Marking time

Marking time in September 2013

Saturday 21 September 2013

An atlas of photographic processes

The Getty Conservation Institute has released a terrific resource for collectors and custodians of historic photographs.

The Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic Processes is intended for practicing photograph conservators, cu­ra­tors, art historians, archivists, library professionals, and anyone responsible for the care of photograph collections. Its purpose is to aid in the formulation of analytical ques­tions related to a particular photograph and to assist sci­en­tists unfamiliar with analysis of photographs when in­ter­preting analytical data. The Atlas contains in­ter­pre­ta­tion guides with identification of overlaps of spectral peaks and warnings of potential misidentification or mis­in­ter­preta­tion of analytical results.

It’s published as a set of free pdf documents​—​an Introduction, plus separate chapters on the Albumen, Carbon, Collodion on paper, Collotype, Cyanotype, Halftone, Photogravure, Platino­type, Salt print, Silver gelatin, and Woodburytype processes​—​with the promise of more to come. Each of these chapters has an historical account of the development and use of the process, and a guide to identifying photographs made by that process. The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion methods include looking at the print with the naked eye (which I can do), low-magnification microscopy (which I can manage, sort of, with hand lens and scanning), and using XRF and ATR-FTIR spectometry (not possible for me, but interesting to read about).

I have followed the guidance of the Atlas and confirmed that a cabinet card in my collection is the product of the collotype process.

It’s a photo of a group of South Australian Aboriginal people gathered in front of a wurlie, a kind of bough shelter. I believe the photo was taken by Samuel White Sweet around 1878. Albumen prints of the image are held by the National Library and the National Gallery. I own three very different derivatives of this image​—​a wood engraving (from the Picturesque atlas of Aus­tral­asia, 1886); a postcard reproduction of a painting (by the English publisher Raphael Tuck & Sons, after 1905); and the cabinet card shown below (now confirmed as a collotype).

Samuel White Sweet (photographer), Coast natives’ wurlie, Adelaide, collotype reproduction published by Schultz & Schlenner, Berlin.

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Saturday 14 September 2013

The pitch

I heard Martin Grunstein at the Institute of Architects the other day, speaking about How architects can make profits in a chal­leng­ing environment.

Martin made some unflattering generalisations about architects’ websites. He even offered to help anyone in the audience to make theirs better. I sent him an email after the talk and, a few days later, he responded.

He liked this website but he told me​—​you need to have a stronger selling focus to it be­cause the purpose of your site is to get people to hire your ser­vices. He said I should write a list of reasons for clients to hire me, and put it on the front page.

So I thought of six reasons and wrote them down.

Glazed ceramic tile house number, Via Del Campuccio, Florence.

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Tuesday 10 September 2013

Esoteric London: the book

Every morning, over a nice cup of tea, I check the Esoteric London blog and enjoy another quirky juxtaposition of a new photograph and a bit of old text. It’s a pleasure, and sometimes a hazardous distraction.

Roger Dean, the photographer and blogger, has been working on a self-published book which is now, at last, almost ready to print. This is not some quickie print-on-demand number, but a proper book (with belly band). Roger has just launched a Kickstarter project to get the job onto the press. I’ve pledged my support!

A snippet from the 917th daily episode of Esoteric London.

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Friday 6 September 2013

Richard Rogers on heritage and architecture

Here’s a little video in which the noted European architect talks about designing new buildings while taking account of their historical settings.

I have a special fondness for the wonderful Pompidou Centre​—​a pearl in the pearlshell that is Paris​—​designed by Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers.

View to the northeast from Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, September 2010. On the right is the Pompidou Centre. On the left, the typical 19th century streetscape fronting Rue Beaubourg. In the middle is the building that contains the remains of the studio of Constantin Brânçusi, originally located in Montparnasse.

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An atlas of photographic processes
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Richard Rogers on heritage and architecture

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