Archive for the 'Behind The Scenes' Category

Mystery nitrate negatives – we need your help!

Posted by on Jul 02 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, House & Gardens, Technology

via guest contributor and Eastman House volunteer, Kate Wallace

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While cleaning out the nitrate holding room at the museum, boxes of safety film and nitrate negatives were discovered that appear to have been donated to the museum in the late 1940’s when the museum was getting ready to open to the public.

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The boxes contain negatives that document various aspects of Kodak’s progress and activities from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Interesting handwritten notes describe many of the pictures that range from details such as a “small crack in the wall of a basement” to “condition of a safety boot.”

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There are portraits of employees who won awards for their initiatives to improve the company, along with parts of machines or tools from all different branches such as optics, film processing, and even some war time preparation and production.

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Not every negative matches up with a note, however, and many of the images are unidentifiable without knowledge of the film and processes used during this period. Any help in determining what some of these photographs are depicting, or what the machines pictured may have been used for would allow us to continue this documentation that began so many years ago.

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We are posting these five images in this post to start. If you can help send us a message, or leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Riding Around In A Camera

Posted by on Mar 28 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Photography

via guest contributor, Megan Charland

Liminal Camera in ROC

I recently checked out the exhibition Silver and Water here at George Eastman House. Wow! Have you been in to see it yet? The moment I stepped into the gallery and saw the print on the floor submerged in water I was already planning my next visit. It’s wild to think that when I return next month I will be looking at an entirely different image as the print degrades.

silver and water

Once I tore myself away from the image on the floor I walked around the gallery admiring the gelatin silver prints on the wall. It was surprising to me, to see these photos framed and lit so perfectly. You see, I have seen prints like these before — I helped make one.

Liminal Camera in ROC

A couple of years ago Metabolic Studio drove the Liminal Camera to Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) and offered their MFA students, myself included, the opportunity to ride around in the camera and make a photograph.

I remember the moment I spun around in the light-tight darkroom door and entered the back of the camera (a shipping container) I instantly smelled the fixer and flashbacked to high school photography. The walls within the camera were lined with the tools of the trade. Light safe headlights, plastic tongs, timers, rubber gloves… it was all there.

Liminal Camera in ROC

Liminal Camera in ROC

Metabolic Studio picked us up from VSW and we drove to the former First National Bank of Rochester. [WATCH] The ride to the bank was personally my favorite part. It was such a surreal experience to watch the world in front of me pass me by upside down. I also lost all sense of time inside the camera. It was funny, the Liminal Camera had to make a few maneuvering attempts to exit the VSW parking lot. The entire time they were backing up and turning around, I could have sworn we must have driven miles already, but really we hadn’t even left the parking lot yet!

Liminal Camera in ROC

Once we parked at our destination we then prepped to take a photograph. As a class, we worked together to first make a test-strip, then a negative, and then the final print. The final print is now part of the permanent collections at VSW.

If you haven’t been in to see Silver and Water yet I highly recommend it. If you’ve already been, go back and let me know how that print in the water is doing!

Liminal Camera and VSW

Liminal Camera and VSW

 

-Megan Charland
@megancharland
artist, blogger, curator

Megan Charland

 

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Eastman House in Hollywood at TCM Classic Film Fest

Posted by on Apr 12 2012 | Behind The Scenes, Motion Pictures

TCM's Robert Osborne, left, with Eastman House's Jared Case, who is in Hollywood this week at the TCM Classic Film Fest.

Film festivals and repertory theaters have long been the best way to revisit our cinematic heritage. Festivals like Cannes and Telluride, and venues like our own Dryden Theatre have histories that reach decades back. Our preservations play at these venues around the world. This weekend, one of our favorite preservations will play at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Still somewhat new, the TCM Classic Film Fest gives the audience a chance to see famous Hollywood films in famous Hollywood theaters like Grauman’s Chinese, the Egyptian, and the Cinerama Dome. Over four days, the festival runs five screens simultaneously, not including special screenings. The festival also offers the chance to see Hollywood stars and technicians, film scholars and preservation archivists talk about the films.

