“Plus ça change – plus c’est la même chose”- is the French way of saying, ”The more things change the more they are the same.” And it certainly would appear to apply to photography as the members of Bangor And North Down Camera Club learned on Friday evening.
The Club President Gerrry Coe brought along a fascinating array of memorabilia collected over many years as a professional photographer. Some of the artefacts dated back to the earliest days of cameras and film including a still-functioning plate camera beautifully crafted in mahogany and brass. Among the images he displayed were original Daguerreotypes printed on emulsion coated brass plates and tin-types, cheaper productions mounted on a tin base and usually sold at fairgrounds. Ladies in floral bonnets and military gentlemen, stiff and formal stared fixedly at the lens of a long since gone photographer and bygone family groups posed self-consciously in front of neo-classical backcloths. The sepia tones, Gerry explained were the result of the silver being extracted from the emulsion as this would have caused the image to fade when exposed to light.
The mysteries of Cartes-des-visites were made clear with a display of small portraits, many of them celebrities of their day . These were collected and encased in albums and provide a graphic history of a past age even before newspapers were able to print photographs.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking aspect of the talk was the fact that the grainy, monochrome images of those early days were now very much back in fashion amongst creative photographers only now they employ the very latest digital technology to achieve the effects. “Plus ça change!”
The Club Chairman Harry Watson offered some mental stimulation with a picture quiz featuring cameras and equipment through the ages including a multi-image panorama which John Miskelly described. Panoramas are again much in vogue today but modern photographers have the benefit of digital means rather than the long ,painstaking methods employed by their predecessors.
Jack Thompson then rounded off a very entertaining evening with some audio-visual presentations.