|Following my visit to the Willy Ronis exhibition I was encouraged to revisit some of the other ‘humanist’ photographers of the time, such as Robert Doisneau.
Let’s start with a quote from his writings:
In fact there isn’t any recipe – that would be too easy – but all these images that are growing old so gracefully were taken instinctively. I put all my trust in intuition, which contributes so much more than rational thought. This is a commendable approach, because you need courage to be stupid – it’s so rare these days when there are so many intelligent people all over the place who’ve stopped looking because they’re so knowledgeable. Yet that little extra something supplied by the model is precisely a “look,” like a legacy handed down to you from the distant past. It shoots straight along the optical axis and bores right through the photographer, the celluloid, the paper, and the viewer, like a laser beam scorching everything in its path, including, and a very good thing too, your critical faculties.
Robert Doisneau was born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France. He studied engraving at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly, but found his training antiquated and useless upon graduation. He learned photography in the advertising department of a pharmaceutical firm. He began photographing details of objects in 1930. He sold his first photo-story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932. He was a camera assistant to the sculptor Andrei Vigneaux and did military service prior to taking a job as an industrial and advertising photographer for the Renault auto factory at Billancourt in 1934. Fired in 1939, he took up freelance advertising and postcard photography to earn his living.
Robert Doisneau worked for the Rapho photo agency for several months until he was drafted in 1939. He was a member of the Resistance both as a soldier and as a photographer, using his engraving skills to forge passports and identification papers. He photographed the Occupation and Liberation of Paris.
Immediately after the war he returned to freelance work for Life and other leading international magazines. He joined the Alliance photo agency for a short time and has worked for Rapho since 1946. Against his inclinations, Doisneau did high-society and fashion photography for Paris Vogue from 1948 to 1951. In addition to his reportage, he has photographed many French artists including Giacometti, Cocteau, Leger, Braque, and Picasso.
And anther quote:
I once crossed over the Pont-Neuf with a so-called cultured man. Over to the west a sunbeam lit up the Seine in a magnificent blaze of light. “Oh, look!” Then he grunted: “Pure Marquet!” As soon as a chink appears and he catches a glimpse of something dazzlingly unexpected, what does he do? He plugs it with words. That’s all it does to him. The data have been received inside his head and promptly filed away. No emotion, for heaven’s sake – that would mess up his tidy system and he’d have to sort it all out again. And anyway a bridge really isn’t the place to admire things, that’s what museums are for (just as other people might say, when they see a pair of lovers kissing in the street, “That’s what hotels are for!”).
Doisneau seemed to have an eye for lovers and kissing…
and more..as well as the sidelong glance..
“Some days the mere fact of seeing feels like perfect happiness. You feel as if you’re floating along. The cops stop the traffic to let you through and you feel so rich you long to share your jubilation with others – you’ve got more than enough for yourself after all. The memory of such moments is my most precious possession. Maybe because there’ve been so few of them.”
school scenes also figure quite often..
and another of his more famous images.
and another great quote.
“A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there – even if you put them end to end they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds snatched from eternity.”
Like Brassaï, Doisneau loved to wander through the streets of night-time Paris in order to record the life of marginal society..
Robert Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947. He was awarded the Prix Niepce in 1956 and acted as a consultant to Expo ’67, Canada. A short film, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973.
Let him speak for himself…
and a summary…with atmospheric accordion..
A second post Robert Doisneau ( 2) – the dignity of workers may interest you if you liked this post.
This may not be one of the most famous of Willy Ronis’ photos but it does say something about his passion for photographing daily life with humanity as well as expertise in ‘painting with light’.
If you are in Paris just now you may just be able to catch the exhibition of Ronis’ photos at the French Mint
Une poétique de l’engagement
du 16 avril au 22 août 2010 à la Monnaie de Paris
One of his more famous photos of his wife
For this exhibition , many of the photos were chosen by Ronis himself, before he died last year.If Paris dominates the exhibition, there are also pictures from abroad, especially in East Germany, each time documenting some aspect of social transformation. The main themes represented in the exhibition are :
– The street
– The body,
– And the biography of Willy Ronis.
