Tuesday, May 3, 2011

table top photography

I've been reading old photography manuals from the 1920s-50s today in the Eastman House (a magnificent mansion, with beautiful formal gardens - so far as I can make them out through the driving rain), looking, above all, at the ways in which flash photography was presented to amateur photographers as even easier than daylight photography - and an ideal, year-round, indoor hobby.   Indeed, it was very striking how, as a hobby, it could be linked to other forms of hobbyism - taking pictures of models that one might have made, or of stamp collections, or of flowers that one had grown.   At its most horrific, “The mind that is capable of original thought will find that with a bag of sand, a piece of mirror for water effects, a few dolls and dolls’ clothes, some cotton wool and a supply of various coloured plasticine, he or she can turn their abilities to very good use…”   There's something resolutely suburban about the pursuit of amateur flash photography in the 1920s...

... but how could I resist "table top photography" - a whole category, apparently - back at the B&B?   I didn't, yesterday, even get round to cataloguing the dressing room ... here is a mysterious oily bottle (indeed, I can see in the picture that it helpfully is labelled "bath oil") filled with what appears to be dried grasses and twigs - with a mock-silver photo frame behind.   Bath oil would be even more understandable if there were a Bath - indeed, a bath would have been very welcome when I came back this evening, chilled through from the thick grey rain.

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