Monday, 28 February 2011

What can You see in this Photograph?

As the weather gets better, I am looking forward to the chance of getting out and about with my camera again. Poking my lens into the nooks and crannies of other worlds and, possibly, other dimensions. I have seen a strange sign a few miles from here and will be looking to capture it and publish it here for your enjoyment . . .

In the meantime, here is a print I made yesterday evening from a glass plate negative. I see something different here each time I look at it. I was originally drawn to it through a view from a distance when I thought the child on the right had angel wings. However, what I thought was wings looks to be the sort of apparel that a choirboy might wear? Then I was taken by the setting. A wire fence that ends abruptly with what looks like the remains of a tree painted white. And what precisely are the young man and the girl looking at? The boy is doing something that attracts their attention. Perhaps it is a church outing or a summer picnic? To the right of the boy is some sort of frame wrapped in rope and topped by a cushion. Perhaps it is a TB sanatorium and the object is some sort of bed designed to be placed outside so patients can enjoy the fresh air?

I am reminded of mother and my aunt who, in 1923, dreamt up the idea of convincing the authorities that they had TB by coughing a lot so they could avoid going to school. They didn't have Tuberculosis but, as a result of their subterfuge, they ended up in a sanatorium with TB patients. It was six months before it was realised the two ten-year-olds were in good health. They were so lucky not to have contracted it.

So back to the photograph. I am not sure why, but sometimes I feel there is something sinister about what is happening, but most of the time, it looks fine. What do you think it going on here? Click on the image for a closer look.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Picking Daisies!

If you watched the film Calendar Girls, you will be familiar with the phrase: "We are going to need considerably bigger buns!" When the Edwardian photographer gave this small girl a basket and asked her to start filling it with daisies, both he and she hadn't appreciated how many there were in this vast field. By the look on her face, she is about to say, "We are going to need a considerably bigger basket!" Poor girl.

Friday, 25 February 2011

A Lady and her Sheep

Now, following swiftly on from my last post about the Edwardian lady who introduced her cat to her favourite sheep. Well, she also had a go at introducing Britons to a form of pastime that would one day prove very popular. Unfortunately, she chose sheep-trekking. If she had chosen ponies, it might have proved to have been a very lucrative business.  It would be nice to find out who she was. In her day, when women were more reserved, she must have been thought rather eccentric! I bet she was rather fun to be with.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A Woman, a Sheep and a Cat!

I think this mystery lady is probably a real life Doctor Dolittle. Here she is engaged in a three-way conversation with a very fine sheep and an inquisitive cat. Of her day, I think she was probably known by the locals as a bit of an eccentric, to say the least! Wonderful! Click twice on the image for a closer look. For more on sheep, click HERE

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Dressing Up for the Camera

Working my way slowly through a treasure trove of negatives that recently arrived through the letter box from America, I found this wartime portrait of what I take to be a recently-enlisted father with his two young sons. A few thoughts about what I see in the photograph before I ask for your observations.

Could this be somewhere fairly rural? I notice the wooden houses in the background look rather delapidated. Is this the children's father or grandfather? I ask that because if you look at his face, he seems rather mature - but then most people looked older than their years way back then. I can't identify his uniform which seems well-worn and his shoes don't look very military.

The two boys wear matching clothes. Perhaps they are twins but there is a difference in height. However, this might be a distortion as they could be standing on a slope. I am guessing they are wearing romper suits, which are pretty striking - imagine them in yellow or red! The family home could be a pre-fabricated building and they could afford a telephone or are they electric wires. Finally, the tall metal frame which stands at an angle behind the small tree looks to be a child's swing. It has seen better day. Perhaps the original house had recently been replaced by this newer-looking home? Now, over to you!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Look Away Now!

Now, I am sorry if it offends anyone, but I am not a fan of fox hunting. That said, two newly arrived glass plate negatives offer a glimpse of rural life in the Edwardian age that I thought I should share with you.

The first depicts a group of men who are posing with their terriers, guns and two dead foxes. When I first saw this photograph, I thought the men had dug into a badger sett to get to a family of badgers. In this photo, they must have used the jack russells to back the foxes into a corner of the Earth while digging their way to the foxes hiding place. When the foxes were exposed, the men shot them. Not very nice by today's standards, but their actions were of a time much different to now. It still has the power to shock me, though.

This second photograph shows two men who might be father and son. The elder man is holding a fox cub. Maybe, a vixen was killed and the cub was taken to safety. Who knows? Perhaps the man is a gamekeeper, but the boater he is wearing is the not the sort of headgear you would expect to see. The man in front looks benevolent, but there is a hint of malevolence in the expression of the younger man. What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why the Pose?

Recently, I acquired a selection of glass plate negatives. This is one of them. I think it was taken around 1905 and depicts a groom with one of his charges. What I cannot understand is why this white horse was posed in this way? Is it normal? For that matter, what sort of horse is it? It seems quite small. Are there any equestrian-minded people out there who would be prepared to offer an opinion? Click twice on the image for a really close-up look.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Memorial to Terrible Disaster!

I opened the lid of one of my many treasure chests and found this fascinating piece of history. It is a glass plate negative of an impressive memorial for the 1901 Caister Lifeboat Disaster. Taken shortly after the memorial was unveiled, it is slightly over exposed. An adjustment or two in Adobe Photoshop allowed me to see the words on the memorial and the stones alongside. I publish both here, together with a fine modern day view by photographer, Evelyn Simak. I note that the surrounding metalwork in Evelyn's image if different to the original metal border. Perhaps, a Second World War salvage drive saw the original railings removed for scrap and then restored some time after the War? Click twice on the black and white images for a closer look.

On November 13, 1901, the Caister lifeboat, Beauchamp was launched to go to the aid of a vessel on the Barber sands. It took four hours and two attempts and, as the launching crew watched, the lifeboat was forced back towards the beach. Fifty yards from the shore, it capsized, breaking off the masts and trapping the crew beneath the boat.

Two onlookers - one a 78-year-old former assistant Coxswain, James Haylett - dashed into the sea and pulled three crewman from under the craft. Despite their bravery, the remaining crew members were drowned. Eight bodies were recovered at the scene with another body that had been washed away being recovered four months later. Haylett had saved his son-in-law and a grandson, but failed to save his two sons and another grandson who were in the boat. A good account of the heart-rending tragedy can be found HERE.

The victims were buried in Caister Cemetery where a monument raised by public suscription was unveiled in 1903.

Photograph by Evelyn Sirak

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Lady Tree!

It was lovely sunny day yesterday and I thought about Spring which is not that far away. My friend Chrissie Butterworth was on a bike ride in Malaysia when she stopped for a rest. Imagine her astonishment when she looked across the road and saw this 'joyous' tree. Chrissie dubbed it 'The Lady Tree'. Thanks to her for sharing it!