A mysterious find

During the early 90’s, the now 67 year old William Nelson discovered an old photo album in the midst of an household clearance in the state of Minnesota. He realised quickly, that he stumbled upon a real treasure:  a photobook from 1904.

The book contained precisely 240 negatives which were more or less cramped into it. Due to this, it was relatively difficult to match them with the few notes included in the collection.

Nelson furthermore discovered that the photos were quite different from other images of the time. These pictures captured a style which soon would change the way photography was perceived throughout the world. The photographer was capable of creating images which firmly captured a new level of how individuals and objects interacted with each other. These photos were more than tourist’s memories, these were treasures which captured a glimpse of the past.

The journey of the photographers was littered with popular locations from this time. They visited France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands to shoot photos of marvelous locations, including the Linderhof Palace in Bavaria or the coastal cliffs of Étretat in France, which were once painted by the famous painters, Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet.

Nelson dedicated himself to find the creator of those fascinating images to unveil the secret behind this inconspicuous photobook. Unfortunately,  the amount of clues contained by the book itself were sparse: the notes were hard to decrypt and no personal information nor the details of the journey were provided. The only names which were mentioned are “Loren” and “Emily” which most likely belonged to two travel companions. This leaves the name of the photographer still in the dark. However, Nelson abandoned his search for the origins of the book and is continuing to try to unravel the book’s secret.

The whole photo series can be observed here. Take your time and take a glimpse of the history of the early 20th century.

Analogue vs. Digital photography

Introduction

For the last decades a question frequently came up which split the photo community in two: Analogue or Digital?

It is undeniable that, digital photography conquered the market by storm and a lot of professionals and amateurs jumped on the bandwagon to make use of the many advantages digital devices offer. However, in the recent years analogue photography regained some of its popularity and photographers got interested in tinkering with the technology of the past.

In the following paragraphs we will explain the differences of analogue and digital photography as well as pointing out advantages and disadvantages.

Costs

Money is always an essential factor in the decision making process . In general it can be said that, digital photography has a higher initial cost which is related to the expenses on the technology. In addition, further upgrades in the future might be necessary or desired. However, if you are impatient and want to see your photos immediately without being compromised by limited storage space or waiting time, there is no better option than digital devices.

Analogue photography on the other hand requires fewer investments in advance. Even though the older camera models are rarely produced they are less expensive than its digital counterparts. This has nothing to do with the missing technology in the device itself: Analogue cameras are lacking features which help to make pictures look great with features like the automatic adjustment of ISO or White balance. Despite the lower initial cost of the device, analogue photographers have to invest more money in film rolls and development of these rolls.

Storage and sharing

Another factor to be considered is the way you want to interact with the results of your photo sessions in terms of sharing and storage.

Sharing digital images is rather easy: transfer the data from the camera to your computer and the only thing you need to share the pictures is a working internet connection or a USB stick. Storing the image files is not much more difficult than the previous process. The most common way is to store them on your hard drive on a computer. Unfortunately, these containers are not always the safest method and we all know that malfunctions of electronic devices can happen at any time. Another way would be to upload the files to a cloud like Dropbox. This has the benefit of being able to access the files from almost anywhere and also protects them from being erased by technical malfunction.

Sharing of negatives and developed pictures is not as easy as the digital counterpart. Due to their tangible form they have to be sent or given to someone personally which makes this endeavor a little bit more time intensive. At least as long as you do not want to invest in a photo scanner, which will further increase the expenditures. Storing on the other side requires physical space which is limited for the majority of us. However, under the right conditions most negatives can survive 40 to 50 years and are not prone to be erased by technical malfunction or a bored computer hacker.

Resolution

Every photographer is striving for the best quality of their photos. An extremely essential factor is the resolution. Digital images are measured in pixel. The higher the number, the higher the amount of independent pixels in a given area and the more detailed the original picture can be displayed.

The resolution of film can be described with the term of spatial resolution. This describes the capabilities of the camera to distinguish small details of an object. It is measured in resolving power and based on a complex mathematical formula revolving around wavelength of light and diameter of the lens aperture. For a very detailed comparison of both factors we recommend to look at the analysis of Roger N. Clark. This analysis compares the two different measurement methods and shows in detail, which kind of film equals how many megapixels.