So lets take a tour of his life and work:
to sum up…
Willy Ronis was the last of a generation of French photographers who were central to the medium’s development during the 20th century. Like his contemporaries Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Brassaï, Ronis showed in the tender expressiveness he brought to his images that photography could be an art form, rather than the mere mechanical reproduction of life that it was considered in its infancy.
and humble beginnings…
After finishing his military service in 1932, Ronis was compelled by his father’s ill health to take on the family business (photography of course!) . Although he had been given a camera at 15 — his first picture was of the Eiffel Tower — he had developed no great interest in photography, and disliked having to take the passport pictures and baby portraits that were the shop’s stock in trade. In 1936, when his father died, he sold up.
Aided by his sympathies with and connections on the Left, Ronis began to place work in Communist Party magazines and newspapers. Together with Doisneau and Brassaï, he joined the Rapho agency, and took a notable series of pictures of striking workers at the Citroën plant in 1938.
In 1953 he was also one of the “Five French Photographers” selected by the curator Edward Steichen for a show at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the others being Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Brassaï and Izis. Two years later Ronis took a memorable series of shots of London, including the “French pub” in Soho. In 1957 he was awarded the Gold Medal at the Venice Biennale. With Doisneau and Rene-Jacques, he was a key member of the Group of XV, dedicated to making photography accepted as art.
Even though he was a LIFE photographer , after asking if he could write his own captions for his photographs, he never heard from them again. It seemed he was unhappy at having his photographs cropped and offered as a very different image than what he originally took.
Like those contemporaries, too, Ronis became the chronicler and creator of a romantic vision of Paris now firmly lodged in the public imagination. His is eternally a city of street urchins and knife grinders, of jolly moustachioed diners and — in perhaps his best-known picture — of young lovers gazing across misty rooftops.
Although, in common with many of the photographers of his generation, Ronis worked as a photojournalist, and had his oeuvre shaped by the increasing portability of cameras, his main concern was not news but daily life. His most successful book, Belleville-Ménilmontant (1954), catalogued the seemingly timeless routines of the quartier that had given birth to Piaf: its steep streets and crowded tenements; a glazier back-lit by sunlight, a pane of glass on his shoulders.
Look at the way he captures light, a real master
Much of his social reportage was informed by left‐wing sympathies, reinforced after the Second World War by his marriage to the painter Marie‐Anne Lansiaux (1910–91), a French Communist Party militant.
Willy Ronis, photographer, was born on August 14, 1910. He died on September 12, 2009, aged 99
As I was leaving the exhibition, this scene caught my eye..
Willy was a great raconteur and it was known that he had a story to tell about every one of his photos:
and what about his mountain photos:
the above can be found on Hackel Bury Fine Art
Blues harp for advanced learners
Progressing in blues harp playing,demands much practice, if that is not stating the obvious. Yet it also demands ‘learning from masters’ who can provide insights into technique that still can only be played through much practice. I have mentioned many times our hero teacher –Adam Gussow. What he provides are insights into playing that can be approached from any level and allow anyone to progress at their own pace, yet gives ‘short cuts’ to understanding the techniques without years of working it out. He is a teacher who does not come with his ego of ‘star player’ he is just a genuine and generous teacher.
