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

Back to the Future

“Roads?
Where we’re going,
we don’t need roads.”
Dr. Emmett Brown

Back to the Future

On July 3, 1985, the movie Back to the Future opened nationwide. Little did any of us know this movie would become one of the most iconic movies of our generation. It’s one of those movies that you can just sit back, eat your popcorn and forget about everything and literally go for the ride of your life.

As a diehard Back to the Future fan, it’s safe to say I have watched this movie half a dozen times each year for the past 35 years. In my opinion, the story, the characters, the concept of time travel is done with pure perfection. However, this perfect picture almost didn’t get made.

Writer, Bob Gale conceived the idea for the movie in the early 1980s after visiting his elderly parents. While rummaging in his parents basement, he found his father’s high school yearbook. He was surprised to learn his dad was class president of his 1940 senior class. He contemplated if he would have befriended his father if they had attended school together. Deciding it would be a great storyline, Gale shared the idea with his good friend from USC cinematography classes, Robert Zemeckis.

The Two Bobs, as they are now known, collaborated on the idea and presented a script to different studios. After getting rejected more than 40 times by numerous Hollywood studios, the movie was finally green-lit by Universal Studios thanks to the help from their mutual friend, Steven Spielberg.

DeLorean At Pedersen Museum LA

Petersen Automotive Museum, Mother’s Day  2019

In the original script, the DeLorean time machine was a Philco refrigerator, Einstein the dog was Shemp the chimpanzee and the title Back to the Future was originally Space Man from Pluto.

One of the real stars of the Back to the Future franchise is none other than the DeLorean time machine. I for one will never forget the magic moment where the DeLorean rolls off the back of Doc Brown’s sealed truck and is revealed for the first time.

Zemeckis is the genius behind using a DeLorean as the time machine. The car was just introduced to the world in 1981 and sold for around $25,000. The movie played a major role in the continuing popularity of the DeLorean.

Five weeks into filming, actor Eric Stoltz who was portraying Marty McFly, was fired. Zemeckis determined Stoltz had been miscast and realized his original choice of Michael J. Fox was the only actor that could portray Marty. Luckily for Zemeckis, he was able to replace Stultz with Fox. The best career choice of both director and actor in their entire life.

Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown was brilliantly cast, but was not the first choice by the studio. Initially, John Lithgow as well as Jeff Goldblum were tested and thankfully not selected. In my opinion, no one could portray Doc Brown but Lloyd.

The Bully Biff played by actor, Tom Wilson with many of his signature lines, “what are you looking at butthead? “ were adlibs by Wilson. In a recent interview with Bob Gale, he was asked who if anyone was Biff based on and Bob’s response was, “the character Biff was based on Donald Trump.”

I enjoyed the 1950s music and was a big fan of Huey Lewis and the News music that summer of 1985. So, the fact that the movie had a guest appearance by Lewis and his song, The Power of Love was the opening track song, was an added bonus for me.

DeLeroean Interior BTTF

Petersen Automotive Museum, Mother’s Day  2019

When the movie opened in 1985, it became an immediate number one hit in theaters across the country all the way into early 1986.

Immediately after the success of the movie, the two Bobs were reluctant to do a sequel since sequels were rare in the late 1980s. Zemeckis had said that if he had wanted to do a sequel, he would have never ended the first movie with Jennifer, Marty and Doc in the DeLorean driving off into the sunset. But, through encouragement from the studio, Bob Gale alone wrote a 210-page long script, which the studio ended up splitting into two separate movies.

The 1989 Back to The Future II became as successful as the original, but not my favorite. By the time the sequel opens that November, the studio is filming and finishing up the third sequel.

On May 1990, the third and final movie is released. Commercially, Part III was the least successful in the trilogy. Still, this western set sequel is one of my favorite of the franchise. Not only because of the western theme but because of the Doc Brown romantic story line. Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton is absolutely enchanting as Doc’s sweetheart. It’s also the first on-screen kiss in Lloyd’s movie career.

Sadly, the third movie sees the end to the DeLorean time travel device and the end to the Back to the Future franchise. Thankfully, owning the DVD Trilogy Box Collection I’m ready and able to travel any time my heart desires, back to the future.

Shine On

More Science and Less Fiction

“You may not see massive UFO exhibits
at your local science museum, but there’s
no dearth of saucer stories infesting my email.
Every day, I receive several reports of alien sightings,
extraterrestrial plans for Earth, and agitated screeds
about the reluctance of scientists to
take the whole subject seriously.”
Seth Shostak

flying_saucer_poster-02

The news report described the sighting of a shiny saucer like object over a small sleepy town in Idaho. The early dusk sighting witnessed by a barber and his customer.

