Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Turning the gallery into a darkroom

Posted by on Apr 26 2013 | Photography

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As part of Silver and Water, currently on view in the museum’s South and Brackett Clark galleries, an 8-foot by 12-foot negative of Kodak’s chemical factory was soaked in a shallow bath of water, the silver image slowly decaying.

soaked

8×12 negative

Silver and Water artists Lauren Bon and the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio are returning to Eastman House to create a public darkroom performance with the negative. The South Gallery is in process of being converted into a darkened space, and, with audience participation, a giant contact print of the decayed image will be created.

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working on the transition this week

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Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m.
The event is included with museum admission, if you’re in town we hope to see you there!

 

 

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April 15, 1840 – One of the first cameras sold in the U.S.

Posted by on Apr 15 2013 | Photography, Technology

BemisReceipt

Receipt of one of the first cameras to be sold in the U.S.

Samuel A. Bemis (1793–1881), a Boston dentist and amateur daguerreotypist, bought one of the first cameras ever sold in the United States on April 15, 1840. Fortunately, he and his heirs saved not only the camera but also its receipt. While it is likely too late to return the camera, the receipt is useful as evidence of what is probably the earliest documented sale of an American daguerrean outfit.

Thanks to the dentist’s pack rat ways, we know that on April 15, 1840, he paid $76 to François Gouraud, Giroux’s agent in the U.S., for a “daguerreotype apparatus,” twelve whole plates at $2 each, and a freight charge of $1.

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Full-plate daguerreotype camera (owned by S. A. Bemis)

The apparatus, which Gouraud advertised as consisting of sixty-two items, included the camera, lens, plate holder, iodine box for sensitizing plates, mercury box for developing plates, holding box for unused plates, and a large wooden trunk to house the entire system. Quite large, the camera weighs about thirteen pounds and can produce full-plate images, 6½ x 8½ inches in size.

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Full-plate daguerreotype camera outfit

Bemis made his first daguerreotype on April 19, 1840, from the window of his Boston office, and during the next several years went on to expose more than three hundred images, most of them in his beloved White Mountains of New Hampshire. The George Eastman House collection also contains a second Bemis camera and nineteen of his images.

First Bemis Daguerreotype

First  S.A. Bemis Daguerreotype

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Bemis’ Inventory in 1936 discussing the camera purchase in 1840.

 

 

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Eastman House and Google Art Project

Posted by on Apr 03 2013 | Exhibitions, Photography, Technology

update

Eastman House is now on the Google Art Project!

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The initial group of 50 photographs on Google Art Project spans the 1840s through the late 20th century and a wide variety of photographic processes from the 174 years of the medium’s existence are represented. The variety of subjects featured include Frida Kahlo, Martin Luther King Jr., the first train wreck ever photographed, the Lincoln conspirators, the Egyptian pyramids and Sphinx in the 1850s, and a portrait of photo pioneer Daguerre.

The list of the masters include William Henry Fox Talbot, Hill & Adamson, Southworth & Hawes, Timothy O’Sullivan, Mathew Brady, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Jackson, Edward S. Curtis, Gertrude Kasebier, Eugene Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Lewis W. Hine, Dorothea Lange, Nickolas Muray, and Benedict J. Fernandez. We will continually add works to the project throughout the year.

Our partnership with Google is an exciting endeavor and truly opens the door to the contents within our photography vault, with a reach unlike ever before. The online exhibition experience allows for high resolution and high level research with otherwise unseen objects.

UPDATE
More info here and here via mashable

We have also worked with Google to be a part of its Google Maps Street View project. Later this year, 360-degree views of the museum’s gardens, grounds, historic house, and vaults will be available.

 

If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch our latest video about the museum, here it is:

 

 

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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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The Revival of Gelatin Emulsion Making

Posted by on Mar 25 2013 | Photography

Coating film

We’ve been preparing for this workshop for two months now. My research assistants Chris Holmquist and Nick Brandreth and I just finished our first public workshop in making, coating, shooting and processing gelatin emulsions. Ron Mowrey, ex Kodak emulsion engineer, was also there to answer any theoretical questions.

Haven, Nick, Joe and Dave (1)

I designed the formula back in 2004 as a basic 1880 type emulsion used for gelatin dry plates negatives. It’s very much like what George Eastman’s chemists would have made.

We had seven attendees during the four day workshop and we’ll have six more come to the second session. The first day included an illustrated lecture on the history and chemistry and then we demonstrated how to make an emulsion in daylight to give everyone a chance to photograph each step. After that we divided into two groups and they each made batches of silver bromide gelatin emulsion.

Joe Gelbro Workshop (1)

On the second day we coated 4×5” test plates, exposed them in the George Eastman House gardens and processed them in the darkrooms. The next morning we evaluated the negatives, looked at amazing original prints in the photograph collection and rare emulsion making equipment in the technology collection. We ended the day by coating more plates.

Nick additionI (1)

The third day we spent most of the time shooting and processing plates. In the late afternoon we coated plates for shooting the following morning. On the final day we shot and processed in the morning and at lunch evaluated the plates and Nick scanned them for reference. We went out and shot a group portrait …on our emulsion. Chris ended the workshop with a demonstration of coating the emulsion on paper and film.

Emulsion Group I 2013

This wasn’t the first time gelatin emulsion making has been offered to the public, but given the scope of what the group learned, what they saw and what they produced, it was a landmark workshop. We hope that the interest in emulsion making and shooting will grow like it did after we taught the first public workshops in collodion here at the museum back in the 90s.

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More information about our photo process workshops here

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