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Thread: John Tompson

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    John Tompson

    I'm looking for information on the British photographer John Tompson. I've been asked to put together an essay for my Historical and Contextual unit. Where we've got to compare a post 1900's image with a pre 1900's image. I've chosen Meyerowitz's 'fallen man' for my post 1900's image but am finding it difficult to find an image to compare it with. Supposeldy thompsons street images were staged or certainately the subjects were aware of his large tripod mounted view camera. I imagine the exposures needed for his woodbury type images would be too long to accomodate snap shots and so his subjects would be asked to hold a pose. Which is obviously totally different to Meyerowitz's decisive-moment stuff and the basis of my essay. If anybody knows of any pre 1900's image, not necessarily Tompson, that could have comparisons drawn with 'fallen man' then that'd be great. Any ideas would be appreciated. Cheers!

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    Peter Black's Avatar
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    Is this the guy you are talking about? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Th...(photographer)

    Now for some reason this link doesn't take you to the correct page, although it was copied as a link. If you Google John Thomson Photographer you'll get a link to the full wikipedia page
    Last edited by Ole; 12-15-2007 at 12:03 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: closing parenthesis inside url block:)

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    In fact I'm finding it diffucult to find information on "fallen man" past its title too. Could anybody point me to anything on it. For example what type of camera and film it was taken using.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarvman View Post
    In fact I'm finding it diffucult to find information on "fallen man" past its title too. Could anybody point me to anything on it. For example what type of camera and film it was taken using.
    You'd maybe want to look at the link below, but don't just go copying it now! http://www.masters-of-photography.co...tz_fallen.html

    http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum...6.01.06.x.html

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    Copy? me?

    I've found both of those before. But i can't really find any technical info on it.

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    Ole
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    Woodburytype is a printing process, not a photographic process. So the exposure time is not influenced by that, but was as long (or short) as everyone else used at that time.

    As to Meyerowitz, have you considered simply asking him?
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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    I've already emailed him but aren't sure whether I'll get a reply or not. But Ole would the street scenes have been staged ones in which a long-ish exposure would've been used? The basis of my comparison is that of the staged and the spontaneous.

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    Ole
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    If you mean Thomson's street scenes, they were undoubtedly posed if not completely staged. Try setting up a plate camera in a busy market place today - it was no less of a "street theater" in Thomson's days.

    It looks to me as if he must have had at least four assistants just to keep the curious public away from the scene he was shooting!

    Of course many of his pictures were small - one was 9x11cm - so it's possible he might ahve used a hand-held camera. But I doubt it, since the Woodburytypes were published long before the introduction of fast anastigmats and reliable shutters.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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    What do you know! Mr Meyerowitz replied.

    One thing that joins early and contemporary photographers is their
    instinct. I have no doubt that back then they were surprised and
    attentive to the same kinds of actions in public spaces that we see
    today, but the difference is in the equipment. Theirs was slow and
    couldn't catch the immediacy of the moment which is where we have the
    advantage. Thompson was in his way a modern photographer.

    Joel


    Cheers Ole, the information is appreciated. What would you expect his process would've been? the image I'm looking at is 11.4 x 8.6cm dated 1877-1878. Any information on the process used then would be great. What would he have been using? glass plates? Contact printed? I'm obviously not as clued up on archaic techniques! I'm interested in the length of exposures. One of the guys in the photo has a basket balanced on his head. I don't know how long he could've kept that still.
    Last edited by Jarvman; 12-15-2007 at 03:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Fall term we had a similar assignment with a twist, in our History of Photography course. We were to select a 19th century and a 20th century image from the Rosenblum, "A World History of Photography" text (694 pages) and compare and contrast with a third image that we had taken and printed for our Fine Art photo course work. For our presentation all three images had to be scanned and put into one Power Point frame, blown up to about an 8x10 foot image on the classroom wall. We then had to present to the class and instructor for 5-10 minutes. Extemporaneous people fell on their faces.

    You say you have chosen the Meyerowitz image and are bogging down finding a suitable comparison. Perhaps you are making the assignment more difficult than needed. Throughout the course our instructor and the book pointed to wonderful comparisons of all types. In studying for the final exam I searched "compare X (any significant image) to blank". Many comparisons came up that certainly added ammunition to the final exam essay questions.

    The instructor has put you in control here. Pick two that are easy to work with because they have made a strong impression on you during the course. As they say, tongue in cheek, the paper will write itself.

    Good luck,

    John Powers

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