Saturday, August 03, 2013

Through a pinhole camera into the past--Crimean War

It's a phrase I heard via Radio Lab this PM, regarding the type of time travel I fancy most: what isn't in books.  Sights, smells, lay of the land where you stand, surroundings, who else is there.  Radio Lab was covering an investigation of two photographs from 1855 in Crimea.  Photographer: Roger Fenton.

...with cannon balls, and without...
Author Errol Morris concludes that the area was staged for the photographs, depending on which of Fenton's clients ordered which type of picture.  Having attended a Chautauqua performance in portrayal of one Bessie Coleman, aviator, in which the actor sung songs, I would instead call this "staging" a dramatization, a practice continued to this day.  Face it--cameras in 1855 were too slow to catch action in progress, and the goal was to convey the feel of the time and the area, just the things I look for when time traveling.

I repeat myself when I say that things like this preclude getting sources from other books, and when one writes a book on the investigation, himself becomes the authority on the matter.  When I do such things myself, having never written a book on any of my investigations, I'm typically never taken as an authority on my own conclusions, particularly because I can't cite any other authoritative book as a source.  I can never give a single book as a single source of any particular bit of information because I typically triangulate among several--my conclusions are my own, not a conclusion found in any book. But I will say here and now that the conclusions I reach are my own, and I am the originating source of my own conclusions, as based on thorough investigation, nonetheless.

National Media Museum blog about this topic
Sean Palmer's article
Getty Museum article
Roger Fenton, Wikipedia

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