Archive for the 'History' Category

View From Above

Posted by on May 01 2012 | History, Other

Empire State Building Construction Worker Touching The Top Of The Chrysler Building
Date: 1930
Photo Credit: Lewis Hine
Property of: George Eastman House

Today the World Trade Center is once again the tallest building in New York surpassing the Empire State building.

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Tony Bannon’s 16 years: Part 5

Posted by on Apr 28 2012 | History

At George Eastman House we are planning a tribute gala for Dr. Anthony Bannon, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director, for May 12 titled “An Evening in Technicolor.” He leaves Eastman House after 16 years at the helm. Over the last week we have shared highlights of the Museum’s amazing successes during his tenure. This is the fifth and final installment, including numbers 13 through 16 (16 stories for 16 years). Thank you, Tony, for a fabulous 16 years!


13) Honors for Eastman House and the Photo and Film World

Dresden Engle, public relations manager:

During Tony’s tenure Eastman House received top honors for motion picture preservation from the International Documentary Association and Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, plus the Briggs & Stratton “Top Ten Lawns” for the estate’s landscaping. The Museum has also earned the Gold Award for podcasts from the American Association of Museums as well as numerous awards for publications and public relations from the American Marketing Association and Public Relations Society of America. Bannon himself also has been honored for his work. He was named CEO of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America, Rochester Chapter, in 2008, and in 2007 Tony earned the Golden Career Award from the FOTOfusion Festival of Photography & Digital Imaging. In 2010, Tony and an exhibition he curated that year – Roger Ballen: Photographs 1982-2009— were ranked among the top five finalists for Curator/Exhibition of the Year by the Lucie International Photography Awards. A total 26 prestigious awards were given by Eastman House to filmmakers and actors and celebrated citizens over the last 16 years, including the George Eastman Award, title of Eastman Honorary Scholar, Eastman Medal of Honor, and Eastman House Honors. Recipients include Meryl Streep, Dennis Hopper, Ken Burns, Kim Novak, Richard Gere, Tony Curtis, Jessica Lange, John Landis, Graham Nash, and Jeff Bridges.

Tony Bannon, left, with musician/photographer Graham Nash, when Nash received the title of George Eastman Honorary Scholar. At right is Trustee Lisa Brubaker.


14) National Accomplishments:

Pamela Reed Sanchez, director of strategic planning and resource development:

While Tony would be too modest to share this himself, he has accomplished much nationally during his tenure. He enlarged and diversified the Board of Trustees, which has more of a national focus with most members from outside the Rochester area, and helped enlarge our bases of support in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Chicago. Museum efforts under his direction garnered lead stories in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Variety, Popular Photography, and Forbes, to name only a few. He has increased Eastman House’s face globally through his world travels, serving as a guest judge for major awards and festivals, and collaborations, such as teaming with Kodak and leading artists to present Photo Week at Chautauqua in summer 2010. Tony has lead fundraising campaigns resulting in tens of millions of dollars for the Museum’s endowment and urgent capital needs.


15) Alliances

Roger Bruce, Director of Interpretation (retired): George Eastman House announced and forged a formal alliance with International Center for Photography in New York City in 2000, making collections and programs more accessible to the public. Our most aggressive joint project to date was the critically acclaimed exhibition and book titled Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, featuring the Southworth & Hawes archive at Eastman House as well as 37 additional institutions. In December 2010, Eastman House announced a formal alliance with the University of Rochester, across all disciplines, which the American Association of the Museums called it the most extensive museum and university alliance in existence.


16) On a personal note …

Tony Bannon, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman House

I have been totally invested in George Eastman House and its wonderful extended family, but I feel it is time to move on. We have set into place a new and vigorous strategic direction, and it is time for new energy and vision to take that forward. I have been saying for years that our forebearers here at George Eastman House wrote the book about the photograph and film as objects worthy of preservation, of care, and of significance. Now it comes to us to share how these work in history and culture and to use them as vehicles that can carry us to any destination we might choose. As I look back on the last 16 years of magnificent experiences — the important acquisitions and exhibitions, the graduate schools that teach the world’s next leaders about preservation of collections, the movie stars who now are good friends of Eastman House – amidst the glitz and the glamor, I have one memory that is most treasured of all. That is the day I married my wife, Elizabeth Stewart, in the Rock Garden at Eastman House. Clearly, this Museum forever will be in my heart.


