Connecticut’s Modern Women Photographers and Their Fine Art Processes

On March 29, the temporary exhibition Through a Different Lens: Three Connecticut Women Photographers will be wrapping up, which means that the various events and presentations and tours that I’ve been doing are also just about over. Continue reading

No Connection

chs_no-connection.jpgLately when I walk through our current exhibit, Through a Different Lens: Three Connecticut Women Photographers, the smart little iPad mounted on the gallery wall has been staring back at me with three heart-rending words: “No Internet Connection.”

Is that a cry for help?

“I need you!”

Or an accusation?

“I have no connection and it’s all your fault! Museum visitors hate me! I promise them touch-screen interaction and delightful videos, and they feel nothing but annoyance and resentment. Why don’t you love me?”

First, let me explain the purpose of the iPad in the exhibit. Then I’ll get into deflecting the blame for its failure onto someone else. Continue reading

The Value of Gallery Tours

Through a Different Lens CHS01I have had, in the past few weeks, the opportunity to lead gallery tours of our temporary exhibition, Through a Different Lens. I spent so much time with the photographs on display when we were preparing the exhibition and I was writing the publication that I’ve sort of forgotten what it’s like to see them through new eyes. Every tour I lead gives me the chance to see the material afresh. Continue reading

New York City in the 1970s

Richard Welling. Times Square, New York City. 2012.284.694.

Richard Welling. Times Square, New York City. 2012.284.694.

Despite not being alive in the 1970s and having only spent a limited amount of time in New York City, photographs of it in the ‘70s are some of my favorite things on earth. (Actually, really any photos from ‘70s do it for me; the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1972-1978 project, Documerica, is one of the most awesome collection of photographs ever. It was originally conceived as a way of documenting subjects of environmental concern across the United States, and while it does do that, it also seems to capture the spirit of the decade. I think. I wasn’t there.) So, Richard Welling, who I’ve written about before, was into the architecture of New York City and photographed it with his SX-70 Polaroid camera in the 1970s. Continue reading

Richard Welling and the SX-70

The SX-70 was a camera manufactured by Polaroid between 1972 and 1981. The new Polaroid greatly improved on the early models, which required the user to manually pull the photograph out of the camera and peel apart the film pack, as it ejected the film automatically and developed automatically, as well.  Continue reading

Movember 1st at the CHS

Movember begins today. Support your mustachioed buddies as the next 30 days reveal their ability to grow a thick and bushy upper-lip bear rug; a whispery mouth spider web; or something in between. All to promote men’s health and combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. Continue reading

Hiring a professional…

At CHS we frequently exercise our internal photography muscles; however, there are certain items and certain projects that sometimes require a professional photographer.  Yesterday David Stansbury spent the day photographing a variety of our landscapes for the Artist and the Connecticut Landscape project that will result in a number of Connecticut landscapes being added to the Connecticut History Online database.  The landscapes ranged from houses and industrial scenes, to rivers and forests.


Continue reading

“F/8 and Be There!”

History of photography enthusiasts might recognize the quote above, generally attributed to Arthur Fellig, a photojournalist in the 1930s and ‘40s. His advice – half technical, half philosophical – was based on the method he found worked best for him, when all cameras were manually operated. The first half refers to the aperture setting on a camera lens; f/8 is an aperture that typically provides optimum sharpness, plenty of depth of field for quick focus, and flexibility to adjust the shutter speed. Setting his camera lens to (f)8 gave him the ability to capture fleeting moments, without wasting time to make technical adjustments. Perhaps in the second half Mr. Fellig (nicknamed Weegee for his uncanny ability to be first on the scene) was suggesting that while it’s always good to be ready for a moment, it’s better to be there when it happens. Continue reading

Winter’s Comin’

Our newest exhibit, “Through a Different Lens: Three Connecticut Women Photographers”, will be open October 11, 2013 – March 29, 2014. That’s next week! You’ve got 5 months to check it out, but please tell me why you would wait. You might think you have time to roll in some lazy Saturday afternoon in the hazy near-future, but have you already forgotten the snow-mountain blizzard of February 2013? The tree-attack ice storm of October 2011? This is New England, people. It’s October. Get out while you can. (And I don’t mean move to Arizona. Or maybe I do.)

These three Connecticut women knew photography and they knew storms. Marie Kendall and Harriet Thorne hauled heavy tripods and viewfinders before you had a cell phone. Rosalie McKenna developed film before you could annoy your friends with social media. They came from different times and different places, but like all of us hardy (resigned) New England folk, when the snow started flyin’ they strapped on their boots and started snappin’.

Blizzard of February 2013, Bristol, Connecticut. Photograph by a five-year old female photographer from the top of a snow mountain created by an ineffective, rusty old snow blower that almost ran over her dad.

Blizzard of February 2013, Bristol, Connecticut. Photograph by a five-year old female photographer from the top of a snow mountain created by an ineffective, rusty old snow blower that almost ran over her dad.

Ben Gammell is the Coordinator of Interpretive Projects at the Connecticut Historical Society

Luman P. Kelsey: “Professional Hobbiest”

Luman Kelsey was an artist unknown to me until I happened upon his work one day in the photographs section of the Graphics room. The organized box read “Luman Kelsey–Virgin Islands”, and immediately I was intrigued. I wondered what photographs may be in the box, and how CHS came to own them. What I discovered was a small collection of unframed, black and white photographs, all signed “Luman Kelsey”, with titles including “Buy from Me?–Virgin Islands” and “Gloucesterman”. Continue reading