Just to give a small example: apparently a larger film formats as the Film Fuji Velvia 50 (4×5 inches) is able to capture a 220MP (megapixel) photograph, even after it has been scanned digitally.

White Balance

As mentioned beforehand, one of the features of a digital camera is the fact that, it is possible to automatically adjust the white balance of the film. Furthermore, if you are already familiar with this setting you can manually configure this setting to maximise the quality of your results.

On the other hand we have analogue photography which has a rather limited amount of configuration in terms of white balance. Most of the time there is not even a possibility to adjust this setting. The white balance of the film is preset and the most used presets are: daylight balanced and tungsten balanced. The easiest way to correct the white balance is to do it digitally with editing software after the analogue pictures have been scanned.

ISO

Working in low light conditions might be very challenging. However, the automatic feature included in most digital cameras should take care of this. Nowadays, digital cameras are able to increase the ISO level up to a very high degree. The highest we got so far is the ME20F-SH with a whopping 4,000,000.

Film is much more limited in this regard. The maximum ISO speed for this format is 6400 but speeds between 100 and 3200 are commonly available. This is severe disadvantage over digital camera. It is sometimes possible by manually pushing or pulling several stops to alter the ISO speed and create a certain effect on the photo itself, but most of the times it comes with a decrease in quality of contrast and image tones.

Conclusion

From a technical standpoint, digital photography has much more advantages over its analogue counterpart: immediate access to the images, several features to automatically adjust the settings according to the environment and less expenditures in the long run are only a few factors that give the edge to shooting with a digital device.

The biggest reason you want to use film over digital is the better resolution which can be obtained from medium format cameras, which can be extremely detailed even after scanned digitally.

Unfortunately we cannot give a clear answer on the question which started this discussion and it all comes down to personal preferences. Analogue photography has its own charm and it is hard to capture this experience with a digital camera.

We can only recommend trying both variants and maybe you will find enjoyment without making compromises.

What is your opinion about the question of digital versus analogue photography? Tell us your best experience with either of those styles.

6 tips for taking better Photos

Introduction

Everybody knows that feeling: This is the perfect situation for an amazing shot, the object of desire is right in front of you, you do not hesitate long and ready your camera, you take the shot and a feeling of satisfaction is coming over you. Everything is perfect. After that you check the photo list and you are shocked: the image is blurry, the focus of your shot is off and the person you photographed has this overlying shadow all over her. And there it goes; the feeling of satisfaction is replaced with disappointment and the joy you felt while taking the supposedly perfect picture is washed away by desperation. You ask yourself: “What did I do wrong?”

Well, we cannot answer those questions but we can prepare you for doing it better the next time. This entry is dedicated towards the topic of taking a good picture, without having to buy a camera for several thousand currency. In the following article you will find several guidelines to make your endeavors more rewarding and successful.

1. Preparation

Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as walking around, taking pictures and expect to make some amazing images ready to be shown to friends or relatives who will be amazed of your skills.

The first step to success is to getting used to your equipment. Take your time and explore the capabilities and limitations of your camera. There might be features you have never seen before because you were just too eager to take photos. As usual with all electric devices it is recommended to read the instruction manual. A lot of additional information can be usually found on those documents and can greatly improve the effectiveness of your actions. It can also help if you read some lecture related to photography to gain knowledge and get a few tips from professional.6 tips for taking better Photos

2. Resolution

After you discovered the potential of your camera you might want to set the resolution of your device to the maximum. This action serves two purposes: First, all your photos will be clearer and it will be easier to see important details on the images itself. Furthermore, it will be much easier to alter and edit the pictures later on. If you, for example, use Photoshop to crop a picture with a lower resolution it might be too pixelated to be printed.

