Alan Machin's Blog: December 2008
Looking for "Are We Funding A Brain Drain"? - scroll down. New posting made 30.12.08.
The Adventure Of The Herge Exhibition - 6
I wonder what Herge would have made of his work being exhibited on a large scale at the prestigious Pompidou Centre? His world-spanning adventures are simple stories set out as strip cartoons ... but of course they were not just that. They started in 'Le Petit Vingtieme', a Catholic magazine published in Brussels, in 1929. As such it carried many of the values of that journal. The first story, 'Tintin in the Land of the Soviets', drew heavily on the right-wing, simplistic opinions of 'Moscow Unveiled' by Joseph Douillet, the kind of views that were later to be edited out. Wherever Tintin was to travel, the historical, geographical and social context was either used or discarded according to Herge's decisions. So the particular style of illustration favoured by Georges Remi - simple lines and flat colours - and the nature of the narrative are both open to interpretation by critics. Simple stories these are not - they are documents of their age.
And, of course, they are pathfinders for everyone who can afford to travel and wants the excitement of discovering new lands.
The Adventure Of The Herge Exhibition - 5
Here is Herge with some of his studio team. The joke in the centre picture is also a reminder that the Tintin adventures were set in the years from the 1930s onwards with the cultures they brought to countries around the world. Tintin, the boy reporter (who never seemed to write a story or go near a newspaper office), was effectively reporting on the world for our benefit through the storybooks. Herge's drawings were meticulously based on a stock of photographs culled from all kinds of newspapers, magazines and travellers' collections. He updated his stories two or three times over the decades to show the new fashions, transport innovations and changes in attitudes. One of the books available in the Pompidou Centre shop contained reproductions of three versions of 'The Black Isle', the Tintin adventure set in Britain. This volume keeps the original French dialogue speech balloons. There are numerous translations available of all the books - one way to learn foreign languages.
The Adventure Of The Herge Exhibition - 4
Inside the exhibition. It was largely two-dimensional artwork and printed pages from the journals that carried Herge's stories. He and the supporting artists in his studio turned out thousands of pieces of work. The excellent shop in the Pompidou Centre had a very big range of souvenirs and books about Herge. Between 1929 when Tintin first appeared and 1983 when Herge died in Brussels the 23 Tintin adventures plus those of Jo and Zette, and Quick and Flupke, his other creations, appeared throughout the world. The stories have never been out of print. They first appeared in black and white and later, colour versions. Some of the stories were updated to reflect the sensibilities of different times - to remove some of what we would see as racist and politically unacceptable in a few of the early stories.
The Adventure Of The Herge Exhibition - 3
The Pompidou Centre looks pretty futuristic and suitable for a banner showing Tintin's spaceship that carried him and his fellow adventurers to the moon. The security man started checking my backpack but gave up seeing so many compartments for camera equipment and other things. Then it was time to explore - well, not the moon but the Exhibition.
25.12.08 (Next postings from 28.12.08)
A Happy Christmas, however you spend it, and a best wishes for the New Year, wherever you spend it.
The Adventure Of The Herge Exhibition - 2
24.12.08 (posting early for Christmas)
The Eurostar journey through Kent was in darkness so there wasn't much to see. Actually, there wasn't much for the next half hour either :-) but on emerging from the Channel Tunnel dawn was just breaking. Northern France was flat and not very interesting. Entering the outskirts of Paris it soon became clear how much of a contrast there is between the beautiful core of the city and the high rise apartment blocks close to the railway. From the mid-nineteenth century Gare du Nord I decided to walk to the exhibition at the Pompidou Centre. It weas early and not to far to go and the walk was interesting. I passed Julien, an art nouveau restaurant where we had eaten on a previous trip, and the Porte St-Denis, an imposing archway built in the seventeenth century when it was an entrance to the city. Further on, through busy streets, there was a rather odd feature. Every few metres along one of the streets there were garishly dressed women standing on the pavement. It took a while for the penny to drop - this was a seedier part of Paris.
Along the Boulevard de Strasbourg I saw a plaque high above a door. It had tricoleur ribbons to each side. The plaque commemorated eight men of the French Resistance who were killed by the Germans during the second world war. In every city there are details like this which are not seen from subways or cars but which speak of the detailed story of the people who made the city live - in this case at the cost of their own deaths. And so to the Pompidou Centre and the exhibition.
The Adventure Of The Herge* Exhibition
Almost two years ago I visited the exhibition about the work of Herge (Georges Remi, the Belgian cartoonist, used his initials switched round and pronounced in French as his art signature). It was a celebration of the centenary of his birth in 1906. Adventures are not just of the "I'm-alone-in-the-desert-and-tmorrow-I-could-be-dead" variety used by a certain TV performer who seems to forget his camera crew attendant on his every move. Something unusual, something tried for the first time, is an adventure for us to savour. I tried to make a day trip by train through the Channel Tunnel. From Halifax it wouldn't work. I had to stay in London overnight and catch the Eurostar from Waterloo at 5:30 .....
