Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Chiaroscuro: Landscapes in Light and Shade

Chiaroscuro is defined as the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting. It also applies to the early days of photography.

Did you know that some of the earliest photos ever taken in America were of the White Mountains in New Hampshire? The photo above was done around 1840 by Samuel A. Bemis of the Notch House, just north of the gate or opening of Crawford Notch. 

In 1987 the month of May was officially recognized by Congress as National Photography Month and this blog explores some of the many ways photography is used to explore the local history we preserve and share here at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

You can search just over two thousand photos by keyword on our website at this link.  We are currently processing hundreds more which will be posted online soon. In addition we can link you to thousands more photos in other collections such as the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the Boston Public Library that tie to our local history.

For decades our Henney History Room curators and other local historians have used our photo collection for a number of books on the Conways, North Conway, and the White Mountains. Items from our photo collection regularly are used in the Conway Daily Sun.

In addition to photographic prints, negatives, slides and post cards, the history room has some interesting photographs that can be found in our rare book collection. One set of photographs are particularly unique and can be found in a nineteenth century geology book.

The author experimented with different visual formats for seeing the unseen.  In this case he use a transparent overlays of color to show the underlying type of bedrock.

Here is the best match of the view I could capture today with a digital camera from the parking lot of the Red Jacket Resort.

Earlier today, Michael Callis gave a program on the photograph below, which was a copy of either a painting or a lithograph of a painting of Mount Washington at/from Frankenstein Cliff in Crawford Notch.

We invite you to visit our collection either online or in person and we can help guide you in using photographs in researching local history. We also would welcome any volunteer help you might be willing to provide to continue posting our photos online.

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