A higher resolution means it uses more space of the memory. However, the benefits of making more photos do not outweigh the disadvantages of blurry or pixelated image.  In this case it can be referred to the saying: “Quality over quantity”.6 tips for taking better Photos

3. Explore

With all things set, the “only” thing you have to do is discovering the right opportunities for a good photo. Well, this is easier said than done and to be sure you do not miss out on something, take your camera everywhere. The likelihood of seeing something interesting and be able to use your camera on it is drastically increased if you just get out into the world and start firing away. Use your Sundays for a stroll in the park; take a few pictures than sit down on a bench and wait. Patience is the key: Take your time and do not be disappointed if the results are not great from the get-go. Also try to visit the same places at different times and see what changes occur in terms of lighting and surrounding. Often you will notice pretty severe changes in your environment depending on the time; use this to your advantage.6 tips for taking better Photos

4. Using your camera

After getting familiar with your equipment it is essential to adjust your camera settings based on your surroundings. This is based on the fact that a camera is seeing objects differently than our eyes.  In the recent years digital cameras became quite “clever” and the feature to automatically adjust makes this task rather easy. However, this helpful feature is not always 100% correct and sometimes it is necessary to adjust various factors.

One of those factors is the White Balance. To put it simple: every light source has a “colour temperature” which differs widely depending on the source of the light. For example the light of the blue sky is cold and therefore the camera is seeing it in a blue colour. On the other side of the spectrum, the colour of a burning candle tends to be orange and therefore the camera will see it differently from how we perceive it. This change in colour can be changed with specific editing software later on but you should try to get it right in the first place.

Another very important adjustment which has to be made is ISO. ISO indicates the camera’s sensitivity to light. The component which can change the sensitivity is called the “sensor”. This part of the camera determines how much light is transformed into the image. The higher the ISO value, the higher the sensitivity to light and more light is captured which enables the photographer to take pictures in a dark environment, even without a flash. However, this feature comes with a flaw: the higher the amplifier for the ISO is, the more “noise” is added to the image. An example of the different ISO levels and their effect on the picture can be found on the following image. As a general guideline you always want to stick to the base ISO to get the highest picture quality, but feel free to experiment with it.6 tips for taking better Photos

5. General tips

If you adjusted your camera and before you are going to take your first real pictures, there are a few general guidelines which you could consider sticking to.

The Rule of Thirds

At the start you should use the “Rule of Thirds”. This rule states that an image is divided into nine equally sized parts, which are divided by two horizontal and two vertical lines. It is said that aligning the object of interest along those lines creates a more meaningful image. Therefore you should determine the points of interest in advance and position yourself accordingly. In the picture below, it can be seen that the statue in the background as well as the couple are aligned to the imaginative lines.6 tips for taking better Photos

After you mastered this technique you can try and deviate from this rule. Sometimes it is extremely useful to place your objective off-center in order to make it even more interesting.

Positioning

We shortly touched the subject of positioning in the previous paragraph but it has to be stressed that this is an integral part of photography and therefore deserves a lot of attention. After you took a picture try to move in closer and take another shot. Repeat this and see for yourself how the positioning and angle changes the result. Of course you can also increase the distance to experiment with the scenery.

Based on the object you want to photograph, it might be a good idea to take vertical pictures instead of horizontal ones. High landmarks like mountains and towers usually look considerably better on a vertical image which put their physical appearance into the center of attraction.

Furthermore, try to alter the way you approach the object. Use an inconvenient angle to make a picture: crouching, lying or a top-down approach might lead to better results and more impactful images.

Focus

A very useful but often forgotten feature of a digital camera is the adjustment of the focus. If you press the shutter button gently, the camera will adjust the focus. This will prevent blurry pictures and will increase the quality of the picture taken. The blurry effect can also be caused by shaking hands; so just relax before you take a photo. As an alternative you could use a tripod to ensure an even surface. However, keep in mind that a tripod makes you less mobile and the additional setup time makes you less flexible.

Flash

As an alternative for a natural light source, it is possible to make use of the Flash feature of a digital camera. This will generate an artificial light source for a very short time. By knowing the range of your Flash you can better predict the effect of it and ensure better pictures. In general, the range of the Flash will not exceed 15 steps; most of the times you should take no chances and be not further away than 10 steps.