*There should be an acute accent on the second 'e' but this web service doesn't allow such things in body text. I can add them to graphics like the one above.
Are We Funding A Brain Drain? - Readers' Comments
Comments will be posted anonymously and might be edited
22.12.08 / see 21.12.08 / addition 30.12.08
From the UK: "I have considered and still may move away. The student debt is a factor to consider but I thought you needed to reach retirement age before the debt was wiped clean.
The Student Loans Company set their interest rate according to the Retail Price Iindex every September. So at the moment it is higher than most savings accounts will give. I have decided to make a voluntary payment and pay it off to start 2009 debt free!
Maybe the way the economy is going they wouldn't have been paying me for the privelege this time next year, ha ha!"
From the UK: "I totally agree with your point about people not being valued for their degree here, I have struggled to try and get a job within the Tourism sector, but they are so badly paid and I have so much student debt, that it wasn't really worth it. I am currently working in Social Enterprise which I really enjoy and is basically an offshoot of the voluntary work I did at uni. I, alongside a lot of my friends am very tempted to go overseas to try and pursue a career within Tourism (as I actually enjoy it) and I am actually heading out in June to Oz and various other places not only to travel but to see if the opportunities out there are really worth me moving for , also the added bonus is if I'm out of this country for long enough my 20-grand student debt gets wiped.
I honestly think with the way the UK economy is going that to stay in this country where my skills are not valued as highly or to move overseas to somewhere sunnier and with a better outlook on what I hope to be my chosen career path is a no brainier... I'm definitely off!!!"
From Australia: "Hi Alan, you hit the nail on the head with the debt issue, I believe interest alone is £700 a year alone. Unless you are earning so serious money, I cannot ever see me paying this debt off. I would prefer it like a pension, and I understand there is an unlikeness of that.
Proving to get sponsored is proving a little more difficult, the rules have tightened up in the last few months. I need to gain slightly more experience to get sponsored in the recruitment job I want. Perth itself, is almost considered to be immune to the world recession, due to its mining boom, however, companies are being cautious, and keeping spending and budgets under wraps, and not making any big plans until February, when they will learn a lot more of the fate of the recession.
Another reason for moving away, particularly was the life style, not only blessed with the sunshine every day, helping my seasonal depression, (I dont actually have this, but my mother suffers from it)
For the money I was paying over in England, I found myself continuing to live like a student, i.e. 5/6 people, (converting dollars into pounds). Currently I live with three people, and my neighbourhood looks like Ramsey St.
On an academic level. I was really lucky being given the chance to set up my own hospitality and catering desk recruiting executive positions, working for Mackenzie Stuart in Leeds. One thing I learnt is that the leisure, tourism, hospitality sector is not valued and seen as highly skilled profession unlike other countries, for example America and Australia. Until we have training and schools like Canada, pay will always be low, and skills will not improve. For the likes of you and I, we know this is a highly skilled profession, with the emphasis being on profession. This was reflected in the level of professionalism in which candidates and clients treated the recruitment process. Even at an executive level".
Are We Funding A Brain Drain?
Another chance conversation this week was about the number of our Tourism students who move to live abroad after they complete their course. A check through the list of those we know about - basically those mentioned on the Alumni News page of this web site plus a few others - shows around 45 who quit these shores. A good proportion have gone to Australia - Sydney and Perth especially - or New Zealand - three in Auckland. Others have settled in the United States. A handful are distributed across the rest of the world. This is not counting those native to particular countries who have returned home, which is also a high number.
Now, there are many reasons why they have moved. Some married, or are living with, people they met on placement or other occasion spent overseas. A few have gone to live in a country that they yearned after for many years. There are always tempting job prospects around and to many the grass is greener somewhere else. Some of those people will return to the UK, though I don't know of many so far who have found the dream didn't work out. Time will tell.
It was when I was talking to a colleague who does a great deal of work abroad as a consultant and organiser of voluntary work that another reason came up. Many students who have gone, the colleague said, have done so because they owe £15,000-plus to the government in respect of their student loan. Going abroad permanently is like the Americans who fled their country to escape the draft - military service, often in the Vietnam War of the 1960s. British ex-students take flight to cut themselves free of the need to repay the thousands of pounds owed.
Now, the numbers are not accurate, but we have had around a thousand or more students on the Tourism Management course at Leeds Met. Even that number is difficult to calculate: students drop out - sometimes very quickly - while others drop in and complete the course with us. Those on HND courses often top up to a degree and might get counted twice. Some go on to study for a postgraduate award. We have some part-timers who spread their modules over a number of years. Others join us just for the final, top up year from elsewhere. Since the start of the course in 1992 it looks to me to be at least a thousand.
