The first known color photographs taken after the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 have been found by the Smithsonian’s American Museum of National History

Almost as interesting as the photos themselves is the incredible process by which they were produced:

The first color process Ives attempted to market was the Photochromoscope system. He employed subtractive color theory to record scenes with a one- shot stereoscopic camera. Ives’ camera system of mirrors and filters behind each lens split and filtered the light to create one pair of slides for each primary color of light (red, green, blue). The slides were bound together in a special order with cloth tapes into a package known as a Krőmgram. The Krőmscőp was the apparatus used to rebuild the image allowing the viewer to see in three-dimensional color.




A “sport” I’d never have thought of:

Vanessa Tahbone grimaces while competing against Nicole Colbert during the ear pull event at the 49th Annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympic Games July 23 at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner/Eric Engman)

Who thinks of these things?  Must be the long winter nights.


In case you ever wondered what’s the oldest known photo of a human being:

Boulevard du TempleParis, IIIe arrondissement, Daguerreotype. The first picture of a person. The image shows a busy street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is the man at the bottom left, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show. Note that the image is a mirror image.


This may be the defining case of “dumb luck”:

We were taking pictures outside the Capitol building and I wanted to get a timed shot of the whole family all dressed up. So I put my bag down, placed the camera on a wall, got everyone to line up, set the timer for ten seconds, and jumped into the photo. I took a quick look at the image and liked it.

We then started to walk away when I realized my bag was missing. I went inside the building to see if someone had turned it in, but no luck. I ran outside and circled the building, but still no luck.

I then realized that I might have caught the thief on camera and I checked the shot again. When I saw the guy with his hand in my bag, I ran back inside and found the Capitol Police. They were amazing. They immediately sent out a description of the thief using the photo I took. In a few minutes, one officer had found him still in the area. The thief had dumped some things from the bag in a nearby trash can—the flash for my camera, a small backpack of kids toys, a bag of cables, extra SD cards, my mini tripod—but still in my bag were my wallet with cash, credit cards, hotel keys, rental car keys, and my iPad.

The Police recovered everything and hauled the guy off to jail.

via Accidental Photobomb Leads to Bag Thief’s Capture.

Photo of a four-year-old making pancakes. Can you explain why his eyes are closed on the left but open in the reflection?

via Boing Boing.

P.S.  I didn’t say that I could.

Mila’s Daydreams is a photo-blog in which a mother, Adele Enersen, makes pictures of what she envisions to be her infant daughter’s daydreams.

Started as a maternity-leave hobby, this is one more data-point supporting my theory that there is (or soon will be) a blog about every imaginable topic.

via Mila’s Daydreams.

This post is for my sister-in-law, Heidi, who recently ate at the Cliff House.

It’s one of the most famous San Francisco images, seen on postcards galore. I never realized what an epic story is attached to it and the photographer who is believed to have shot it. (Also, it’s not lightning, nor a storm, as is commonly held.)

According to this Cliff House book project site, on the back of the original print is the following inscription (neither dated nor verified):

“A Japanese boy, noticing the approach of lightning and thunder storm, took the last car for the Cliff House at 10:30 p.m.

The night was dark. He took up his position with his camera on the beach, and patiently waiting until 2 o’clock a.m., was able by leaving his camera open to obtain this picture, the “flashlight” being Nature’s own–the bright strokes of lightning at the moment. The patience of the “Oriental,” together with his keen preception of the opportunity, give us this photographic rarity, thunder storms and lightning being a rare occurance in the “glorious climate of California.” –Copyrighted.

That is patience!  (NB: While it was no doubt standard in 1901, the phrase “patience of the ‘ Oriental'” is jarring today.)

The photographer had a very interesting life.

The following story is included in a detailed account of Imai’s life:

“Tsunekichi Imai was working in his Polk Street studio when the 1906 earthquake struck, and he described to his family how the pictures hanging from his shop walls shook and gyrated wildly, many tumbling to the ground. In the days that followed, the rapidly spreading fire which followed the quake overwhelmed firefighters and threatened to destroy the entire city. To stop the fire by depriving it of fuel, officials decided to create a firebreak by dynamiting a swath of buildings east of Van Ness Avenue. The Imai studio was located in one of these buildings.

“The structures to be exploded were evacuated hurriedly and Tsunekichi Imai thought that all his equipment and furniture had been lost. Someone suggested that he go up to Lafayette Park at Washington and Laguna streets, and there he discovered stacks of personal possessions and household furnishings covered by tarpaulins that firemen and other volunteers must have rescued from the doomed buildings. He found most of the things from his shop piled together and even labeled with his name. Ironically many of the photographs and other personal affects that survived the earthquake and fire were lost during the period that the Imai family was interned during W.W. II at Camp Topaz in Utah.

“Tsunekichi Imai took a number of photographs in the earthquake’s aftermath, the most notable, according to his son, Ted, showed a man trapped on the upper balcony of a burning building pleading for help as the flames engulfed him. The picture was taken just as soldiers on the ground shot the man with their rifles to put him out of his misery. Ted says his father was fearful of the possible legal implications of taking this photo or even witnessing this event, and eventually destroyed it.”

Full Story Behind Cliff House “Lightning” Photograph « Spots Unknown.

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