In contrast to a popular belief, the Flash is also pretty useful in situations in which more than enough light is available. Especially in situation where the photographer is reliant on sunlight it is handy to use the Flash to remove those deep facial shadows which can be caused by the sun.

6. Be patient and selective

After you have finished your photo session take your time and go through all of the photos you have taken. Select the ones you think strike out as the best and keep them. Delete the rest, but take a look at them too and determine the mistakes you made. You can learn a lot from those images by pointing out the missing qualities in order to avoid those missteps in the future.

As a last tip, it has to be said that you need to be patient. Photography is an art and it takes time and effort to master all the different external and internal factors. Find your own style and learn from your mistakes.

We hope this small introduction to the world of photography was helpful to you and could provide you with one or two useful tips. Good luck and success for your future photo sessions.

Google holds the largest collection of the digitised letters from the wartime

Google opened the largest Russian online archive of letters of more than 800 letters (1941 – 1945) from the war years, “Live memory”. The project was developed by agency Friends Moscow for Google Russia dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the great Patriotic war. There are videos where some of the letters received were read out by theatre and movie actors, musicians, athletes, TV presenters and politicians.

Google holds the largest collection of the digitized letters from the wartimeWillem Rabe created a typographic illustration made up of characters from around 800 letters serves as the interface to the online archive. As visitors will read letters, words will form an image of a soldier who has returned home from the front, reunited with his son.

“Turning what had been static typeface illustrations into a fully immersive interactive experience was an exciting challenge to me as it required both artistic and technical expertise to yield the results we were aiming for. After receiving the photographic data, I started to work on adjusting the contrast of the photograph, then creating an intricate line drawing featuring every contour, crease, strand of hair and fold within the image,” explains Willem.

Google holds the largest collection of the digitized letters from the wartime“The process took a hefty hundred hours and involved a lot of manual labour as every letter of every term had to be sized, spaced and in some instances rotated to get the most even overall appearance.

“After completing the process and following a strict protocol all the outlines were converted into a machine readable format and fed into the content management system that powers the interactive archive. This allowed us to later assign terms to letters that would match contextually.”

You can view the videos here: http://pisma.may9.ru/#/archive/video

Website: http://pisma.may9.ru/#/

Memories last for a lifetime?

On our website and on our flyers we claim that we save your memories for a lifetime. We recommend and advice you to digitise your old slides or photos to save them before they get stained and your memories get lost forever. Some of you take the chance of our offer to get them scanned to DVD and save them forever.

Onseveral trade fairs you ask us many times the same question, not only there but our customer support gets many queries with the same topic, too: What is the durability of the provided DVDs and how reliable are these DVD as storage for my memories?

Unfortunately we can’t provide you with an exact and guaranteed answer about that topic with that blog post. We have to rely and trust the details of the producer, too. Some of them claim a life span of almost 100 years for their DVD’s, others – independent researches – mention a lifespan between five to ten years. We think that a life span of 10 years is more realistic, though every one of us has many music CD’s in the shelves which are older than 10 years.

The next question of you might be, if it is sufficient to renew the own DVDs which contain the valuable memories after a specific period?

We recommend you to save your memories from the beginning on a different device, either on a cloud or on your PC to avoid any reading errors or other troubles with your DVD. Nowadays there are many cheap external hard discs available which are useful to save your important data. In addition we recommend you to renew your DVD every two years to have another copy of your important files.

If you are done with these steps to save your valuable data, you can enjoy your images or movies on your PC or tablet and you don’t have to worry about losing your memories for a lifetime.

If you need any further assistance about the right storage device or if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our customer support.

About ScanCorner

ScanCorner offers one of the best value digitisation services in UK. Every memory is handled by professionals who scan and restore them to bring out the best quality. We also create a personalised online gallery with the digitised images which you can share with your friends and family.

 

Hiroshima – 70 years after it was destructed by the Atomic Bomb

Atomic Bombing - Hiroshima
Atomic Bombing – Hiroshima

In August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first nuclear weapon, a uranium gun-type bomb (Little Boy), on Hiroshima, during the final stage of the Second World War.

