The Wizard of Botany

“It is well for people who think,
to change their minds occasionally
in order to keep them clean.”
Luther Burbank

The Wizard of Botany

Luther Burbank and his dog Bonita circa 1925

 

I bet when you hear the word French fry, you associate it with the French or the Belgium who actually invented this recipe. But there’s one man you would never in a million years have guessed was responsible for the modern French fry. That man was Luther Burbank, a famous American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. He created a disease resistant potato named the Russet Burbank potato which is the main source of McDonald’s French fries and most all French fry fast food.

Burbank made it his life‘s work to create new varieties of plants, ranging from flowers, fruits and even cacti. He is credited with creating over 800 new varieties of plants and received 16 plant patents.

He was one of the first botanist to cross pollinate fruits and flowers spending decades perfecting this cross pollination. For example, he cross pollinated plums and apricots to get the plumcot as well as cross pollinated four different types of daisies and spent 17 years to create the Shasta Daisy.

Shasta Daisy

Shasta Daisy

Not only a talented botanist admired for his work but also admired for his generosity and kind spirit. He was very interested in education and gave money to local schools. One US Senator stated, “he is doing more to instruct, interest, and make popular the work in the garden than any man of his generation.”

At seventy-seven years old, Burbank said: “I love humanity, which has been a constant delight to me during all my life; I love flowers, trees, animals, and all the works of Nature as they pass before us in time and space. What a joy life is when you have made a close working partnership with Nature, helping her to produce for the benefit of mankind new forms, colors, and perfumes in flowers which were never known before; fruits in form, size, and flavor never before seen on this globe; and grains of enormously increased productiveness, whose fat kernels are filled with more and better nourishment, a veritable storehouse of perfect food—new food for all the world’s untold millions for all time to come.”

Today, most people when they hear the name Luther Burbank might associate the name with the town of Burbank, California. However, that city was named after David Burbank, a New Hampshire born dentist and entrepreneur who established a sheep ranch there in 1867.

Burbank became world famous in the early 1970s, by Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show daily monologue jokes poking fun of the town where the tonight show was filmed, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.”

Every single day we encounter something that Luther Burbank created because he was truly the wizard of botany.

Shine On

Audubon Photo Contest

“The Carrion Crow and Turkey-Buzzard
possess great power of recollection,
so as to recognize at a great distance
a person who has shot at them, and
even the horse on which he rides.”
John James Audubon

Christopher Smith

Roadrunner catch of the day by Christopher Smith

I’ve taken photographs of birds through the years and I find it one of the most difficult subjects to capture. My feathered friends can be ever elusive to observe in their natural habitat, but more difficult to capture clearly on my camera.

To bring awareness to climate change and how two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction, the National Audubon Society gives yearly recognition to masterful bird photographers.

Quite a few of my fellow Blogaholics are talented bird photographers. If they don’t already know about this yearly contest, maybe they should look into submitting one of their own spectacular shots.

With that being said, here are just five of the top ten winners from the 6,000 submissions received from the 2020 Audubon photo contest.

Shine On

Natalie Robertson

Warbler by Natalie Robertson

Bibek Ghosh

Hummingbird by Bibek Gosh

Sue Dougherty Genovesa Island in Ecuador

Frigatebird by Sue Dougherty

Gail Bisson

Bare-throated Tiger Heron by Gail Bisson

 

Pathway to Photography

“What we do during out working hours
determines what we have;
what we do in our leisure hours
determines what we are.”
George Eastman

 

Nicéphore_Niépce_Oldest_Photograph_1825

Earliest known photograph taken 1825, by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce,

Our photos today look very different from the ones that were taken just two centuries ago. It was even more rare to have a photograph of one’s self. In just 200 years, the camera advanced from a small black box that took blurry photos to our high-tech mini computers found in our smartphones.

The concept of photography has been around since the 5th century. By the 11th century, an Iraqi scientist developed something called the camera obscura and voilà, the art of photography was born.

This early camera did not actually record images, it simply projected them upside down onto another surface. The images could then be traced to create accurate drawings of real objects such as animals, people and buildings.

