Monday, March 10, 2008

A couple of updates - Robert Capa and Karl Hoecker

First, the Digital Journalist has a brief update on the work being done on the newly recovered cache of Robert Capa's negatives:

"...Cynthia Young told me the negatives were in remarkably good shape. This was perhaps because of Mexico City's climate. The three suitcases were in a stable environment in an attic where it was dry and the "boxes" were not moved around. This is important because not only was the climate a factor, but the fact that the rolls of film were intact and in good shape will make the job of unraveling each roll that much easier. No chemical work is necessary, remarkable in itself considering the film is 70-year-old nitrate stock. According to conservation experts, the rolls are "like they were made yesterday. They are not brittle at all" – a good sign for the future when the photos will be put on public view. Once there is a digital image of each frame, the work on the roll is complete, and it is placed in cold storage to further protect the discovery. Importantly, because Capa and Taro kept extensive notes about the pictures they took, each suitcase, as we can see from these photos, had extensive notes about each roll of his and her film. Capa and Taro were good record keepers. Contact sheets were important to the way they worked. The extensive notebooks and tear sheets they kept are in the hands of the ICP, and the newly discovered rolls of film correspond to these notes and contact sheets. In some ways, Cynthia Young of ICP says, they do not expect many surprises from the Capa and Taro film. But even at this early date, the curators are able to see how in some cases a negative changed as it passed through the darkroom to become a print. In the future this will provide exciting material for scholars, journalists and the public.

(Robert Capa)

However, there is a strong belief that there will be surprises in the Chim photos because there is no complete record of what he shot. Curators are also making digital copies of each Chim photo. These represent about one-fifth of all the rediscovered negatives, and it is here where they expect to find something new...."
And just as I finished writing this post, I came across another article - The Mexican Suitcase by Trisha Ziff on Zone Zero - the fascinating story, very well done, of tracking Capa's suitcase down in Mexico.

Next, on the album of photographs taken by Karl Hoecker, Adjutant to the Commandant of Auschwitz; Jim Hoerricks of the Forensic Photoshop blog has pointed out that next week's New Yorker has a story on them. My guess is that Jim did some work for the story on showing that Hoecker was indeed on the ramp at the railhead in Auschwitz - based on the evidence of the only other album of photographs from Auschwitz, the "Lili Jacob" album - and contrary to the evidence that was given at his trial, at which he received a lenient sentence as a result.

(Unfortunately, there are only some of the pictures online at the New Yorker - you'll need to by the magazine if you want to read the whole story...).

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