mad in pursuit notebook


Ambrotype: What the Eyes See

old man's eyes

old man ambrotypeYou really have to wonder what he’s thinking, eyes afire like that, brow knitted.

From the original photo (right), it’s likely he’s a well-to-do man, middle-aged, sitting for his big 1/2-plate ambrotype photo in the 1850s, with his velvet collar and ivory-handle cane. But what stands out are his eyes.

I decided to zoom in on them for today’s photo experiment. Finding the detail in his eyes (with Photoshop tweaks) also reveals his weathered skin.

A farmer turned prosperous? A laborer turned shopkeeper in a boomtown? The undertaker? The mayor-elect? Or a gentleman who has simple seen too much sorrow and death in his struggling new country?

His name and place are lost.

June 21, 2011