1920px-Daguerreotype_Daguerre_Atelier_1837

Daguerreotype Photo by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1837

Around 1830, French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first permanent type photograph. He created heliography, a technique used for the world’s oldest photographic process. Shortly after inventing this technique, he formed an alliance with French artist, Louis Daguerre. Together they developed a new photo processing technique known as, Daguerreotypes. To make these images was not only laborious but also dangerous. For them to shoot and process just one photo, they would polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish, treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive, expose it in a camera for as little as a few seconds; make the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; remove its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment, rinse and dry it, then seal the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.

Tintype Photo

1856 Tintype Photo

By 1856, a process known as, Tintype photos were made and became more affordable for the average person to obtain photos of family and places. The materials to make these tintype photos were inexpensive, durable and faster to process. Still, the process for capturing a tintype photo was not that easy. First, the subjects had to remain perfectly still and moving was a no-no. Often the photographer would use body stands for people to remain still for up to six to thirty seconds. The image was not captured on a piece of tin, but rather a thin piece of iron with a black enamel coating. One of the chemicals used in the tintype process was cyanide. Tintype photography became easier but the processing was still very dangerous.

Tintype photography saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by photographers working out of covered wagons.

Photography was only used by professionals and the very rich until 1888 when George Eastman started a little company called Kodak.

Thanks to Kodak, anyone could take pictures. They just had to send the camera back to the factory for the film to be developed and prints made, much like modern disposable cameras. This was the first camera inexpensive enough for the average person to afford.

Professional photographers began to use small 35mm cameras to capture images of life as it occurred rather than staged portraits. When World War II started in 1939, many photojournalists adopted this style.

The film was still large in comparison to today’s 35mm film. It was not until the late 1940s that 35mm film became cheap enough for the majority of consumers to use.

At the same time that 35mm cameras were becoming popular, Polaroid introduced the Model 95. Model 95 used a secret chemical process to develop film inside the camera in less than a minute.

The Polaroid camera was fairly expensive but the novelty of instant images caught the public’s attention. By the mid-1960s, Polaroid had many models on the market and the price had dropped so that more people could afford it. Unfortunately, in 2008, Polaroid stopped making their famous instant film and took their secrets with them.

Although the French introduced the permanent image, the Japanese brought easier image control to the photographer. By the 1950s, Asahi (which later became Pentax) introduced the Asahiflex and Nikon introduced its Nikon F camera. These were SLR-type cameras and the Nikon F allowed for interchangeable lenses and other accessories.

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, compact cameras capable of making image control decisions on their own were introduced. These “point and shoot” cameras calculated shutter speed, aperture, and focus, leaving photographers free to concentrate on composition.

By the mid 1980s, numerous manufacturers worked on cameras that stored images electronically. The first of these were point-and-shoot cameras that used digital media instead of film.

Kodak developed the first digital camera in 1975, but dropped the product for fear it would threaten Kodak’s main income, its photographic film business. However, they decided in 1999 to produce the first digital camera that was advanced enough to be used successfully by professionals. Other manufacturers quickly followed and today Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and other manufacturers offer advanced digital SLR (DSLR) cameras.

Mr. Niépce would be proud to see his hard work in the invention of a technique used to create the photographic process was the pathway to modern photos.

Shine On

Giving Thanks

“Relationships are based on four principles:
respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 

My Peonies

Pink Peony Bouquet From Me to You

Thank you for following my blog. I don’t take your support for granted. We know it must be earned. I am extremely humbled by the time, attention and comments made by my fellow Blogaholics.

With the quality and mega number of blogs out in the Universe, I’m always surprised when my simple weekly posts receive any attention.

We all are witnessing so much unrest, hate, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and lack of compassion. I feel extremely grateful for so many things in my life. One of which is reading and enjoying all your blog post’s and your support of mine.

This post was inspired by fellow blogger, Next Generation Farmgirl where she wrote in a her recent blog post, “One small phrase of gratitude is significantly uplifting to the spirit of the recipient.”

I couldn’t agree with Farmgirl more on the importance of giving thanks.

Shine On