Monday, February 24, 2014

Little Bee Keepers

I couldn't pass these images up, and had to do a quick post.

Being a botanist, Kinney would have had an interest in pollination and bees. It would not surprise me to learn that Kinney kept bees. It was a surprised to see his children, Foster and Elizabeth, with their small bee keeping suits, tending to the hives. These images feel honest and show the connection that Kinney had with his children. They demonstrate how Kinney taught his children, hands on, real life skills, and then documented the work that they did. The images remind me of Lewis Hines' child labor images from the same time period.

Foster bee keeping






Lewis W. Hine , Cotton-Mill Worker 


For more information on Lewis Hine follow this link.


The large format camera with it's shallow depth of field and brutal honesty in the details, seems to dive deep into the subject's emotions. We are faced with the reality of children doing work that we would expect adults would do today. While viewing Hines' images, I find myself conflicted by the look of romantic era of photography, mixed with the subjects of the child labor movement. I wonder if Kinney was aware of Hine's work. Hine was photographing in Massachusetts during the same time-period as Kinney. I would like to know more about Kinney's relationship with photography. Was it just a hobby? Did he consider himself a photographer or was photography a tool to capture and preserve what was important to him. Did he consider the impact that his images would have on future generations as historical documents?










Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reading Books

Asa Kinney photographed his children often with books or while they were reading. There are pictures of his daughter, Elizabeth, reading to his son, Foster. Classic images of the big sister reading to the younger brother. There are shots of Elizabeth reading a book from when she was a toddler to a teenager. Some shots are of Kinney and his wife, Jean, reading to the children. Here are a few of my favorites:









 I am not sure, but it seems that Kinney was documenting his children's love of reading. Historically, was this a popular photographic motif in the early 1900's? Both Asa and Jean were college professors, so reading may have been an important part of the their lives and he was capturing the recreated scenes of their daily lives.  Whatever his motivation may have been, it makes for an interesting topic to explore. This project has allowed me to take a close look at one photographers complete work and see what interested him and what patterns repeated over the decades of photographing. This is something that I have explored in my own work. Some subjects or themes seem to repeat over a large body of work.

As Kinney's personal collection of family images comes to a close the next subjects seem to be more specific to Mount Holyoke College and his professional botany images. More to come...


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Elizabeth Intensified

As I am wrapping up the largest box, number 15, and approaching 300 5x7 glass plate negatives, I ran across an enveloped labeled "Elizabeth Standing on Couch Intensified". I knew what Kinney was referring to. He didn't mean that his 3(?) month old daughter was doing back flips or other intense stunts off of the living room couch. Kinney was rescuing an under exposed negative.

Left: intensified negative - Right: Positive
You can see that the color of the silver collodion emulsion is a bright yellow-orange. The negative was probably grossly underexposed or underdeveloped. I am guessing operator error. We have all been there as photographers. The lens may have been stopped down an extra stop, the shutter speed set too fast, the timer when developing was set wrong or the developer was too diluted. There are many possibilities for errors. When the negative came out of the fixing bath it was very thin, washed out with little tonal separation, especially in the shadows. Kinney liked the image enough to go through the trouble of chemically intensifying the negative. This was possibly done by flowing a solution of iodine over the plate. The contact printing papers that Kinney used, had a very long tonal range. In other words, the negative needed to be fairly contrasty to print well. The original negative would have printed incredibly flat and very dark. The shadows were very thin and would have blocked up quickly. The intensifying solution would darken the silver and allow for a more normal contrast when printed.

About 90% of box 15 has been made up of Kinney's personal images. They consist of family group shots, his children near the Christmas Tree, or enjoying the family pets. I personally like Kinney's American Pit Bull with a cool spike collar.

The images feel almost randomly put into the box. Elizabeth and foster jump from being babies to teenagers,  toddlers to college graduates. At times when sorting the plates I feel like I am in a time machine that is out of control.  As the work progresses, I can start to see some reoccurring  patterns to Kinney's photography.  Here are a few samples:


Kinney with the air release.
























I'll will post part two with more interesting images from this batch soon. All for now...








Monday, February 3, 2014

A Few New Images

This last batch was primarily family pictures. There were a few images of his cat, Tad, watching a gold fish. Many images of Foster and Elizabeth, that jump all over the place in time. Everything from toddlers to college portraits. Kinney also had numerous copy images of his family's photographs.  Here is a selection of some that caught my eye...

Christmas 1922.
Okay now everyone look in a different spot.

No date or description

Foster and Elizabeth

The Sun Bonnet Girls 1911

Tad watching goldfish

"... his active camera..."

I loved that line from Asa Kinney's biographical file. Here is a transcribed version of his biographical file from the MHC Archive.

Mount Holyoke Press Bureau
November 1942

Associate Professor Emeritus Asa Kinney
Mount Holyoke College

Associate Professor Emeritus Asa Kinney, who for forty-one years was a member of the Botany and Plant Science department of Mount Holyoke College, was responsible for much of the beauty of Mount Holyoke's campus and surrounding grounds. A tall quiet spoken man, with twinkling eyes that missed little that went on round him, Asa Kinney was equally at home with flowers and trees and people. He took and active part in community life, acting at chairman of the local school board in South Hadley for eight years, and serving as president of the Holyoke Garden Club. For many years the chrysanthemums he raised in the college greenhouse carried off the honors in Connecticut Valley flower shows.

