Shooting the Past

By definition, the past is all around us. Even the light that reaches our eyes has taken time to get there: the tiniest fraction of a second for things near at hand, thousands of years in the case of many stars. This is not, of course, what we are talking about here. Rather, we are talking about four things, all of which can be mightily photogenic.

 

 

First, there are the signs of antiquity that surround us. Most cultures treasure their past, not least because it is their past that has made them what they are today. This is true of the 5,000 year old ruins on Malta; the 1,000 year old castle at the top of the hill behind our house; the few 19th century saloons that still exist in California; or the Art Deco district of Miami Beach in Florida, dating only from the 20th century.

Second, there are living traditions: things that have changed little over the years, decades or even centuries. These are things that fill the same need now as they did in the past: busy markets, sidewalk cafés, funfairs, playing boules (pétanque) on a convenient piece of flat gravel. People often refer to re-enactors as 'living history', but this term is far more appropriately reserved for survivals from the past.

 

London, Chatham and Dover Railway bridge

See below for caption

 

chatham & dover crop

 

Third, there are reconstructions of the past. Re-enactors are among the most fascinating examples. Computer programmers and shop assistants take on, for the week-end, the persona of an American Civil War soldier, or fight mock battles in the style of a Roman legionary, or re-create (sometimes a little fancifully) a mediaeval fair. But a lot of what passes for 'the past' is more or less reconstructed. Once again, the American Civil War furnishes many good examples: many of the 'Civil War houses' on various battlefields were all but destroyed in the fighting, and have been rebuilt and re-furnished, and trenches and earthworks require regular maintenance if they are not to dissolve slowly back into the earth from which they were constructed.

 

chatham & dover

 

 

Fourth, there is personal history: things (and indeed people) who mean something to us. Our picture Broken Treasures apparently moved one of our readers to tears, a reminder of all those treasured possessions that have been lost or broken in our lifetimes. When it comes to people, we may be able to photograph (for example) our parents in their old age, but the pictures we have of them from the past become ever more precious.

 

London, Chatham and Dover Railway bridge

 

The bridge is long gone, but this magnificent pier remains, its ornate ironwork regularly repainted. Probably not one person in a thousand notices it as they walk past. But there it is, an (extremely) solid reminder of an age of immense self-confidence, of engineering genius, and of building to last. Then you notice the tiny figure in the bottom right-hand corner. Yes, that's how big it is.

Frances took the picture on Ilford XP2 Super using the 50/2 Heliar on a loaner Voigtländer R3M, then printed it on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone, selenium toned.

 

Before we go on to these four heads, it's worth a quick look at some more of the logic and practice behind shooting history. Then, after the four heads, we'll go on to equipment and materials, though inevitably these will have been covered to some extent in the captions to the pictures.

Why Shoot History?

The simplest and most compelling reason is because we want to. We don't need to explain it: we just find it fascinating. Almost by definition, this can give us our finest pictures, because we are shooting something we really care about.

The second reason is that even if we are not particularly interested in the history itself, we like the pictures: the shapes, the textures, the people. This is closely related to another (paid) module, Change and Decay (coming soon). It can perhaps be summed up quite well in something we read many years ago: man can build and paint barns, but only God can weather and age them. Whether you choose 'God' or 'nature', the underlying sentiment is unanswerable.

 

 

Park, Moncontour

 

A hundred years ago, this little park with its Japanese-style bridge was the garden of a rich man, and the little lake was diverted from the River Dive which flows the other side of his garden wall. The house is long gone now, and the once-clear waters have silted up; the lake is little more than a swamp. Heavy use of soft focus (with a Dreamagon on a Nikon D70) has disguised its decay, lending it a romantic, 'olde-worlde' feel. On the other hand we have also taken several sharp black and white pictures against the day when the lake is either restored or filled in; this shot (by Roger) is not much use as an historical record...

 

 

The third reason is that we are shooting today, for tomorrow. Another little story well illustrates this. Early in the 21st century, a reader in Amateur Photographer magazine wrote in, describing how he had photographed the King's Road in Chelsea in the 1960s. At the time, he had done his best to avoid photographing the things that he thought would date his pictures too much: the hippies, the city gents, still in their pinstripes and bowler hats in those days, the Minis. More than third of a century later, he realized that if he had made more of an effort to include the things he had tried to exclude, his pictures would be a lot more interesting today.