First check out if you are moving towards an advanced learner
You’ve mastered all the basics and quite a bit more than that. You’re able to bend holes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 draw; you may even realize that Little Walter bends the 5 draw down a ¼-tone on “Juke.” You can probably bend holes 8 and 9 blow on the low harps (G, A) and may even be able to bend the 10 blow. You know how to warble; how to chug; how to glissando. You know how to tongue-block and have no trouble using that technique in your improvisations. Improvising over 12-bar changes seems natural to you, and you do pretty well when confronted with other related blues, country, and gospel progressions—songs such as “Key to the Highway,” “I Got a Woman,” “This Little Light of Mine.” You’ve almost surely played at jam sessions; you may even be playing in a band. Still, you know your repertoire is lacking in some areas and you’re looking to broaden it. As a player, you have real strengths but you’ve also got weaknesses. When soloing, you tend always to rely on the same two or three power-moves or comfort zones. And you tend to play too much; you’re not very good at leaving space. You’ve got a pretty good sense of which notes work over which chords—playing cross-harp, at least—but you know your playing would strengthen if you had a little more harmonic knowledge. (When jazz guys talk about “thirteenth chords,” you can’t instantly name the intervals that make up that chord.) You’ve heard of overblowing, you may even be able to overblow a note or two, but you haven’t worked this technique into your playing. You’re much more comfortable playing 2nd position (cross harp) than you are playing 1st and 3rd position. Above all, you know there are some tonal, harmonic, and rhythmic subtleties that distinguish the playing of truly advanced players from what you’re doing. And you want what they’ve got.
And here’s another great lesson:
and a blues song from the 20’s -MaRainey
Some new videos from Adam‘s website:
“Shuffling It Up”: a first-position shuffle blues played mostly in the middle octave with tongue-blocked chords and a couple of upper-octave blow bends thrown in. This is an original composition that finds inspiration in the playing of Deford Bailey, Freeman Stowers, and other recording artists of the 1920s and 1930s. Not the same old first-position blues! INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE.
and some more shuffling:
“Grooving Shuffle”: Every blues harmonica player needs a range of ways of “carrying” the 12-bar changes on the instrument. This song is specifically designed to produce a big sound in a solo context. It teaches you how to mingle single notes and chords in a call-and-response arrangement that takes you through the first 8 bars, then how to throw in some fancy footwork on the V/IV/I changes.
Adam says this is one of his favourite’s:
“Pack Fair and Square”: a two-chorus transcription/adaptation of Magic Dick’s fast & furious solo, from the J. Geils Band Live Full House album. This is a rock-blues groove, and lightning-fast. I’ve slowed it down to make it manageable. For INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE players.
and one last challenging song:
“Got My Mojo Working”: The holy grail for many harp players. A song that you absolutely, positively need to know. This is a two-part lesson organized around a two-page tab sheet. First page is my adaptation of the “head” or intro that always kicks the song off; second page is a transcription of the first 12 bars of Kim Wilson’s solo on Jimmy Rodgers’s LUDELLA album–a kick-ass harp throwdown, decoded and reassembled. The head is within reach for INTERMEDIATE as well as ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE players; the solo is extremely challenging at full speed.
And other teachers:
This is what you get from harmonica lessons UK (if you subscribe)
Learning is about playing…
Try Dan Gage -blowing over a jam track
Listen to yourself, listen to others (both recorded and live) and prepare to get honest feedback from other players, it is a lifetime’s pain and much pleasure!
As well as a general description of some of the “top 10′ blues harp players I thought I would explore in some more detail, some of the real greats. I have started with Sonny Boy Williamson I (John Lee Williamson) and Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck Rice Miller) and now we have Marion ‘Little Walter’ Jacobs. One of the best ways to learn blues harp is to first listen to as many great players as you can exploring the wide variety of sounds that can be produced by this humble instrument.
Little Walter (born Marion Walter Jacobs in Marksville, LA, and raised in Alexandria, LA) (May 1, 1930 – February 15, 1968) was a blues singer, harmonica player, and guitarist.
Jacobs is generally included among blues music greats—his revolutionary harmonica technique has earned comparisons to Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix in its impact. There were great musicians before and after, but Jacobs’ virtuosity and musical innovations reached heights of expression never previously imagined, and fundamentally altered many listeners’ expectations of what was possible on blues harmonica. . Little Walter’s body of work earned him a spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the sideman category on March 10, 2008, making him the only artist ever to be inducted specifically for his work as a harmonica player.
