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Archive for June, 2011

Pencil of Nature (Book Review)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

The Pencil of Nature

You can buy The Pencil of Nature by William Henry Fox Talbot from Amazon or you can download a free copy from Project Gutenberg. The book was written between 1844 – 1846 in six installments and was the first commercial book that had photographs.

William Henry Fox Talbot invented a process to print images onto paper through a series of personal experimentation into chemicals and light over the previous decade. During this time Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (published in January, 1839) independently revealed an entirely different process of producing photographic images… the daguerreotype. These two forks at the very beginning are what we would consider the birth of photography in the modern sense.

‘The Pencil of Nature’ offers a brief introduction of Fox Talbot’s experiments that led to several crucial discoveries including photographic developer and fixer. He also spent time experimenting with the effects of various light and times of the day in the field to offer a rudimentary analysis where photographers could jump off and explore the medium. This book contains 24 photographic plates and text with an explanation of each scene and the processes that led to the photograph being achieved. These plates include iconic images that stand today as strong photographic work in their own right – Plate VI. The Open Door; Plate X. The Haystack; and, Plate XIV. The Ladder. It is an awe inspiring thing to consider the time these photographs were taken and the newness of the technologies and concepts in human experience.

It was a time when the common man had never been able to view their ancestors – painted portraits were for the rich. It was a time when concepts like focus and aperture were strange and magical. It was a time when suddenly you didn’t have to have the money to go see the Great Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower; suddenly, thrust into society, was a technological mechanism to capture time.

The most important reason to read the Pencil of Nature (and it’s only a small book mostly of images) is to increase your own photographic literacy. Photography is the study of light upon the lens… anybody can take pictures but once you appreciate that relationship you can start to consider making images. I really hope you enjoy reading Fox Talbot’s book.

The End of the Line (Book Review)

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The End of the Line

In the last century 90 per cent of the World’s fish have disappeared and the hand lays squarely at the feet of human beings for how this travesty of the Commons has happened. Charles Clover’s book titled The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat is the result of several decades investigating and experiencing the various fishing grounds that feed us. He looks at where we fish, the historic evolution of our fisheries and how and why we’ve suffered specific fisheries collapses.

As a young man I was drawn to commercial fishing in Bass Straight (long-tooth scallop dredging that quickly collapsed the industry) and several months working on a prawn trawler out of Townsville. It was obvious that a world without quota and devoid of some sort of communal responsibility had no long-term future. And if fisheries within the 200 mile limit were treated that way then what hope was there for the oceans that have since been blitzkrieged with industrial high-technology driven fisheries? The by-catch from trawling for prawns off the Great Barrier Reef meant that a good ton of fish in the net equaled a bucket of prawns, a few Moreton Bay bugs and the rest went back over the side dead.

So I really did find The End of the Line a compelling book that can only be recommended to humans who should be very worried about how we are going to consider feeding 9+ billion people by 2050 without fish. And it’s right now that we need to be discriminating on our plate to ensure that resource continues to exist… as for wild fish farming of carnivore species there have been more problems created than questions answered, so don’t hang your hat on that being a solution.

While reading this book a tweet ran down my Twitter stream from a usability professional in the Unites States – he wrote “I need more Sturgeons in my life”. He’s tweeted that before. So I replied with a link to Wikipedia for information about sturgeon… just so he’s aware that sturgeon are highly endangered. Unfortunately restaurants seem to be quite willing to provide their patrons with the almost forbidden fruit of endangered species. However, we would be appalled to read that Bengal tiger steaks and urangatan cutlets were served to the rich.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kittel Tronerud & the King Island Project

Monday, June 6th, 2011

My grandfather, Kittel Johannes Tronerud, was born in 1870 in Norway – the son of Jorgen Tronerud, school teacher and church singer, and Karen Mathea Tronerud. In 1889 Kittel jumped ship while in port in Melbourne and made his way to Tasmania where he married and raised his first family of five children on the North Coast before being widowed. His naturalisation papers note his profession as Photographer.

Kittel raised his second family of around 10 children – fathering my mother and Aunt Rita in his 60s to a much younger wife – on King Island where he had much earlier shot extensive photography between 1900 and 1911.

Two attached PDFs [number 1 and number 2] outline Kittle’s family tree from the early 1800s… one brother emigrated to New York.

Mrs Dorothy Crow of Grassy, King Island wrote a letter (attached) to my sister in 1988 describing how her husband had come by Kittel (also known as Joe Tronerud) original camera and glass negatives from a local farmer. Her husband printed 100 of the negatives and they were exhibited on King Island then were exhibited for a further two weeks in the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston. Kittel camera and photographs are now housed in the King Island Museum.

A scan of a 1988 clipping from the King Island newspaper (also attached) shows four of the reproduced glass negatives.

Kittel Tronerud

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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