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Archaeology at Home or Jackpot: I found the negatives
Old 10-13-2010   #1
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Archaeology at Home or Jackpot: I found the negatives

[ go here for the next thread in this series: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=96408 ]

Perhaps we need a new forum on the site as there seems to be recent spate of home archaeology projects that are yielding wonderful ancient finds.

Keith for example has been sharing his treasure trove of seventy-five year old rediscovered images shot by a relative who traveled his own backyard in the South Pacific and far and beyond.

Another RFF member (apologies; I can't remember who it was; someone help me out here; this is embarrassing) then found some 75-year old negatives of his own and has also been sharing them with us (sorry; I searched the site using that nifty new Google search another member put up last week; again, I can't remember which of you did that, but thanks; it's great).

A few months ago I came across some 25-year old+ contact sheets of mine. Well, tonight, I hit the jackpot, finally locating the darned negatives from which those contact sheets were made.

They were not, as I feared, damaged in a household flood. They appear to have escaped both high and dry. Mine reflect New York (primarily) in the early 1980's. I was younger and (believe it or not) dumber than I am now. This was before having kids turned me into a snapshot photographer for a decade and a half. Almost everything was shot with my first Leica (an M4), with 35 and 50 DR Summicrons and a 90 Tele-Elmarit bought from Olden's Camera and paid for with the proceeds from a small workmen's compensation claim (the source of my life-long ruined spine).

The images are pretty much as I remember them. I am surprised that, inexperienced as I was in my early 20's with photography, that my eye was better in some ways than it was for the next 20 years or so (that snapshot thing; getting the kids to sit still, etc.). Perhaps it was that I didn't know any better and everything I saw in New York fascinated me (being a native Chicagoan).

One of things that's brought me back to photography with some earnestness in the past two or three years was the remembrance of these negatives and the hope that I'd actually find them someday. When I found the contact sheets, I was delighted and I've actually shared some scans from them here. Obviously the quality was pretty poor given the medium (and some of those sheets were damaged in our basement).

Right now, one of the delights and adrenaline rushes from this discovery earlier this evening is that I can now actually scan and print these pix and remind myself how much I've changed and how much New York has changed since I shot these.

Anyway, perhaps we ought to have a sub-forum on RFF, maybe in the Salon Forum, for archaeologic digs like this. I'll bet that many of you have some wonderful work (and like me, probably some embarrassingly bad work, too) that you'd like to share in this context. I know for example that charjohncarter has put up some great images dating back at least to the 1930's from his dad's stash of pix. I'm itching to ask my own father to give me all of his negatives that he shot in Chicago in the 1950's and 60's (my current avatar is just one of his pix, probably from about 1962).

I've got my first roll from this project on the scanner as I'm typing. I'll post some of the more "interesting" results here.

In 27 or 28 years one thing I can definitely say that I've learned photography-wise is that I now shoot with my right eye. Although my left eye is dominant, when I got an M8 I finally decided it was time to see how the other half lives and I taught myself to switch eyes. I guess this was due to getting tired of squinching up my nose against the camera back and then seeing nose grease on the damned display. Anyway, now I can actually walk with an M at my right eye with my other eye open, thus finally taking advantage of the ability of rangefinders to let you take in more of the scene than an SLR when you're composing.
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Old 10-13-2010   #2
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Looking forward to your finds, Rob.
All of my negatives from the mid-1970s disappeared ...
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Old 10-13-2010   #3
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Tough to admit this, but the box I had looked in six months ago is where the negatives were hiding. It's been at the foot of my desk since then. I simply didn't open some file folders because I wrongly assumed they contained my contact sheets. Keep looking Paul. You never know.
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Old 10-13-2010   #4
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Ninth Avenue, midtown, around 38th or 40th Street, Hell's Kitchen. I'll have to check, put I'm almost certain this butcher shop is long gone. This is around 1983. This was probably the single shot that has driven me most crazy while it was missing. It was not on contact sheet or print for some reason.

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Old 10-13-2010   #5
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That is a good start.
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Old 10-13-2010   #6
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I should never have sold that lens! This was on Pan-X.

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That is a good start.
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Old 10-13-2010   #7
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My wife, Pamela, at the doorway to her father's office at 310 West 10th Street. The office and, regrettably, but inevitably, my father-in-law, are both long gone.
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Old 10-13-2010   #8
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It's amazing to me that as totally shot as my memory is for everyday details in the present, I can tell you with almost absolute certainty that I shot this on Seventh Avenue South in the West Village, NYC on a Saturday afternoon. This was probably quite close to the Village Vanguard, which, thankfully, is still there.

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Old 10-13-2010   #9
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Guessing this one was shot in the Meatpacking district.
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Old 10-13-2010   #10
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Probably on Ninth Avenue again... Hell's Kitchen. This time, probably in the high-30's; maybe 36th or 38th Street.
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Old 10-13-2010   #11
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Ninth Avenue? Or Tenth? Near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. If I'm not mistaken the Diner is currently being turned into a fancy restaurant.