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“All the daydreams must go…” Arctic Expedition tragedy revisited 100 years later

Posted by on Mar 29 2012 | History, Motion Pictures, Other, Photography

The Scott Expedition to the South Pole ended 100 years ago today, but still can be experienced through photo and film.

The George Eastman House Photography Collection has a small, but intriguing set of documentation from the ill-fated attempt by the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott and his team of four to reach the South Pole a century ago. The Scott Expedition resulted in the collection of numerous scientific specimens and more than 1,000 photographs and reels of film documenting the journey. But it all ended when Scott lost his life during the expedition 100 years ago today, March 29, 1912.



Lieut. Henry R. Bowers (British, 1883 – 1912) Descriptive Title: At the South Pole, Petty Officer Evans (foreground), Robert F. Scott, and Dr. Wilson at the site of the Norwegian flag left by Roald Amundsen and his team, who had beaten the Scott Expedition to be the first to reach the Pole by just 5 weeks. January 18, 1912

The Eastman House collection includes one nitrate negative (8 x 10.5 cm.) and 29 clips of motion picture film  (about five to seven frames each). This is not by any means the only surviving photographic record of the final Scott Expedition, though one wonders how and when the negative made its way from the Antarctic to Rochester, N.Y. Sources point to Charles F. Hutchison, who apparently acquired them from George Eastman. Hutchison lived next door to Eastman, was a Kodak employee, and was married to Eastman’s personal secretary.

The significance of the these images lies in the serendipitous and timely discovery at the Museum of this footage, and in their power to engage the imagination into the day-to day activities — and one bittersweet moment — in the lives of these men.

The negative and clips were discovered during the inventory of materials stored in the nitrate holding area of the museum in preparation for transfer to a new vault at Eastman House’s Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center. Here is what is written on the glassine envelope by an unknown museum staff member: “These negatives were evidently sent to Mr. Eastman by Ponting, and given to the Eastman House by Mr. Hutchinson.” [sic] [Long-term EKC employee and friend of George Eastman, Charles F. Hutchison, 1875-1974].

The Scott Expedition yielded more than 1,000 photographs and film reels taken and processed by Herbert G. Ponting (1870-1935) in a self-built darkroom/bedroom on the Ross Ice Shelf. Ponting, who joined the team in 1910, was the first professional photographer attached to such an expedition and first to use both color plates (autochromes) and motion picture film in the Antarctic. He had hoped the material would provide a narrative of the expedition that Captain Scott might use for lectures and fundraising upon return to England 1913, but that was not to be.

On January 17, 1912, instead of being able to lay claim to the “discovery” of the South Pole, Scott and his team had the awful experience of “discovery” of the little tent and the Norwegian flag planted there on December 14, 1911 by Roald Amundsen and his five-man team. Scott later wrote in his diary, “It is a terrible disappointment and I am very sorry for my loyal companions. Many thoughts come … Tomorrow we must march on … and then hasten home … All the daydreams must go; it will be a wearisome return.”

Scott and two members of his team died of cold and starvation, on the determined date of March 29, trapped in their tent only 11 miles from a supply depot. The two other members of the team had died earlier on the return trek from the Pole. The bodies of all five were discovered eight months later.

By the turn of the 20th Century, most of the world had been mapped. However, the huge continent of Antarctica was largely unexplored. This sparked “The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration,” the 25-year period from 1897-1922 when 16 major expeditions launched by eight different countries took place.

Most poignant of all the Eastman House material is the moment captured in the single negative. The pencil inscription on the envelope identifies it: “This is one of the negatives which were taken on a roll of Kodak film on January 18th, 1912 – by Lieut H.R. Bowers at the South Pole. It shows the discovery by Captain Scott of the little tent left there by the Norwegian explorer, Capt. Amundsen, who forestalled [sic] Scott by 34 days. On right foreground, Petty Officer Evans / [on] left Captain Scott. / Middle Dr. Wilson.”

Less dramatic in impact perhaps are the 29 clips of motion picture film, which, however, document what are the real accomplishments of these intrepid explorers — the vast amount of scientific data and specimens that were observed and collected that would occupy the world’s scientific communities for decades to come.

Below: Selections from the expedition’s 35 mm nitrocellulose motion picture film strips, ca.1910-1912



Joe Struble is a native Rochesterian and has lived here all his life with the exception of 4 years spent in Richmond, Virginia where he received a Master’s Degree in Social Work. He has been employed in the Photo Collection at George Eastman House as Assistant Archivist from 1989-2005 and as Archivist beginning in March 2005. One of his greatest satisfactions is in discovery and in adding to the knowledge of material in the Photo Collection.


