What are these people doing??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Marco B, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Going through some photobooks in a library, I stumbled upon this fascinating image. Excuses for the poor reproduction. It is a bad BW copy of an originally sepia toned image, and the original image in the book already showed loads of dust and damages on the reproduction... There are two attached image, a smaller one for a quick overview, the larger one to show some more detail.

    It's an image from the book "Nouvelle Histoire de la Photographie" and the original photo was taken by an anonymous photographer in 1865. The image depicts a stereoscopic images studio ("Atelier de photographie stereoscopiques")

    I find this image fascinating because of several reasons. First of all, I haven't seen much historic photo's of a photographic "studio" of such old age and of this particular type. We often think of (historic) photographers as "solo" workers, or having maybe two or three assistants. Yet in this image, just 30 years after the invention of photography, we are seeing a kind of full scale reproduction going on on a scale I would not have imagined... I find this very revealing. In addition, there is something very "natural" about it, I really wonder if it's posed or not? If it's posed (and would that have been necessary in 1865?, considering speed of available processes?? Can someone comment on this?), than the photographer has done a pretty good job in hiding it and making it "feel" natural. I like how the people are dispersed in the room, and, despite their numbers, each person is clearly visible and it can be seen what they are doing.

    That makes me go to the next point. What are all of these people doing? Clearly, there is some kind of (photo-)mechanical reproduction going on, but what process is used and what are all of these individual persons doing? A few things can be made out easily, clearly the man in the front right part, is using his hammer and some kind of help device to cut of extraneous parts of photos (or reproduced prints). But what are these girls or young women behind him doing? Is one of them using a stamp to mark the reproduced photos as being from this studio? Or something else. And what about all the rest of them? On the left, they are using a press, like used in some sort of "bromoil" transfer process...

    Any comments and ideas by others :confused:
     

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  2. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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  3. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    Fascinating image. I would reckon it's a small factory producing stereo cards. (Lots of printing frames, bottom left waiting to be used.) Top left looks like curly drying albumen prints and the two chaps with the press are perhaps mounting them to boards seen at their feet. Several people trimming the cards in the foreground. Girls on the right pasting the prints to the card and the chap at the back putting them up to dry. Perhaps the bloke with the tool and mallet in the bottom right is applying the curviture to the card which was required for corrrect viewing. If so, he did a good job as all the existing cards today are still curved! It's 10.30 on the clock so time for a tea break though the gaffer in the middle looks like he wants work to continue. Great photograph, thanks for posting it.
     
  4. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Thanks Mike for already explaining so much...

    But what do you mean by "curviture"? Do you mean the top part of the photo being rounded of? The mallet appears to be square, but than, stereoscopic images were probably treated different from the normal photograph. The tiny images in the back are also inconclusive, there might be curviture, but unfortunately they are out-of-focus even on the original photograph.

    And can you comment on whether you think this whole image is posed and the possible necessity of that because of slow photographic processes? Or can it have been a more or less spontaneous shot, with the photographer just waiting long enough for the people to no longer take notice?
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    what a great image!
    photography studios ( beginning with daguerratypists )
    were always like an assembly line.
    it is great to see how something we see and take for granted
    in junk-stores was made.

    i don't think the boxes in front are printing frames though, as mike suggested.
    they look like mounts to keep freshly pasted/glued prints flat as the adhesive set.
    the machine the boy is operating seems to be a press to flatten everything afterwards.
    ( kind of like a "nipping press" )
    the guy on the right is die cutting the prints ...


    thanks for posting this marko! its always nice to know our collective history :smile:

    john

    (added later: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&resnum=0&q=stereo cards&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi
    not all stereo cards had the curve, i am not sure why some did. )
     
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  6. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Thanks John for the link to the images, clearly, the soft curviture visible in the images you linked, are also visible in the hanging photos of this studio.

    Any more suggestions and ideas welcome!
     
  7. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    The cards themselves were curved so they slightly bow out. I'm sure there are people here with far greater knowledge and a better ability to explain than myself, but I believe it is because it then helps to replicate 3D vision when looking at an image (stereo card) close up. From this website,
    http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fgriffin/photos.txt
    I've taken this quote;
    'The earliest of these cards were made on slightly curved mounts; later
    cards were made on slightly curved mounts that permitted greater clarity
    when they were seen in the stereopticon viewer.'

    More history at;
    http://www.arts.rpi.edu/~ruiz/stereo_history/text/historystereog.html
     
  8. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    What guy do you mean, the one sitting on a chair somewhat to the back and holding a piece of paper or carton in his left hand while his right uplifted hand seems to be holding onto some kind of large handle? (unfortunately not visible what it is attached to, as that is hidden by the boys shirt in the front left).

    What is "die cutting"???, especially the "die" part I don't understand.
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    die cutting is using a shaped cutter, called a die, to cut an item to a specific shape. The guy with all of the scrap at his feet is holding a die. You place it on the paper and whack it with a hammer. Saves time.

    www.accucut.com

    As a side note, I was working with these guys to make a 5x7 die to cut down 8x10 film. One of those things that never happened.
     
