Sunday, December 15, 2013

Update and Fun With Pictures at the Library of Congress

My goodness, I guess I'm already in  holiday mode.  I forgot my update.

Things have been busy chez Camille this week.  The usual kerfuffle in friends and family and cats and traffic and weather.....  But also I've been busy doing some cover work, in particular subcontracting a back cover and spine.  (I enjoy this very much and it brings in cash!)

Plus a month or so ago I was arguing with people who were wrong on the internet. Someone scoffed at this photo posted by @History_Pics and swore that the picture was too high quality to have been photographed in 1922.  I tried to explain to him that photos back then were MUCH higher rez than now, especially when it's a glass negative.  Film negatives never caught up to that quality and digital has only just barely got to that state. (Astronomers were still using glass plates up until ten years or so ago -- because they needed the high-resolution and sensitivity.)

The fellow who was wrong on the internet, though, declared (and I'm paraphrasing): "That picture was never taken in 1922, and too bad neither of us can prove it!"

So I proved it.

(The picture had a Shorpy water mark, and Shropy always names the source of their images.   Library of Congress.  "Taken between 1921 and 1923.")

It took very little time or effort to find it.  Unfortunately, escaping the LOC collections will take a lifetime.  Oh, I love archives.

That particular picture came from the Harris and Ewing Collection, high end art and photojournalism photographers, and the whole collection is on glass negatives -- basically top of the line stuff.  So all the photos are spiffy, and I've been browsing them for a while now.

However, just this week I found what I consider my pot of gold: the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection.  Yeah, those pictures taken by photographers hired by government agencies to document life in the U.S. in the 1930s and  1940s.  They're mostly on film, not glass,  and in many cases damaged film.  It looks to me like the original editor used a hole punch on a lot of the negative to indicate which ones not to print.  (Sometimes to really funny effect.)

Oy, vey, it's fun to hang out on this site.  Even with the damaged pix, there are lots of great images for reference drawings. 

Also, it's almost all in the public domain (because they are government photographs), however some rights are still in question because if the people depicted are still alive, they have "life rights" to the image.  You can still used people pictures editorially (i.e. as in this blog post about the LOC collection -- news stories) but not commercially, say, for a book cover or t-shirt.

However, if there is no person in it, there are "no known restrictions." (Here is the link to the Rights and Restrictions for the FSA Collection in general - however, you should check the Rights Advisory for each image, in the "about this item" page.)

Also note that the Library of Congress has a lot of material that ISN'T in the public domain. Always check the Rights Advisory.  Always.

And aside from the art factor.... History!  The collection is just so cool to browse through.  There are photos documenting slum conditions, and also places people are relocated to.

And lots of people just doing stuff.  Like this young lady showing us her bloomers?  That's from the 1930s.  She's in costume, and clearly thinks the costume is quaint. I believe these were taken at a fair in Vermont.  There are lots of images of folks in costume, and this girl appears a couple of times... always flashing her pantaloons at us.  (For shame, young hussy!)

So that is just cool.

In the meantime....

Ideas have been flowing like wine at a Bacchanalia (or like whine in a writer's forum.)  Winter is a very productive time for me, if I don't give myself typing injuries or catch cold.

I am pulling together the updated game materials for those who want to test out the story game.  I hope to send them out Monday or Tuesday.  (Anyone who wants to play around with this early version of the game, email my cat at maudecat at with "Game Tester" in the subject line. )

In the meantime, I will post a little holiday fluffery sometime this week, and then not until Jan 3, when we get back to the game and a fuller posting schedule again.

See you in the funny papers.

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