Friday, August 29, 2008

Barney Oldfield -- August 29, 2008

"Motorist, Barney Oldfield, sitting in a parked next to a garage" in Chicago. I like the minimalist racing car. The front end appears to be an attempt at "wind-splitting."
The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( SDN-003390, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.
Senator Obama finished off the convention with a big speech in a football stadium. Senator McCain chose the governor of Alaska as his running. He announced it today to try to cut into Obama's press. I wonder how the issue about dismissing the Public Safety Commissioner is going to turn out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ardenwood Farm Railroad Fair Coming Soon - August 27, 2008

If you are looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend, I can recommend the Eighth Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Historic Farm Regional Park in Fremont. Every year, the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources brings in a steam locomotive to join their regular horse-drawn rail operation. There are rides on steam- and horse-drawn trains and handcars. There is a large garden railroad display, and all the regular animals and farm equipment and the beautiful Patterson house.It's well worth a visit, and it's just across the Dumbarton Bridge.
I took this photo of a ewe and the new black sheep of the family in March, 2006.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #14 - August 25, 2008

I took this photo on 08-August-2008, the day the Beijing Olympics opened. Yesterday they closed. I enjoyed many of the events.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playing Tourist -- August 23, 2008

We went to Fisherman's Wharf and had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It was fun. We rode 1059 there. The motorman was very careful to call all stops and explain several times that he was waiting for his leader, 1010, to get ahead. I wonder if that had anything to do with the recent accident. We took Milano car 1804 back.
Senator Obama picked Joe Biden to be his running mate.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Get In the Game -- August 22, 2008

There are globes on display around the city to encourage green living. This one, in front of Pac Bell Park, is entitled "Get in the Game."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flying -- August 21, 2008

We flew down to Southern California. My first flight this year. Things have not gotten better. Security is intrusive and not particularly useful. On the flight back, my wife mentioned something and said "How stupid do they think we are?" I said "Look at the space between these seats. Look at the people leaning in our faces. Look at the number of people crammed into the plane. How stupid do you think they think we are?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mutoscope #1 -- August 20, 2008

The Mutoscope is a hand-cranked entertainment machine that works like a giant flipbook. I tried to build a device like it, but always had trouble getting it to work.

I took the photo at Disneyland in July, 2006.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Signs of the Times #20 -- August 19, 2008

I saw a lot of signs like this around Disneyland. They may have been there before, but I didn't remember them. I took this on 14-August-2008.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monorail Red -- August 18, 2008

Just back from a visit to Disneyland. We got to see and ride newly rebuilt Monorail Red. They cleverly reduced seating capacity and made the windows so they could open only a crack. I assume this was for safety reasons. The blower for ventilation was ineffective. They had to take the train out of service during the middle (busiest) part of the day.

The park was very busy and the weather was warm and muggy. Nonetheless, we had a good time.

I'll post more on my Park Trains page at the end of next month. I took this image at Downtown Disney Station.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Deer -- August 13, 2008

On 02-July-2008 I was in the parking lot at Saint Peter's in Pacifica and I saw this deer and a companion. We've been seeing a lot of deer.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Snake -- August 11, 2008

While returning from a walk on 02-August-2008, I saw a garter snake basking on the walkway in front of the house. I hadn't seen one for a couple of years.

In other news, I was sad to hear that Isaac Hayes had died. "Black Moses" -- great album.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Reminiscences of an Active Life #7 -- August 9, 2008

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland in 1813. He went on to live a remarkable life of achievement in the sciences and the arts. He died in America in 1895.

While serving as editor of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, he wrote many articles, including the ones which gave this blog its name. In 1893 and 1894, he published a 23-part (!) memoir in the same periodical.

Here is the seventh part. He continues to discuss his and his son's careers as photographers.

His son Henry Van Der Weyde served in the Union Army during the Civil War and later emigrated to England, where he worked as a photographer. I have not located a photograph by PH, but the image this month was taken by Henry. It is from Tennis By John Moyer Heathcote et. al: "C. Saunders volleying the service from the pent-house."

The mention of Rembrandt as an influence on creative lighting reminded that earlier filmmakers tried to sell creating lighting as "Rembrandt lighting."

John William Draper was an American scientist and historian who died in 1882.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 25, Issue 8, August 1893

(Continued from page 146.)

5th. Career as a Photographer.The circumstances which induced my son, who was not a photographer, to take the lead in London and Paris in the new branch of making portraits by the aid of electric illumination, were as follows:

A London gentleman who wished to have his portrait in oil colors finished in the shortest possible time, but whose business did not allow him to occupy much time in sitting, was advised by my son to have a few photographic portraits taken, so as to make it possible to do some of the work in his absence. He at once applied to some photographic galleries, but was told that the daylight was so bad just then, that it was impossible to take pictures. My son, upon investigating this matter, was told by every photographer he visited, that the occurrence of frequent dark days in London was the cause of the loss of many thousands of pounds to the photographic profession. This made him conceive the idea of using electric illumination, which would at the same time furnish the advantages of giving the photographer full control of the light, which he could not have over the sun, and would make it possible to produce, by artistic management, effects not attainable by daylight, while at the same time the business could be conducted in the evening, when many people have a better chance to dress and sit for a few seconds to have their photographs taken, when on their way to the opera, dinner parties, etc.

