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Category Archives: 990 ~ History of other areas

National Sorry Day

Sorry photo

Bringing them Home: The ‘Stolen Generation’ Report was released in 1997. On May 26 1998 the First National Sorry Day commemerating the Stolen Generations took place. The official apology by an Australian Government occurred on February 13, 2008. Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister apologised.

National Reconciliation Week 27th May to 3rd June, 2013

Following National Sorry Day is National Reconciliation Week. Check out the website to see whats on and for school based activities visit the Reconciliation Australia School Resources site.

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Tintype photography and preservation

This past week, as an activity for my studies, I investigated one photographic process and I chose the tintype process. I now need a medium format camera as I just want to dive in and start taking tintype photos!

The tintype was discovered by Adolphe Alexandre Martin, in France, 1853 and patented in the USA in 1856 by Hamilton Smith (Martin et.al. 2008). Use of the tintype spread quickly and has an interesting history. As a process, the tintype was predominantly in use from 1853 to1930 (Lavédrine, p. 38). The process delivered photography to a wider audience, was a precursor to what is now known as street photography and a precursor of the photobooth (Martin et.al. 2008). The faster process, than the daguerreotype, contributed to more candid images and experimentation, as no longer did a pose have to be held for such a long time (p. 2). In the USA, the tintype process is responsible for collections of photographs taken during the civil war. For the first time photography was faster, portable and tintypists travelled with their portable darkrooms, unlike the studio setting of the daguerreotype. Furthermore, having an iron support made the photographs less fragile and people were able to mail them to each other or keep them in books whilst away (Lavédrine et.al. p. 37).

A tintype is a positive monochrome image on metal (Lavédrine et.al. p.4). The other two positive image processes of the 19th century are the daguerreotype (on copper plates and encased) and the ambrotype (on a glass plate also encased) (Reilly, 2009 pp. 51-52). The tintype is also known as a ferrotype, melainotype or melanograph (Lavédrine p. 38). The metal support has a thickness of approximately 0.15mm (Lavédrine et.al. p 35) and the sizes of the tintype were commonly 2.25 inches by 3.5 inches (Martin et.al. 2008). However, it was possible to produce multiple images, the size of a stamp, on one sheet. This is where the idea of the photobooth is born. Unlike the daguerreotype and ambrotype, which were housed in cases with a glass cover, the tintype mostly wasn’t. However, some were and when cased it is difficult to tell the difference between a tintype and an ambrotype. Reilly (2009) suggests a magnet being the only way without needing to remove the case (p. 52).

Lavédrine et.al (2009) elaborates the construct of a tintype. It consists of a metal sheet of iron as the support. The sheet was lacquered, often with darkened shellac. The metal support is then coated with a binder consisting of collodian mixed with bromide and/or iodide. This is bathed in a silver nitrate sensitiser causing the collodian solvents to evaporate. This plate is placed in a frame and inserted directly into a camera where it is exposed. The exposure time of a tintype varied from 2 to 10 seconds (Martin et.al. 2008). The sheet is then developed in a solution of ferrus sulphate and nitric acid and fixed. Finally a varnish is usually applied to the image. (Lavédrine et.al p 36). The whole process was complete in 10 to 15 minutes. The tintype process of creating the image is similar to the wet-plate collodian process. However, the darkened tin layer produces the effect of a positive, with the image remaining laterally reversed (Lavérdine et.al. 2009 p. 34).

The Tintype process appears to have experienced a revival in recent years with a few people currently working with this process including Keliy Anderson-Staley, who exhibited a mixed media installation titled ‘imagined family heirlooms: an archive of inherited fictions’. This installation incorporated Tintype portraits and found objects. Robb Kendricks had Tintype portraits of a Cowboy series featured in a National Geographic issue in 2007 and published books with his works. Alice Blanch is an Australian photographer that works with alternative photographic processes including the tintype. Gold street Studios in Victoria, Australia provide workshops in alternative processes.

It is interesting to locate a commercial portrait studio called Photobooth, in The Mission area of San Francisco that is dedicated to creating portraits specifically with the tintype process. Michael Shindler, the owner of Photobooth, utilises a medium format camera to create and sell tintype portraits to people who walk in for this purpose. Shindler describes the process of his work and, like others currently working with the tintype process, there are modifications to the original process. For instance one modification relates to the support utilised, which is a plaque made for trophies, sized 4 inches by 5 inches. As it is already black on one side this eliminates the need to coat the metal sheet with dark shellac. Shindler applies collodian, also a modified mixture, directly to the plate and proceeds with the rest of the process. Shindler sells the portraits for sixty dollars. The following clip, by Tested, has Shindler discussing his tintype process.

In a museum or archive setting, the George Eastman House, as well as being a Museum of Photography housing collections, delivers courses in the tintype process. As the tintype process documented much of the Civil War period in the USA, collections have developed in other museums or archives including The Black Archives of Mid-America; housing a tintype collection specific to African-Americans in the Mid-West. In Australia, Picture Australia produces a result for tintypes housed in Australian libraries.