Why is it my fellow Blogaholics, the majority of flying saucer sightings are by Joe Blow from Idaho? Why are sightings rarely seen in large metropolitan areas of the World? Most importantly, when and where did the terror of flying saucer sightings begin?

Apparently, disc-shaped flying objects have been recorded throughout history since the Middle Ages. The first highly publicized sighting was by Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947. On that day, Mr. Arnold was flying his small plane near Mount Rainier in Washington State when he saw something unexplainable at the same altitude he was flying. A chain of nine objects shot across the sky, glinting in the sun as they traveled. By his observation, these objects traveled at a speed of 1,700 miles per hour, or three times faster than any manned aircraft of its time.

kenneth-arnold

Kenneth Arnold with a sketch of a disc-shaped flying object.

Mr. Arnold never specifically used the term flying saucer. At the time, he was quoted saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a saucer, disc, or pie-plate, and several years later added he had also said the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water. Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s. Then in 1952 the United States Air Force used a much broader term, unidentified flying objects or UFOs.

As time soon proved, this was just the tip of the iceberg and the era of UFO sighting had begun. It wasn’t long until everyone was looking for these new aircraft, which according to the papers were saucer-like in shape. In just a few short weeks, hundreds of reports of these flying saucers were made across the nation. While people thought they were seeing the same things that Kenneth Arnold saw, there was a major irony that nobody at the time realized. Kenneth Arnold hadn’t reported seeing flying saucers.

Miss Flying Saucer

Today many of the alleged flying saucer sightings of the era are now believed to be hoaxes. Photographs and movies altered by someone wanting to obtain their fifteen minutes of fame. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s B-movies and is still a popular subject in science fiction.

This obsession with UFOs may have started several decades ago but it still is an area of science that is unable to be explained. Who knows, maybe in the not too distant future the Miss Universe pageant will be replaced by the Miss Flying Saucer pageant and there will be proof that UFOs are more science and less fiction.

Shine On

 

Time Traveling

“Once confined to fantasy and science fiction,
time travel is now simply an engineering problem.”
Michio Kaku

Mr Peabody

Mr. Peabody, his boy Sherman and the “Wayback Machine”

The concept of traveling backward and forward in time has always held my fascination. My interest began as a child. Introduced to the idea of time travel by none other than Mr. Peabody and his Wayback machine.

Conceptually, time travel goes back several centuries. Long before H. G. Wells wrote the book, The Time Machine, Japanese, Hindu, and Buddhist all wrote about time travel. In more recent times, people such as Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku have discussed the possibilities of traveling back and forth in time.

Time travel will forever be one of my favorite genres of novels and movies. Whether I’m reading Stephen King’s novel 11/26/63 or watching, Midnight in Paris, and Back to the Future for the hundredth time, the idea of going back to a time before I existed will always hold my interest in time traveling.

Shine On

Prized Possession

“Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying
or getting overly angry or to maintain control.”
Dennis Haysbert

 

Going Viral 2

 

 

It seems like Purell is everywhere these days, except at the stores. Believe it or not, Purell is struggling to keep up with all the orders across the world, and that’s even with the company working around the clock to fill the supply and the demand.

It’s hard to believe that not too long ago no one had ever heard of Purell. Since its creation in 1946 by husband and wife, Jerry and Goldie Lippman, from Akron, Ohio, Purell has been owned and produced by GOJO Industry, still a family owned business.

During World War II, Goldie worked at the Miller Tire Co. rubber factory and Jerry at the Goodyear Aircraft plant. Like all Miller Tire employees there, this husband and wife  often came home with sticky, difficult-to-remove graphite, tar, and carbon on their hands and clothes. Jerry and Goldie disliked all the products and cleaners used to clean their clothes, so they set out to find an effective cleaning product that could be used without water.

Goldie and Jerry worked with Professor Clarence Cook of Kent State University’s chemistry department to formulate a heavy-duty hand cleaner. They called it GOJO Hand Cleaner and sold it to rubber workers, who had sometimes used benzene and other noxious chemicals to clean their skin. After the war, the Lippman’s began marketing to automotive service facilities and GOJO was so successful, they quit their factory jobs and started GOJO.

Jerry, the never ending inventor came up with the first-ever portion-control dispenser, and was granted a patent in 1952. This creative invention served as the foundation for becoming the leader in heavy-duty hand cleaner across the country in the automotive after-market and industrial markets. You can thank Jerry for every soap dispenser on the wall today.

In the late 1980s, the company perfected an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that was much easier on the skin. Actually, Purell lost money for years on their hand sanitizer until 2002 when the CDC determined alcohol-based products were effective in sanitizing hands.

As we all know today, if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle of Purell, you’re one of the lucky ones. Who would’ve thought in the beginning of March 2020 a little plastic bottle of hand sanitizer would be a prized possession.

Shine On