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Why are they called Tintypes? There isn’t any tin!

Posted by on Mar 14 2012 | History, Other, Photography

Well, I guess I forgot how easy it was to make a tintype; no cutting or cleaning glass and no pictures peeling off the plate. This was all about pouring the collodion and making a unique image in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee.

We started on Monday at George Eastman House with an illustrated presentation on the chemistry and history of the wet collodion negative and positive processes. Then we went down to the technology archive where curator Todd Gustavson presented a display of original tintype cameras, silver baths and other rare equipment.

Curator of Technology Todd Gustavson (far left) with group. 


After lunch we went to Scully & Osterman Studio where they met my wife, France. I gave a demonstration of making a tintype that included tinting and burnishing the picture. The group then practiced the techniques of pouring collodion onto tintype plates and applying the developer.

Pouring Collodion on the Plate.


On Tuesday we all met at Scully & Osterman and after a morning recap on theory the group I gave a demonstration of mixing iron developer and France demonstrated mixing iodized collodion. The group spent the rest of the morning shooting 4 ¼” x 5 ½” plates. After a lunch break they continued to make 5” x 7” tintypes into the afternoon. The students varnished their own plates themselves before shooting the next image. At the end of the day I discussed the basics of identifying antique lens types, explained how a wet plate conversion back works and demonstrated a simple traveling darkroom made from cardboard.

Wednesday we shot all morning. After a great lunch we continued shooting into the afternoon. For the last day in the studio we shot 6½” x 8½” whole plates. Some of the students actually used an original four lens tintype camera that exposes four images simultaneously on the same plate. Late in the afternoon we went back to the Museum and viewed some really beautiful examples of vintage Melainotypes, ferrotypes and tintypes.



Oh, the term tintype evolved to be the name for all collodion images made on thin sheets of metal; none of which were made of tin. Cheap things in the nineteenth century were often made of tinned iron that was coated with a shiny black finish applied to the surface to prevent rusting. Since Melainotypes and ferrotypes were the cheapest images you could buy and made on black finished sheets of iron…the term tintype seemed to fit nicely. By the way, we didn’t use tin either, we made our tintypes on aluminum.

Our next collodion workshops are Ambrotype Making here in Rochester in May and the Ambrotype and Tintype Workshop at Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock England in July.

Check out more images on our Facebook album for this Workshop.


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A Photographic Revolution in Rochester!

Posted by on Feb 14 2012 | History, Other, Photography

Sure, the times are changing and technology moves foreword. Yes, it’s sad that films days are numbered, but quit your whining. There’s another revolution in photography and it’s coming from Rochester, the “image city.”  I’m referring to the counter culture of historic photographic processes and they’re hot. Photographers all over the world are making their own plates and papers— and they’re doing it here at Eastman House.


Azo print made with the gelatin emulsion process being taught in April

Tintype being fixed


Coating paper in the gelatin emulsion darkroom 

 Scully & Osterman Skylight Studio, where we’ll shoot tintypes in March


The revival in the daguerreotype process started at George Eastman House back in the 1970s. Hey, we also jump-started the current craze in collodion photography by teaching the very first wet plate workshops in the mid-1990s. In the last two years we introduced dry collodion plates, collodion chloride printing-out paper and even did workshops in the earliest processes of Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot… the heliograph, physautotype and photogenic drawing! In private tutorials here at the museum we’ve taught albumen on glass and even orotones!

In March we have a great three day Tintype Workshop where we’ll make plates under the skylight over at Scully & Osterman Studio and see amazing original images and even collodion era cameras and equipment from the archives at the museum.

Gelatin silver emulsions are soon going to be the next historic photographic process revival and now is the time to gather information before the culture is gone. This April ex-Kodak emulsion engineer Ron Mowrey and I will teach our third gelatin emulsion workshop!

This is the real stuff for all you people who have been so upset about the demise of emulsion. We’ll be making a simple printing paper emulsion, but it’s the first step to the more advanced film emulsions; so one step at a time. If we get enough interest we’ll give a film and plate emulsion workshop next year, but the prerequisite would be the basic workshop. So, the way to keep film alive…is to make it your self!

Read more about all our 2012 Photography Workshops, or contact me directly at to arrange a private tutorial, custom group workshop or if you need some advice with a process that’s giving you trouble.



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