The year, George Eastman House offered the festival Lonesome, a film from the dawn of the sound era. Originally shot as a silent film with a music and effects soundtrack, Universal decided that it needed some talking sequences to compete in the 1928 marketplace. Three were shot and edited into the film, which was how it was released, and how it survives today.

It’s important to us that we not only preserve the elements in our vaults, but also that we preserve the experience of watching film as it was meant to be seen. To this end, we made sure to duplicate the wonderful tinting and hand-coloring of the original nitrate print, as well as the groundbreaking soundtrack, onto new 35mm stock, so that it could be played just as it was nearly 90 years ago. We actively seek out venues that can project 35mm film in an archival manner, so that our films can be seen by as many people as possible. The TCM Classic Film Fest is just such a place.

Jared Case will introduce the festival's screening of Eastman House restoration of 1928 film "Lonesome."

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 14, I will be proud to present the film Lonesome to the attendees in Hollywood. Then next week I’ll return to Rochester to continue my work at George Eastman House, the everyday job of supporting film preservation.

You, too, can support film preservation every day by seeking out venues like the Museum’s Dryden Theatre, or becoming a member of George Eastman House. We’re all in this together.

I will be tweeting some of my activities while I’m at the TCM Classic Film Fest. You can follow along on Twitter @eastmanhouse and on Facebook (George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film).

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Fashion in Photography: a Royal Family Album

Posted by on Aug 11 2011 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, Photography

During their recent visit to the area for a family wedding, fashion photographer David Burton and his wife Sarah stopped by our Gannett Foundation Photographic Study Center. Archivist Joe Struble prepared a selection of ‘fashion in photography’ images on the print rail and brought a few albums out for viewing— which gave us a chance to take a closer look at one album that made a particular (and timely!) impression with the Burtons : the British royal family.

Archivist Joe Struble (left) with Sarah and David Burton.

 

A view of images on the print rail.

 

Sarah Burton examines the royal family album.

 

The following details are from the album Famile Royal D’Angleterre, ca. 1863 (seen above). The images are printed by the van dyke brown process on silk (look closely and you can see the stiching and fabric folds).

 

 Queen Victoria

 

 Princess Louise

 

Princess Alexandra 

 

Prince Albert Victor 

 

 Princess Beatrice

 

Prince Leopold

View more of our The Photography Collection or browse selected sets on Flickr.

 

 

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What’s Behind the Glass Wall?

Posted by on Jul 09 2011 | Behind The Scenes

Any visitor who comes in through the main entrance of George Eastman House will notice a large glass wall to the left. Through this glass you can see the Richard & Ronay Menschel Library, curatorial departments such as Motion Pictures, Photography and Technology, and a staircase that leads down to two more floors. While you don’t need to make an appointment to visit the Library (especially this summer, when due to a shelving project we are all enjoying a rare treat of the Library’s photo and cinema books and magazines temporarily relocated to our Entrance Gallery), you do need to make one to visit the archives that contain our spectacular collections.

 From time to time, we host visitors where I work: the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center. A few weeks ago we took a small group of friends interested in preservation ‘behind the glass’ and one floor down for a special tour of the photograph conservation laboratory. The purpose of this visit was to raise awareness of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s challenge grant.  Here’s some of what they saw:

 

 

A view of the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center.

 

 An accelerated tarnish experiment testing daguerreotype enclosures.

 

 

The Conservator’s tools of the trade.

 

Conservation practices at Eastman House are critical to the care of photographs we have in the collection, exhibit in our galleries, or loan out to other museums. When the department was established in 1974, it was the first of its kind dedicated solely to photograph conservation. For nearly 40 years, our conservators, fellows, and interns have contributed to the preservation of history and culture — through photographic objects — at Eastman House and at institutions around the world.

In the Whitmore Conservation Center, we conduct research and report findings on Notes on Photographs , in journals or at conferences. We also hold workshops on historic photo processes for collectors, artists, curators, members or anyone interested in the history of photography (we even get a chance to go one more floor down to see choice examples in our photography collection). Eastman House is helping to ensure that photographs made since the beginning of the medium in 1839 through today will exist for as long as possible in order to visually tell our collective stories— and its these stories we love to share and discover behind the glass wall.

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