Sunday, 9 January 2011

A man I met the other day....

Continuing her series on people who cross her path, Danielle Lancaster introduces us to another side of down town Honolulu.

‘If you’re interested in photography you may like this,’ he said handing me a plastic sleeve his veins bulging blue down his muscled arms. I removed the contents and a family, appearing rather solemn, stared back at me from the surface of a shiny tin photograph.
‘Is it for sale?’ I enquired holding it up to the light and inspecting its surface.

Image by Danielle Lancaster

Just give me one piece of paper, that will do’, he replied before ducking out the back and returning with an old video camera. One piece of paper I clarified meant a ten dollar bill and for that I also got the video camera (it accidently got left somewhere between there and my return home).

It was an unusual little shop, down a back lane, complete with resident cat. The counter was littered with tobacco from countless rollies being prepared, cans of glue and paint, a skull and all sorts of bits and pieces. Around every wall, on every surface the shop was jammed with weird, wonderful and bizarre paraphernalia.

Image by Danielle Lancaster 

He was just one of the characters I met this night. There was Darlene and her friends. Darlene lives on the street. I offered her some bandaids for her swollen and blistered feet – a new pair of 3” heels had not been kind to her on the street tonight. We chatted under the amber street lights till a drizzle of rain had us all scurrying for cover.

The tin type did make it home along with plenty of other images from a fantastic part of the world. All images taken on Nikon D3, 24-70mm 2.8 lens, ISO 10,000

A little about Tin type photographs
Also called ferrotypes and sometimes referred to as Melainotype, they were popular from the 1850s to the 1930s. They were generally thin and a silver-based positive image affixed to a painted metal plate (not tin). Popular name is tintype because the thin metal sheets were cut to shape with tin shears. Easy to make, and cheaper than glass they greatly reduced the cost of photography compared to using glass negatives.

The Tintype process was invented in 1852 by a Frenchman Adolphe Alexander Martin. The Melainotype process was developed in America in 1854 by Hamilton Smith, a chemistry professor at Kenyon college in Ohio and then sold the patent rights to Peter Neff Jr., one of Smith's students. They are monochrome, black and white or dark brown and white, though there may not be many true white areas left due to aging. 

Did you know
In the Hawaiian language, Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter". Honolulu has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor near the city on December 7, 1941. It is also the birthplace of Barack Obama, the forty-fourth President of the United States.

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