Friday, 29 July 2011

Images from history: Rarely seen photographs bring 1800s London back to life

In the frantic pace of modern life, it is easy to forget our past, and the toils of the generations before us who built the world we live in.

But for those familiar with our capital city, these fascinating pictures taken when photography was in its infancy will bring back to life a London which has changed so much over the last 150 years.

They capture sweaty, mustachioed long-dead engineers working hard to bring the world's first Underground network to life; they capture the hippo who entertained Londoners and visitors alike during his 30 years' lodgings at Regent's Park; they capture long-past shops and factories; they even capture the construction of one of England's most famous monuments, Nelson's Column, back in 1844.

Further afield, there are pictures of Italy, America, Japan and Egypt, all taken more than 100 years ago.

The British Library holds 350,000 historic pictures in its vaults, and for the first time ever it is running an exhibition of these rarely seen pictures, which will open in October.

There are a million fascinating facts and figures about the London Underground, but this rarely seen photograph reminds us just what an engineering feat the construction process was. Here we see the creation of the Central Line in 1898

Read more:


Old class photos damaged

Some of them are 93 years old, and all of them speak to the past.
Unfortunately, many of Corning High School's alumni class pictures are in pretty bad shape after being left in storage during the past 10 years.
"Many of them have water and mildew damage, some of the frames and glass were broken from being moved around," said Sally Tollison, high school counselor.
Tollison and several others from the school and community have taken on the project of restoring the old pictures, but have run into funding and other roadblocks.
"We want to see them again hanging in the school, where they document the past, and where today's, and future students at Corning High School can see the school's commitment to the past and understand that same commitment applies to the future," Tollison said.
The pictures, dating from 1918 to 2000, had been displayed throughout the school until 2000, when the framed pictures had to be removed for the school's remodeling and new co struction project.
Since then, the pictures have been stored in the school's bus barn and other areas on campus, where they suffered damage from moisture and handling.
But now, all of the alumni pictures have been found, and are again under one roof, in a safe, dry area of the bus barn where they await restoration.
"It has turned out to be an enormous project, much more than we initially anticipated," Tollison said.
A couple of photographers and studios in the area were asked to consider the restoration, and all came back with the same response, "too big a project."
Tollison said that outcome left those interested in the restoration with two big, unanswered questions.
"We had to figure out who could do the restoration project, and how to pay for it to be accomplished," she explained.
Unfettered, they put the problem before the Corning Union High School Board of Trustees.
"The board realized the value of restoring the pictures, but with the school suffering from state budget cuts, they also realized the district couldn't afford the cost of the project," Tollison said.
What the board did agree to fund, was having someone organize and catalogue the work that needed to be done, and pay for the materials to hang the pictures once they are restored.



Tuesday, 26 July 2011

PEEK INTO THE PAST: Transport hub of Burnley town centre

OLD photos of the most familiar parts of Burnley town centre are very popular with readers of this series. I get the most questions and comments about this part of town so am always careful to be as accurate as possible with views like the one today.

As you can see, the image is of the part of St James’s Street, now pedestrianised, but formerly the bus station and, before that, the main stopping place for the trams. In fact, in this picture, something of the tram era survives though buses have taken over.
In the middle of the photo notice the clock. This, for many years, in both the tram and bus eras, was very much part of Burnley centre. It was vital for telling the time in an age when not everyone had their own watch and this clock regulated, in their days, the tram and bus timetables. Lots of Burnley people, and doubtless those from outside town, arranged to meet under the famous clock attached to the office of Burnley’s Tramways Department.
In the photo, if you look carefully, you will notice some of the buses are awaiting new passengers while parked at pedestrian islands. These islands were created in the tram era and it was once a common sight for as many as four trams to be parked next to each other in this part of St James’s Street. The street itself had been designed to be wider than the rest of the highway and it was here t Burnley’s Open Market was held once it had moved from Church Street in the 18th Century.



Monday, 25 July 2011

Beatles' 1st US concert photos fetch $360,000

The Beatles perform on stage during their first tour of the US in these photographs taken by Mike Mitchell and auctioned by Christie's in New York on Wednesday. Mike Mitchell / Christie's Handout via Reuters

In 1964, an enterprising 18-year-old snapped pictures of the Beatles' momentous first US concert in Washington.
On Wednesday, Christie's auction house said it sold 50 silver gelatin prints that the photographer, Mike Mitchell, made from the negatives for $361,938. The images, plus photos from another Beatles concert, had been estimated to fetch a total of $100,000.
The Beatles played their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964, two days after their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Mike Mitchell was there, shooting photos from just a meter away and even jumping onto the stage for the group's pre-concert press call.
Among the highlights is a backlit shot of the band that he took while standing directly behind them. It sold on Wednesday for $68,500 - its pre-sale estimate was $2,000 to $3,000.



Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The First Portrait Photograph Ever Made

In 1839, a year after the first photo containing a human being was made, photography pioneer Robert Cornelius made the first ever portrait of a human being.

Visit the Petapixel site to read more:


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A history of photography

These are images of just some of the photographs drawn from the V&A’s collection to illustrate a history of photography. The Museum began acquiring photographs in 1852, and its collection is now one of the largest and most important in the world. International in scope, it ranges from the beginnings of photography to the present. Most of the photographs not currently on display are available through the Prints & Drawings Study Room.

Click on the images below to view larger versions.

History of the photography collection

The history of the photography collection in the V&A is closely connected with the development of the Museum as a whole. Its first director, Henry Cole, was an amateur photographer himself and a great supporter of the art of photography. He began a photography collection in 1856, the year that the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A, was established. Since then, the collection has grown to be international in scope and comprises over 300,000 images dating from 1839 to the present.

Focusing on four historic photographs from the V&A collection, the importance of the sense of touch in photography is demonstrated. Photography can be seen as a combination of science and art, in which advances in technique continually feed creativity and artistic achievement. This is borne out by the changes in photographic materials, particularly the paper. Over the years, a variety of paper types and light sensitive coatings have been manufactured, so paper quality and texture can often help to date a photograph.



Monday, 11 July 2011

Old Photos

Many people have old photographs that have been handed down through the family often these old photos are a vital link to the past and something to be treasured.
Your Grandma may have kept these irreplaceable images of your ancestors in an old shoe box or biscuit tin, and managed to keep them safe through two world wars. But now it is your turn to look after these images and safe guard them for future generations. You might think that a box of old photographs is perfectly safe from accidental damage, but how would you feel if the box was inadvertently destroyed by fire or water damage? The loss of all your family photographs would mean that future generations of your family have lost their visual link to the past.
Old family photographs of ancestors are part of our family heritage. They can help future generations piece together different branches of the family as well as paint a picture of the past. Whilst stories and anecdotes are an important way of keeping the family history alive, pictures of our ancestors bring the story to vivid life in a way words cannot.
Photographs of Victorian and Edwardian ancestors will probably fade away slowly, and later photographs or 35mm slides that have been kept in a cupboard or on top of the wardrobe can all show signs of age. Fortunately it is possible to restore old photos and bring them back to life with the aid of modern technology. A restoration specialist will hopefully be able to repair the damage and you might end up being pleasantly surprised at just how much detail is uncovered once the restoration process has taken place. Never assume that a damaged old photograph of one of your ancestor is beyond repair -- the chances are good that it can be fixed.
If you do not want to hire someone to do the work and have the expertise, equipment and software you may enjoy restoring your own family photos. There is no shortage of advice and tutorials on the web.