Tag Archives: family

Sharing Pictures

visting relatives

Visiting relatives in 1963

I’ve been scanning and “restoring” quite a few old family pictures recently that were sent by a second cousin of mine in Colorado. Some pictures are of good quality, obviously taken by a professional. But, as is the case with most families, the majority of pictures were taken by family members. These are often of poorer quality with problems including being out of focus, camera movement blur, people too far away from the camera, not enough light, and other problems. It’s a bit disappointing to know that a group shot of relatives I’ve never met could have been better made at the time. However, I’m also very grateful to the photographer for having taken these pictures at all and, sometimes, having made duplicate prints to give to family members. If it weren’t for these, I wouldn’t have known what these relatives looked like. A bad photo from the past is much better than no photo at all.

Which brings us to the present. They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Perhaps an iPhone doesn’t take as high-quality photos as a digital SLR, but if that’s all that you have with you, then it’s the best one for the moment. My daughter-in-law shares many photos of our grandson by email. I’m so thankful for these snapshots sent every few days. They may occasionally be dark, blurry, or funny-colored, but I still get to see what our grandson is doing. I’d much rather receive iPhone pictures often than professional or studio pictures rarely! Besides, even if the quality isn’t equal to a professionally made photograph, she’ll often catch a special smile or expression that is priceless! I’ll take that any day.

The picture at the top of this post was in this collection of photographs from my second cousin in Colorado. It shows my mother with her aunt and uncle plus two cousins and the wife of one of the cousins. All these relatives were visiting from out of state and are posing on our driveway. My dad not only took the picture but also printed it at home. He and my mom used the kitchen as a darkroom occasionally. The print is a bit grainy – probably the cheaper paper my dad would have used – and the back is labeled in my mother’s distinctive handwriting and turquoise-colored ink. Although I’ve long known that the quality of the prints my dad made could have been better, at least he made them. They often printed multiple copies for other family members, too. I’m sure this print was sent to Colorado relatives in the 60’s and it has now made it back to California for me to scan. I love that!

I’ve been thinking how some families were into snapping pictures and sharing and others weren’t. In a collection of miscellaneous photographs from this branch, there are one or two families that seems to pop up in the pictures more than others. Some years they used a family group shot to create their Christmas greeting. They obviously took pictures of their kids regularly, but not only that, they shared prints with more distant family members. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have seen these pictures and would have hardly known these people existed. I’ve never met most of them, but would like to do so someday.

The moral of all this? Take pictures of your family, your kids, your experiences, everything that interests you. Then share them with others, whether online, in emails, Facebook, whatever. Don’t forget to make prints of some of the most important pictures, too. Who knows what will happen to online content 30, 50, or 100 years from now. A photographic print may have a better chance of surviving than your pictures stored on someone else’s server.

Snap and share!


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Filed under Family History, Photo Restoration, Photography

Life Goes On


White lily from Bessie's garden

Yesterday morning my mother-in-law passed away at the age of 86. This woman was a hard worker, stubborn, could be very generous, loved her garden, and loved her children and grandchildren more than anything. Her passing wasn’t unexpected and she was ready to go. We’re thankful that it was peaceful in the end and we had just enough time to say goodbye and prepare.


Her hand a few hours before she left us

We shared stories of her and my father-in-law who had passed about 12 years ago. There were certainly some doozies! The grandkids often spent weeks at a time at their ranch and also crossed the country with them in their motorhome. Our lives were enriched by her and I hope that wherever she is now, she’s happy and peaceful. She deserves it.

This feels a bit like the changing of the guard. The baton is passed on to the next generation, those who have so much to look forward to.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” –Robert Frost

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Ancient and Modern Typecasting

Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible at the Huntington Library, Pasadena, California.

The Sunday after Christmas we were in Pasadena visiting our son and his fiance. They took us to the Huntington Library and Gardens, a place that requires multiple visits to enjoy it all. One of the buildings held a vellum Gutenberg Bible, among other ancient texts. Being in the printing business for many years, seeing this was especially interesting to me. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, of course, and although the Bible wasn’t his first project, it was his most important. You can read more about it here.

Typecasting Woodcut

Woodcut from "Panopleia" depicting typecasting, 1568

In the same room were some reproductions of woodcuts depicting the craftsmanship of book and manuscript production in the 1500s, a century after printing with movable type was invented. These images first appeared in Panopleia, by Hartmann Schopper in 1568, Germany. I was drawn to these for one in particular seemed familiar. It’s the one reproduced here. (Sorry it’s not very sharp. The room was very dim and I had to shoot this handheld.)

Within minutes of returning home from the 6-1/2 hour drive, I took a closer look at a drawing made by my great-grandfather in 1879, which hangs in our living room. He was a typecaster in the Boston Type Foundry and an artist. My dad had this hanging on the wall in his den for as long as I could remember and my brother owns a painting of just the bottom image. It depicts typecasting in ancient and “modern” times, the modern being 1879. He obviously copied the image for 1564 from this same woodcut. You can play a game of “what’s different in these two pictures?” They’re very close, but not exactly the same.


Ancient & Modern Typecasting by William A. Robinson, Sr., Boston, 1879

This drawing is also a self-portrait. My great-grandfather, William A. Robinson, Sr., is depicted as the man on the right of the large image. Notice the city of Boston outside the windows. Although he never had formal artistic training, he left behind a few paintings and drawings that demonstrate his talent and understanding of techniques. This drawing is one of my treasures and it was exciting to me to discover this little connection.


Filed under Family History, Miscellany, Trip

Window Silhouette

Closing blinds

Rob closing the blinds

I was going through my pictures from this year and found several that I like but haven’t processed or uploaded anywhere. I am soooo far behind in doing that and since I keep taking more photos I keep getting more behind.

This is a random shot that I came across. I caught my son closing the window blinds one afternoon and liked the silhouette.

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Filed under Miscellany, Photography