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Dodgson

dudler

Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

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Dodgson

26 Mar 2020 10:22AM   Views : 203 Unique : 122

You know those logic problems where you are given a series of factual but not obviously connected statements, like ‘John uses a Sony camera, and mostly photographs people’? You have to use logic to work out that Emma uses a Leica and shoots still life pictures, and drawing a series of grids of (in this case) people, cameras, genres and what-have-you helps you, if you have the right sort of mind.

Very early in life, I learned that the author, Lewis Carroll, had devised a rather complex problem of this sort with thirteen variables: the conclusion was, I understand, that none of the judges take snuff.

How’s this linked to the letter D, you may be wondering – along with that name at the top. The reason is that Lewis Carroll was the pen-name for a logician and mathematician called Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Clearly he was a man of many parts – and the part of him that interests me today is his photography. At one point, apparently, he may have considered becoming a professional photographer: certainly, he was highly competent, and took portraits of a number of well-known contemporaries, including Julia Margaret Cameron.

Much of his surviving work consists of images of young girls, and this has been woven into a tale of paedophilia by the scandal-seeking. However, children, including nude children, are a recurring motif in Victorian photography. We will never know for certain, and it’s a principle of English law that a man is innocent until proven guilty, so let’s be kind. We live in a society that usually thinks the worst of people, which leads us to extraordinarily weird places.

Dodgson suffered from a stammer all his life (leading to speculation that his tendency to introduce himself as ‘Do-Do-Dodgson’ was the origin of the Dodo character in Alice in Wonderland: certainly the characters in the Caucus Race were related to his social group. Alice was Alice Liddell, the Lory her sister Lorina and the Eaglet Edith Liddell, while the Duck was the Reverend Robinson Duckworth). This doesn’t seem to have carried over into his photography with experiments in intentional camera movement or multiple exposures.

If you look Dodgson up on the internet, you’ll find a great deal of information, and many pictures by and of him. His interests were remarkably varied: we have very few public figures these days who excel in more than one field – and view the odd exceptions as quite strange!

Born in 1832 and dying in 1898, Dodgson was thoroughly Victorian in appearance and breadth of interests. I sometimes wonder if it was easier to achieve great things when every discipline was less developed than it is now: I suspect, though, that the Victorians simply possessed more energy and (perhaps) confidence than I have!

Go and look him up: there are an awful lot of different ideas and pictures that may inspire you, both in photography and logic! Just avoid taking snuff, like the judges. And don't write off the Victorians because they didn't have digital cameras and wide-aperture lenses. They made amazing pictures much of the time!

Comments


dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1604 England
26 Mar 2020 11:20AM
It's worth adding a bit I found in Wikipedia's pages about an essay Dodgson published, called Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing:

1st Rule. Write legibly.
2nd Rule. Don't fill more than a page and a half with apologies for not having written sooner! The best subject, to begin with, is your friend's last letter.
3rd Rule. Don’t repeat yourself.
4th Rule. When you have written a letter that you feel may possibly irritate your friend, however necessary you may have felt it to so express yourself, put it aside till the next day. Then read it over again, and fancy it addressed to yourself.
5th Rule. If your friend makes a severe remark, either leave it unnoticed, or make your reply distinctly less severe: and if he makes a friendly remark, tending towards "making up" the little difference that has arisen between you, let your reply be distinctly more friendly.
6th Rule. Don’t try to have the last word!
7th Rule. If it should ever occur to you to write, jestingly, in dispraise of your friend, be sure you exaggerate enough to make the jesting obvious: a word spoken in jest, but taken as earnest, may lead to very serious consequences.
8th Rule. When you say, in your letter, "I enclose cheque for £5," or "I enclose John’s letter for you to see," leave off writing for a moment—go and get the document referred to—and put it into the envelope. Otherwise, you are pretty certain to find it lying about, after the Post has gone!
9th Rule. When you get to the end of a notesheet, and find you have more to say, take another piece of paper—a whole sheet, or a scrap, as the case may demand: but whatever you do, don’t cross! Remember the old proverb Cross-writing makes cross reading.

We live in times that are likely to stress at least a few relationships to the limit, and some of these rules really ought to be engraved on the screen of every device that links to 'social' media...

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mistere Plus
6 6 3 England
26 Mar 2020 5:29PM
The Victorians may well have possessed more energy and confidence than many of us have today.
One thing that probably helped a lot was the lack of television. Having to make your own entertainment
can lead to wondrous creativity. There was a lot of it about then. SmileSmile
dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1604 England
26 Mar 2020 7:10PM
Wise words, Dave!

An absence of screens in general, maybe?

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