One version of the life of Little Walter:
Arriving in Chicago in 1945, he occasionally found work as a guitarist but garnered more attention for his already highly developed harmonica work. (According to fellow Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones, Little Walter’s first recording was an unreleased demo on which Walter played guitar backing Jones.) Jacobs grew frustrated with having his harmonica drowned out by electric guitarists, and adopted a simple, but previously little-used method: He cupped a small microphone in his hands along with his harmonica, and plugged the microphone into a guitar or public address amplifier. He could thus compete with any guitarist’s volume. Unlike other contemporary blues harp players, such as the original Sonny Boy Williamson and Snooky Pryor, who had been using this method only for added volume, Little Walter utilized amplification to explore radical new timbres and sonic effects previously unheard from a harmonica Madison Deniro wrote a small biographical piece on Little Walter stating that “He was the first musician of any kind to purposely use electronic distortion.”
Early Little Walter recordings, like many blues harp recordings of the era, owed a strong stylistic debt to pioneering blues harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson I (John Lee Williamson.) Little Walter joined Muddy Waters’ band in 1948, and by 1950 he was playing on Muddy’s recordings for Chess Records; for years after his departure from Muddy’s band in 1952, Little Walter continued to be brought in to play on his recording sessions, and as a result his harmonica is featured on most of Muddy’s classic recordings from the 1950s.
Jacobs’ own career took off when he recorded as a bandleader for Chess’ subsidiary label Checker Records on 12 May 1952; the first completed take of the first song attempted at his debut session was a massive hit, spending eight weeks in the #1 position on the Billboard magazine R&B charts – the song was “Juke”, and it was the only harmonica instrumental ever to become a #1 hit on the R&B charts. (Three other harmonica instrumentals by Little Walter also reached the Billboard R&B top 10: “Off the Wall” reached #8, “Roller Coaster” achieved #6, and “Sad Hours” reached the #2 position while Juke was still on the charts.) “Juke” was the biggest hit to date for Chess and its affiliated labels, and secured Walter’s position on the Chess artist roster for the next decade. Little Walter scored fourteen top-ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts between 1952 and 1958, including two #1 hits (the second being “My Babe” in 1955), a feat never achieved by his former boss Waters, nor by his fellow Chess blues artists Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Following the pattern of “Juke”, most of Little Walter’s single releases in the 1950s featured a vocal on one side, and an instrumental on the other. Many of Walter’s numbers were originals which he or Chess A&R man Willie Dixon wrote or adapted and updated from earlier blues themes. In general his sound was more modern and uptempo than the popular Chicago blues of the day, with a jazzier conception than other contemporary blues harmonica players.
and many people’s favourite…My Babe
Key to the highway
and an early recording of Moonshine Blues (Little Walter Trio)
His legacy has been enormous: he is widely credited by blues historians as the artist primarily responsible for establishing the standard vocabulary for modern blues and blues rock harmonica players. – His influence can be heard in varying degrees in virtually every modern blues harp player who came along in his wake, from blues greats such as Junior Wells, James Cotton, George “Harmonica” Smith, Carey Bell, and Big Walter Horton, through modern-day masters Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, William Clarke, and Charlie Musselwhite, in addition to blues-rock crossover artists such as Paul Butterfield and John Popper of Blues Traveler.
Blues with a feeling:
His 1952 instrumental ‘Juke’ was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, and on 19 December 2007, was inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame as an “example of recorded musical masterpieces that have significantly impacted our musical history”
Little Walter was also a much in demand session player and played with a number of great artists, here he is playing with Hound Dog Taylor.
