I’ve always been fascinated with the conservation process and how delicate and complex it is. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy this video from The Museum of Modern Art. In this video, conservator of photographs Lee Ann Daffner will guide you through a process of conserving one of the oldest objects in NoMA’s collection: an almost 200-year-old daguerreotype.
In my work travels, I recently met someone who gave me an interesting gift. Several years back he had been driving down a back road in Virginia and came across an old, abandoned farmhouse. He stopped and peeked in to see if anyone was using the place (you can’t be too careful about what you run across that looks abandoned these days), and saw only cobwebs. He went in and found an interesting box:
Whether you’re learning about history or looking for inspiration, historic images are always interesting to browse through. The Arab Image Foundation is digitizing its collection. Out of half a million images, now you can access and download 22,000 of them from an online gallery – and there are more to come.
1,270 of 41,000 glass negatives created by Hitler’s personal photographer and “key propagandist”, Heinrich Hoffman have been scanned into the US National Archives. Many of these negatives were broken and had to be reassembled in a process taking around 9 months to complete, overseen by Richard E. Schneider.
Grab your phone, open the front-facing camera, strike a pose, click, and you’re done. It takes only a few seconds to take the perfect selfie nowadays, but what was it like a century ago? Well, if you wanted to get into the shot, it took a bit more effort than today. And in a photo that recently emerged on Reddit, you can see a creative photographer who figured out a clever way to include himself in the shot.
Old photos are a strong witness of history and of past times. National Geographic has recently published a century old photos of Antarctica, made before we were in the midst of strong climate changes. Photographer Herbert Ponting took the photos of the coldest continent in the early 20th century, a hundred years ago. They don’t only show the landscapes of Antarctica, but also the animals, explorers of the Terra Nova expedition, and their ships. All these photos testify of the era that’s now so far behind us. And not only are they valuable – they are also beautiful.
Using her photography and photo manipulation skills, photographer Karen Alsop created her version of a time travel. When her mother found a photo of Karen’s Great Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother, it made Karen wonder: what it would be like to meet her ancestors, sit down and talk to them? Even more, how incredible it would be for her kids to meet them? And so, the idea was born.
She had a photo shoot with her two children and photoshopped them into the photo her mom had found, which dates back to the early 1900’s. The final result is incredible, and when she shared it on Facebook, most of her family and friends thought that the kids are the relatives who only resemble her children.
Karen has kindly shared the details about the entire process with us. From the photo shoot to compositing and colorizing the final image, even some BTS shots. It was a long and demanding task, but it was well worth the result.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Vivian Maier and the incredible story how her photos were discovered. A similar story happened when an American tourist, Tom Sponheim, bought a stack of negatives in 2001. He got them for $3.5 in a flea market in Barcelona, and they turn out to be way more valuable.
After developing the negatives, Tom ended up with something wonderful. There was a bunch of photos of an artist who was unknown, but obviously very talented. Taken throughout Barcelona, the images depict daily lives of Spanish people in the mid-20th century. There is so much soul in these images that they could easily be compared to some of the iconic photos of the time. And now, the name of the artist has also been discovered. It’s Milagros Caturla, and it took 16 years to identify her as the person behind these gorgeous photographs.
Photography is probably one of the greatest tools for preserving history. While present generations stand at a perilous place with all of our memories sitting on hard drives and SD cards, we are thankful for those who had to take the time to develop each shot into a physical medium. Writings and paintings can only provide so much accurate detail and are often skewed by the perspectives of their creators, but photographs seem to preserve another level of historic accuracy.
Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch post-impressionist painter best known for The Starry Night, his insane preoccupation with selfies, and chopping off bits of ears long before Mike Tyson made it popular, has often been portrayed as a dark and brooding cloud in art history. Yet, we have never seen a photograph of his face in adulthood…until now.
With over 13 million photographs belonging to its collection, The Library Of Congress is one of the most extensive anthologies of images in the world. Many of the royalty free photos in the collection are old, bygone relics from times long ago passed that have been, for the most part, forgotten about. That is until an inventive director and designer by the name Kevin Weir had the notion to take some of the black and white images and breathe new life into them by turning them into some awesome, albiet a little creepy, GIF animations for a project he’s dubbed, The Flux Machine.