Thursday, October 3, 2013

Photographs -- Powerful or Not

Above is a 1947 postcard advertising Filmet photo processing of Pittsburgh. A photograph of power lines is pictured on the postcard  and the message proclaims "There's POWER in Photographs!" Filmet was founded in 1910, and according to their website "Filmet remains committed to providing its customers with the quality they have come to expect."

Even with a powerful or spectacular subject, some photographs turn out poorly. I think the next image is one of my uncle's visit to of the Grand Canyon circa 1950-51. The same album of prints from Foto Finishers, Inc. of Chicago has a better image of him standing on a rock at the edge.

The envelopes used to return processed prints often contained tips about the source of photo problems and how to correct them in the future. This example is from Lane Photo Service, also in Chicago, and is dated 1949.

Fast forward to today when we don't have to worry so much about lousy photos. With digital cameras, we can take large numbers of photos at little or no cost. We can inspect them right away, keep the best, and make them better with photo editing software. Here is a digital photo of the power lines on my street that I took this week. It is a view looking toward downtown Minneapolis, with some of the tall downtown buildings barely visible between the poles on the left.



For More Vintage Images


  1. It's so amazing to think that all those terms in the guide to taking better pictures are probably meaningless to the younger generation who didn't have to worry about shutter speed, distance settings etc and letting light into the many reels of film did I accidentally expose to light thinking I had rewound them properly but not quite enough......

  2. I tried to use my Dad's accordion camera one summer & every time I pulled that accordion part out, I somehow advanced the time of exposure until more than half the pictures I took that year were totally ruined so that Christmas Santa gave me a neat little Brownie camera. Oh yea!!! Now, of course, digital cameras are the answer!

  3. You conveyed the history of home photography so succinctly in your images. I was late coming to a digital camera, but I would not be without it now in this instant age. .

  4. Indeed - there IS power in photographs! I like your recreation of Filmet's postcard.

  5. A super set of ephemera to illustrate the theme this weekend!
    And I learned that Pgh. is short for Pittsburgh!

  6. Loved the list of problems and how to correct them. How considerate. :)

  7. I remember those little yellow book-thingies they put your developed photos in! They were wonderful...

  8. Now, I will think twice before I delete a less than perfect picture....

  9. My comment is not about your photographs (though I love the last one, taken of the power lines on your street) but on the little booklet and the photographs with deckle edges. We still have a few deckle-edged photos around here but none of the booklets with clasps. I did pull out a little blue photo folder with a pocket the other evening. I had forgotten how charming they are. These days, if one has photos printed at a photo shop, it seems they shove them into an envelope and hand them to you. I love the old style!

  10. Black and White photos just don't do justice the the Grand Canyoun, although I still got the vertigo feeling looking at your Uncle standing so close to the edge.

  11. I was wondering how you'd work around this week's theme...
    Well, not a bad idea at all!!!
    Loved those tips for better photographs.

    1. I originally was going to use some black and white scenic photos, but I decided they were more boring and mediocre than really bad.


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