Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Nice to be Upvoted

I woke up and checked Reddit, and saw my "Comment Karma" there had gone from 34 to 677.

This means nothing to people outside of Reddit, I'm sure.

But I was happy.

If you decide to try it, stern warning: Reddit is addictive!


The part of the world
that was used
is lost.

Now I am something
I could not have been.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Townsend Duryea (1823-88) and Sanford Duryea (1833-1902)

I'm deep into Melbourne's history, courtesy of its archived newspaper, The Age.

I just read with amusement the very florid ads placed by competing photographers (or "Daguerrean artists," to use the Duryeas' colorful language) in the paper in 1854.

Odd that these were American-born photographers making a go of it in the new colony.

It is indeed lamentable that a fire destroyed roughly fifty thousand of the Duryeas' glass plates. So much of value to the study of early Australian history was lost in that conflagration.

You can view the Duryea panorama of Adelaide, touted as "the oldest VR (virtual reality) experience in the world," here, if you have Shockwave installed on your computer.

Or should we just call it "the earliest Google Street View?" Panoramas were big crowd pleasers in that period. Judging by the way they were advertised in print, they were clearly big draws.

I also found the Duryea Panorama (which was produced in 1865) on another site and in another format. This one does not require Shockwave.

Curiously enough, the competing photographer advertising just above the Duryea Brothers was a man with the surname of Batchelder, and his contributions to photography are also remembered.

This is clearly Perez Mann Batchelder (b.1818, Boston) a peripatetic individual who had worked as "an itinerant photographer on the California goldfields."  He had developed a creative sort of "breakdown studio" for the fields.  That this photographer is indeed P.M.B. is confirmed in the linked article, since the address given for the artist's studio is the exact address given in the advertisement in The Age: 57 Great Collins Street East. (If the ad had been placed in 1857 or later, the "Batchelder" would be Perez's brother Freeman, who took his place in the business when he departed.)

Prospecting seemed to be big in Australia at this time (The Age has many advertisements relating to this) so that might be the honey which sweetened the deal with these immigrant photographers.

Here is a portrait of a woman with striking Picassian eyes from one of Batchelder's many studios. Who knows whether it was taken by him or an employee in the Stockton studio. The Cabinet Card Gallery is clearly an excellent blog. If you visit, note how you can search the photographs in the collection by subject or by photographer (the rubrics are located on the right-hand side of the blog). I went right to "Cats," and loved what came up, but was left wishing there were so much more than one photograph. (Sob.)  Pet photography wasn't yet in vogue. It was hard enough to get humans photographed before they died (usually prematurely). Witness all the postmortem photos of the era as proof of this melancholic fact. If you click on "Beards," I can promise you'll have fun. Well, I did, anyway.

Bart van Leeuwen

on the phenomenon of street photography.

I love the "Barbie Doll" photo he posted to go with it.

The Steichen quote he uses to reify is brilliant.

While I'm not an Atget super-fan, more just a fan, I think he was probably one of the first major photographers to invest as much time (if not more) into street photography as he did into the other genres.

And he definitely gave street photography a conceptualist torque. If you take a great contemporary like Bill Dane, a self-professed "street photographer"--even though most curators would instantly want to assign him to "art photography--you can see a line of succession there.

(steelton's little sliver of montparnasse)

Who needs a gym membership when you have stairs like these to go up and down all the time (and many hills just as steeply-pitched).