The Tanana River, Montevideo and Smilling in Photographs

Pin of The Week

Meeting the native Peoples on the Tanana River

Meeting the native Peoples on the Tanana River, 1916

Pin of the week was pinned by the Rutherford B.Hayes Presidential Center. It was taken by Colonel Webb C. Hayes, son of the aforementioned 19th President of the United States. The Colonel was on a trip exploring Alaska and the Yukon with his two 18 year-old nephews Dalton Hayes and William Hayes. This photograph appeals to me because it is a beautiful portrait of a traditional family within a cultural group that probably had very rarely been photographed at this point. The caption accompanying the photograph tells that there were…”lines of drying salmon hanging up and some caribou and bear skins.”

Pinner of the Week

Plaza Independencia, 1936

Plaza Independencia, 1936

Pinner of the Week is Centro de Fotografía de Montevideo (the Montevideo photography centre). This organisation has a brilliant channel conserving and documenting the history of Uruguay’s capital. Their own archive has approximately 120,000 photographs from the period 1840-1990 and a growing collection of contemporary photos.  There is a wealth of historical information paired with the photos they have pinned; and even if your Spanish isn’t too hot (like mine) it’s quite fun too filter the blurbs through Google Translate and see what you can discern.

Children of Carnival, 1918

The children of Carnival, 1918

You can read about all aspects of the city’s history: the famous Carnival that takes over South America every February, the history of the buildings and the port, the creation of the city’s tourist industry and everything in between.

Rosaleda del Prado, 1920

Rosaleda del Prado, 1920

This photo shows a garden path within Rosaleda del Prado, a huge rose garden within the public park of Prado that was designed by French landscape architect Charles Racine and opened in November 1912. It was made up of 12,000 rosebushes many varieties of which Racine had had shipped over from his homeland.

Story of the Week

Smiling in photographs

Smiling in photographs

This week story regards the transition, over the timeline of photography, from seemingly non-expressive poses to today’s photo-culture of never forgetting to have your biggest smiles ready whenever a camera is near.
I decided to investigate when the change occurred and to what it was attributed. The first photograph with a person as the subject matter was supposedly in 1838. The early photographic process was a much lengthier affair than today with exposure times up to a minute long. For this reason people needed to be in a pose that was sustainable for this length of time. All kinds of apparatus was used to help, including head braces and ropes going through the clothes and chairs of young children, in an effort to lock them into position. A minute-long smile would appear unnatural, it was much easier to maintain a more relaxed face. The opportunity for a family or individual to have their photograph taken was also a rare, expensive event that would see the family dress-up in their Sunday finest. To smile and risk ruining the photo could upset the whole family and maybe stemming from this reason smiling for photos was considered insincere and undignified.

Mr and Mrs George W. Starr and family, 1902

Mr and Mrs George W. Starr and family, 1902

As time passed the photographic process improved and exposure times reduced. A crisp photo was not so reliant on sustained perfect-stillness from the subject.  People also grew more used to having their photo taken as the practice became cheaper and more commonplace. By the 1920s the informalising of photography and the informalising of many other social aspects meant that people had started choosing to smile when their image was captured. The practice has widened and today you may be accused of rudeness if you fail to offer a smile for a photo.
That is a general assessment of how smiling in photos became commonplace but I thought I would just mention a few other reasons offered when I was reading around the subject which include improvements in oral hygiene and dentistry and photographers perfecting their delivery of jokes.
I have always been more intrigued by older photos than newer ones and wondered why. Aside from the mystery that time helps nuture, I think a big part of the reason is what lies behind the smile. Having smile as the default writes a deceitful account of what is going on. The exposure time of a photo today can be infinitesimal compared to old photos.  You may capture a smile but it is such a quick snapshot of a smile that there is no time to determine its sincerity. The attempted neutral expressions of the past were exposed for seconds rather than milliseconds and allowed enough time for someones real emotions to shine through. So, although it may sound counter-intuitive, I believe if you want to show the world how happy you are; turn your face as blank as possible, sit very still and turn that exposure right up.

Thanks for the photo, which was pinned by EastMarple1.

A game of bocce, Filipino families and stereographs from Port Arthur

Pin of The Week

Party after a game of bocce, Thulimbah, ca. 1949

Pin of the Week was pinned by the State Library of Queensland. It shows a group of Italian migrants who had moved to the Stanhope District in Australia after World War Two. The description of the photo says they have just been playing bocce which is an Italian game similar to boules. Today, bocce is played in many overseas areas that have received Italian migrants, including Australia, North America and South America. Initially it was played amongst the migrants themselves but slowly has become more popular with the wider communities. For me the photo highlights this beautiful cultural interchange that the moving of communities can bring. The men can also be seen drinking; know doubt they brought a little local wine knowledge over with them as well!

Pinner of the Week

People power revolution, Quezon City, 23 February 1986

Pinner of the Week is Angkang Pilipino (meaning Filipino Family), a site representing The Philippine Genealogocial Society online ‘that offers articles, resources, biographies and photos that may help and inspire enthusiasts to embrace genealogy with scholarly diligence.’

Check out their Channel and explore their contributions which span many decades and topics.

The Chapel of St. Pancratius, Manila, 1900

We just need Google’s Street View cars to run through Manila and the rest of the Phillipines and we’re sure to have some great overlays to create a compelling comparison with today’s cities and landscapes.

Children play in flooded Niconyor Reyes Street, Manila, 1975

Story of the Week

Japanese officer instructing his men how to scale the walls of the deadly forts, Port Arthur, 1904

This week’s story is inspired by some photos pinned by the pierlociop and is the story of the stereograph and stereoscopy.

Stereoscopy is a technique used to create the illusion of depth within a 2D scene. The easiest way to do this is to provide the eyes of the viewer with two different images that differ very slightly; just enough to mimic the perspectives that both eyes naturally have in binocular vision. This is then produced as a stereograph, as seen above, which lays the two photos side by side and ocular apparatus is then used that splits which eye sees which photo. As the brain receives the images they are combined to give the perception of a 3D scene.

A Holmes Stereoscope

You can read on the side of the stereographs pinned by pierlociop that they were produced by Underwood and Underwood Publishers. The company was founded by two brothers, Elmer and Bert Elias Underwood, and ran from 1881 till the 1940s. At one time they were the largest publisher of stereoviews in the world, producing 10 million views a year.

Professor Ricaiton, with Japanese officers of 11th Division, at foot of Takushan, Port Arthur, 1904

These particular stereographs show scenes from Port Arthur, now known as Lüshunkou, in China,1904. Port Arthur was the site of the longest and most violent battle of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.