 

 

park bridge

 

This harks back to the opening sentence of this module. Because of the laws of physics, we can only photograph the past, and whatever we photograph must always slip steadily further into the past. At one extreme -- photographing 'happening' places (sorry to use the phrase, but it describes the idea quite well) for current news -- we are not photographing the past at all, at least, not in any normal sense. At the other extreme, we are photographing what has survived from the past, be it buildings or customs or even people; and we are doing so with at least as much of an eye to the future as to the present.

 

eyes, hermannstadt

 

The 'Eyes of Hermannstadt'

Sibiu in Romania was settled by 'Saxons' in about the 13th century and is often known by its old German name of Hermannstadt. These shallow mansarded windows are very typical of the city, and it is easy to see from this photograph (by Frances) why they are sometimes known as the 'Eyes of Hermannstadt'. She used her Voigtländer Bessa-T and the 90/3.5 Apo-Lanthar to shoot on Ilford XP2 Super, printing on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone. The strange 'clouds' in the sky are actually drying marks: Roger did not process the film very cleverly...

 

Propaganda, legend, pictorialism and reality

 

The camera always lies, at least in the sense that it can never tell 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'. It is inevitably selective, and what it selects is in very large measure the choice of the photographer. One might even say that the better the photographer, the more selective the truth.

When you photograph the past, you are always trying to make people feel the same sense of history that you felt when you took the picture. Although it is easy to over-intellectualize almost anything, it is also a good idea to try, from time to time, to ask yourself exactly what you are trying to convey, and we suggest there are at least four possibilities: propaganda, legend, pictorialism and reality. Of course all four can be combined to a greater or lesser extent, but often, one or more will have greater weighting.

 

Propaganda

 

This is when you want a specific reaction, whether it's getting people to visit somewhere or trying to persuade them to share a particular viewpoint. For example, you might shoot Tibetan history with a view to stirring up people's awareness of the Chinese occupation of, and genocide in, Tibet.

 

The Hunter

The Hunter purifies the stage at a traditional Tibetan Lhamo performance (a sort of opera). The sheer exoticism of the outfit is arresting enough, but part of the reason Roger shot it (on 6x7cm Kodak Ektachrome 64 using a Linhof Technika 70 and 100/2.8 Zeiss Planar) was to make the point that while most people automatically think about Buddhism when they think about Tibet, there is also a rich secular tradition.

When we shot this, it was pouring with rain outside, and the lighting is an open door just to the subject's right (camera left). This made an excellent 'soft box'. Frances is standing just out of shot on camera right with a Lastolite collapsible reflector to bounce some light back in. The dead black background is simply the shadows in the huge, dark rehearsal hall.

 

the hunter

 

Legend

Here, it's mood rather than specifics. It might be mild, bittersweet nostalgia; it might be awe; it might even be impatience, together with a general feeling that the passing of some particular ancient régime was a good thing. We certainly felt the latter in Beijing's 'Forbidden City'.

 

mertola

 

Mertola

Mertola in southern Portugal is the old Roman Myrtillis, and there was already a settlement there when the Romans took it over and renamed it. It is crowned by a Crusader-era castle. For Frances, the tree in the foreground -- slender, falling over, still alive -- symbolized the thread of life that has always run through the city. The photograph was shot on Ilford SFX using a Nikkormat FTn and 90/2.5 Vivitar Series 1 Macro, mounted on a tripod and well stopped down for depth of field; printed on Kentmere/Luminos RCR; then hand-coloured with Marshalls Oils. Hand colouring often lends itself very well to historical subjects, not least because it is an historical process. The frame around the image is the cardboard matte.

Pictorialism

All you care about with this approach is that it should be an attractive picture. In a sense, the subject-matter is irrelevant: it is a pleasing mixture of lines, shapes, textures, colours, whatever. To some extent, all photography should be pictorially attractive, but if the subject matter is interesting enough, it can 'carry' a picture that might not otherwise warrant a second look.

Reality

This is perhaps the most difficult way to shoot the past: to present it without apparent comment. Our own view is that it is not only difficult: it is substantially pointless, because if you don't have some feeling about the subject, some comment to make about it, why are you shooting it?

 

trog house

 

 

A picture -- and a thousand words

 

A picture, we are often assured, is worth a thousand words. Sometimes this is true: a picture can tell us more than a thousand words, or even ten thousand. But a picture that is divorced completely from words can actually be worse than useless: it can be downright irritating.

