22 December 2007


Photo: Emese Altnöder
Emese says: "Merry Christmas to The F Blog!"

The vanishing lamplighter and a profitable crop of onions

Bill Becker is director of the American Museum of Photography, a Virtual Museum "a Museum Without Walls...for an Art Without Boundaries" It´s a very interesting and fun place to visit with many stories from the history of Photography.

Lately on the blog, we have talked about how much "reality" there is to be found in a photograph. Well, the subject has been discussed almost since the birth of photography.

With the kind permission of Bill Becker I quote from the site:
"Photographers, .... understood that their art was not always unimpeachable, and that the choice of lens, camera angle, even the time of day that a picture was made could all have an impact on the final image." The quote is from an article called "The Camera Does Not Lie" by Bill Becker, published in a section of the site called Photographic Fictions - how the camera learned to lie. Great reading and pictures and it will hopefully result in a book as well.

The picture above "the Vanishing Lamplighter - (I love that title btw) is an example of an "accidental" effect. The lamplighter was moving around and it looks like he is about to disappear forever. (detail from photograph by the London Stereoscopic Company.)

"Harvesting a Profitable Crop of Onions"
William H. Martin (1865-1940)
Silver Print postcard, 3.5 x 5.5 inches, 1909

Mr. Becker says."Optical illusions teach an important lesson, because they convincingly demonstrate that seeing isn't always believing. And in the same way, manipulated "trick photographs" provide incontrovertible proof that the camera can be taught to lie."

Mr Martin was a photographer in the beginning of the 20th century making a fortune in producing trick photographs. Compare it to the Photoshop fictions of today. Nothing is new under the sun.

You will find much more if you visit the American Museum of Photography.
We hope to get back to Bill and this fascinating place again some day.
- American Museum of Photography
- Photographic fictions