Biography of Edwin Land
Coincident to recent events, I have been reading a fascinating biography of Dr. Edwin Land, written by Victor McElheny.
The title of the biography is "Insisting on the Impossible" - and it could be said that McElheny did just that by researching this book. Ironically, it seems that our subject, who devoted his life to recording fleeting moments, had no interest in having his history written. Land instructed an assistant to destroy all of his personal notes upon his death.
So, it is through careful research that McElheny serves a wonderful glimpse into the life and times of one of America's most inventive minds.
The book is written with sufficient technical and historical detail to engage any level of photographer, scientist or armchair inventor, while also providing real insight into Land's upbringing, motivation, personal life, and creativity. There is much more to Land's story than Polaroid.
Particularly now, when one sometimes feels that there is no more place for originality at the junction of art and science, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and invigorating read.
P.S. Sorry, but please do not ask me to loan the book out, I am going to force it upon some of my students over the coming months. It contains many valuable lessons for students of any age.
Copies of it can be purchased online for about $1.00 plus shipping.
Originally Posted by keithwms
It's a good book, very inspiring.
At a buck, it's quite the bargain.
It would be a very interesting read, who's the publisher.
Many years ago Edwin land wrote and talked about the future of photography, predicting accurately the hybrid interface between digital and conventional imaging which we have today.
Last edited by Ian Grant; 02-15-2008 at 03:56 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for the information. I have just ordered a copy.
Amazon have them: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Insisting-Im.../dp/0738200093
Although this is Amazon UK, they are all from US or Canada.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
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Thanks Keith, like Steve I've ordered a copy via Amazon UK, the book should make good reading next-time I'm back in the UK.
Thanks for the hint.
I have got another one: Olshaker "The Polaroid Story"
But does anyone know where to find the complete text of his `Retinax Theory´?
AgX: a quick list:
Land, E. (1959) Color Vision and the Natural Image. Part I PNAS vol 45, pp 115-129
Land, E. (1959) Color Vision and the Natural Image. Part II PNAS vol 45, pp 636-644
Land, E. & McCann, J. (1971) Lighness and Retinex Theory JOSA vol 61(1), pp 1-11
McCann, J. Benton, J. & McKee, S. (2004) Red-white projections and rod/long-wave cone color: an annotated bibliography J Electr Imaging vol 31(1), pp 8-14
Brainard, D. & Wandell, B. (1986) Analysis of the retinex theory of color vision J Opt Soc Am A vol 3(10), pp 1651-1661 6Hurvich, L. & Jameson, D. (1955) Some quantitative aspects of an opponent-colors theory. II. J Opt Soc Am vol 45, pp 602+
For a more popular account there are the two Scientific American articles Land wrote about the Retinex experiements:
Edwin H. Land, "Experiments in Color Vision," Scientific American, Vol. 200, No. 5, pp. 84-99, May 1959.
Edwin H. Land, "The Retinex Theory of Color Vision," Scientific American, Vol. 237, No. 6, pp. 108-128, December 1977.
JOSA: Journal of the Optical Society of America
PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (of the United States of America)
Last edited by Struan Gray; 02-15-2008 at 10:09 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I can supply the academic papers as pdfs to other academics, but sorry, I can't post them in open forum. Anyway, very interesting stuff. "Dr. Land" is sadly missed. His ideas will continue to influence us for a very long time.
Sorry Ian, I don't recall offhand and the book is at home, but you can search for it online.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I met Dr. Land on one occasion, at a reception at one of his last talks. I got to speak with him for a few minutes, as I was also a speaker at that particular conference and he expressed an interest in my subject. From reputation of those who knew or worked with him, he was a rather stuffy person who set up no management to take over from him at his demise or if he was incapacitated. He brooked no dissention from his ideas and he was rather strict and no-nonsense. Of course, he was most often right, and that helped foster both his attitude and the perception of others.
This sounds a bit like C. E. K. Mees at Kodak, but not George Eastman. Eastman set up a full management team to run the company upon his death or incapacitation, even before he knew of his illness. Mees was strict and authoritarian and also a great inventor, but he did set up a complete management team under him.
Much of the problems at Polaroid may stem from the fact that it was pretty much a one-man-band so to speak. There was no management but Land.
IDK for sure, but that is what I gather from stories inside the industry.