The World’s Oldest Aerial Photographs

A few months ago, I picked up a photograph on eBay showing a view of a town with a body of water in the background, evidently taken from a great height.  The seller described it as an “early aerial photo ca. 1860 from balloon” but wasn’t sure quite when it had been taken or where,…

“Ping Pong” Photos: An Introduction

No, I don’t mean pictures of people playing table tennis.  During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the “ping pong” was one of the cheapest and most popular types of photograph in America.  But chances are you’ve never heard of it.  The very term “ping pong,” in its photographic sense, has now fallen into…

The Rhode Island Window, Forgotten Device of 1860s Photography

Nineteenth-century portrait photography was rich in creative artifices and illusions.  Some of these are familiar to today’s enthusiasts and easy to spot, but others remain obscure and unrecognized.  In this blog post, I’d like to share what I’ve been able to learn about one lesser-known device I call the Rhode Island Window (RIW). Why give…