And here’s some technical info from the ‘official’ Little Walter web site
The subject of how Little Walter got “his sound” has been an area of great interest among blues harp players over the last 50-plus years, and has spawned much speculation and debate concerning the exact types of amplifiers and microphones he used. Unfortunately – and amazingly, considering his huge popularity during his heyday – there are no known photographs of Little Walter performing with his own band in the 1950s that show his amplifier, either on a live gig or in the studio. Many of the people who were present on his gigs and studio sessions have been queried over the years – musicians Jimmy Rogers, Dave Myers, Louis Myers, and Jimmie Lee Robinson, among many others – but none of them were paying enough attention to Little Walter’s equipment at the time (let alone their own) to remember any of the specifics of Little Walter’s set-up when they were asked about it later.
The Little Walter session tapes
The “Juke” session. A 7″ reel, not in the original tape box, but a photocopy of the original session log is with the tape. There’s no ‘take one’ on this reel, but it is a full reel, suggesting that T1 was not removed from the reel, but that the tape was rewound immediately after T1 (probably a breakdown), and it was recorded over. The first thing at the beginning of this tape is T2, which is the issued master take of “Juke”, separated from the rest of the tape by white leader tape on both sides. Immediately before T3:
Jimmy Rogers: I’ll give you that boogie…
The take begins, with what sounds exactly like the issued alternate take, but instead of launching into the song after the repeated ‘stabbing’ intro, everyone just keeps on stabbing, apparently not knowing where to do the ‘stop’ where LW will then launch into the body of the song. They eventually falter, and everyone stops.
Elga: (Apologetically) I was off. [I assume this is Elga – it’s definitely not Muddy, Jimmy or LW.]
LW: (calmly) Ya see, if he’d a kicked it off right…we coulda made it, and I could given you the ‘bop bop bop bop bop ba BOP’ (describing the final hits before he launches into the body of the song.)
Muddy: When you give me the ‘bop bop bop BOP’…
Elga: Well, I’m watching your foot, when you start. Well, I’m gonna start with you this time, when YOU start.
[Walter seems to be in a good mood, speaking without any trace of irritation in his voice.]
The engineer (Putnam) calls Take 4 in the middle of the above discussion, and LW starts playing almost immediately, while Elga is still speaking, with no count in.
[My impression is that the first complete take, T2, must have been the best worked-out version – the one they were doing on the band stand – and that afterwards they decided to try and spice it up a little bit by adding in the new intro. It may have been felt that the new arrangement wasn’t tight enough or something, after trying it out a few times in the studio. At any rate, there are no further attempts at this after T4.]
After the take ends, a few seconds later you can hear what was on this reel before it was re-used for this Chess session – a commercial for “Lava” hand soap. A 1950s-style radio announcer can be heard for a few seconds saying “Lava soap gets out grease, grit from under the nails, and every other…” The next thing heard on the tape is the continuation of the LW session. Immediately before T1:
Len: (giving LW direction on how to do the song)…’Crazy About You Baby’, then WHAM!…
T1 starts with LW’s harp, heavily amplified sound, then is stopped from the control booth during the intro.
Len: You squeak on your intro on the harp, I don’t know why…
Putnam: Turn the volume down a little, I’ll pull it up in here.
Len: Turn your volume down.
LW (quietly): It’s turned down, Leonard.
Putnam: Take 2…
…and LW starts immediately, with no count in. T2 is the issued alt. – the harp is less amplified than T1.
The tape is stopped, then once again an old time radio commercial is heard bleeding through for a few seconds, this time for a live broadcast from Chicago’s Hotel Sherman on local radio station WMAQ.
When the tape starts again, LW can be heard snorting loudly, clearing his sinuses. Someone in the studio says something unintelligible in the background.
LW: Yeah! (laughing nervously…) Heh heh heh heh…
Putnam: Walter, you’re too loud…
Evans: It’s too loud, the amp.
Putnam: Take 4
LW starts again, this time playing strictly acoustic style – no amp at all, and noticeably faster than the earlier takes. Putnam almost immediately breaks in and stops the take.
Putnam: Use the hand mic…
LW: (Agreeably) No, you said it was too low, I mean, it’s… (tape stops)
Tape starts again.