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Old 10-13-2010   #12
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Old 10-13-2010   #13
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Old 10-13-2010   #14
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Old 10-13-2010   #15
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Pam with a Perm. My wife at her job as a film librarian at the legendary Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries, repository of Paramount, Pathe, Movietone News and some other newsreel archives. Tons of ultra-flammable and all-too-prone-to-decay cellulose nitrate-based film in their vaults then. A whole slew of Steenbeck editing tables are visible here. These folks were also at one time the film archive for ABC News.

If you watch many documentaries, you'll quite often see Grinberg in the credits. The nitrate stock would disintegrate so badly that had one person working full time in the vault to literally excise the ruins sections with a knife by cutting into right into the reels without even examining the frames, cutting out the rotten stuff like it was cancer (it sort of was) and discarding it before it turned to dust and started a fire. I have no idea how they ever managed to afford the insurance premiums.

She won't be happy that I'm sharing this hairdo.

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Old 10-13-2010   #16
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Very nice Rob!

It amazes me that you don't have to go too far back in time before things start to look very different in photographs.

I find it quite sad that I only became a photographer a few years ago though I'm fast heading towards sixty. I think that's why I related so strongly to the recent images I've been posting here ... I have no photographic history of my own.

That said ... one day I'll get hold of my mother's vast aray of photographs. She was a very keen photographer and home developer when I was a child ... tha back part of the house where her darkroom was always smelt of chemicals so consequently I find the smell of fixer very nostagic!
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Old 10-13-2010   #17
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Keith, sadly, I skipped a few years, so I know what you mean. I'll bet your mother has some images of you as a boy. This is addictive.
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Old 10-13-2010   #18
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Guessing, though I'm not at all sure, that this was shot in the coffee shop on the ground floor of the Film Center Building on Ninth Avenue at 44th and 45th Streets. Believe it was called the Film Center Cafe, though I might be confusing it with a different dump across the street.

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Old 10-13-2010   #19
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The large building to the left with the columns on its facade is the Stanford White-designed James A. Farley Main NYC Post Office on Eighth Avenue at 33rd Street (though I don't think this is shot from the 8th Avenue side of the building). Across the street from this grand civic edifice once stood White's iconic Penn Station which was wantonly destroyed in a fit of utter stupidity in about 1962 (?) to be replaced by a grotesquely ugly office tower and the current Madison Square Garden.

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Old 10-13-2010   #20
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Keith, from the skill, not to mention the keen aesthetic eye, shown in your work, I'd never have guessed that you had been at this for less than a few decades.
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Old 10-13-2010   #21
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I was a very geeky child Rob so maybe they are best left undiscovered at this stage.

I agree with you about the idea of having a sub forum here for archival images ... there would be a lot of value in it IMO. Part of the reason I have forward and reverse hyperlinks in the threads I've been posting is so that they are easy to browse for anyone interested in future. If ever we have the forum software update I would dread to think of these threads being lost in the transition!
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Old 10-13-2010   #22
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I love it when I find old negatives.

I think this might have been me, but I'm not sure:

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Old 10-13-2010   #23
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John, I knew you'd join us on this thread. That's a great shot, but please watch your hands. Didn't you have some sort of chaperon?
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Old 10-13-2010   #24
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Great thread Rob.
New York looks great .
I have K64 slides going back to `73 but am also fortunate to have my late fathers prints taken in India and Burma in WW2 aswell as some from my grandmother from 1890/ 1900.
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Old 10-13-2010   #25
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Quote:
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Great thread Rob.
New York looks great .
I have K64 slides going back to `73 but am also fortunate to have my late fathers prints taken in India and Burma in WW2 aswell as some from my grandmother from 1890/ 1900.

1890/1900 .. waiting for those..
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Old 10-14-2010   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
Looking forward to your finds, Rob.
All of my negatives from the mid-1970s disappeared ...
I feel for you. I still have most of the photos I took in the 70s and 80s, but they are damaged from a house fire; heat and water. Sad.
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Old 10-14-2010   #27
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Great idea, Rob to have a forum section for 'image archaeology', and my compliments for the highly interesting pictures you're showing in this thread!

The reason why I think a separate forum section makes sense is the fact that many old archives do not come with sufficient contextual information, and could benefit from other viewers' knowledge:

I have discovered a part of my father's film archives. It contains negatives starting from 1930, spanning all through the second world war until about 1948. Unfortunately, my father died in 1963, so I don't have an opportunity to get any background info.

The pictures were taken all over Europe, in pre-war Germany (that's relatively easy), but also in France, Serbia, Finland and Norway during the war. All pictures incidentally were taken with a Leica III that my brother is still using to this day (the history of that camera is a story in itself).