The knowledge of what our alumni have done is also partial. We have what I suspect is a much higher level of knowledge of alumni than most courses, but it's still incomplete. The records are not easy to keep. Maintaining them takes time and has to be a labour of love, outside the usual office hours. The written record, such as it is, is here on the Alumni News page, with one or two other additions generally too vague to include - a couple of people extra in Auckland, New Zealand, for example, mentioned in passing a while back and their names not written down anywhere. We don't know and could not expect to know exactly how many left mainly because they thought the task of repaying £15,000+ too onerous to contemplate. Leaving home for good, I guess, takes more reasons than one to make it happen. There is also the point that our first students were not on loans, and for a while there was a mix of grant and loan made to students. So its not, if you will pardon the pun, pocket science - the calculation of the money in your pocket. It's a matter of a motivation mix as we academics are likely to say. Or, to put it a different way, its a question of whether the UK system of funding students in higher education is actually helping to drive them away.
What do you think? I would very much like to hear your comments - click here to email me
Where In The UK?
Getting quizzical once again and just the thing for Christmas. Straight forward enough - name the towns shown above. Number one is quite a grey town - the church was bombed as part of heavy World War II raids. Number two has something inspired by a similar thing which itself was built in 1889. Number three reminds that "the sheep hath paid for all": the narrow timber framework is another clue.
Answers at the foot of the Idealog July 2007 page (see list at left).
The University library doesn't stock many tourist guide books - they would probably be taken out all the time by people planning their next holiday rather than researching assignments. Students needing to mug up on different destinations, the range of attractions and services available, the social and cultural background to the place, sometimes nip down to Waterstones or Borders in the city centre and have a scan of the books there. I was asked which ones I would recommend. Depends on what you want out of them, I always say. But here are a selection in the order left to right as shown above:
Eyewitness Guides: probably my favourite for great detail presented with clarity. There is good background material of the history, natural history, climate and events etc for each destination featured and much coverage of attractions with so much information that it might just about justify the publisher's claim that you won't need to buy a guide book for the individual place. That's rather over the top! The publisher is Dorling Kindersley who have a remarkable list of books on many subjects and in many formats. Buy the lot and you would have an encyclopedia. 432pp. Price when new - around £15.00. Second-hand or discounted copies can be found on the web or in secondhand bookshops.
Everyman Guides: published originally by the giant Editions Gallimard of Paris. In many ways these are similar to the Eyewitness series though are stronger on background and not as good on individual attractions. As scene setters for places they are unsurpassed at the tourist-guide level. 556pp. Price when new - around £17.00.
AA Key Guides: these are very new as the series was only introduced in 2004 with 12 guidebooks. They are colourful and strong on maps which suppport different sections separately - attractions, restaurants, hotels etc are located using separate, full size maps. There is more detail given to rather fewer attractions compared with, for example, the Eyewitness guides, and they are split between different sections (eg The Sights, Walks and Tours) so using the index is more important. Snazzy plastic thumb-tabs make accessing the sections easier. Good on hotels, restaurants and shops - plenty of photos of these. 350pp. Price when new around £15.00 but the AA web site discounts them by a few pounds.
Insight Guides: more like a book than a directory with photographs carefully chosen by skilled photographers. The effect is a bit National Geographic - illustrating travel at its glossiest. The effect, however, is also to give attractiove, sympathetic portraits of the chosen locations which should tempt more people to explore them. The text contains references to attractions and locations and there are good maps to accompany it, but the books lack the level of detail found elsewhere. I like them for creating a visual image of the destination, and the introductory sections give solid background to the history and current situations. Some detailed sections on travelling, accommodation, eating out and events. The title font on each cover is the clunkiest of any guide book I know - so is the 'walking-eye' logo. The book illutsraed above has 396pp and was £13.99.
National Geographic Travelers: US spelling, of course. The photos here are more straight-forwardly functional than in the NG Magazine - it was those that led to me comment above. A nice mix of pictures, maps and text, the latter combining background explanation with details of attractions etc. The National Geographic is slowly being aimed more at people who travel than the older generation used to buying subscriptions for their grandchildren. The maps here are also better - the Magazine still seems to think that destinations should be shown only by roads and a few little pictures - very old-fashioned. 272pp. When new this one was £14.99.
Rough Guides: Rightly famous, packed with information and not afraid to be critical of poor service and grotty attractions. The style is more basic - attractive but often two-tone for the text and maps. These books don't give armchair travellers a picture of a place like the other guides, but are intended more for the actual traveller to carry with them for reference. Colour photos are being introduced, usually in a small group of pages of better-surfaced paper. Again, this is a very dated approach and more like something from the nineteen-fifties. As desk references I like them less than the others. The Lonely Planet guides from a different pubisher are aimed similarly. Now that the BBC has taken in controlling interest in those, and is publishing a glossy mag under the same brand name, it will be interesting to see which way Lonely Planet guides will go. This Rough Guide had about 600pp and cost £13.99.
Leeds Met Level 3 Tourism Students Christmas Social
Some forty students met in the University's Metamorph Restaurant for the third level 3 Christmas social yesterday evening. Some students had already left for home, especially overseas students who needed to take advantage of lower fares by going a few days earlier. Others were having to work at their paid employment. There were people from the International Tourism Management course, the Managing International Tourism course, the Accelerated Degree course and the Master's course. Tutor numbers were a bit down due to illness and other commitments, but the event went really well with lots of food and drink, the latter courtesy of the tutors. More photos are being added to the page listed to the left.
