Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Instant Shot

By the time I was in Dougherty Junior High and Dougherty High School, I was taking photos with my own Kodak Instamatic. Introduced in 1963, the Instamatic conveniently allowed amateur photographers an easy way to "instantly" load and unload conventional film. The quirky - and sometimes unreliable - parts were the various flash bulbs and "cubes" during the years that my friends and I had those cameras. I used the Instamatic until the early 1970s when my young husband gave me my first 35 mm camera; however, the Kodak Instamatic lived on with a new model each year until 1988. From these humble beginnings, my love for photography grew.

Kodak Instamatic

I, of course, still have the photographs from those years. The color has faded, and the images are certainly not as sharp as today's digital photos. The important part is that those photographs tell the stories of my teens and early twenties - of my family, my early and long-lasting friendships, the courtship with my one and only sweetheart. Those Instamatic images are a fairly appropriate life metaphor about today - the color has faded, and the images are certainly not as sharp, but the love of life continues.

Did you have an Instamatic camera? What are your favorite photographing memories?

Here are two of mine.

Six Flags - Georgia, 1967
University of South Carolina, 1972

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Snapshot

Founding Eastman Kodak Company in 1892, George Eastman simplified photography with small, easy-to-use cameras like the one introduced in 1888. The slogan was "You press the button; we do the rest." No longer did you have to visit a photographer (or have one visit you). No longer did you have to stand still with your head in a brace stand, or with a solemn face because a smile was hard to hold. No longer were your children a blurrrr in their classroom photo. You did not have to stand and hold on to a prop or family member. You did not even have to sit if you did not want.

Natural was the pose, as long as natural was acceptable in black and white images. And acceptable it was in February 1900 for simplicity of use by adults or youth and for pricing - $1.00 for the Brownie camera, $.15 for 6-exposure film, and $.40 for film processing. The snapshot was here to stay when 245,000 of these Brownies were sold in 1900!


Here is my mother's Brownie. I actually remember having my photos made.

Six-20 Brownie Junior

Introduction Date: February 1934
Production Dates: February 1934 to October 1942
Film Type: 620 rollfilm
Image Size: 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches
Original List Price: $2.25

Here are a few of my favorite Brownie Camera photos. 

Do you have favorite Brownie Camera photos of yourself, family, and friends? 

Daddy and me (1952)
Mother and Daddy when they were young

My sister-in-law being adorable
My cousins and me (Easter 1954)

Thank you for the memories, Brownie Camera!

[For a comprehensive history of the Brownie camera, visit The Brownie Camera Page.]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Little Town Photography

Lately re-organizing the house, I discovered all the many places that I have photos. Just like most people, I have an abundance of photo albums, but I also have numerous albums of CDs with just photo images edited and saved. There are 6100 images on Flickr; here most images contain no people - just places and things that I have made. There are 5500 images on my laptop, along with approximately the same number of different photos on my PC. These, too, are all backed-up to an external hard-drive, as well as in Snapfish. In fact, when I downloaded Picasa 3 to the laptop, I spent four hours working on the facial recognition task.

At one time, my brother joked that I would someday be one of the most documented persons who was never famous. Nowadays that cannot possibly be true. With all the digital photo options literally in hand, everyone is overly self-, friend-, and family-documented whether they are famous, not famous, or infamous. Even though I am not a smartphone user at the moment, I too have a place among millions of photo hoarders and image sharers.

by Jenifer Steller, Brookgreen Gardens, MD, Butterfly Observatory, July 7, 2009

Knick of Time Interiors
My real fascination, however, is with those old sepia and black/white shots of times past - those times lost or unknown to us generations who now have inherited those images. The American Museum of Photography shares, "From tentative beginnings in 1840, the practice of capturing a persons' perfect image and identity with a camera became an industry, an art, and a means for Americans from all walks of life to send a personal and often intimate message about themselves into the future."

