Today’s Instagram Daredevils Can Trace Their Roots to the Early 20th Century

history urban exploration

All images by the Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication.

These Library of Congress images from the early 20th Century would feel right at home under Instagram’s urban exploration hashtag.

Climbing the rooftops of tall buildings for “Likes” is not a new concept in the least. Some of today’s IG daredevils can find their photographic ancestors in and around the U.S. during the 1920’s. In a recent blog post in the Library of Congress’ Double Take, a series of images from the Harris & Ewing collection and the National Photo Collection features acrobat J. Reynolds (it’s not known if the subject’s real name was John, Johnnie, or Jammie), and his aerial stunts in and around Washington D.C. in the early 20th Century. These images share an interesting resemblance to many images you might find by searching for urban exploration or #rooftop on Instagram today.

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49 Years Ago, Eddie Adams Captured a Pulitzer Winning Photo of the Vietnam War

On February 1st 1968 (49 years ago), Photographer Eddie Adams photographed a moment that would go down as one of the most iconic Pulitzer Winning photos made in history. During the Vietnam War, Mr. Adams photographed a number of horrific moments but the one particularly in question is of the Saigon Execution by General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan. Unfortunately, the image would haunt Mr. Adams to the point where he wishes he hadn’t shot it.

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Declassified CIA Document Details Civilians Using Satellite Imagery to Spy on Russian Military

We’re no doubt in some pretty crazy times involving government spying and well as some crazy politics; but a recently declassified CIA document shows us that we’ve pretty much just always been in those times. You see, drone photography isn’t really a new advancement–according to said document the agency had been tracking civilians using satellites of their own to spy on the Russian military back in April 7th 1976.

In fact, civilians used to use satellites of their own to see how crops were doing, manage land, etc.

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Irving Penn’s Notebook B3 Details His Experiments With Print Making

Irving Penn Notebook

Irving Penn is known as one of America’s greatest and most innovating Modernist photographers. Primarily known for his fashion photography, a genre he changed forever by having his subjects photographed on a simple white or gray background, Penn was also a meticulous and brilliant darkroom technician. Recently, the Irving Penn Foundation shared an image of one of Penn’s notes on the printmaking techniques used to create a version of his “Cretan Landscape.” Irving Penn’s Notebook is an amazing look into the mind of a Photography Master.

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Want to Shoot Film with Sony Lenses? You May Want a Minolta a9 With SSM Support

If you look at the surviving DSLR manufacturers out there, you’ve got Canon, Nikon, Sony (Minolta), and Pentax. All of the brands have made big advancements and changes in the years since digital took over film, but none probably as much as Sony. In fact, using a camera like a Canon 1v, Canon EOS Elan 7, or others are very straightforward and compatible with most of the newer lenses. Sony lets you do the same thing with the Minolta camera bodies, but if you want to utilize the SSM technology in some of the lenses then you probably need a Minolta a9 with SSM support.

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Fido: Abraham Lincoln’s Dog Was the First Presidential Dog to be Photographed

Meet Fido: Abraham Lincoln’s beloved dog and the first Presidential dog to be photographed and still have surviving records. Mr. Lincoln loved his dog and, before he became President, he was said to bring the dog with him into town often. The dog would sometimes fetch parcels and even wait outside the barbershop when he got a haircut.

When he became President, Fido got scared by the festivities. You know, just the typical stuff that all of your four legged friends get worried about on the 4th of July and any other time there are fireworks. Because of this, Mr. Lincoln decided that he couldn’t take Fido to D.C. with him.

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Memory Lane: A Look at Notable Films Discontinued In The Last 4 Years

The Fujifilm announcement earlier today that they would be officially discontinuing their PRO NS 160 Sheet film in Japan is just another reminder of the limited time we have left with the films that we have all grown to love. In the last 4 years alone we have lost some of the most iconic and legendary films, likely never to be truly replaced. So let’s take a quick look down memory lane at some of the discontinued emulsions that helped shape our our past.

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The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

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The folks over at COOPH have a brand new short video on the history of photography. It details important moments like the beginnings of camera obscura, the pinhole, the daguerreotype, Kodak, etc. It also includes names that you probably haven’t heard of or even thought of.

This video is easily consumed during a quick break, and you can check it out after the jump.

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Remembrance: Four Years Since the Death of Kodak Ektachrome

When folks in the photography industry talk about Kodak, they most likely reference things like Portra, Tri-X, and who could forget Kodachrome. When Kodachrome was discontinued, the company officially recommended Ektachrome as an alternative. To most of us, it wasn’t the same. The entire process of how Kodachrome got its colors came in the processing as it was a black and white film otherwise. To others, Ektachrome was magic in the right situations.