Above, an advertisement for the German company AGFA from 1880. Around the time that George Eastman was introducing his simple Kodak camera using roll film, AGFA and others were busy selling glass plates for studio and the view cameras used by photographers for professional outdoor work. A new industry was growing which would become enormously valuable worldwide in both economic and cultural terms. It would branch out into movie filming and, in the last decades of the twentieth century, transfer to video technology and mobile phone cameras.
[Picture source: Wikipedia]
Tourist Photography: Roger Fenton in Balaclava
In yesterday's posting the travelling photographer Roger Fenton was mentioned in connection with his mobile darkroom. Whether or not Fenton should be classed as a tourisy of the mid-nineteenth century is an interesting point. he wasn't travelling primarily for leisure but business - as a photographer earning money from his work, so in modern eyes he could be seen as a business tourist. More important is that he was a pioneer in travel photography who inspired others to take up the craft.
Fenton travelled to the scene of the Crimean War in 1855. With patronage from Queen Victoria and the War Ministry and finance from the publishers Thomas Agnew, he was expected to take photographs showing the troops and scenes of the part of southern Russia where British troops were engaged. His pictures show nothing of the horrors of war as a result - it was what we might term a public relations exercise on behalf of the government. In the next decade Mathew Brady would photograph the dead soldiers of US Civil War battlefields: Roger Fenton showed a cleaner view which would have been used to illustrate where the gallant British soldiers had fought. So he could be reckoned to stand alongside Tennyson, whose poems "The Charge of the Light Brigade" turned an incompetent disaster into a source of patriotic pride.
Fenton used a mobile darkroom that was built on a wagon framework and pulled by horsepower, and a plate camera. His photos could not be reproduced directly in newspapers or magaiznes, but could be used as guides to engravers who made printing blocks for the presses. Photo reproduction was not introduced in news reporting until the end of the nineteenth century.
Tourist Photography: Developing
The previous posting needs a bit of development - literally. How was an image recorded chemically on a glass plate or film turned into a photograph?
The photographer above left is shown using a studio camera. Travelling photographers like the Victorian Roger Fenton would have used a folding wooden tripod but the appearance here was very close. After the photo the early photographers would have done their own developing and printing in a mobile darkroom like that of Fenton, next right above.
Working in the darkroom by the light of a low-power, red 'safelight' the worker first placed the exposed film in a dish containing a chemical developer which turned the invisible latent image into a visible one. It was then rinsed in water, citric acid or acetic acid, then doused in a chemical fixer which made the image permanent. A final rinsing with water removed excess chemicals and the negative was left to dry, perhaps being hung up in a clean atmosphere.
The negative film would then have been sandwiched against light-sensitive printing paper and exposed to a suitable light source - the sun or a powerful indoor light. It was like taking a second photo from the first, and of course having got the original (a negative image as shown above to the left) any number of prints were possible from it. We do need to note that there were other, even earlier processes which produced a single image on metal, glass or paper, in which duplications were not possible. then the paper print was developed, rinsed and fixed, washed again, and left to dry.
In this process the finished picture was the same size as the original negative. Some films and glass plates could be quite large, and glass plates were usually capable of very high quality prints, at least when photo-sensitive coatings were sufficiently well developed. When small format films like 35mm were introduced the result was a comparitively tiny negative. It would be placed into a special projector to direct a focused image down onto a sheet of photographic printing paper in a dark room - white light would be shone through to make an image on the paper ready for development. The Leica camera took a very good negative and this could be enlarged several times.
Tourist Photography: Some Technological History!
The exclamation mark above is because many people will forget that many younger camera users will have little idea of what 'film' meant in relation to still photography. Digital has swept the older technology aside over the last five years. Even innovations like Kodak's Avantix system, which promoted the use of film to provide a set of print format options were soon overtaken despite being the latest fashion in the early 2000s. My own students, when I discussed the creation of destination image via photography, had only vague ideas of what 'film' meant. So here are a few notes.
The early cameras - such as the Cyclo Wizard, above right, used large rectangles of light-sensitive film to record images. A double-sided, wooden, film holder for that camera is shown. Two pieces of film had to be loaded in a darkroom in which subdued red light was the only illumination, as the film was not sensitive to that kind of light. Each film was slipped into slots in the wooden frame, one on each side, and then a thin metal 'dark slide' pushed in to cover up the film when the holder was taken out. The frame was designed to be light-tight at that point, a small brass catch being twisted into a closed position to hold the assembly safely. When the photographer had placed the camera on a tripod and used a ground glass screen to frame and focus the desired picture, the focusing screen was removed and the film holder clipped onto the camera in its place. Then the dark slide on the side facing the lens was pulled clear. The photo could be taken when the shutter was released for a fraction of a second allowing the view through the lens to fall onto the film. The dark slide was replaced to protect the latent image. Later, chemicals would be used to treat the film in order for the light-sensitive coating to reveal its recorded image. Meanwhile, the photographer could remove the film holder, turn it round to present the second film to the lens, and repeat the process. It was a long, slow affair and the darkroom development of the film and subsequent printing of pictures was even longer.