I was lucky enough to have a relatively complete archive of everything I photographed from 1962 till today...
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Old 10-14-2010   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robklurfield View Post
Tough to admit this, but the box I had looked in six months ago is where the negatives were hiding. It's been at the foot of my desk since then. I simply didn't open some file folders because I wrongly assumed they contained my contact sheets. Keep looking Paul. You never know.
Glad you found them. It has been fascinating to view them. Hope to see more.
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Old 10-14-2010   #29
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Great pictures, Rob! I'm glad you found the negatives. I've only been to NYC once in my life, it was three years ago and I stayed at a hotel on 38th street. Your pics are from this very neighbourhood! I understand Hell's Kitchen was a wild place still in the 80's.
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Old 10-14-2010   #30
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1890/1900 .. waiting for those..
Really ,well they have no sense of time or place but this is the earliest.
Annotated by my father it came to me via relations in Mass USA.
I`m thinking late 1890`s `cause the lady on the back far left is my grandmother born 1883 and her small sister below her (Emily) was born 1890 and died 1906.
The father in the picture ,Tom Baker, was born 1846.
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Old 10-14-2010   #31
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Michael, you've got to start scanning those slides AND prints and posting them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
Great thread Rob.
New York looks great .
I have K64 slides going back to `73 but am also fortunate to have my late fathers prints taken in India and Burma in WW2 aswell as some from my grandmother from 1890/ 1900.
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Old 10-14-2010   #32
robklurfield
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Sorry to hear that. This makes me feel lucky to have found my stash.

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Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
I feel for you. I still have most of the photos I took in the 70s and 80s, but they are damaged from a house fire; heat and water. Sad.
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Old 10-14-2010   #33
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Arjay, start posting. Perhaps the mods and the head bartender will open a new sub-forum for this if enough of express interest. I'll gladly moderate it if you, Keith, Michael or some other serious archivist doesn't volunteer.

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Great idea, Rob to have a forum section for 'image archaeology', and my compliments for the highly interesting pictures you're showing in this thread!

The reason why I think a separate forum section makes sense is the fact that many old archives do not come with sufficient contextual information, and could benefit from other viewers' knowledge:

I have discovered a part of my father's film archives. It contains negatives starting from 1930, spanning all through the second world war until about 1948. Unfortunately, my father died in 1963, so I don't have an opportunity to get any background info.

The pictures were taken all over Europe, in pre-war Germany (that's relatively easy), but also in France, Serbia, Finland and Norway during the war. All pictures incidentally were taken with a Leica III that my brother is still using to this day (the history of that camera is a story in itself).

I was lucky enough to have a relatively complete archive of everything I photographed from 1962 till today...
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Old 10-14-2010   #34
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thanks. I appreciate the feedback.

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Glad you found them. It has been fascinating to view them. Hope to see more.
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Old 10-14-2010   #35
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Antti, thanks. Hell's Kitchen has become rather gentrified. I think its heyday as a wild place was probably much earlier than the 80's, though it was certainly raw and tough then. It still has plenty of character, but nothing like it was when I shot these images.

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Great pictures, Rob! I'm glad you found the negatives. I've only been to NYC once in my life, it was three years ago and I stayed at a hotel on 38th street. Your pics are from this very neighbourhood! I understand Hell's Kitchen was a wild place still in the 80's.
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Old 10-14-2010   #36
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Michael, you've got to start scanning those slides AND prints and posting them.
What including the embarrassing hairstyles
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Old 10-14-2010   #37
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Michael, this is great. You should post more. I especially like that someone annotated it. Penmanship is a dying art and who would know who's who in this photo without the notes.

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Really ,well they have no sense of time or place but this is the earliest.
Annotated by my father it came to me via relations in Mass USA.
I`m thinking late 1890`s `cause the lady on the back far left is my grandmother born 1883 and her small sister below her (Emily) was born 1890 and died 1906.
The father in the picture ,Tom Baker, was born 1846.
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Old 10-14-2010   #38
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My wife couldn't sleep last night and she discovered the scan of her with the awful perm at about 2am while visiting my flickr page. She screamed when she saw it. Be careful! Actually, we both had a good laugh.

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What including the embarrassing hairstyles
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Last edited by robklurfield : 10-14-2010 at 05:43.
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Old 10-14-2010   #39
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Well here are some from a Rolling Stones concert in Leeds from the mid to late seventies.
Scanned from the prints...don`t know where the negs are.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg img138.jpg (41.7 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg img140.jpg (22.9 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg img141_edited-3.jpg (90.3 KB, 29 views)
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Old 10-14-2010   #40
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Scanning from prints sure is better than scanning from contact sheets.

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Well here are some from a Rolling Stones concert in Leeds from the mid to late seventies.
Scanned from the prints...don`t know where the negs are.
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