Ektachrome was Kodak’s last actual chrome film; but in March of 2012, the company discontinued the film not too long after the end of Kodachrome. This March, Ektachrome (in its color variant, because there is also an Infrared version) will have been completely discontinued for four years–a big sign of the way that the times have changed. These days, Ektar is the recommended replacement; but that’s a negative film with super saturated colors. Admittedly, it’s a beautiful film that in fact looks very digital in its color rendition.

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Five Historic Moments Where Photography Became Easier for All

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomo'Instant Wide image scan studio light (1 of 1)

Complaints about photography being easier and for everyone have always been present throughout the art form’s history. There is a theory that as we use technology, we become the technology. What that means is that we start to rely on it much more than our predecessors did. Photography has evolved over the years as technology became better. Today, it’s arguably to a point where everyone is a photographer even though the notion that a professional photographer is still one who makes the majority of their income from creating images.

Here are five big defining moments where photography changed and adapted to the needs of consumers to the point where major disruption happened.

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The Canon AE-1: The SLR That Helped Make Photography Simple

“The surprisingly affordable Canon AE-1: so advanced it’s simple.” that was the slogan behind an American commercial featuring the now well known Canon AE-1 SLR camera. It was such a hit because of the features that it offered, the automatic program exposure, and the variety of lenses available offered at a very affordable price point. When it launched in 1976, it cost $250–which was 40% more affordable than cameras from other companies at the time according to “Canon Historical Sketch: 1937-2007“.

While the Canon AE-1 was quite the successful product, it’s development was at one point halted. In 1975, a net loss from problems related to Canon’s calculators resulted in a major slowdown of its release. Yes; for those of you who don’t know, Canon makes calculators.

In April of 2016, the Canon AE-1 will be turning 40 years old. In those 40 years, it’s had quite a history.

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Documentary Shows Images from War That The Media Doesn’t

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

It’s no real secret that the media doesn’t exactly show the public all images from war. But it’s also a known fact that those specific images can end up changing public opinion about conflicts that we enter. A documentary that came out in 2013 called “The War You Don’t See” tries to explore those images and the media’s role in telling the public about what happens in conflicts.

The documentary really hits home in today’s world where we read about the news involving all of the conflicts currently going on in the Middle East.

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Kodak Aerocolor IV Film is a Great Way to Burn Over $1,500

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No, the film above isn’t Kodak Aerochrome or Lomochrome Purple–instead, it’s something much different though we’ve understand why experienced shooters might believe it to be otherwise.. The image above is from Kodak Aerocolor IV negative film 2460 and it costs you quite a pretty penny depending on the configuration you get of it: we’re talking well over $1,500.

Aerocolor IV is an ISO 125 color aerial film that is designed for aerial photography; and that’s just what the Canadian government has used it for. For years though, Aerochrome III infrared (not Aerochrome III color) was designed to deliver similar looking results with turning greens into pinks/purples as you see above. However, Aerocolor IV is a color aerial film, not an infrared.

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Famous Cartoon Character Elmer Fudd was a Photographer


Before he went about hunting down that wascaly wabbit, famous Warner Bros. cartoon character Elmer Fudd was a hobbyist wildlife photographer. Like many people today, he was genuinely interested in capturing incredible images of wildlife in action. But back in 1939 when Elmer’s Candid Camera aired, he was going through significantly different problems than the photographers of today. While most photographers use digital cameras today and maybe a tripod or monopod, Elmer needed a tripod, camera, lens, film, flash powder, and lots more.

No matter what happened, it seemed like the animals didn’t want their picture taken.

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1950’s Polaroid Ad Showcases a Vintage Selfie

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Screenshot taken from the video

This week marks the start of the second ‘Roid Week for the year 2015, and to make this week very special we’re going to be featuring lots of instant film posts for the next couple of days. I also recommend checking out the Polaroid Sub-Reddit.

On YouTube, we managed to find a vintage Polaroid ad show on THE PERRY COMO SHOW for the complete line of Polaroid cameras with spokesperson Don Ameche playing up the benefits “instant photography. But what they end up doing is trying to take a selfie with outstretched arms in the same fashion that many people do today. What happens instead is Don uses the self-timer feature to take the shot.

This is a very old school Polaroid camera and many of these can be found today. Whether they’ll work or not is a different story though.

The ad is after the jump.

