28 September 2015

Great are the marvels of living photography

Following the Lumiere brothers' first public paid screenings of moving pictures in Paris in December 1895, on the other side of the world New Zealand newspapers were quickly alerted via wire services and began reporting on the new medium. But at first the nature of the projections was unclear, with no mention being made of the motion aspect. It would take a few months before the dramatic impact of moving pictures became obvious to readers on the far side of the world, but by April the secret of how the contrivance worked was being reported. By June 1896 the contents of film evenings were being reported in detail, which surely whetted the appetite for moving pictures in little New Zealand. Before the year was out, New Zealand witnessed its first film screening, on 13 October 1896 in Auckland, thereby commencing more than a century of film-going in the South Pacific. (All texts are obtained from Papers Past; links added).
The brothers Lumiere, of Paris, have invented an adaptation of Edison's kinetoscope that is likely to prove of great value. By it the images are projected on a screen, so as to be visible to a large number of spectators. The apparatus may be used for taking photographs and for printing transparencies from the negatives.
- Oamaru Mail, 6 January 1896

Colored Photographs From Nature. The possibility of photographing colors directly from nature seems to be at last proved. The theory of the process belong to M. Lipmann and its practical application to M. Louis Lumiere of Lyons. By means of his special preparations, the secret of which has not transpired, M. Lumiere is enabled after an exposure of about half an hour to obtain a faultless photographic reproduction of colors. Among the things thus chromatically photographed were boxes of matches, Japanese screens, stuffs, nosegays— nay, even landscapes from nature, looking for all the world like very clever studies in water colors, the dull gray of the houses, the brown of the soil, the various shades of green of the grass, fruit and foliage, the deep blue of the sky and the light, laughing blue that peeps surreptitiously through rifts in the fleecy clouds - all colors, hues and tints were there.
- Bay of Plenty Times, 13 January 1896

The kinematograph has been invented by M. Lumiere, of Paris, which is a great improvement on the kinteoscope. The principal feature is a mechanism by which the film is at rest during two thirds of the time of passage of each image; in the remaining third it is seized and carried forward to the next image by a set of teeth attached to a frame whose motion is governed by a cam worked by a revolving handle. There is also an arrangment [sic.] for projecting the image upon a screen so as to be visible to many persons at once. The same apparatus serves as a camera for taking the photographs and for printing transparencies from the negative film.
Daily Telegraph, 18 April 1896

Great are the marvels of photography. Not only can still life be reproduced, but action and movement. A remarkable exhibition in proof of this given in the Marlborough Hall, London, of the Polytechnic, recently, by M.M.A. and L. Lumiere. M. M. Lumiere are the inventors of a contrivance which they call the "Cinematographe," by which scenes of life and movement can be thrown life size upon a sheet in a darkened room in much the same way as at a magic lantern exhibition.  
How it is done is, of course, the secret of the inventors, concerning which nothing was vouchsafed to the visitors at the exhibition, beyond the fact that the photographs which gave the changing details of a scene are taken on a continuous band at the rate of 900 per minute. By means of the electric light they are thrown, in dimensions which are an actual reproduction of the scene itself, upon a large screen, and at exactly the same rate of movement as in the scene depicted. Thus, if in a street a man was walking at the rate of three miles an hour, and a horse was trotting at the rate of six, the picture on the scene would be a reproduction of both rates of progress, and the observer would see the horse overtaking the man and passing out of view before the latter had reached the centre of the canvas.  
The pictures shown were remarkable for their fidelity to life. The first, for example, showed a crowd of people rushing down a wide street— not a momentary and fixed impression of such a scene, for similar pictures are shown in almost every photographer's window— but an actual reproduction of continuous movement. Carriages, carts, and other vehicles go by with their wheels revolving. The horses trot, toss their heads, start at a cut from the whip; the people who rushed down the street each move their legs at different paces; the very bicycles jolt their riders over the uneven surface of the road. Every movement of a crowded street scene was depicted in the order and confusion of its occurrence, when and during the time in which the photograph had been taken. Another picture showed a great throng of men and women passing down the gangway of a steamer and making their way from a pier; another, the arrival of a train at a railway station - the people opening the doors as the train drew up, and leaping out on the platform with all the variety of movement and quickness of action that hourly pass unnoticed at every terminus. Another picture showed a blacksmith hammering away at a piece of iron on an anvil - not merely in an attitude of hammering, but raining blow upon blow and twisting the pliers which held the red-hot metal. Then there came the photograph of a card party; and though one could not see all the cards it was quite easy to follow part of the game if only from the changing expression on the faces of the players. Perhaps the most amusing picture was a reproduction of a domestic scene - father, mother, and infant child at breakfast. The father fed the child from a cup and spoon, while the mother poured out the coffee, cut the loaf, and now and again turned and talked to the child. The movements of each of the three, and particularly those of the child as he ate his pap, and showed his impatience in not being fed as fast as he thought he ought to be, naturally created much laughter. The most effective picture, perhaps, was a bathing scene - the waves rolling in in quick succession, and each breaking into surf and foam upon the sand. Over the wave was a long diving board, along which the divers ran, leaped into the water one by one, were washed in by the rollers, re-ascended the plank, and repeated the dive.  
Certainly M.M. Lumiere fully proved that it is now possible to reproduce scenes and events with perfect accuracy of detail, change, and movement. -Home paper.
- Mataura Ensign, 11 June 1896
Post a Comment