I always thought that the reason people look so grim in antique photos is because it would have been exhausting to hold a smile for long exposures that I imagined were required by ye olde cameras. Nope! From the always-informative Smithsonian magazine:
...Exposures from the early days of commercial photography only lasted about 5 to 15 seconds. The real reason is that, in the mid-19th century, photography was so expensive and uncommon that people knew this photograph might be the only one they’d ever have made. Rather than flash a grin, they often opted to look thoughtful and serious, a carry-over from the more formal conventions of painted portraiture, explains Ann Shumard, senior curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.
According to Shumard, it wasn't until Eastman-Kodak founder George Eastman's 1888 invention of the mass market portable camera that informal snapshots of smiling people became common.
"Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs? And More Questions From Our Readers" (Smithsonian)
image: Eugene Pelletan portrait c.1855 by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon
Sweary historian Eleanor Janega writes on her Going Medieval blog (previously) that there was never a time in medieval Europe when bestiality was socially acceptable, and brings the receipts in the form of eyewatering details on the punishments for having sex with animals.
Peruvian police are deporting five tourists from Chile, Brazil, France and Argentina for allegedly sneaking into the Macchu Picchu citadel, defacating among the Incan ruins and breaking the stonework inside the Temple of the Sun.
Smell is perhaps more closely intertwined with memory than sight, sound, or any other of our senses. Indeed, scents are an incredibly important part of history and culture. That’s why Cecilia Bembibre and her colleagues at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are working to preserve certain smells for the ages. After all, smells are […]
We’re all guilty of constantly staring at a variety of screens throughout the day. The only problem is that the blue light that’s emitted by most electronics — and even energy-efficient lightbulbs — is notoriously bad for our eyes and, subsequently, our health. Here are three glasses that offer superior protection for your eyes both […]
From OneDrive to Slack, there are numerous ways to store files online. Because many platforms offer a certain amount of free storage, it makes sense to mix and match. However, spreading your files across multiple apps can make things very confusing. Rethink Files offers a simple solution. By connecting to all your other cloud storage […]
Winter can be a difficult time of year for golfers. Between the freezing temperatures and frequent snow showers, maintaining your handicap can seem almost impossible. When the fairways are frozen solid, the PhiGolf simulator lets you practice at home. This device captures every nuance of your swing to provide virtual coaching. Better still, you can […]