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The History of Photojournalist W Eugene Smith: a Strobist

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

Photographer W Eugene Smith is known as one of the best American photojournalists in the mid-2oth century. His work went on to influence not only photojournalists but also photographers in general. Mr. Smith worked for many of the famous newspapers and agencies–which brought him to the Magnum Photos foundation. He’s very well known for capturing very interpersonal moments and creating images that look natural when shooting indoors. In fact, W Eugene Smith is known to be one of the first strobists in photojournalism. While many photographers put the flash on top of the camera and didn’t know how to use it well, Mr. Smith took the flash off of the camera and made it create lighting in a scene that looked natural to the human eye. Editors loved him for this despite the fact that he was a bit tough to work with.

Mr. Smith was also behind the documenting the effects of Minamata disease in his photo essay called “Death Flow from a Pipe.” The work went on to reveal a huge coverup involving the dumping of raw sewage into water supplies.

Ted Forbes from the Art of Photography gives you an excellent history of the great photographer in what’s probably one of my favorite episodes to date.

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APS Film: From Analog to Digital

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm XT10 first impressions (11 of 15)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Many DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras have what’s called an APS-C sensor inside. The idea of an APS-C sensor is comparable to the 35mm full frame (35mm film) format and 645 (6×4.5 medium format) format digital sensors in that they’re all based on a film size. But what isn’t spoken about very much is APS-C sensor sizes and just how many other APS film standards there are–or were. Before digital photography came along, APS film was an option for photographers who wanted to work with a smaller format than 35mm. There were many different types of APS films for different reasons and needs.

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This is What Film Used to Cost 10 Years Ago

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All images by Nick Seaney. Used with permission.

In comparison to 10 years ago the cost of photographic film seems to have taken an interesting run, or at least that’s what photographer Nick Seaney showed Reddit not too long ago. He got his hands on a catalog from 2005 and took a look at the prices of film back in the day–which truthfully wasn’t too long ago if we really think about it.

Kodak Portra 160 came in two different varieties back then; NC and VC where the colors varied depending on the type of look that you were going for. that was eliminated a couple of years ago, and now These days a roll of Kodak Portra 160 in 35mm is $6.99 over at B&H Photo as opposed to the $7.59 that it was.

Kodak Tri-X 400 on the other hand seems to have risen a bit in price, though we’re not necessarily sure if these prices reflect what schools pay as educational institutions usually get discounts. But for what it’s worth, Tri-X is still an extremely popular film even according to a Wired article that could use fleshing out.

When we talked to folks about the state of the film industry, we got the feeling that even though film sales are dwindling for the bigger and more well known companies, film is booming with the newer and more Bohemian companies that take a different approach when it comes to marketing.

More of the price scans are after the jump.

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In 1905 a Third of Households Owned a Camera and Professional Photographers Hated It

Image Courtesy of Leo Catricala and Hyunsung Cho/Hartford University

Image Courtesy of Leo Catricala and Hyunsung Cho/University of Hartford

Today nearly every person in the world has a camera whether it be a cellphone camera, point-and-shoot, mirrorless camera, DSLRs, Go Pros, aerial drones—you get the idea. While photography is well and alive now, that wasn’t always the case. The Smithsonian Magazine has put together an excellent article looking back over a century detailing the photography first went mainstream.

The thing about early cameras is they used chemically treated plates and paper that took ages to capture an exposure and required subjects to stay still for a half-minute or more. It’s the reason why early portraitures looked so stoic and serious. But enter 1888 and George Eastman introduced the first compact, film-based Kodak camera. The new camera was not only much smaller measuring 2.5-inches in diameter, it was also affordable at $25 and held a roll of film for 100 exposures.

The much more accessible camera allowed many more people to carry cameras outdoors and the public was entranced by the ability to capture the world. Even if they were the most mundane of everyday events, new Kodak photographers would take pictures of bicycles, pets, or themselves. Taking snapshots became a fad and with the introduction of the $1 Brownie camera in 1900 a third of American households owned a camera of some sort by 1905.

While it might seem like photography was universally liked, professional photographers were actually against seeing their art becoming popularized by amateurs. Supposedly paid photographers did not appreciate these “Kodak fiends” who became completely engrossed with taking weird and often out of focus shots.

Now photography has become much more mundane and commonplace, but the controversy has spun out to taking advantage of people’s privacy. With the advent of wearable cameras like Google Glass and aerial drones, photographers now face a new wave of criticism accusing them of sneaky forms of voyeurism to creep shots from above.

Via Smithsonian Magazine