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 »

Kenneth Josephson, A.D. Coleman, photo technique, photo mag

Photographic Seeing

The Camera Work of Kenneth Josephson
written by: A. D. Coleman

A bare suspended lightbulb illuminates four black & white Polaroid prints of images of (presumably) that same lightbulb, taped to a wall. The reflection of a French mountain range in the roof of a car appears to sprout an actual rock formation. Another car, in Stockholm, leaves a perfect silhouette of its profile in a dusting of snow on the pavement. A crouching woman, mostly obscured by a little girl, makes a close-up portrait of the girl’s face with an amateur camera. Attached to a black & white print of that image with family album-style photo corners is a second Read more »


Vernacular Spectacular

How Photographic Objects Have Changed Our Idea of Photography
written by: Daile Kaplan

During the past 30 years photography’s status has been dramatically altered. Once a marginal area of aesthetic endeavor that was seen as a mechanical art form ridiculed by the academy and public alike, today it occupies center stage. Contemporary artists’ uses of digital photographic imagery have been foregrounded in the media and at auction, which have also heightened awareness of works by analogue practitioners. As the field has continued to develop, museum curators and private collectors have revisited vernacular photography in all its guises—snapshots, family photo albums, commercial pictures, as well as applications of photographs onto three-dimensional decorative and functional Read more »


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 »


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 »


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 »


Working with Abstraction in Photography

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

My entry into photography came via hiking and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The monstrous river canyons with crashing waterfalls and cascades below 14,000′ granite summits and forests of enormous sugar pines, themselves dwarfed by giant sequoia trees, were so exciting to me that I was inspired to “capture them” on film. That was in the mid-1960s. Today my attitude has completely changed. First, I don’t think you can “capture” anything. I think you can document where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. If you’re really serious about things, you can go beyond mere documentation and try to convey 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 »

The King’s New Suit of Clothes

From Modernism to Post-Modernism
written by: Tom Millea

Thirty years ago the very nature of photography changed. A completely new paradigm emerged and was installed in less than a decade. The change was radical and complete. The photographic community abandoned everything I knew as photographic art and substituted another new set of beliefs. In one fell swoop, Modernism was out and Post-Modernism was in. By the middle sixties, photography, for the first time, had become profitable. With money available, new galleries opened. I was living in New York City when Lee Witkin opened the Witkin Gallery, and it was an instant success. There was so much material available Read more »


Kodachrome: The Film that Changed the Way We See

written by: Abhay Sharma, Paul Sergeant

Kodachrome was a beautiful film– bright vivid colors, low grain and images that jumped out of the screen and filled the projection room with the awe of mountain landscapes, close-up portraits and children playing on backyard swings. After a successful 74-year run, Eastman Kodak announced in June 2009 that it would soon discontinue sales of Kodachrome. It’s interesting to take a look at both the history and science of this remarkable product. The Leopolds Kodachrome was not the first color film (color photography had existed with techniques such as Autochrome and Dufaycolor), but Kodachrome was the first practical film for Read more »