remarks preceding the films, and sometimes there are directors or producers are guests

I don't go as often as I really should, but May and June is chock-a-block with classic and amazing films. I'll be spending more on these screenings than usual.

The upcoming schedule is here https://www.eastman.org/dryden-theatre - would make for a good date night, Mike. Just sayin'.

Got to spend two full days there while in film graduate school, wayyyyy back in 1975. Their collection of gear/equipment was truly awe-inspiring. 2nd day spent viewing original prints. More awe! I would imagine it's only gotten better with age...


I will never see this museum, so thank you so much for your evocative description of it and what it holds.

As for the date, I am currently reading a book called called "Sparrows Fall" by an Australian writer, Terry Lane. It is the story of two lives presented by a 75 year old man as he talks with his 99 year old father. The father is dying envious of his son, because he, the father, never took a risk, never broke out. The son did -- and as a result, had some really good stuff and some really bad stuff happen.

Terry's own history is pretty interesting, and clearly he is working through some issues in his own life. He did take some risks -- but not necessarily the ones he is talking about! :)

But yes, as a 75 year old, living precariously in paradise (Rabaul, New Guinea) with a fairly recently acquired wife and four (count them, 1, 2, 3, 4) adopted kids aged from 7 to 17, I counsel you to go for it.

Date away, young fellow. Life is for living!

Cheers, Geoff

PS -- I danced to Island Rock in the street in Boroko, Port Moresby, today with a woman busker, to the vast entertainment of passers-by.

Put on some Island Rock, and my feet are at your command!

See: http://rabaulpng.com/we-are-all-traveling-throug/i-like-to-dance.html

Cheers, Geoff

I heartily recommend the George Eastman House / Museum to all photographers, a recommendation I base upn having lived within easy walking distant from where I lived as an undergraduate. When just staring to learn about photography, I appreciated being able to see that amazing collection of important, seminal photographers.

The picture caption is incorrect. It should be Volunteer docent and photo-history expert Jim Ulrich next to the Museum's Lunar Orbiter camera.

Lunar Orbiter was a follow up to the Ranger program to give an overall photographic map of the moon with a curious mix of secret and open hardware.

From Wikipedia


The photographic system was provided by Eastman Kodak and derived from a system, provided by the National Reconnaissance Office, designed for the U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft. The camera used two lenses to simultaneously expose a wide-angle and a high-resolution image on the same film. The wide-angle, medium resolution mode used an 80 mm F 2.8 Xenotar lens manufactured by Schneider Kreuznach, Germany. The high-resolution mode used a 610 mm F 5.6 Panoramic lens manufactured by the Pacific Optical Company. The film was developed on-orbit in a semi-dry process, and then scanned by a photomultiplier for transmission to Earth. This system was adapted under permission of NRO from SAMOS E-1 reconnaissance camera, built by Kodak for a short-lived USAF near-realtime satellite imaging project.

It also shows the cross over between secret world of the NRO and the public world of NASA.

FWIW, the Lunar Orbiter I cameras took the first image of an earthrise (in 1966, two years before the astronauts of Apollo 8 took their shots) though as it didn't look as good as one taken in color with a Hasselblad it never was well known.

Given that they had that shot why no-one tasked the astronauts to take an earth-rise photo (it was literally a snapshot: the astronauts saw the scene and though they should take the shot) is still a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the lunar program needed more artists!


As an eleven-year-old, I first visited the Eastman House on a cold winter Sunday afternoon in 1962. I vividly remember the moving images created by the flipping cards inside the Mutoscopes on display in the colonnade. Fifty-five years later I find myself at the Eastman at least once a week for lunch, exhibition, movie or sometimes even a photo course. Quite a place! The Mutoscopes are still there, too... upstairs in the Discovery Room.

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