What are those messages to us? For many who have our ancestors' images, we know that photography became, in a way, the great equalizer. People who could never afford painted portraits could then have photos of themselves, family, and friends. For this reason, families may have at least one photograph of a loved one. You can read more at The Museum of Family History.     
The earliest photographs that I have of family are cabinet portraits with the name of the studio on the bottom of the card or on the back. These photographs were mounted on cardboard and are ambiguous about the true date. Since the studio may have used blank cards stored for many years, many genealogical sites suggest dating the photo by the style of dress. Also cameo portraits were popular in the United States during the early 1870s. This cameo photo is of my maternal grandfather's mother. Since he was born in the 1890s, this one is turn-of-the century. The Museum of Family History writes that "Around 1890, more and more studio portraits were created as vignettes, i.e., portraits where the edges of the image were somewhat blurred out, giving it a bit of a fuzzy appearance."
Why the awkward poses? Were all these people very serious? Were they unhappy?

Historical Boys' Clothing tells us that technology was a major factor because early photographers were working with extremely slow-speed plates; therefore, subjects could not move. To prevent spoiling the photo during an extended wait, (1) the subject's head may be held in place by a stand; (2) subjects were asked to be solemn; (3) subjects were seated; (4) subjects could place hands on seated members to balance.

Thank goodness for itinerant photographers! For rural communities, the photographer came in horse and buggy or by train. In the city, the street photographer was popular. For these reasons, we have photographs of large families and their homes, as well as more casual and intimate ones where the subjects were caught by surprise. These photographs are highly prized in my family.

The Dodrill Family of West Virginia

According to The Museum of Family History, cabinet portraiture was popular until the early twentieth century when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera in February 1900 for $1.00. 

You can listen to memories of the Brownie here.

We will visit using a Brownie camera for the next post. See you then!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Garnishing with Parsley

For the moment, I have been transplanting existing plants from my yard (see previous post).

I do want to add a few new items. Here is my wishlist:


Greenhouse Botanical

Wouldn't the little "chicks" from Hens-and-Chicks look fun as cabbages in the garden by the barn? Later I could transplant them to other areas of the landscape. 

These succulents would be a perfect companion for any variety of sedum and excellent against the rocks and in the rock crevices. Getting about 4 inches tall, Hens-and-Chicks like full sun and well-drained soil. 

Dwarf Mondo Grass

Dwarf Mondo Grass looks like a grass but is more closely related to lilies. Because the dwarf version can get about 2 to 3 inches tall, I would like to use it to mimic corn in the barn garden and them move it to landscape around the cottages. Dwarf Mondo Grass likes shade and moist, well-drained soil. Perfect!
(photo is from Mondo Grass)

Sowing Seeds

I am sowing seeds because I want to grow a few annuals. They may eventually be too large, but we will see what happens.

My flower choice is Alyssum and is said to be easy. This information is from the Gardener's Network: "Alyssum like full to partial sun. They will do well in average soils and tolerate dry soil conditions. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Soil should drain well. Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month. Once your Alyssum are established, they will grow well until the first frost. Alyssum are tender annuals and highly susceptible to frost."

Alyssum from Proven Winners

Finally, the little town of Parsley would need to be framed by a grouping of parsley, shouldn't it?

I have sown the seeds but have read that parsley requires more patience than other herbs. According to Gardening Patch, common parsley or Petroselinium crispum is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae): "Although Parsley is a biennial herb it is normally grown as an annual as results after the first year are requires a good amount of light and will do best when receiving around 6 hours of sun a day but will tolerate partial shade...Ensure the soil does not dry out - water more frequently in summer. You can add a mulch to the soil to reduce soil moisture loss and reduce competing weeds." 

The town's conditions are perfect. The test is to see if I am a patient gardener. 

We'll say good-bye to the Little Town of Parsley for awhile. Occasionally we will visit to see the "garden grow" and the results of care and patience. Bye for now!