Putnam: Take 5
LW starts again. It sounds exactly like the issued master take, but Putnam stops them again.
Putnam: I didn’t have a good balance…(pauses)…Take 6.
This take is leadered on the tape, and is the issued master, and the last thing on the tape.
The next reel up was a 10” reel. There were no session log sheets with it, but attached to the box was a sheet of paper that had these words written on it:
Only 19 – M. Waters 8979
Close To You – M. Waters 8980
Walkin’ Thru The Park – Muddy Waters 9140
Key To The Highway – vocal – Little Walter 8981
Inst. – Juke – In two Inst. 8982
“ “ 9141
(pulled 12/10/76 to Walter Vol. 2)
The tape starts with the leadered master to 19 Years Old – no count in. No other takes or talking. This is followed by…
Engineer (doesn’t sound like Putnam): OK, we’re rolling on take 2.
LW: Say man, take it [or “dig it”], why don’t you play with your brushes, get a better sound…
? (musician, to LW): Why don’t you let him drive it?
Muddy: Let him drive it…
LW: I want ‘em to hear me…
Muddy: Let’s make it.
Muddy then counts the song in, and they play “Close To You”, with the drummer (Clay?) using sticks instead of brushes. This is the only take on the tape, and has leader tape after it separating it from the next song.
[LW was apparently complaining that the drummer was playing too loud and was drowning him out.]
Next cut begins with LW in the middle of describing the rhythm of his intro to “Walkin’ Thru The Park” to the band.
LW: (snapping fingers on accents): Bamp, Bam de Bamp!
Len: Alright, take two, watch it.
LW: (into harp mic) Alright…(then continues demonstrating his intro to the band, blowing it on harp, but off mic.)
? (probably Clay): That’s a Latin American intro…I don’t know…(pause)…one, two, one two three…
(band begins and plays complete master take)
After the leader tape at the end of this take, the next thing heard is…
Len: Take two to Key To The Highway, is that what you’re playing?
LW (loudly, emphatically into harp mic): Yeah! We’re takin’ it to it!
? (Spann or Clay?): One, two, one two three…
(band begins and plays complete master take)
After the leader tape at the end, we hear:
Len (with irritation in his voice): Awright, take 10 on the instrumental…don’t fuck with the mic, man, let’s go!
LW (into heavily reverbed harp mic): OK Len.
And the band then plays the master take of “Rock Bottom”. This take has a pretty bad edit/splice near the end, which isn’t in the issued master, so it must have broken at some later date. After the leader tape:
Len (sounding agitated, almost yelling): Let’s go! Take 9! Walter!
(LW, Muddy, and others in studio are all talking at once, unintelligible through the HEAVY echo.)
Muddy: Do that…
LW: Yeah. Aw…No. I mean, when you do THAT, I’m back around with…(verbalizes a harp lick)…
?: (laughing, apparently at LW)
Muddy: I mean, when you do THAT, I’ll be HERE (plays guitar lick)
LW (sounding irritated): (Unintelligible) is back over there, and I lay in the hole…
Len (clearly impatient): Walter, let’s go, take 9!
LW: OK…count it off, (unintelligible – sounds like “Matty”, or maybe “Smitty”)
Drummer taps off the count, and the band plays the take that was issued as the Alt. Version, which is faded out in the studio as they continue to play.
After this take, there is a fragment of some pre-take harp and guitar noodling from an earlier attempt at “Rock Bottom”, followed by a fragment of the middle of an earlier take of it, followed by a few seconds of Muddy and Walter working out their guitar and harp parts between takes, during which we hear:
Len: Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it. Walter, you wanna (unintelligible, maybe “get…???”, or “break for supper”), or are you ready to go?
Then another fragment of another take in progress. Then a count in to yet another un-numbered take, during which someone in the studio cautions LW:
? (musician): Don’t say shit!