If it looks like the sort of place we'd like to visit for ourselves, we want to know where it is; and if we have an interest in history, we are likely to want to know, yes, the history and origin of the subject. A picture that short-changes us in either department -- where and when -- may conceivably spur us to try to find out more, but more realistically, if all we have is a picture and no words, where do we start the hunt? At the very least, when we are photographing history, we owe it to those who see the pictures to give them some sort of starting-point for finding out more.

 

Troglodyte house, Gozo

 

Gozo is the sister island to Malta. This troglodyte house was probably carved from the solid rock between 200 and 1000 years ago; it is unlikely to be newer, though it could be older. It's visually fascinating and it's still more fascinating to imagine what life must have been like for the generations that inhabited it. Frances photographed it with a Contax SLR and 35/2.8 PC-Distagon on Ilford XP2 Super, printed on Ilford MG WT.

Four Ways to Shoot the Past

At the beginning of the module, we talked about four ways to shoot the past. To a considerable extent, they overlap, but it makes sense to discuss the four separately because each will have a different weight in a given situation.

 

gum, moscow

 

Gum

The GUM department store in Moscow is the former Imperial Stables, so to begin with, it's a magnificent (and thoroughly recycled) building from the past. Second, this is a picture from the early 1990s: Moscow is a very different city nowadays, so there's an overlay of recent history upon more distant history. Third, there's the collapse of communism: a personal resonance with many people, on many levels. Roger shot this with his Leica M4-P and 35/1.4 Summilux, probablt on Fuji RFP ISO 50.

1  Antiquity around us

A great deal depends, inevitably, on where we live. Roger spent four years of his childhood in Malta, where the Great Siege of 1565 sometimes seems like only yesterday, and where you can see the oldest ruins on the planet, the prehistoric temples of Ggantija, Mnajdra, Hagar Qim and others. Scholarship has steadily been pushing back the age of these ruins. In the 1950s, they were often regarded as maybe 4,000 to 5,000 years old. Today they are regarded as 5,000 to 6,000 or maybe 7,000, but one school of thought -- not yet orthodox, but not the sole reserve of crackpots either -- is that they may date back to the time when there was still a land bridge to Sicily, some 13,000 years ago. Roger long thought that this early exposure to history was what led to his fascination with it, but his fascination is shared by Frances, who was born in Rochester, New York, and moved to California when she was 17. In Rochester, the 19th century is antiquity; in California, even in the 1960s, the 1920s were regarded as a distant age.

The facination of photographing our historical surroundings must surely rest upon several foundations. One, as already mentioned, is the realization that the past is what has shaped society today. Another is the way that often, only the best has survived, in particular, the best-built and handsomest buildings. Older buildings, too, are more likely to be built of materials that most people find inherently attractive: stone and wood, not concrete and machine-made brick.

 

 

Binoculars, Redondo Beach, California

 

 

Anyone who was a child in the 1950s or even 1960s will remember these -- but when was the last time you actually saw one? It's a pair of binoculars with a coin-slot mechanism (a quarter nowadays, a dime before that, a nickel before that, a penny before that...) that gives you a few minutes' viewing. Mostly they have been vandalized or simply removed in the name of 'progess' (or possibly even hygiene); when you come across a pair, it's a real flood of nostalgia, and you can almost smell the sun-tan oil and taste the fast-melting ice-creams of your childhood.

Frances chose Kodak Tri-X for its tonality, printed as neutrally as possible in Ilford MG IV. Too warm a tone would have been out of keeping for the period. She used a Voigtländer Bessa (T as far as we recall, though it might have been R2) and 50/2.5 Color Skopar with a yellow B+W filter.

binoculars

 

Perhaps the most important, though, is the realization of how similar, and how different, people were in the past. All sentient beings desire happiness and the causes of happiness: peace, love, a dry roof over their heads, enough to eat. Yet when Frances's mother was a little girl during World War One, she ran crying to her father when an aeroplane flew overhead. Stroking her hair, he asked her what she was worried about. "I'm worried that the Germans will come and bomb us," she sobbed. "Don't be silly, Marion," her father said. "You know they will never be able to build an aeroplane that will fly across the Atlantic." She herself flew across the Atlantic eight times... This, too, was a woman who travelled in her childhood by horse-drawn sleigh, not as a tourist attraction but as a normal means of transport.

village pump

 

For that matter, we have a pump in our courtyard. When that was installed in the 1920s, it must have been a great advance on the well at the end of the tunnel behind the stables. That is centuries old -- perhaps as much as ten centuries, and almost certainly more than three.