My son communicated by letter his plan to me (in New York), and as I saw the great advantages to be gained, it resulted in an active correspondence. At the same time he tried to induce several photographers in London, one after the other, to adopt electric illumination, but not one of the many he visited would take the risk of what they considered a most hazardous undertaking, while some of them declared that they believed it to be utterly impossible, and predicted total failure.

Not discouraged, but, on the contrary, having his convictions of success strengthened by some experiments with large lenses, he concluded to establish an electro-photographic gallery in Regent street. For this purpose, he engaged a few experienced photographers as assistants, whose labor would consist only in the photographic manipulations required before and after the sitting, while my son was to confine himself to the management of the electric illumination, the posing, drapery, eto. His training as an artist gave him, in this regard, an advantage very rarely possessed by ordinary photographers, the great majority of whom have no idea of art.

I possessed, in a small degree, the same advantage, which became evident, when, fifty years ago, I attempted to make daguerreotype portraits. When my work was compared with that of the few professional photographers (who at that time supposed that it was absolutely necessary to place the sitter in the open air), its superiority was conspicuous. A traveling daguerreotypist visited the city of my residence, and made several portraits at the private houses of his patrons. He placed the sitters in the garden or rear yard of the house, which was often a narrow place between high walls, with no other illumination than that from the sky directly above. The result was that all his portraits had dark shadows under all projecting parts of the face, and were far inferior to my productions. This encouraged me to exhibit a number of my specimens in the leading bookstore, with the result that most of those who had patronized the traveling photographer requested me to take their pictures, offering to pay for them.

Thus far I had only made pictures of my friends gratuitously, out of pure interest in the new art; but in accepting the offers, I became at once a professional photographer, with considerable patronage. For this I was well prepared, having practiced with different methods of illumination, and soon had found that the best results were obtained if light was admitted directly from one side, through a large window, and when reflecting screens were placed at the other side to soften the dark shadows, which I had studied in some of Rembrandt's portraits, while I had even copied some of his etchings. Soon my reputation was established, especially among the ladies, who all looked much younger in my daguerreotypes. I must with gratefulness remember my old mother-in-law, who patiently sat for me when I made my experiments to find the proper way of illumination and study the effects of different painted backgrounds, such as landscapes, foliage, mountain views, etc., in which specialty I believe myself to have been a pioneer.

I must not omit to mention that my principal impulse to attempt portraits was obtained by the report that Prof. John W. Draper, of the University of New York, had succeeded in making them; it was especially for this reason that he was the first man I visited on my arrival in New York in 1849. When he found that I had studied his famous book on the chemical influence of the sun-light on plants, we became great friends. By his advice I hired two studios in the New York University building, where I resided and studied medicine until I was graduated in 1857 (see February number of the MANUFACTURER AND BUILDER).

He is one of the many eminent men whose loss by death I most sincerely regretted, and who always sent me a copy of his newly-published books, usually accompanied by a flattering letter.

(To be Continued).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Train Station #1 -- August 7, 2008

The White Pass and Yukon Route station in Skagway, Alaska.

I took this photo on 11-July-2008.

Yesterday I went with a group from work to see the Giants play the Braves. Lincecum won 3-2.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Signs of the Times #19 -- August 5, 2008

It has been one of those days.
I took the photo at Ardenwood Farm on Labor Day weekend, 2007.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Firehouse #10 -- August 3, 2008

San Francisco Fire Department Station 18, on 32nd near Pacheco. The Surf Rescue unit used to operate out of this station.
In other news, I just heard that Alexander Solzhenitsyn died. I was rereading parts of The Gulag Archipelago right before we went on the cruise. That was the first book of his that I read. Then Ivan Denisovich. Then a co-worker who had left the Soviet Union suggested The First Circle. He said that this book was closest to his fathers' experience in the gulag.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Vande Ludvik -- August 1, 2008

Aviator Vande (or Vandie) Ludvik in a Curtiss-type airplane in 1911.
Several issues of Aero and Hydro: America's Aviation Weekly carry an advertisement: "YOU CAN FLY/In our INTERNATIONAL CURTIS-TYPE AEROPLANES. VANDIE LUDVIK, our latest graduate, filling well-paying engagements. Others will soon be out. Exhibition engagements filled. Flight or no money. Aeroplanes for sale. Orders filled promptly./Interational Aeroplane Mfg. Co. and School of Aviation/2023-25-27 Michigan Avenue, CHICAGO."
The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( DN-0057784, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.