LW: (cracks up laughing)
The drummer then taps out the time to begin another take, but at the end of his tapping, apparently distracted by LW’s laughing, no one plays a note. After a pause…
LW: (Blows a lick on a HEAVILY reverbed harp mic)…all right man…let me know when you’re ready. (Sounds relaxed and in a good mood.)
Len: Take seven.
LW (snapping fingers in time): One, two, one two three…
The band starts a slower, lazier sounding version of “Rock Bottom”. Before the first twelve bars are through, Leonard breaks in.
Len: Pick the tempo up a little bit.
LW: Pick up on it?
Before the take number can be announced, someone in the band counts off a faster version, and the band launches into it. About one verse in, this take is cut off, apparently recorded over beginning at that point. A few seconds later we hear a little bit of unintelligible off mic discussion, and noodling on harp and guitar, followed by Walter apparently answering someone who can’t be heard on tape…
LW: Yes, I already know.
Another un-slated take is then tapped in by the drummer, but it’s followed by leader tape, then the tape ends.
and there’s more on the same site
A few months after returning from his second European tour, he was involved in a fight while taking a break from a performance at a nightclub on the South Side of Chicago. The relatively minor injuries sustained in this altercation aggravated and compounded damage he had suffered in previous violent encounters, and he died in his sleep at the apartment of a girlfriend at 209 E. 54th St. in Chicago early the following morning.The official cause of death indicated on his death certificate was “coronary thrombosis” (a blood clot in the heart); evidence of external injuries was so insignificant that police reported that his death was of “unknown or natural causes; no external injuries were noted on the death certificate. His body was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL on February 22, 1968
Wired magazine has a new article:
1848 Daguerreotypes Bring Middle America’s Past to Life
- By Julie Rehmeyer ……Wired Aug 2010
n 1848, Charles Fontayne and William Porter produced one of the most famous photographs in the history of the medium — a panorama spanning some 2 miles of Cincinnati waterfront. They did it with eight 6.5- by 8.5-inch daguerreotype plates, a then-new technology that in skilled hands displays mind-blowing resolution.
Fontayne and Porter were definitely skilled, but no one knew just how amazing their images were until three years ago, when conservators at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, began restoration work on the deteriorating plates. Magnifying glasses didn’t exhaust their detail; neither did an ultrasharp macro lens. Finally, the conservators deployed a stereo microscope. What they saw astonished them: The details — down to window curtains and wheel spokes — remained crisp even at 30X magnification. The panorama could be blown up to 170 by 20 feet without losing clarity; a digicam would have to record 140,000 megapixels per shot to match that. Under the microscope, the plates revealed a vanished world, the earliest known record of an urbanizing America.
Daguerreotypes start as copper plates with a thin, mirror-polished coating of silver that’s been exposed to halogen gas (iodine or bromine) to make silver halide. Light hitting this compound knocks an electron loose, which attaches to a silver ion, forming a neutral silver atom. The result is that all the places on the plate exposed to light are clusters of pure silver, and the rest is silver halide.
Next, the exposed plate is held over a warm pool of mercury (don’t breathe!). The mercury combines with the silver atoms, creating the equivalent of a digital image’s pixel: a tiny “grain” between 150 and 800 nanometers in diameter that scatters light, making areas of the surface that were exposed to more light appear brighter. Finally, the plate is soaked in sodium thiosulfate, which washes away the unexposed silver halide, leaving dark regions — the image’s blacks and grays.
Now Fontayne and Porter’s daguerreotypes are stabilized and its details restored — 21st-century technology rescued an image from the 19th. The Cincinnati Public Library plans to make a zoomable version available online in the next year.
Photos: Daguerreotypes courtesy of the Public Library of Cinninnati and Hamilton County
26 July – 4 September 2010
The third annual open exhibition of photography from Foto8.
Foto 8 has highlighted some new images, selected by judges from the HOST 2010 Summershow.