35mm cameras, made popular by the quality and success of the Leice (previous posting), used similar principles but in a much easier and quicker process. Illustrated is a German-made Edixa reflex-B. The film shown is fairly modern but the 1960s camera used very similar rolls of either 24 or 36 frames or photographs. This camera could either use a waist-level viewfinder, as shown, or an eye-level finder based on a prismatic viewer clipped above the waist-level screen. In the diagram the scene viewed has been simulated for clarity. In the middle of the viewfinder is a circle containing two semicircular parts of the overall image. Focusing the lens caused the two semicircular segments to move relative to each other: when they lined up accurately the lens had been focused correctly onto the film. This ran from a feed spool along the inside back of the camera to a takeup spool. Winding-on was by a rapid lever which also cocked the shutter spring. When all the photographs had been taken the film was rewound into its cassette and taken for development and printing.
It all looks very complex and time-consuming compared with digital photography, but it is only quite recently that so-called 'bridge' cameras with high megapixel-counts have been introduced which can match the quality and styles available to the film camera.
The World Through Music
A bit of armchair tourism is just the travel ticket as the northern weather stays darker, damper and cold. Turn to the iTuner, the BBC Radio 3 tuner or the Presto Classical disc finder for some world music.
It doesn't have to be the world music played on the exotic sheng, the kemancheh or the Mongolian horsehead fiddle, although those instruments make good music on Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet. Cellist Yo Yo Ma drives a marvellously attractive cultural music project in the USA. Soloists and ensembles blend western and eastern music that has its origins along the silk road between the Mediterranean and China, the road that carried trade between different worlds for centuries. Music from other countries further afield also finds a place. The Chinese 'Blue Little Flower' and five Finnish folksongs are heard together with traditional Persian music and newly-commissioned string pieces.
Saydisc is a company that has long made available folk music from many lands. The Arab music disc shown above includes typical middle eastern examples of the fast-moving string and drum performances popular in Turkey, North Africa and places stretching across to India. Quite different in tone but also lively are the pieces from Scandinavia played on fiddles, accordians, harmoniums, percussion and horns. Singing in the distinctive way that folk artists do in Samiland (Lapland) or in Denmark is also part of the set.
There are two kinds of world music: that which is performed in the different regions and nations as part of a traditional canon, and those compositions which try to depict landscapes and specific scenes through music. Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture - 'Fingal's Cave' - is a well-known example. Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony conjures up images of the countryside in both sunshine and storm. Smetana's tone poem 'Ma Vlast' ('My Country') was written in praise of his native Bohemia. One of the cycle is 'Vltava', creating the feeling of the great river which flows through the Czech countryside and capital, Prague, and must be the most popular evocation of a river every written.
Ferde Grofe was an American composer who counted river and waterfall music in his compositions. His 'Mississipi Suite' recalls the adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the life of the Creole people and the festival of Mardi Gras. Best known of his work is probably the 'Grand Canyon Suite' with sections labelled Sunrise, the Painted Desert, On The Trail (mule hooves going clip-clop) and Cloudburst. A longer composition is Richard Strauss's 'Alpine Symphony', almost an hour in performance, which takes the listener on a great journey beginning in the night time and going through sunrise to sunset, illustrating in orchestral sound the mists, alpine pastures, streams, flowers, precipices and storms to be found in the Alpine regions.
If you can't see them for yourself, you can still hear how people have pictured distant lands and expressed themselves in regional music.
Tourist Photography - The Leica
In the earliest decades of the twentieth century travellers could take reasonably small camera kits with them but still had to handle some form of wooden box which needed carrying in the hand. Many photographers wanted something smaller. Cinematograph film presented a solution. Movie companies employed it in long lengths and often had offcuts of unexposed film which could be sold to the makers of still cameras.
One invention of 1913 was the Tourist Multiple camera which held 50 feet of 35mm film, allowing 750 exposures. Another, of 1926, was the Ansco Memo loading similar film in small, wooden containers. The most inflential and best quality, however, was the Leica. An engineer named Oskar Barnack worked for the E Leitz Optische Werke. Barnack was a keen mountaineer who took photos but found existing cameras too bulky. He invented one made of metal, turning and shaping the parts himself and adding others made for him. the lens was placed, not at the front of a bellows but of a metal, collapsible tube which could be pulled out of the slim camera body. The shutter was not an iris-type set of interveaving thin plates but a cloth with a slit which moved quickly across the internal frame area. A viewfinder could be attached to a shoe fitting on top of the camera. The picture was orientated along the film length instead of, as in cine cameras, across it, and measured 24x36mm, twice the cine-frame size.
Barnack's camera became known as the 'Ur-Leica' or original Leica. It had caught the eye of Dr Ernst Leica, the owner of the company. He manufactured optical instruments, but was so impressed by Barnack's innovation that in 1923 he had his company make 31 cameras based on the original design. A viewfinder was built in and there were some other changes. The sample batch were praised sufficiently by photographers who used them that Leitz went into production. A thousand were made and introduced at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1926. Other improvements had been adopted. The camera was a success. Its precision design, high quality lens and, as models were improved successively, ever-better features and variations, led it to be an outstanding piece of work which is still considered a by-word for quality today.