The Little Boy
The Little Boy

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay released the Little Boy at 08:15 which contained about 64 kg of Uranium-235 which exploded 2,000 feet above Hiroshima. The Aioi Bridge, which was the target was missed due to the crosswinds, by approximately 800 ft (240 m) and detonated directly over Shima Surgical Clinic at 34.39468°N 132.45462°E. Around 90,000 – 166,000 people were killed of the total population of approximately 340,000 – 350,000 in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima – Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

Hiroshima - Then and now images Hiroshima - Then and now images

History of the cameras – Timeline

An overview on how cameras evolved in a detailed timeline, from camera obscura to camera phone.

1500

Camera Obscura, the first pinhole camera was invented by Ibn Al-Haytham. It is a box with a small hole in it, through which light travels and strikes a reflective surface to project an image in colour, upside down. The camera obscura was originally used to observe solar events and in drawing architecture.

Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura

1839

The Daguerreotype Camera by Louis Daguerre is one of the world’s most expensive cameras.

The Daguerreotype Camera
The Daguerreotype Camera

1840

The development of images on paper was made possible by the invention of the camera by Alexander. The earliest photography shop, daguerran parlour was opened in New York by Mr. Wolcott.

Camera by Alexander Wolcott
Camera by Alexander Wolcott

1859

The panoramic camera

The panoramic camera
The panoramic camera

1861

Stereoscope viewer was invented by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

SterStereoscope viewer eoscope viewer
Stereoscope viewer

1888

George Eastman, a pioneer in photographic films usage, patented Kodak roll-film camera.

Kodak roll-film camera
Kodak roll-film camera

1900

The Kodak Brownie Camera by Eastman.

The Brownie
The Brownie

The most desirable travel camera for landscape photographers, Raisecamera, was invented.

Travel Camera
Travel Camera

1913/1914

Candid camera, the first 35mm still camera by Oskar Barnack.

35mm still camera
35mm still camera

1948

Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera which could take a picture and print it in about one minute was invented by Edwin Land.

Polaroid camera
Polaroid camera

1960

Underwater camera for U.S. Navy by EG&G.

1978

First autofocus camera Konica C35 AF by Konica.

Konica C35 AF by Konica
Konica C35 AF by Konica

1981

Sony Mavica – The world’s first digital electronic still camera.

Sony Mavica
Sony Mavica

1986

The disposable camera introduced by Fuji (also called single use cameras).

1991

Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS) which was widely used by photojournalists.

Professional digital camera system
Professional digital camera system

1994-1996

The first digital cameras that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 camera (1994), the Kodak DC40 camera (1995), the Casio QV-11 with LCD screen (1995) and Sony’s Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).

2000

The world’s first camera phone.

Camera Phone
Camera Phone

2005

The canon EOS 5D is launched.

Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS 5D

Rare photos from the Korean Wars published

The rare photos of the Korean War which broke out on June 25, 1950, were published by the Yonhap News Agency, to mark the 65th anniversary of the war. The photographs taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross provide insight into the tragedy during the Korean War which lasted from 1950 till 1953.

In Korea, this war is  known as the “6-2-5 (yug ee oh) War,” a reference to June 25, 1950, when the North Korean People’s Army invaded the South. Among North Koreans, it’s “the Fatherland Liberation War” and the Americans called it as “The Forgotten War”.

An F-80 "Shooting Star" banks sharply as it lines up a June, 1951 target. Photo, U.S. National Archives. Photo, U.S. National Archives. Photo, U.S. National Archives. Photo, U.S. National Archives.
An F-80 “Shooting Star” banks sharply as it lines up a June, 1951 target. Photo: U.S. National Archives

The war was fought by the United States and 20 other allied countries on the side of South Korea, marking the first major armed conflict in the Cold War era pitting Communists against non-Communists internationally. During the three-year conflict, about 140,000 South Korean troops were killed and some 450,000 were injured, some 215,000 North Korean soldiers killed with some 300,000 wounded and approximately 2.5 million civilians killed on the Korean Peninsula.

