Schrödinger’s Photography

Nikon F100, Fuji Velvia 50

You have heard of his cat.  But have you heard his stance on proper tripod use?

Google is celebrating Erwin Schrödinger's birthday today with their doodle.  Schrödinger's famous cat paradox has been used to illustrate the limitations of practical interpretations of quantum mechanics for almost 80 years.

However, reading up on him just now I was fascinated by the end of his original paradox statement:

"There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks."  —Erwin Schrödinger, Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik

Clearly he was well versed (as you would expect from the 1930's) in the proper use of a tripod to capture long exposures!

The above multi-second, tripod-rooted shot of my own was taken over nine years ago in the mountains just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Erwin would have been proud that the hills in the distance are nice and sharp.

Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

Nikon F100, Nikkor AF 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 D IF, Ilford HP5 Plus

(not a vintage photo, but one of the closest I have taken ;)

Lately I have started following a few vintage photograph blogs.  One of them is the Shorpy Historical Photo Archive which features photos taken in the United States mostly between the 1850’s and 1950’s.

The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner born around the turn of the last century.  It is amazing to think that it was still a few more decades to go before he would have benefited from the first federal laws regulating minimum age of employment.

The Shorpy images are mostly sourced from the Library of Congress archive. Then the blog webmaster takes up to a few hours per image cleaning them up to have good detail, contrast, etc.

Here are a few of my favorites so far.

I love the look of these older photos, mostly taken via wet or dry plate processes on large format cameras.  They have an amazing amount of detail and broad exposure range.