The camera shown above is not a Leica but a fake manufactured in Russia. Factories in the Soviet Union copied cameras made in many countries around the world although they also made others to their own designs with, it has to be said, mixed results. Many people who bought them must have found an inexpensive introduction to photography, however, encouraging them to invest in better cameras later on. My first 35mm camera was a Russian Zenith, with many features drawn from the Leica pattern such as film-loading through the base of the camera. This meant that the film had to be threaded through a slot running between the feed and take-up spools. When I was taking photos from an aeroplane of the snow-covered area of Labrador in early 1969 the film jammed and the pictures were lost. A helpful darkroom technician had to rescue the film and re-thread it.
The photos are modern slides rendered in black and white. The old Leica would, of course, have taken negatives for enlargement - up to very large sizes were possible - while later models would have handled colour reversal (slide) film very happily.
That German Market In Leeds - Again
Photos from the German Christkindelmarkt in Leeds currently being held. As well as the beer hall and stalls there is John Crow's traditional Galloper roundabout with its beautifully painted horses, plus a Dodgems ride. With nightfall the bright lights, food and souvenirs attract large audiences - the photos above were taken fairly early in the evening. Wait until the Oompah Band starts around 7:00pm and the atmosphere is very festive. Earlier this week a large lorry arrived from Germany neatly stacked with casks of German beer. Even the unloading by forklift truck drew a small crowd to watch, safety railings and red and white tape stretched around the area made it look like quite an event. I wonder how long that beer would last?
Where In The World? - 5
- the country
- the capital
- the adjacent sea
- the historic coastal city furthest to the south
- the country supplying the largest number of incoming tourists
Answers at the foot of the Idealog - February 2007 page (see list to left)
Where In The World? - 4
- the country
- the capital
- the volcano that erupted in 1991
- the biggest island in the archipelago
- the language that the national language is based on
Answers at the foot of the Monterey Bay Aquarium page (see list at left)
Where In The World? - 3
- the country
- its capital
- the wildlife viewing expeditions popular here
- the lake adjoining the west of the country
- the line of latitude crossing the middle of the country
Answers at foot of the 'No Place Like Rome' page (list on left)
Where In The World? - 2
- The country
- The capital
- The "famous islands"
- The fabled empire of which the country was part until 1533
- The animal shown in the picture
Answers: at the bottom of the November blog page (list on the left)
Where In The World? - 1
- The country
- The country's capital
- It is the world's biggest producer of what commodity?
- Which three countries provide most of its tourists?
- In 1960 the country gained the world's first female ... what? What was her name?
Answers at the bottom of the October blog page (list on the left)
Tourist Photography: Early Bellows Cameras
The simple box cameras introduced under the Kodak name were similar to the very earliest cameras in that they consisted of a rigid box shape with film or plate at the back and a lens at the front, plus simple controls. They were usually fixed focus, often fixed aperture and with a single shutter speed (see 9, 29, 30 November postings)
At around the same time more serious photographers were using more sophisticated cameras. The Sanderson Junior of 1902 - above left - allowed focusing via a bellows arrangement in which the lens-to-photographic plate distance could be adjusted. The lens could also be moved up or down so that buildings and other tall subjects could be photographed without distorting the vertical lines of the subject itself. Before a photographic plate was put into position ready to record the image, a ground glass screen displayed what the lens was viewing, just like the camera obscura had done (see earlier posting). The shutter was more sophisticated, consisting of a roller blind with a narrow slot which moved very fast across the light path behind the lens. However, the camera was quite large and the various brass and wooden fittings all had to be adjusted and screwed tight before work began. This made the camera rather unwieldy compared with the Cycle Wizard camera on the right.
This was also a folding camera with a bellows but smaller and able to be closed up into a small, wooden case. It came with a couple of wooden film holders and a folded cloth in a neat carrying case. In operation the unit would be mounted on a tripod and the back opened to reveal the focussing screen. To help the photographer see the details on the screen the cloth was draped over both the camera and the photographer's head to block all but the light coming through the lens. When the front panel was let down and a clamp released the lens board could be pulled forward, its base sliding in a metal channel. After adjusting the focus the clamp was tightened. This camera was much more compact and easy to use, handy for travelling and operation in distant places. Yet it could not be carried in a pocket and had to be handled in its case like a small piece of luggage. Photographers out walking, climbing or operating in difficult terrain or around buildings were encumbered by this kind of kit. It would be a revolutionary design introduced just after World War I that helped solve the problem.
Old Rice Farm: Red River Furnace
Victoria and Jay Stevens have bought land in Kentucky and plan to develop it as a low-intensity tourist area (see previous postings or click on the link below). It is a side valley to the Red Lick which is a feeder stream of the Red River. Their first cabin has been built by a local man and it is currently being wired and plumbing installed before lining its timber frame out to make it suitable for using as accommodation while they add further cabins for rent or sale.