Asa Kinney was born in Worcester in 1873. He attended Rhode Island State College and Massachusetts State College, receiving the degree of B.S. From the latter college. He also received the same degree from Boston University. He also held the Master of Arts degree from Massachusetts State College and was instructor of Botany in that College.

He came to Mount Holyoke in 1898 and when faculty ranks were defined he was named assistant professor of Botany, and Associate professor in 1938. He retired in June 1939 with the rank of associate professor emeritus, and he and Mrs., Kinney continued to make their home in South Hadley.

The year he retired the senior class dedicated their yearbook to him, expressing in their dedication the appreciation and affection which the whole campus felt for him - "Work is love made visible" - to him whose appreciation of beautiful and growing things, whose years of vision and care he gave cultivated a campus of beauty, we dedicate the 1939 Alamarada."

Mr. Kinney joined the Mount Holyoke Faculty when the present campus was just beginning to take form. In 1896 the main building had been burned, and the new buildings were in the process of going up.  A firm of landscape architects laid out the basic plans, and after a consultation with them, Mr. Kinney took entire charge of the work.  The planting of trees and shrubs and the laying out of gardens increased in scope as the campus grew, and Mr. Kinney's genius at harmonizing landscaping with natural contours of the land and the feeling of New England scene is richly evident on the campus today.

The "treeing" of the campus was Mr. Kinney's work. In the 1880's Prospect Hill had been planted with thousands of seedlings. When they grew to young trees Mr. Kinney transplanted them to the campus. The whole south campus received its trees from the surplus on Prospect. Shrubbery was also laid out under his supervision. At first the shrubs were purchased, but as they rose in price, Mr. Kinney made his own cuttings and established a nursery, which for many years provided shrubs and trees for the campus and other grounds. In writing of Mr. Kinney’s work, Professor Emeritus Alma Stokey said, " The campus has attained its present beauty not by the expenditure of large sums of money but by the generous giving of such thought, foresight, and devotion as we can hardly hope to see again."

After his years of work, it was sad and ironical that his last year of work in 1938 -39 should have been spent largely in clearing up the damage which the 1938 hurricane wrought on the campus, uprooting and tumbling some of the most beautiful and oldest trees.

Mr. Kinney's first classes began in the spring of 1899 with a course in Floriculture, to which was added an optional hour of landscape Gardening. Later this was changed to a course in Landscape Architecture in the first semester and plant culture in the second semester. The college greenhouse and its planting laboratory, and the whole outdoors of the campus was his classroom, and generation of college students have had a training which has given them an appreciation of the variety of beauty of plant materials and the possibilities of home planting.

Mr. Kinney's activities took in the whole community. As well as being chairman of the school board and president of the Holyoke Garden Club, he was tree warden of the South Hadley for two years. He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

As Mr. Kinney's love of flowers and shrubs and plants was expressed in this work, his interest in people was reflected in his hobby of photography. Over the years his active camera recorded a pageant of college history that traced fashions and enthusiasms and activities of the college campus.

In an article written for the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly when Mr. Kinney retired, Professor Emeritus Stokey included many glimpses of Mr. Kinney as a part of the campus life.

She wrote:

"There are many pictures of Mr. Kinney which come to mind as one thinks of his forty-one years of service which began in the administration of Mrs. Mead, continued through that of Miss Woolley, and on into the administration of Mr. Ham: the young Mr. Kinney as a member of the walking parties enjoyed by the vigorous students of the '90;s and early 1900'swho walked the Holyoke range before their nine o'clock classes (no cars to and from the range), and to whom a 20-mile walk was nothing and only 30-40 miles a real achievement; Mr. Kinney with a wife, home and two children when faculty homes and children were rare; an energetic guide and companion on Mountain Day trips (he missed only one and that was when he was planting the 1904 garden); the hard-working and cheerful manager of the college farm and student famers during the war; the vigorous manipulator of an inadequate machine for capping can of corn , beans, and tomatoes grown on the war farm (Can some of the farmers sing 'Cap, cap O kinney'?); and actor in many faculty plays doubling and tripling in parts when men on the faculty were scarce, or even quadrupling or quintupling as a prom man in the famous "Jennie Junior" of 1909; a distinguished reincarnation of the Reverend John Woodbridge in the bicentenary pageant of the college church in 1933' an active and understanding member of the school board of South Hadley; a visitor at auctions picking up bits of cloisonné or a bargain in black walnut; an adviser to collectors on how to repair a clock or polish old furniture; an unofficial advisor to students in multifarious problems such as how to cure the skin of a black cat before making it into a cap; an advisor to all amateur gardeners of the community telling them when and how to transplant seedlings, what kind of spray to use, what kind of Phlox to order, or how to plant an asparagus bed; an unofficial college photographer preserving records of all aspects of college life and in recent years taking the individual pictures of all freshmen; a repository of tales and traditions gleaned from John Dwight, Lucius Hyde, Bryon Smith, Dr. Clapp and Dr. Hooker; A mine of wisdom and good counsel (like other mines sometimes requiring a little digging) and at all time a faithful and helpful friend."