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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Photographing a Catastrophe

Guest Blogger Dept.: The original edition of this book came out in 1896 and was popular enough to be revised and reissued at least until 1922. Photographic Amusements, Including a Description of a Number of Novel Effects Obtainable with the Camera was compiled and edited by Walter E. Woodbury – Formerly Editor of “The Photographic Times,” Author of “The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Photography,” “Aristotypes and How to Make Them,” Etc., Etc. Along with learning how to create double- and triple-exposure shots, shoot at night, capture lightning and many other tips and techniques, here’s “How to Photograph a Catastrophe.”


ON THIS PAGE we reproduce a curious photograph by M. Bracq, which appeared some time ago in the Photo Gazette.

By M. Bracq. From Photo Gazette.

Despite all the terrible catastrophe which it represents, carrying pictures along with him in his fall, the subject has not experienced39 the least uneasiness, not even so much as will certainly be felt by our readers at the sight of the tumble represented.

The mode of operating in this case is very simple and we are indebted to La Nature for the description of the method employed by M. Bracq. The photographic apparatus being suspended at a few yards from the floor of the room, in such a way as to render the ground-glass horizontal (say between the two sides of a double ladder—a combination that permits of easy focusing and putting the plates in place), there is spread upon the floor a piece of wall paper, about 6 feet in length by 5 feet in width, at the bottom of which a wainscot has been drawn. A ladder, a few pictures, a statuette, and a bottle are so arranged as to give an observer the illusion of the wall of a room, that of a dining room for instance. A hammer, some nails, etc., are placed at the proper points. Finally, a 5 feet by 2-1/2 feet board, to which a piece of carpet, a cardboard plate, etc., have been attached, is placed under the foot of a chair, which then seems to rest upon this false floor at right angles with that of the room.

FIG. 29.
Everything being ready, the operator lies down quietly in the midst of these objects, assumes a frightened expression, and waits until the shutter announces to him that he can leave his not very painful position. This evidently is merely an example that our readers will be able to modify and vary at their will.

– from Photographic Amusements, American Photographic Publishing Co., Boston, Mass., 1922

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