This area of Kentucky contains a number of relatively small, community-based projects in other words they are being run by people living in, and contributing to, community life rather than by outside companies. Other components of the tourism mix are looked after by public sector organisations Estil County, the State of Kentucky or the US Government. Red River Furnace is an industrial monument cared for by the US Parks Service. It stands close to the river for which it is named (though it might also be found listed as Fitchburg Furnace) and is in a remarkably good state of preservation, though without the buildings which would have served it. It consists actually of two furnaces or stacks, Blackstone on the left and Chandler on the right. The sandstone structure reaches 60 feet high. The raw materials iron ore, limestone, and in this case charcoal, were tipped in from the top. When lit and burning an air blast was applied to raise the temperature to the melting point of iron. The furnaces were constructed in 1869 and were operational only until 1873 when a financial panic caused a recession and they were blown out. As charcoal-fired furnaces they were in fact old technology. At the same time bigger supplies of iron ore in Alabama were reducing the demand for Kentucky iron ore.
The Red River Furnaces now stand a distance away from some local dwellings, but are fairly difficult to find unless you know what youre looking for and are determined to look out carefully for the very few signposts placed at nearby road junctions. While in the USA as in the UK there are many people in to industrial archaeology, it remains true that this particular monument is of specialized interest. There are a few other industrial remains, including furnaces, dotted around Kentucky, but they may not of themselves cause a large influx of tourism. Other historic centres exist which could be linked in to an historic trail however and these could be the basis of a growth in tourism with B&Bs and small hotels supplying accommodation. Grant aid is available from the government anxious to breath new life into the economy of the region. Jay and Victorias Old Rice Farm project could become a useful part of this strategy.
Click here to read the story so far of Old Rice Farm
Fly Away, Ladybird
Douglas Keen, the editorial director of Ladybird Books, died in early November this year. Ladybird has been a publishing brand known around the world for distinctive, popular and high quality educational books. Its famous Key Words Reading Scheme has been based on 36 books and has reached printing figures of over 90 million. A thick catalogue of carefully chosen stories, historical accounts, nature books and books about how the world works was built up over almost a hundred years since the first ones appeared during the mid 1910s.
Keen joined the printing firm of Wills and Hepworth in Loughborough in 1936. They had produced catalogues and advertising work for industries in the Nottingham area. As the second World War reduced commercial work the business turned to producing childrens story books more and more, although it had first entered that market during the first World War. Douglas Keen served in the RAF during the second war and then returned to Wills and Hepworth where the company fortunes needed rebuilding. In 1948 he devised the first factual book for children, a book about British birds. It used a format based on printing in colour on both sides of a single, large sheet of printing paper, then folding and binding it with a long-lasting hard cover. In the first decades there was even a dust-wrapper. The books were rapidly successful and the publishers list grew and grew.
Keen left the company when it was bought out by Pearson Longman. In 1999 it was integrated with Penguin books and the Loughborough printing plant was finally closed. Ladybird has expanded into other formats for children such as bath books and padded books for very young readers.
Without a doubt millions of children around the world practised reading and discovered all kinds of new interests through Ladybird books. The example in the photos above is from Flight Four: India one of a numbered series of travel books which also included Australia, Canada and the USA, noticeably the major UK-related countries. The India book shown is interesting for its style (now very dated) and its historical explanation. India is seen as an advanced, culturally varied and attractive country. Problems of poverty and politics do not appear as they would do in other, more recent books. Instead of Peter and Jane of the Key Word books we have Alison and John, travelling with Daddy (Mummy presumably stayed at home to clean the house and tend the garden) who was a businessman. While he carried on his business in Bombay the children stayed with an Indian family and explored the city. There are plenty of positives about India and its people in the story excitingly different food and plenty of professional Indian people to meet. The story was written by David Scott Daniell who wrote extensively for Childrens Hour on the BBC, and the illustrations were by Jack Mathew. Here was a pocket-sized (and inexpensive at 2/6d 12.5p now) introduction to an exotic part of the globe.
Below is the text from a typical page of the India book, shown above, right hand pages:
Daddys next visit was to the great city of Calcutta. They went by air, and during the flight Alison asked him how it was so many people in India spoke English.
Because for the past two hundred years Britain ruled India" Daddy said. "We can he very proud of that. Under British rule this teeming continent of many different races became one great country. The ports, the great roads and railways. the bridges and tunnels, were all built by British engineers. Our doctors learned how to prevent some of the terrible diseases which killed people in thousands. We founded hospitals, schools, and universities for Indians, And law was established, with the same justice for everyone, rich and poor. Everywhere in India you can see the results of the work of British people who devoted their lives to India."
But why isn't India British now? " asked John.
Because the time came when India wanted to be free to manage her own affairs " Daddy replied. "It was quite natural. Their demand for freedom was led by Mahatma Gandhi, that great man I told you about when we were in Delhi. In 1947 the British rule ended, and India became a self-governing nation.