Here they are:
Judges noted a number of strong portraits in this year’s selection of work, and a few in particular were the centre of much debate. One such work, ‘Lonely Butterfly’ by Claudia Wiens, was Mark Power’s personal choice:
Lonely Butterfly. Butterfly Valley in southern Turkey is a remote beach only accessible by foot. Day-trippers on package holidays come with tour boats for one hour to absorb the beauty of the place. Sometimes the mix of people is not quite right. This Arab woman felt quite lost and lonely among the loud, tattooed and boozing mainly English tourists. © Claudia Wiens
“I think this is an outstanding single image – the criteria we were judging against. It works on many levels. Firstly, it speaks about a clash of cultures, and suggests why Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union meet such vehement opposition in certain circles. It’s also a picture about tourism, and how it appropriates a place for it’s own ends, but at some cost to the existing culture. Finally, it’s visually quite confusing; the vignetting, which suggests it’s taken on a cheap, possibly plastic camera, has caused a strange flattening of the surface, so the woman seems to be standing in front of a backdrop. In other words, the camera has transformed the reality of the situation into a picture which is not, on first viewing, what it seems.”
Also in the running was Poulomi Basu’s photograph of a group of women from the Indian Border Armed Forces. Stefanie Braun chose this as her personal favourite, stating:
“This image works so well on several levels. On a visual level you have the amazing tonal range of the greens creating a beautiful, evocative photograph. However, when reading the caption, you find out that these women who are chatting casually in the morning mist are about to be sent off to guard the India/Pakistan border, suddenly suggesting a deeper, darker message. I love how these two levels – the composition and the content – come together perfectly in this image.”
Women from the Indian Border Armed Forces wait for their training to begin at the break of dawn, after which they will be deployed to the India-Pakistan Border in Punjab and the line of control in Kashmir. © Poulomi Basu
Yet it was the more current, newsy photograph – ‘Inside the Kettle’ by Andrew Testa – that Colin Jacobson was most intrigued by, also commenting that it is the type of image that probably would not be picked up by mainstream press, perhaps a reason it deserves recognition.
“What I like about this picture from the G20 protests in London is the way the photographer has chosen to depict a quiet but very telling moment in a hectic and volatile situation. The people in the photo have been ‘kettled’ by the police, herded like cattle into enforced passivity. The main character has a timeless air about him, he seems to come from a previous generation and we feel he has been on many such demonstrations in his lifetime. Now he seems demoralised and defeated and gives the impression that he just wants to get out of there and go home (which is exactly what the police intended). This is a highly intelligent piece of photojournalism that speaks beyond the immediate situation to issues of civil liberties and debatable police powers. The photographer wisely avoided the usual predictable images of conflict and confrontation but the result is saturated with a sense of pessimism about the future direction of our society.”
Inside the Kettle. G20 Demonstration, London. April 2009. © Andrew Testa
In the end, however, it was a different type of portrait that was able to attain near unanimous consensous as the Best in Show: Laura Pannack’s ‘Shay’. Monica Allende commented: “This portrait is all about intensity. It’s a very close look at a human face that conveys emotion, too much emotion to comprehend. It’s a very raw picture that along with the tattoo on the arm of the young woman, makes you want to know the story behind the photograph.”
Shay. © Laura Pannack
And Harry Hardie observed: “What’s so special about this picture are the details. The tattoo – not just what it says but the way it mimics the Nike Swoosh on her shirt – and the cigarette, that although it is not in focus, one imagines has a large line of ash on it, as if time has stopped. This is echoed in the expression on her face, deep intensity and focused on something ahead although the car is obviously stationary. From a distance one could be mistaken that this is an American photograph from the 70s but on closer inspection – the piercing, the Nike Swoosh, the car door handles – one realises that this is contemporary and British. And yet of course that stare is timeless.”
If you get time you can vote yourself: The People’s Choice award, announced toward the end of the exhibition, is determined through votes from visitors to the gallery. Make sure to see the show and cast your vote before its over on 4 September.