  10. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    A 'die' is a shaped cutter, used to give a regular and repeatable shape.
     
  11. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Die Cutting = cutting using a die. In this case the "die" is a thick piece of metal with a raised ridge. The ridge is sharp and represents the outline to be cut. Line up the die over the piece to cut, whack it with a hammer (or use a press) and there you go. Die cut.

    The Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_cut) has lots and lots of detail on other applications of dies (and stamps) but mostly in relation to metal working.
     
  12. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Ok, thanks all for explaining "die cutting", I understand what you all mean, but than going back to the picture, isn't the man in the front right doing die cutting than, instead of applying curviture? Because he's sitting in an awful lot of cut pieces of paper.

    And I still wonder what the man I described sitting to the back is using, and what exactly the kind of instrument is that the girls on the right are using, that Mark described as "Girls on the right pasting the prints to the card", are they holding some big brush with glue on it??? They seem to have some wooden frame within which they apply their "tool", whatever it is.
     
  13. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    It looks like the man behind the boy is using some kind of guillotine cutter.
     
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  15. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Yes, that was what I initially was thinking too, wonder exactly what he's cutting?

    I find this woman fascinating too. What is she doing? She seems to be operating some kind of device with her right uplifted hand, unfortunately the details are lost in the bad copy... and behind the front guys back. Anyone ideas?
     

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  16. Síle

    Síle Member

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    The Times simplex crossword puzzle? :confused:

    Síle
     
  17. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    marco

    the machine looks a lot like a small rolling machine
    http://www.aboutbookbinding.com/binding2.html
    it is kind of like one of those things that allows you to put pasta dough
    though it to make it flat and thin, or like an old fashioned
    clothes ringer... but for paper ... :smile:

    my sort of educated guess ( i do book binding ) is that after
    the photographs were dried, the views were cut from the sheet 2 by 2
    ( guy with the guillotine cutter ) then they were given to the fellow in front
    on the right to be die cut + trimmed. they were marked D/G ( droit et gauche - right / left )
    so they would actually work 3-D ( other way around they wouldn't )
    and then carefully pasted by the people behind the die cutter -guy.
    the lady in the middle ( that is holding something up ) might
    be inspecting the cards before they go into the rolling machine to make sure
    everything is "just right" before the glue sets
    ( since the photos / paper can still be moved around a bit when the glue is still wet ).
    after her careful inspection the glued cards were put in the wooden cases
    to apply pressure until they were nearly dry
    ( back to back, face to face with parchment or wax paper between facing cards so the glue didn't stick them together) ...
    then each set-card was passed through the rolling press to get a tight bond, and make sure
    they were totally glued down with no air pockets.
    paper can not be rolling pressed ( or heavy weight pressed, or pressed in a nipping press )
    when still wet, they will warp ( because of the moisture content in the board ) ... so "stuff" has to be almost dry ...

    just a guess.

    john
     
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  19. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    John, you may be right about the woman actually inspecting the cards instead of operating something. The copy is bad, but I now realize she may indeed be holding a card with glued on photos, which would be the white piece protruding from her hand than. Your suggestion would also be consistent with the visible pile of cards in front of her.
     
  20. mark

    mark Member

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    This is fun. Go get another photo for us to explore.
     
  21. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Well Mark, it's not that you stumble upon these kind of photos on a daily basis... :surprised: That's exactly the reason I posted here, since I found it so intriguing.

    However, come to think of it, it might be a good idea if Sean created a new forum type for these kind of questions. I regularly see other posts with similar questions, most of whom do not entirely "fit" into the other forum types as well. I too had trouble deciding where to drop the question, hence it ended up in the generic "Miscellaneous"

    Maybe Sean could create something like a:

    "Analyze This!"

    or

    "Analyze This (Historic) Photo"

    or maybe even better:

    "The Photo Detective Forum" :D

    Users could than post (historic) pictures there that they know very little about but want to know more about. So questions like:

    - Who might have created the photo?
    - Where might the photo have been taken?
    - What are the subjects doing in the photo (like mine)?
    - What were the machines, tools, buildings visible in the photo historically used for?
    - What techniques were used to create the photo or a certain effect in the photo.
    - What camera, film type... etc.

    Might make for some interesting new discussions. A kind of "speculative" forum, where people could freely drop any thoughts (whether informed or wholly speculative) about the photo...
     
  22. mark

    mark Member

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    If I am reading the clock, in the back, right the image was taken at 9:30 ish. Where are the shadows?
     
  23. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I read the clock as 5.50pm.
     
  24. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    I originally thought it was 10.30 but looking again at the hands, I think it might be 10 to 6 which I should imagine is 17.50. Wonder what time they will finish their shift?
     
  25. mark

    mark Member

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    But where are the shadows?
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    What a fascinating and cool record. My, how differently people used to dress at work.