Because most tintypes were not provided with a protective glass there are some specific preservation issues that distinguish it from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. Initially, not having the glass encasement contributed to their robustness, which is why they were so portable (Lavédrine et.al. p 37). However, this portability has meant that they are often scratched or bent. Being metal they can easily rust in humid environments and this contributes to the image layer and lacquer to blister and even become detached from the support. The chemical components of tintype photographs are sensitive to light and can be damaged if displayed under strong light.

In light of this fragility of tintypes, Lavédrine et.al (2009) recommends keeping tintypes in storage envelopes and protected from light and humidity with a sheet of cardboard to prevent further changes or deformations (p.38).

Lavédrine, Bertrand & Gandolfo, Jean-Paul & McElhone, John P & Monod, Sibylle & Getty Conservation Institute (2009). Photographs of the past: process and preservation (English language ed). Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, Calif.

Martin, A.A., Smith, H. & Wallis, B. (2008) The Birth of the Snapshot, American History, 43(5); 48-53.

Reilly, J.M. (2009) Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints, Kodak publication, no. G-2S. Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak Co.

 

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Audiovisual Archives

Visit the National Film and Sound Archive or for more information on collections Australian Screen or Australian Screen Online. Another resource of audiovisual archives can be accessed via ACMI.

BREAKING NEWS: National Archives Australia wins Unesco Preservation Award

National Archives of Australia to receive UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize

Click here for National Archives Australia.

 

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History as Absence

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
William Cowper

Absence of... By Ky Olsen

When I first started this blog, as a response to starting my Librarian studies, my mind traveled to the library moments that were defining to my love of all things library. In my first post Hatching, I discussed a childhood experience of volunteering at a local sub-branch of Marrickville library called “The Warren”. I used to spend many afternoons there, after school, as both my parents worked late and I had no-one to answer to. My choice as a child was to go to the library until it closed. After writing that initial post, spurred by an early memory, I decided to investigate further and find out what ever happened to this sub-branch of Marrickville library. Who to ask was easy “Ask a Librarian”. I looked up Marrickville Library and on their website I came across a History Services link. After trawling through the history archives online, I realised my search was futile as there appeared to be no mention of the sub-branch called “The Warren” anywhere. I tried their search with “Warren”, “sub-branch” and other configurations but proved unsuccessful. Was this a figment of my imagination? I am sure this is not a made-up memory. Is this how I imagined my ideal childhood, spent at the library amongst books, every afternoon and sometimes on Saturday mornings? I needed to further my investigations so I sent an email to Marrickville Library, explaining I was trying to locate some historical information, based on a childhood memory, of a sub-branch that I frequented? Could they help me with information, photos, details of the branch etc…. Below is the response I received.

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding ‘The Warren Library’. Surprisingly, there is very little information on this branch and its history.

The Warren Library was indeed a small children’s library and was open each afternoon for several hours. In one of our books published by our previous historian, there is a small mention of the dates that the branch was open, from September 25, 1965 and was then subsequently closed in 1985 (no exact date given). It also mentioned a couple other smaller branches closed in the same year, but there is no mention as to why.

Unfortunately, there was no other information available in any of our local history files or local history collection.

Thank you again for your enquiry, alas that we could not find more information for you.

Kind regards,

Jo Stacey Acting Local Studies Officer | Marrickville Library & History Services

Marrickville Council I PO Box 79 Marrickville NSW 1475 I www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au

P 02 9335 2167 | F 02 9596 2829 | E libassist02@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Now, in considering this information, my topic broadens and I start musing on concepts of ‘Absence’ and the connection to storying in Hi”story”. Why was this information on this branch deemed not important enough to be archived? How are such decisions made? What is the criteria in place and what values are in operation in making decisions to enable ‘absence’ at a later point in time? In essence, how do we decide what is important historically and what perspectives end up getting lost, made absent and hence inaccessible. How is value determined of historical existence and what is missing from our narratives as time travels?

Many other ideas are inter-related of course. For instance, Ruby Langford Ginibi, argued strongly years ago about her book “Don’t take you love to town” needing to be included as an historical text in the History curriculum of NSW.  Being an autobiography, it is reasoned that it is a primary source of her account as dispossession and displacement in the history  of Australia and our post-colonial past. It has not been accepted as an historical text, and the question applies here too, why not? Why is it not perceived or valued as a primary source? An account exploring these ideas is captured by Carole Ferrier.

As another extension of the idea, a few years back I read “The Orchard” by Drusilla Modjeska and within this book I came across a passage beautifully written that linked erasure of female identity to erasure of female name. The premise is, if naming throughout time, in the western tradition, is based on the women receiving the fathers surname on birth, then the maternal link to heritage is broken. Furthermore, if a woman then takes the husbands surname upon marriage, then there is a further break with history of women. Hence, ‘absence’ of women through “his”tory.

‘Absence’ is a powerful concept when we consider how our storying of existence takes shape.

I love Marrickville

I love Marrickville cc licensed and shared by Lachlan Hardy

 

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