Saturday, 24 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!: A History in Photos

The most recognizable and traditional symbol of the holiday season, the Christmas tree is a custom that has continued from generation to generation and place to place.

But how did the the fir tree find its way from the lonely forests into homes?

 People first started selling Christmas trees in German marketplaces. People would bring the trees home and set them up undecorated.

So many evergreen trees had been cut down that a 1561 forest ordinance from Ammerschweier in Alsace, France (then part of Germany) declared that each burgher was allowed only one Christmas tree and that the tree could be no more than "8 shoes" in height (slightly over 4 feet).

 With the advent of wrapping paper in the 1880s, gifts, previously hung from the tree, were placed under the tree. The first electrically illuminated Christmas tree dates to 1882, just three years after the invention of the incandescent light bulb by Thomas Edison.

The event was reported in the Detroit Post and Tribune by a reporter named Croffut: "Last evening I walked over beyond Fifth Avenue and called at the residence of Edward H. Johnson, vice-president of Edison's electric company."

According to the report, Johnson's Christmas tree was "brilliantly lighted with many colored globes" the size of walnuts. Overall, there were  80 red, white and blue electric light bulbs.

Christmas tree decorations were further revolutionized in 1890, when the first blown glass ornaments were introduced into the United States, again from Germany.

The  Christmas tree was introduced in England by Prince Albert, who in 1839 bought a tree from his native Germany as a courtship gift to Princess Victoria. Soon Christmas trees became popular in the entire country.

In 1896, a 100-foot-high tree was erected at the Royal Aquarium in London. A couple thousand electric lamps illuminated its branches. "Tied on to the 'tree," which was built of several trees, were 20,000 toys, which were distributed among the poor children of London," wrote the daily Bristol Mercury.

Probably the most famous Christmas tree was the 70-foot-high tree given in 1947 by the city of Oslo as a gift to the people of London.

This year marks the 65th tree to come to London as a token of Norwegian appreciation of British friendship during WWII, when the Norwegian monarch and government moved to London after the German invasion of the country.

In the 1900s, over-harvesting of evergreens began to alarm conservationists and 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to ban Christmas trees from holiday celebrations.

Around the same time, the first Christmas tree farm was started in New Jersey and the first artificial trees appeared in the United States, manufactured by the Addis British company, makers of toilet bowl brushes. In 1950, the aluminum tree was patented.

The evergreen fir tree is now defying a sagging economy with soaring sales. According to analysts, Christmas tree sending for 2011 in the United States is likely to be the highest since before the recession in 2008.

Americans are expected to spend about $800 million for 25 million real trees and another $2.6 billion on 10 million artificial versions.

According to the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano, Italy was one of the last countries to accept the Christmas tree since they were long seen by the church as a Protestant practice.

"Pope Paul VI (1897-1978), of venerable memory, began the tradition of setting up a massive Christmas tree beside the grand crib in St Peter's Square," wrote the Vatican daily.

This year's tree, decorated with 2,500 silver and gold ornaments, comes from  Ukraine.

"It's a significant symbol of Christ's nativity because, with its evergreen boughs, it reminds us of enduring life," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Review Photo Scanning Services

Spending a few minutes looking at reviews of photo scanning services for pictures and slides will show you that scanning procedures vary, as do the types of colour correcting and amount of time involved. And so it makes sense to look at the techniques of a handful of providers prior to spending money scanning your old photos.

Why You Should Let a Photo Scanning Service Do the Grunt Work?
For starters, let’s agree you have better things to do than scan 1000+ pictures by hand. The appeal of shipping your stuff off to a scanning service is that it frees you from having to do all the monotonous work yourself. Just box up all your images and mail them to the scanning company. Just about all providers will take pictures in albums and slide sleeves or trays (although it may cost a bit more) and it will be returned in the exact order.

But before you box everything up you should review scanning services and compare them to see what is included in the price in terms of scanning cost, image cleaning, what kind of colour correction and touch ups they do and what formats of slides and negatives they will scan.

Dust and Scratch Removal and Colour Enhancement
A fast review of photo scanning services shows that a majority of providers offer dust and smudge removal. Yet there are variations in levels of image enhancements.A lot of providers will scan, crop, rotate and make colour corrections with bulk auto corrections. The top providers do the scanning manually and make colour enhancements manually with Photoshop, delivering far better images.

How Much Time is Involved
Some companies take longer than others. A number of highly rated services have lengthy turn-around of four weeks or so since they do all scanning outside the country with secure packaging and tracking. Other companies are UK based and may still take several weeks turnaround time, also with door-to-door tracking. During my evaluation of scanning times and shipping methods, I determined that the top services came through without every losing a customer’s order. But the bottom line is, in order to get quality digitised images you are not going to be able to get large quantities of photos scanned, enhanced and delivered in just a couple of days.

What Do You Get Back From the Scanning Service?
Once again, a review of photo scanning services reveals that many will just send you a DVD of your new digital photos, whilst other companies offer online image review so you can organise them before they are put on DVD Apart from a DVD with your photos, several companies will give you your own web page for photo sharing and archiving your images. It’s handy insurance against accidental loss.
Scanning your photos, 35mm slides and negatives, done properly will preserve your family photos forever and give them new life so you can share and enjoy them with today’s generation. Still, be sure you review several scanning companies prior to shipping off your family photos.

PHOTOS REUNITED is the only UK Image Scanning Service that offers door-to-door tracked collection service and guarantees that all photos are handled and scanned in the UK!

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Keeping analogue memories in a digital age

BBC Click 

"The death of a loved one is often traumatic and emotional for those left behind. After the initial shock there are reams of paperwork to attend to as well as wills, bills and property to sort out"

"But today's elderly generation has left an additional responsibility to its offspring - the preservation of cine films, slides and negatives - all of which became especially popular with young families in the 1960s"

Ian Hardy has found this out personally and he reports on how collecting and converting everything to digital, presents some challenges.