But nothing lasts forever. Our pump doesn't work. It needs completely rebuilding, and besides, we'd need a new pipe into the well: it has rusted through at the end, and the last few feet of pipe lie at the bottom of the well. It's a romantic idea to fix it, but we haven't got around to it in four years, and we probably never will.

The public pumps in the village don't work, either, though they are periodically repainted, and perhaps more importantly, our mayor is a bit of a modernizer. The old gravel open space beside the church, where people played boules of a summer's evening, is now concreted over with parking bays, street lights and 'landscape' plants. Another little bit of French history destroyed...

 

 

Village pump, Moncontour

 

Handsomely repainted, and with a new surround and run-off outside the 12th-century church. But it doesn't work any more. It's a 'feature', a reminder of the past to draw tourists into a picturesque village. Roger shot it with a Leica M8 and 50/2 Summicron; ISO equivalent 640.

2  Living traditions

The story about our village car-park, above, shows how one category shades into the next. There are still plenty of villages nearby where there is an open place to play boules, but ours is no longer one of them. Likewise, the outdoor tables at our nearby café-bar had to be moved from where they had been for 100 years, next to the church. The tradition survives, but it has changed. One of Al Stewart's songs, written as if by an ageing Spaniard, says something to the effect that in the village where he grew up, nothing seems the same, but you never see the change from day to day. Sometimes, though, you do see the change. When they rebuilt and levelled the pavement (sidewalk) outside our house, it would have buried our boot-scraper, one of only half a dozen left in the village. We rescued it, but we haven't re-installed it yet.

Some living traditions have just never gone away, and the less wealthy the country, the more this is likely to be true. In Romania to this day they still do a great deal of farming in the traditional manner, with a lot of heavy manual labour, while in India you probably see ox-drawn ploughs more often than tractors. But it won't last -- and picturesque though we find it, we should welcome its passing.

Back-breaking work in subsistence farming may look romantic, but unless you would like to do it yourself, day in, day out, until you are too old and weary and simply worn out to do it any more, you shouldn't wish it on anyone else.

French (and indeed New Orleans) sidewalk cafés are another matter. So are markets. In the affluent world, farmers' markets are usually the closest you can find today to the cheerfully chaotic markets of old, but it is interesting that such markets are once again on the up-and-up as people seek to circumvent soulless shrink-wrapped supermarkets and re-establish some connection with the real world. If this is part of a larger 'save the planet' movement, so much the better: it really isn't all that brilliant an idea to grow flavourless tomatoes in Spain or California, pick them too young, ship them thousands of miles by road, put them on a styrofoam tray, cover them in shrink-wrap and then throw ten per cent of them away because they are past a (substantially arbitrary) sell-by date.

 

Ferry, South India

 

At least, we think it's a ferry. There was no sign of fishing, and precious little room for fish or cargo. What attracted Frances's attention was the ferryman. With his long pole for punting and his cowled head, he might almost have been Charon himself, ferrying passengers across the Styx on their last journey. Nikkormat FTn, 90/2.5 Vivitar Series 1, Ilford XP2 Super printed on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone, selenium toned.

boat, s. india

 

There are also a few living traditions that are more or less self-consciously maintained, such as the Helston Furry Dance or indeed Morris dancing -- though the latter, in particular, is a useful way to keep a few stout lads out of trouble, give them some exercise in the open air, and provide an excuse for them to sup substantial amounts of ale.

morris dancers

 

If you get the chance, read Terry Pratchett's early novel Strata, where one of the earliest memories of the heroine, Kin Arad, is of robot Morris dancers. It is set some distance in our own future, or at least, in a future that somewhat resembles ours, but with changes. For example, in her world, it was Remus and not Romulus who founded the great city of antiquity, and gave his name to it, Reme. When the human population of Earth declined almost to nothing after the Mindquakes, the robots decided to keep human culture alive until it could be handed back to mankind. Obviously they had to choose what was most important. For reasons that anyone acquainted with Morris dancers will understand, Morris dancing was of the things they saw as fundamental.

