Rutherford B. Hayes Library / Photo Collection
Hoping this is the correct forum, due to panoramic subject. If not, feel free to move.
I was looking through hundreds of photos at RBH Museum / Library this past
Saturday, looking for swing-lens panos that I could re-shoot with at least
What a neat collection!!!!! I'd been in contact with Nan Card at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential library, and she'd set aside a bunch of folders / binders for me. Filled an entire audio-visual wheeled cart. Some images (usually Niebergall's) had negs as well as prints.
The pics were taken by two photogs: Langlois and Niebergall. I knew
nothing about either man, at first. But then, looking at the pics....
Langlois' pics were more artistic, he seemed more an extremely skilled
hobbyist. Waves caught in the middle of exploding against a rock, Lake
Erie Island life, rock formations, buildings on the Islands. Langlois had
no panos. And he didn't have photos you'd run in a newspaper. He was
extremely skilled, but his focus was not commercial.
Niebergall was obviously more commercial. Groups, the Flood of 1913 that
tore through Fremont and Tiffin (we still find red brick in the river
bottom 3-4 miles north of Tiffin when kayaking / canoeing), trains,
planes, ships, ceremonies for laying cornerstones of new buildings, people
with their new cars, cutting ice, ice skating, company picnics, girl scout
outings, band camp...... Immediately it seemed his work was salable,
while Langlois' was more artistic.
Niebergall did have panos, but not swing-lens panos. Instead, for panos
he used negatives that were loaded into a flat filmholder, the negative
being about 5"x12" or so. BIG negatives. Stiff film. And *flat*. You
could see it in the pics where straight lines are straight, and there was
evidence of the films coming from big filmholders where you load one sheet
at a time in the dark. I can understand the choice. A non-rotating pano
camera would be far simpler and less tempermental than one of the Cirkut
Niebergall's negs were also very overexposed by modern standards, ie, it
looked like you could use most of his negs as welding goggles. In
contrast, a general rule of thumb on modern films is that you should be
able to just barely read a newspaper while looking through the neg. But
they printed just fine, because often the negs and prints would be grouped
together, and I'd see the results.
I don't have anything to recreate Niebergall's straight-film photos, so I
struck out on finding local Cirkut-type photos I could re-shoot. I know
such cameras (straight-film) exist, but they're very rare, or made to
order and very expensive. I've seen pictures of them, but never seen one
in the flesh.
More info on Langlois and Niebergall at the sites below. Langlois was a
scientist living on one of the Lake Erie islands who was documenting
natural things that intrigued / appealed to him, and Niebergall was a
German immigrant who was a Sandusky-based commercial photographer. He
shot news photos, disaster photos, families, scenery. It was sorta
obvious from the pics themselves, reading the text after the fact only
confirmed my hunches.
Sadly, Niebergall was under suspcion as a German agent in each of the
World Wars, and his cameras were confiscated for the duration of each of
the wars. After WWII, color film arrived, and Niebergalls business never
recovered to pre-war levels. He died broke in 1954.
Langlois had a much better life. Google shows him publishing a bunch of
papers on biology, and earning his income from his scientist position.
Traveling the world, and recording exotic places on film.
And the RBH museum ended up with their stuff. The value is that both guys
kept records, so the subjects and usually the dates, are known.
More info on Thomas Huxley Langlois:
More info on Sandusky, Ohio photographer Ernst Niebergall:
Even though I struck out, it was sure a neat trip back in time 100 years