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Wilhelm Hester
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm    Post subject: Wilhelm Hester Reply with quote

I'm about half way through Tall ships on Puget Sound : the marine photographs of Wilhelm Hester - a seredipitous buy from goodwill.

This book is pretty amazing, though (at least as yet) there isn't much technical info on the photographs. Apparently Hester annotated his negatives with exposure, development instructions etc. The author mentions the 8x10 view camera with glass negatives, and Hester's collection of wide angle lenses... though nothing specific yet on that matter either.

Hester was a frontier photographer, active in the late 1800's to 1906. His speciality was sailing ships and their crews, in the wet Northwest Puget sound. There's a description of a usual working day: he traipses around the harbors, selling his services & his prints. Sailors were very proud of their ships.

He'd get on board, take the captain, his officers, sometimes his wife and kids, in their parlor... and the crew, and the rigging, and the loading, and the women in port... Then, the classic ship photos - side view, 3/4 view, or in port view... Captains often had paintings of their ship in a place of honor in the parlor. Hester made photographs of these, with several copies, which sold well to the crew - who often sent these photos home.

He charged $1 per print. His exhausting day left him no time to photofinish - so he'd send the glass negatives with development instructions to Seattle or Tacoma to a lab for overnight development. Next day on the return steamer he'd get his proofs, and send them back with # of prints to make of each + any further printing, dodging etc instructions. The prints then were exchanged for money or goods with the crews...

It seems Hester did more ordinary professional photography as well - buildings, teams, events, etc. But these marine photographs seem to have been the ones he held onto.

http://128.95.104.14/hesterweb/index.html

If I find more technical info I'll post it - I find this stuff fascinating.


PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a hard slogging way to earn a living, especially in the winter months. Hardly surprising he packed it in eventually, once he got a few bucks in the bank.
Some of these pics are tremendous, at the very least for historical content. I do wish they'd spell 'barque' correctly. Smile


PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Superb photos. Thanks for the link.