 

Morris dancers, Canterbury

One of the difficulties of getting sharp pictures of a morris side is that they seem to attract beer, a sort of mirror image of how spilled beer attracts ants... Roger shot this, outside Canterbury Cathedral, with a Pentax Espio compact loaded (as far as he recalls) with Paterson Acupan 200/Fomapan T200. Frances printed it on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone.

3  Reconstructions

As with the first and second headings, the second and third segue into one another. How much difference is there between a tradition (which necessarily changes), a revival and a re-creation? There was without doubt a Druidic tradition in England; it died out to a very considerable extent (a cynic might say, completely); and it was re-created or perhaps reinvented in the 19th century. Today, well over a century after its re-creation, it has become a tradition in its own right.

 

Even comparatively inaccurate re-creations or re-enactments can be great fun to photograph. Your subjects are enjoying themselves; there's a general carnival atmosphere; most people expect to be photographed; and if you send them a picture or two, you'll make lots of friends. We've been wondering about buying a small printer that can run off a car battery so we can hand out a few pictures on the day.

If you know anything about the period being re-enacted (or for that matter, if you are prepared to learn), you can have an even better time. We had great fun in Northern Portugal at a 7th-century village where there was a week-end camp of re-enactors. We knew just enough to ask a few intelligent questions; one of the re-enactors spoke excellent English; and we enjoyed ourselves as well as getting some good pictures.

 

Loading a Machine-Gun Belt

 

Although Kodachrome was introduced in 1936 and Agfacolor Neu only a little later, the vast majority of photographs of World War Two are in black and white, so it somehow seems more appropriate to shoot in black and white today. Almost paradoxically, for eras before the invention of photography, colour seems more fitting -- possibly because we are used to (coloured) oil paintings of historical events. As far as he recalls, Roger used a Voigtländer Bessa R2 and 90/3.5 Voigtländer Apo-Lanthar loaded with Paterson Acupan 200/Fomapan 200T. Frances printed it on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone.

loading gun belt

 

4  Personal history

Pictures of personal history are only likely to be of interest to others insofar as they share the same history. In this context, 'the same' is pretty flexible. In many ways, Roger's schooldays at Plymouth College in the 1960s had more in common with Tibetan friends at St. Joseph's College in Darjeeling than with an American at a high school in the same years or indeed with an English pupil at a secondary modern school. But when it came to watching motorcycle scrambles, he'd probably have more in common with an East German. One can however go beyond such particular examples.

broken treasures 2

 

We have already mentioned 'Broken Treasures' (reproduced on the left), and the binoculars above are a good example that will unite anyone of a particular age and background. To take a totally different example, many people from affluent Western countries will identify with pictures of ruined factories, the jobs from which have now been exported to China. Or with old amusement parks or arcades, where the machines were more mechanical than electronic, and such things as distorting mirrors and the Tunnel of Love still existed. Or with decaying spas... The list goes on.

 

 

Broken Treasures

You must have similar things yourself: mementos, 'treasures' from your past that you can't bear to be rid of. This was very much a joint effort. We shot it on both 6x7cm and 4x5 inch: this is from one of the 6x7cm frames, probably shot with a 210/5.6 Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-N on a Linhof Technikardan.

If something is important to you, ask yourself if it is something purely personal, such as a picture of your mother, or something with which others might identify. For that matter, even a picture of your mother might resonate with someone else, if she is dressed in a style that was (or is) typical of a certain era, or in front of some well-known monument in a typical tourist snapshot pose.

 

The doctor, the photographer and the Kodak secretary

 

Left to right, Lucille Schultz (doctor), Frances Schultz (photographer) and Nancy Burrett (Kodak secretary) -- somewhat before they took up the careers in question. This is about 1949-50.

It is not a brilliant picture (by the late W.A. Schultz on Anscochrome, heavily restored with Digital ICE and Adobe Photoshop) but it does recall the nature of childhood (and slide films) more than 50 years ago.Even if you don't know who the little girls are, there's a certain fascination in seeing a colour slide of that vintage.

3 little girls

 

Equipment and materials

There are many ways to photograph the past. You can shoot it in the style of the past, in black and white or even sepia. Some take this to extremes, using large format cameras to photograph American Civil War re-enactors, though few go so far as using wet collodion plates, which would have been the norm in the 1860s. You can try for a nostalgic look in colour, too, perhaps with big grain and low saturation. Taking the exact opposite tack, you can shoot in a hard-edge, saturated 'snapshot' style, as if you were a time traveller with a modern camera, magically finding yourself at a mediaeval fair. Hand-colouring can be very effective, especially if you use it to add to the air of unreality that hangs over so many re-enactments.