But Britain and India are still friends, aren't they Alison asked anxiously.
"Of course, very good friends indeed. India is a member of the British Commonwealth," answered Daddy. " But look, theres Calcutta below us. The largest city in India. There is the Hooghly River, and you can see the famous Howrah Bridge!
What an enormous city said John, looking down.
More Theatre In Tourism
Developing yesterday's posting through some examples of the use of acting, character portrayal and drama in tourism ...
Different levels of what might be called theatrical presentation are used in tourism. Some would - perhaps rightly - object to the use of the term 'theatre' when there isn't a theatre. However, the broader term referes to any 'place' and in 'theatre of 'war' it certainly refers to a geographical location which might be hundreds of square miles of the Earth's surface - such as 'the Pacific Theatre of War'. I like the word because it is a broad term. Some actors-in-location events are not very dramatic. 'Acting' might suggest too closely a verbal character performance. 'Theatre' does remind us of the importance of the place, whatever it is. So I'm sticking with it.
At top left, above, is Dickens' World in Chatham, UK, referred to in yesterday's posting. Next comes the firing of the noon gun from the Upper Barraka Battery overlooking Malta's Grand Harbour, seen in late 2007. A squad of well-versed players go through the drill connected with firing the time signal which marked, many years ago, the naval practice of beginning a new day at noon as well as the wider land-based middle of the day. The squad goes on to give a remarkable series of military displays in rifle drill, the firing of artillery and military signalling at Fort Rinaldi on the island. Next, top row to the right, the National Trust Youth theatre enacting with groups of children the events of a celebration for King George V's coronation in 1911 at Erddig near Wrexham (a photo from the 1980s). Top right: a medieval jousting competition at Scarborough Castle for English Heritage in 2006.
Bottom left: a north American native of the Wampanoag people dressed in costume of the seventeenth century at Plimoth Plantation talking to visitors to the open air museum outside Boston, Massachusetts. Her a native village is shown close by a rebuilding of the Pilgrim Fathers' colony some time after 1620. Middle: At Williamsburg, Virginia, a junior military-style band practices in eighteenth century style the marching with music that would have been found in the colony on the eve of the American War of Independence: it's a particularly fine and accurate portrayal in all kinds of ways. Williamsburg is a town containing many restored and sometimes rebuilt buildings from the colony's mid-century capital. The first Virgina settlement is represented at the Jamestown Festival site close to where the original 1607 colony was begun. Here the 'performance' is low key, costumed interpreters working within the houses and gardens of the fortified settlement to show visitors what life then was like.
Black Country Museum Theatre
'Convergence' is one of the buzz words in cultural tourism. Museums are said to look more like shopping centres when they open large book and souvenir stores. The British Museum has two or three selling expensive souvenirs, low-cost souvenirs and, of course, an excellent range of serious books. Chatham has a big new shopping centre in one of the old docks buildings and opposite - with a few more shops attached - is the World of Charles Dickens. It isn't really a museum - with a collection of historic objects - but a piece of indoor theatre where actors show some of the aspects of life in nineteenth century London. Some of them a dressed for the part of youngsters playing with the street toys of the day, letting visiting children have a go with spinning tops and diabolos. Within the centre is an actual theatre. A show using audio-animatronic figures tells of the characters that made Dickens' novel come so vividly to life.
On a bigger scale, the Black Country Museum near Dudley in the West Midlands is one of a number of open air museums which have begun to treat their recreated townscapes like theatre sets on which dramas can take place. The photos above show some scenes. Represented here is a typical industrial-town street scene as it would have been found in the west Midlands in the early twentieth century. there are shops and houses with, further back, the Dudley Canal which served these towns. At its canal basin are workshops for iron making with a huge steam-driven hammer and (right hand picture) a working blacksmith's forge.
There are people in suitable period clothing going about their daily business in the street or else just passing the time of day. Perhaps a boy rides past on a penny-farthing bicycle. A woman leaves a shop carrying the food needed for her family. Museum visitors mingle with them and look in some of the shops, the pub at the end of the road, or the chapel. As they do some of the actors begin their mini-drama. An argument breaks out between a man and a woman. Others are gradually drawn in and a brawl begins. A policeman appears and tries to sort out the problem, behaving more like a local father figure and even school headmaster than a modern bobby would be allowed to do. Returning the street to a peaceful coexistence in those times, before the first World War, was more of a rough and ready, on the spot affair. Misbehaving townsfolk would have been told off on the spot; a problem youngster given a clip around the head and told not to do it again. Maybe someone would have been taken into custody by the constable summoning help with his whistle and other policemen on nearby beats would have arrived to help.
It's theatrical, it might be cleaned up from the real thing, but there is no proscenium arch to separate the stage from the audience. Even theatre in the round is more distant than this: the visiting crowd becomes more like the kind of folk who would have been attracted to any scene such as the one happening here. Sight, sound, touch, smell and even taste come into play. Food and drink can be on sale and eaten in the pub or the street. The smells of a town with horses, industry and shop goods are easily encountered. Novels and films can't do that.