Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Working with what's nearby...

When working with boxes number seven and eight today,  I found a major difference from the previous material that I have been sorting. These thirty images were not sleeved like the others. This meant that there was much less debris from the crumbling envelopes, but it also meant that the negatives could have been scratched from being stacked directly on top of each other.

Another draw back to having these negatives not sleeved, was the lack of descriptive metadata. There were no names, dates or locations to record. The only slight bit of data was scribbled on the outside of the box, "Elizabeth and Foster". 

description on box 7 and 8

It took a while to decipher this. After seeing it written on a few boxes in a variety of different ways I was finally able to make it out.  These two boxes contained negatives that were shot of Kinney's daughter and son, Elizabeth and Foster, with a few shots with his wife, Joan. He seemed to have to include at least one animal as well. There was always a dog, cat or sheep nearby to be photographed.

After I dug into the box and past the first three 5"x7" negatives, Kinney started putting in scraps of paper as dividers between the plates. It seems that he wanted to protect the negatives from scratching. What I found most interesting about these two boxes wasn't the negatives themselves, but what Kinney used to separate the plates. 

Kinney interleaves negatives with postcards and advertisements
He used what he had nearby or handy. Most were divided by postcards of his, old prints, advertisements or photography instructions. One set of dividers seemed to be instructions from an early flash unit. I didn't find a date but seemed to be from between 1920's which puts it in line with the time period of the images. 

At first I thought they were just scraps from something that he had handy, but the images that these papers were separating were images of his family sitting near a fireplace and obviously looked lit with artificial light. I might hazard a guess that Kinney was experimenting with some new equipment. What willing subjects did he have nearby? His family was there to patiently sit for a portrait. This is completely speculative, but as a photographer I have tested out many flash set ups, new lenses, and cameras on pictures of my kids before using it in the real world. 

Joan and Foster Kinney

Joan and Foster Kinney

Foster Kinney

Elizabeth Kinney

Elizabeth and Foster Kinney

(Please note, the images in this blog are not the final archival scans from  the negatives. They are quick reference images shot on a light table, and used for organizing the plates.)

Kinney also photographed other nearby subjects. His house, garden, and the Mount Holyoke Campus were scenes that could often be found on his ground glass. The variety of Kinney's images show that it was more than just a scientific tool to document the growth of plants. He used photography to capture group photos, copy works of art, portraits, and landscapes. For example, Kinney would capture the scenes of the Holyoke Range not just in one or two images, but shoot up to six plates with little variation in exposure and subtle changes in composition. Photography seems to be more than a hobby and more than a tool. He didn't just shoot the important and grand subjects he photographed what was around him and nearby with a consistent dedication and passion.

Joan Kinney

Kinney House and Garden

Joan and Foster in the Garden
This last plate has an interesting texture to the emulsion. I believe the temperatures of his processing baths got out of control when developing this plate, resulting in emulsion reticulation. This can happen when the developer is too hot or the stop or fix are too cold. The result is a cracked look to the image.

Here are a few more everyday nearby items that were found separating the negatives.

More to come...

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