Archive for the 'Technology' Category

A Piece of History Reborn

Posted by on Jun 29 2015 | Behind The Scenes, Photography, Technology

In 1995, before I was hired to teach in the conservation department, my wife and I originally came to Eastman House to teach workshops. Back then, we brought a car load of equipment from home—cameras, studio stands, and other specialized photographic equipment—every time we held a workshop. Now, twenty years later, my full-time job at Eastman House is once again teaching public workshops in historic photographic processes . . . and, I’m still bringing equipment from home.

The technology collection at the museum holds more than eight thousand cameras. But as Todd Gustavson, curator of the technology collection, tells me, once an object is officially accessioned into the collection, it becomes an artifact available for study—not for actual use. It’s understandable. Damage to equipment is expected when a piece is handled by many or exposed to corrosive chemicals, particularly the wet collodion process used to make tintypes and ambrotypes.

In the past few years, I’ve been scrounging for original equipment for the workshop program so that eventually we’ll be fully equipped without the need for me to loan pieces to the museum. We run our workshop program without a budget for equipment, and the supplies are funded by an additional fee paid by the participants. A few months ago, I decided it was time to get an 8×10” studio camera for the program, and I used social media to get it.

I made an appeal to our friends. We host the Eastman House Historic Processes Education group page on Facebook with more than 2,800 subscribed friends. In less than a day I had two people willing to donate the type of camera we needed. One was in New Jersey and the other was in Ohio. The Ohio camera, owned by Jeannette Palsa, also had the original studio stand—both in need of restoration, but solid. Jeannette had taken an ambrotype workshop from us years ago and uses the process in her fine art photography.

On a Friday in April, my assistant, Nick Brandreth and I drove the four hours to the Akron area to retrieve the camera and stand. When we arrived, Jeannette’s friend Bob Herbst was also there with a second camera donation. Jeannette was kind enough to send us off with box lunches and we arrived back in Rochester with two cameras, a studio stand, and a speeding ticket from an Ohio speed trap.

That weekend, I disassembled the studio stand, made the necessary repairs, refinished the wood and iron castings, and had it ready for use by Tuesday of the next week. The better camera of the two, an 8×10″ Century 10A Studio Camera donated by Bob was chosen for use since the bellows were still in usable condition and it only need some minor repairs. I made a lens board for this camera and attached a large brass portrait lens from my personal collection so that we could use it right away. Eventually we’ll be looking for a replacement lens and new bellows to be made, but the camera was put to use immediately in a tintype workshop less than a week after bringing it back to the museum. It’s a great piece of history reborn.

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Brandreth (left) and Osterman (right) with the century 10A Studio Camera donated by Bob Herbst and original studio camera stand donated by Jeannette Palsa.

Brandreth (left) and Osterman (right) with the century 10A Studio Camera donated by Bob Herbst and original studio camera stand donated by Jeannette Palsa.

The workshop program is always looking for donations of equipment, from laboratory glass, to vintage photographic apparatus. Contact Mark Osterman at mosterman@geh.org if you think you can help.

 

 

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Kodak Camera at 125: Eastman’s First Film Patent

Posted by on Oct 14 2014 | Exhibitions, George Eastman, Other, Technology

On October 14, 1884, George Eastman received his first “film” patent (#306,594) for Negative Paper. While this was a paper film (not very related to the transparent product most people think of today) and not very successful, it eventually lead to improved versions incorporated into the first Kodak camera introduced in 1888 – a milestone in the history of photography.

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Over the years, Eastman acquired many patents related to both film manufacturing and film and the apparatus to use them including #317,050 dated May 5, 1885 for the Eastman Walker roll holder and more importantly #388,850 patented Sept 5, 1888 for the Kodak.

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Our current exhibition Kodak Camera at 125 showcases the new system of photography that Eastman introduced to the world with the Kodak camera in 1888 and the innovative parts used to build the device. We encourage you to visit to see objects from our collection that show the evolution of his cameras and the snapshots each has captured.

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Daguerre Introduced Photography 175 Years Ago

Posted by on Aug 19 2014 | Photography, Technology

It has been 175 since Louis Daguerre introduced photography to the world. The Giroux daguerreotype apparatus is photography’s first camera manufactured in quantity.

On June 22, 1839, L.-J.-M. Daguerre and Isidore Niépce (the son of Daguerre’s deceased partner, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce) signed a contract with Alphonse Giroux (a relative of Daguerre’s wife) granting him the rights to sell the materials and equipment required to produce daguerreotype images.

Scientist and politician François Arago publicly announced the new daguerreotype process in a speech to the French Academy of Art and Sciences on August 19, 1839, and the first advertisement promoting the process appeared in the August 21 issue of La Gazette de France.

Within three short weeks, Giroux met with popular success both in and outside of France; the first export of his company’s cameras arrived in Berlin, Germany, on September 6, 1839.

Giroux daguerreotype camera, 1839. Alphonse Giroux, Paris France. Gift of Eastman Kodak Company, ex-collection Gabriel Cromer.

Giroux daguerreotype camera, 1839. Alphonse Giroux, Paris, France. Gift of Eastman Kodak Company, ex-collection Gabriel Cromer.

Click here to learn more about Daguerre and the Daguerreotype photographic process.

For more about the history of photographic technology, check out the book Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital.

 

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Who’s Talking Gender?

Posted by on Jul 17 2013 | Other, Photography, Technology

Nickolas Muray (American, b. Hungary, 1892-1965) Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. & Joan Crawford ca. 1930 Gelatin silver print Gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray

Nickolas Muray (American, b. Hungary, 1892-1965) Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. & Joan Crawford ca. 1930 Gelatin silver print Gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray

The Gender Show is open now (through October) – an exhibition that urges dialogue, discourse, and contemplation. While we’re letting the photographs in the exhibit do most of the talking, we also want to see who else is exploring and challenging gender. We’ll be keeping track of some headlines and interesting topics here so keep checking back! Please leave a comment for any suggestions.

[7.17]Meet the world’s third gender

[7.11]If you were born a woman, how would you be different? Teary eyed Dustin Hoffman’s response and regret
[6.28]Paychex adding written policy against gender-identity bias after prodding by state comptroller
[6.24]White womens bodies as selfie objectified tools of dissent via Hyperallergic
[6.17] Elite Units in U.S. Military to Admit Women via NY Times
[6.17] Deciphering the genetic code of the cancer via BBC
[6.17] A “dismal week” for Australian feminists: Many men find gender debates too threatening to handle
[6.16] How 8 Gay Families Are Celebrating Father’s Day This Year via Huff Post
[
6.12] Why Dad’s Don’t Take Paternity Leave  via WSJ
[6.12] Manly Manicures  via NY Times
[6.11] Why Siri’s Voice Is Now A Man (And A Woman) via Huff Post

 

More images from the show available here.

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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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