The brutal war lasted for approximately three years and ended when the United Nations Command, the North Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers signed an armistice agreement and not a peace treaty, leaving South and North Korea at war for the past 65 years.

 Korean-War photo - taken on the 21st of September. Photo, U.S. National Archives.
Korean-War photo – taken on the 21st of September. Photo: U.S. National Archives

The World’s First Photograph Ever Taken

The first photo picture depicting a view from the window at Le Gras was taken in 1825 by a French inventor Joseph Niepce.

View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826–27 (manually enhanced version)
View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826–27     (manually enhanced version)
World's first photograph - Original Plate
World’s first photograph – Original Plate

The world’s first photograph, housed in its original presentational frame and sealed within an atmosphere of inert gas in an airtight steel and Plexiglas storage frame, must be viewed under controlled lighting in order for its image to be visible. In general, this procedure requires viewing the plane of the pewter plate at an angle of approximately 30° to the perpendicular and in exact opposition to a point source of light, preferably within a darkened environment free of other incidental light sources.

The view, made from an upper, rear window of the Niépce family home in Burgundy, represents (from left to right): the upper loft (or, so-called “pigeon-house”) of the family house; a pear tree with a patch of sky showing through an opening in the branches; the slanting roof of the barn, with the long roof & low chimney of the bake house behind it; and, on the right, another wing of the family

By that time people already knew how to project pictures, they just didn’t know how to preserve and save light. Niepce came up with the idea of using a petroleum derivative called “Bitumen of Judea”. Bitumen hardens with exposure to light and the unhardened material was then washed away. The metal plate, was then polished rendering a negative image which then was coated with ink producing a print. One of the numerous problems with this method was that the metal plate was heavy, expensive to produce, and took a lot of time to polish.

Camera Obscura:

Photography is an art form invented in 1839. Before photography was created, people already knew the principles of how it eventually got to work. They could process the image on the wall or piece of paper, however no printing was possible as preserving light was lot harder task than projecting it. Around for a few centuries before photography came along, the instrument that people used for processing pictures was called the Camera Obscura (which is Latin for the Dark Room).

Camera Obscura - In Action
Camera Obscura – In Action
Use of Camera Obscura
Use of Camera Obscura

Today analogue photography is based on the principles on which camera obscura works. Camera Obscura is essentially a dark, closed box with a hole on one side of it. The hole has to be small enough in proportion to the box to make the camera obscura work properly. It works on the optical laws, the light coming through a tiny hole transforms and creates an image on the surface that it meets, i.e. the wall of the box. The image will be mirrored and upside down. In the mid 16th century, Giovanni Battista della Portacentury, an Italian scholar, wrote an essay on how to use camera obscura to make the drawing process easier. He projected the image of people outside the camera obscura on the canvas inside of it (camera obscura was a rather big room in this case) and then drew over the image.

New online archive features rare African photos

 

100,000 original Black and white negatives, dating back from 1940’s, of Mali’s most famous photographers, will be digitised using a $300,000 National endowment for the Humanities grant.

The archive features family portraits and photos of military activities, diplomatic visits, political events, national monuments, architecture, cultural and religious ceremonies and other aspects of popular culture.

Candace keller, assistant professor of African art history and visual culture, is collaborating with MSU’s MATRIX: The centre for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and the Maison Africaine de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, to create the Archive of Malian Photography by digitising and restoring the negatives thereby protecting them from further damage.

Access will be provided only to the low-resolution photos making them unusable in print but still useful for research and scholarship and protecting photos from further exploitation. “These photos have the potential to shape the way photographic history and cultural practice in West Africa are taught and studied since the concepts displayed go beyond what we’re used to seeing: village-based lifestyles,” said Keller.

Keller’s current two-year project is the second phase of the Archive of Malian Photography project. She and her team have already digitised 28,000 Malian photos using a grant from the British Library Endangered Archives Programme.

 

Negatives from Malian photographer Abdourahmane Sakaly’s collection being processed for Michigan State University’s Archive of Malian Photography.
Negatives from Malian photographer Abdourahmane Sakaly’s collection being processed for Michigan State University’s Archive of Malian Photography.

Courtesy: Michigan State University