David Vestal, Dover's History, history of photography, photo mag, photo technique

Dover’s History Trip- Part IV

written by: David Vestal

This is the final installment of a series in which David Vestal gives insight into historic photographs selected from Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression, published by the Dover Press and used with their permission. 117. Wright Brothers Postcard, by Unknown Photographer, 1915. This is a booster postcard promoting the wonders of Springfield, Minnesota. It is a good cut-and-paste job, a bucolic equivalent to the montages of avant-garde art photography. It’s well calculated to get our attention, but would not have fooled Sherlock Holmes. “Observe, Watson, the direction of the sun, as shown by light and shadows on Read more »

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Dover’s History Trip- Part III

written by: David Vestal

This is the third installment of a series in which David Vestal gives insight into historic photographs selected from Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression, a book and CD-ROM published by Dover Publications and used with their permission. 089. Mission, Santa Clara Pueblo, by Adam Clark Vroman, 1899. Probably a dry plate. The slanting sunlight says morning or afternoon, I can’t tell which. This is an admirable photograph by a man well known for his photographs of the Hopi people, which are well worth seeing. There’s at least one very good book of his work. 095. Portrait—Miss N. Read more »

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Dover’s History Trip- Part II

written by: David Vestal

This is the second installment of a series in which David Vestal gives insight into historic photographs selected from Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression, published by Dover Publications and used with their permission. Skip to the 1860s. Photography had changed. The daguerreotype had largely given way to the ambrotype, in which the silver of a very thin negative on glass was seen as light tones against black velvet. Like the daguerreotype, it was a one-of-a-kind photo delivered in a little frame. Dover didn’t identify the methods used for its photographs, but I saw no ambrotypes among the Read more »

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Dover’s History Trip- Part I

written by: David Vestal

Dover Publications has published a special version of the history of photography under the title, Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression. What’s special is that, with no written text, it presents 139 Royalty-Free Designs in a CD-ROM & Book as part of its large series, “Dover Electronic Clip Art for Macintosh® and Windows®.” Much is included; more is left out. Oddly, there is nothing from Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Daguerre’s early collaborator, who made the first existing photograph that we are sure of in 1826. It’s in the Gernsheim Collection at the Humanities Research Center of the University of Read more »

Postcard From Ansel Adams

POSTCARD FROM ANSEL ADAMS

written by: David Vestal

While throwing out old papers, I saw and saved this postcard. My letter to him is lost, but I can reconstruct my questions, and interpret his answers: Q. 1. How do you test the washing of your prints? A. 1. He meant the Kodak HT-2 silver nitrate stain test for residual hypo. A very light stain, or, preferably, no visible stain, indicates a good wash, the kind people call archival. Q. 2. I asked about the chemical stability of the Stoeller mount board he used. Someone told me that it tested acidic, which, if true, means it’s not good for Read more »

Preparing a Show

written by: David Vestal

Parents of school children were recently asked to determine whether their children were stupid or just lazy. In the case of this photo-exhibition, the answer is: I’m just lazy. The show in question is experimental. It consists entirely of un-mounted prints with no mattes held against the wall under glass, and that’s all. On seeing a couple of my un-mounted prints, the people who have to hang this show accepted my unorthodox approach. In somewhat more respectable words they said, “No problem.” Un-mounted prints with white margins all around are all I sent. Well, not quite all. In the package Read more »

Transitions

written by: David Vestal

“We can’t step in the same river twice. It’s not only the river that changes. We change, too, although we seldom notice it at the time. And we are set in our ways. So we contradict ourselves? Constantly. Don’t worry; it’s normal. Unexpected things happen, and good or evil, or both, result.” What to do? We can panic if we choose to; we’d better adapt to the changes. Let’s try them. We may like them. If not, what can I say? The changes are here, and so are we. But we and the river are not all that change. The Read more »