The truth, in fact, is that you can shoot the past in any way you please. An equal, and arguably even more important, truth is that you will get the best pictures if you think beforehand about what effect you want to create.

 

re-enactor, fence

 

American Civil War re-enactor

To capture the blowing smoke with a slow-handling tripod-mounted camera would have been frustrating in the extreme, but with a rangefinder camera -- as far as we recall, a-T, with a 50/1.5 Nokton -- it was comparatively easy. The camera was loaded with Ilford XP2 Super; the print is on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone.

For the most part, we use the same hand-held rangefinder cameras as we use for many other types of photography. They are small, light, unobtrusive, fast-handling and cheap to run, and these advantages are as great when you are shooting the past as when you are taking any other sort of picture.

 

 

Avalon Hotel, Miami Beach

The Art Deco district of Miami Beach can be surprisingly hard to photograph, because, after all, it is a living, working tourist trap, not just a collection of (very recent) historical buildings. One of the ways Roger decided to try to meet this challenge was by putting a LensBaby soft-focus lens on his Nikon D70 digital. The relatively low resolution of a digital camera is no drawback with soft focus, and exposure is much easier than with film.

Sometimes we put our rangefinder cameras on tripods -- it really does make for sharper pictures -- or switch to reflexes for longer lenses or move up to larger formats when we want the kind of super-sharp pictures that are so often associated with the later 19th century. We very seldom use cameras bigger than 6x9cm any more, simply because we believe that a small enlargement off roll-film can deliver quality that is indistinguishable from a contact print, even under the eye of a knowledgeable photographer.

 

Roger's favourite 56x72mm format (Linhof's version of 6x7cm -- some others go as small as 56x67mm) is 168x216mm when enlarged 3x, all but identical to the 165x216mm of whole-plate (6½ x 8½ inches). Just very occasionally, we use 5x7 inch or 13x18cm, as much for the formality and stiffness that these very slow-handling cameras impose. And sometimes we try yet other approaches: hand-held 4x5 inch, sepia Polaroid, soft focus, pinholes...

Wall of Death

 

Rangefinder-equipped 'press' or 'universal' cameras such as the Speed Graphic, the Linhof Technika series and (as here) the MPP Micro-Technical series (Mk. VII with 150/4.5 Voigtländer Apo Lanthar) are ideal when matched with Polaroid Sepia 4x5 inch film. This was shot in the late 20th or early 21st century, but (unless you look too closely at the bicycle) could date from many years before.

The bottom line

Yet again, one section leads naturally into the next. You can use whatever camera you like. There are no rules.

Even so, there are a few guidelines. For once, they are easily summed up (as one of our subscribers wisely suggested we should always do) with ten numbered points.

1   Shoot what interests you most, but always be prepared to extend your repertoire.

2   Always think about the effect you want, preferably before shooting, rather than after.

 

handstand girls

 

Girls doing a handstand

When did you last see children playing in the street? Or little girls doing a handstand? Or for that matter, a little girl playing in a dress? And even if you did, you'd probably be arrested in the UK today for photographing them...Roger shot this in the 1970s with either a Nikon F or a Leica IIIa on Ilford HP5 (before the days of HP5 Plus.

3   If you possibly can, learn something about the subject before you photograph it.

4   Look for the things you have seen all your life, but don't seem to see as often any more.

5   If it seems important to you, maybe it seems important to other people

 

mnajdra

 

Mnajdra

Malta's megalithic temples are among the oldest ruins on the planet, as mentioned near the beginning of the module. Shooting them on intra-red (Maco 820c) added to their other-worldliness. Using a rangefinder camera (one of Roger's M-series Leicas) makes it much easier to focus and compose when the lens is fitted with a filter that is all but opaque to visible light.

6   Look for details. Details often survive where the rest of the environment has been heavily modifed.

7   Think hard about the people you include. Some add to the picture; others detract from it.

8   Study old photographs, and indeed paintings, to see what they thought important and what they recorded.

9   Look too at how things were recorded: size, context, relationships... van Gogh can teach you a lot.

10   Don't print too big: photographs from the past are rarely even 8x10 inches, let alone bigger.

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© 2007 Roger W. Hicks