Posts from the ‘Public Domain’ Category

Old Gold Filtered

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A couple months ago I realized that Instagram has become a heavily-used venue for many types of visual communication.  People are taking photos with their phones of anything and everything. They filter them to look cool. Others are uploading photos to their phones from their DSLRs and film cameras to share, because IG can only be posted from a mobile device.  Instagram has even added video options now. I the 15 months I’ve had an account there, more people have responded to my posts than most other places. As human beings we are suckers for the Likes, Loves, or Faves we get online from sites like Facebook, Eyeem, Streamzoo, Trover, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Twitter, or IG. It’s nice to know that people are looking at, and enjoying, the things we offer up to The Intertubes.

In all of this, I realized that a medium like Instagram could also be a venue for sharing older extra-awesome film photos.

Lone Australian Soldier on Watch, El Alamein Egypt [1914]

Let’s face it: The world around us was captured long before the iPhone existed.  The evidence is there, sometimes buried in the back of a drawer or languishing in a box on a garage shelf.  There may not have been as many pictures of cats or food back then, but life was captured nonetheless.  There are billions of photos, negatives, plates and slides out there, waiting to be discovered and shared with the world.  Some people thrive on finding old prints in thrift stores or antique malls. One man is setting out to retrieve and save millions of film photos and negatives from illegal dumps in China. For me it as easy as grabbing pictures from the family archives, or visiting The Commons at Flickr.

And from this treasure trove I created Old Gold Filtered using Instragram.

General Rodriguez

My goal was simple: Highlight cool shots from 30 years ago and back that are okay for me to use – Public Domain, Creative Commons, or my own stash.  The subject matter can capture the rich and the varied; some days I will post a portrait while others will be a structure or an airplane.  Occasionally there’s a cute kid or critter. Anything that catches my eye might end up with an #oldgoldfiltered tag.

The other day I posted a picture I took of Downtown Seattle from a helicopter in 1975:

The Kingdome and Downtown Seattle [1975]

No long after it was picked up by someone and posted to Reddit. Within 24 hours it had over 10,000 views on Flickr. Why on earth would like little 600-pixel square photo have such an impact? I think it’s because many people love looking into the past, to appreciate the comparison/constrast with today’s world. There is also the notion that good style and composition are timeless accessories to any subject. The fact that a simple image can evoke and extract emotion is a beautiful thing. No words, just the visual to give a message of hope, love, laughter, sadness, humor, or community. And putting that kind of yesterday on IG just seems natural to me now.

Currently the newest picture is a personal photo from 1981, showing friend Jeff and I standing in front of his 1972 Chevy Nova:

Super Sport

And the oldest? A very spooky one from 1865 by noted 19th Century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron:

Sad Flowers

Check out the entire Old Gold Filtered collection on Flickr!

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When I Grow Up, I’m Gonna Be On Youtube [1973]

YOU will grown up someday
YOU will get a job
YOU will be working

This educational film tells kids, in kind words, that the time will come when they stop goofing around the yard and start taking their goofing off to the streets. It talks about how grown-ups want to do things that contribute to families and the community. It does this through the display of wicked 70s fashion and an upbeat “I’m Okay You’re Okay” soundtrack.

Who would have imagined – in 1973 – that the film would be taken off the reels and digitized for all to see on Youtube?

So embrace the course knits, the groovy plaids, and shiny free-hanging hair with your whole 70s heart and enjoy the trip!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians [1964]

It has been called “one of the worst films ever.”

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians tells the story of Martian children who have been watching “Earth TV” and are now pining for Santa Claus to visit their planet with toys and happiness.  The tale is told through the magic of hardware-store sets and Halloween-quality makeup.  I first saw this film on a cold December Saturday in 197, when I was a mere ten years old – in glorious black and white.  Even as a kid I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell am I watching?” It insulted my senses, and just seemed to be a horrible spectacle done in cardboard.

In the 1990s it was given the MST Treatment on Mystery Science Theater 3000, with the program’s signature humor commentary added to the movie.

Of course Santa wins out with his kindness and the bad Martians are defeated for the betterment of the entire Red Planet.  Goofy Dropo (Bill McCutcheon), the Jar Jar Binks character in the movie, becomes the new Martian Santa Claus after he takes a somewhat-awkward liking to the Big Man’s red suit, trying it on in secret.  Then all the kids sing “Hooray for Santee Claus” and the world spins normally once more.

Now thanks to a recent rights release into the Public Domain, you can watch the movie in its entirety above for free, courtesy of Hulu!  The film’s makers did not renew the rights (wonder why), so it is ready for us all to…umm…enjoy.

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What Martian would be legit without tubes coming out of their helmets?

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Voldar (Vincent Beck, on left), has the best mustache in the movie.  As one of the Martian children, the film also stars a very young Pia Zadora, who now entertains audiences from the stages of Las Vegas.

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Hoo-Ray for Santee Claus!

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Beret in The Barrio [1967]

From the camera lens of James Jowers, this photo captures a very urban neighborhood scene in New York City.  The man in the beret is sitting on a `57 Chevrolet, while there is a `59 Chevy across the street.  Jowers shot a series of NYC photos at an important time in US history – the 1960s.  Check out a collection of his work here on Flickr.

Jowers’ pictures and copyrights from this period were donated to The Eastman House in 2007.

The Golden Nugget [1972]

Vegas 1972 [public domain]

Came across this awesome picture taken in Downtown Las Vegas in the early 1970s, as part of the Documerica Project.  Charles O’Rear – retired longtime National Geographic photographer – took it during his travels around the American Southwest.  In 1972, the Vegas Strip was new and the downtown core of original casinos still ruled the roost.  After a long decline, the older part of Vegas began seeing a resurgence in activity that now gives visitors a taste of what the town was like in the days of the Rat Pack.

Below is a picture of the same corner – courtesy Google camera car – circa 2009.  The 4 Queens Casino is still across the street.  The overhead covering in the picture is part of Vegas’ famous Fremont Street Light Show.

The Golden Nugget Casino – On Wiki

Charles O’Rear’s view of The American Southwest – On Flickr

Bio for Charles O’Rear – On Wine Views

OCD Picnic Kit [1967]

“So perfect, in muted tones that won’t excite.  Each utensil lined up in predictable neutral-colored routine.  Perfect. Smooth. Unblemished.  The matching beverage containers bring me comfort in their balance, placed identically on each side of the spotless case. Routine. Linear.

Wait…that one spoon is a half-inch off balance from the rest, and the handle is crossing over another.  Breath deep…focus, focus.  Feng Shui, Feng Shui, Feng Shui…tell yourself that all is well.  Balance still exists, and the case is still clean. Clean…clean…You can uncross the spoon and the world won’t end.  Just one little move and all will be right.

Oh no…the handles on the cups aren’t lined up.

I’m starting to itch. Clean…clean…”

Big Fifties Bomber and The Cold War Cowboy

“Well it was about that time when ole Clem mosied on down to the air strip to take a gander at one of them New-Q-Ler Bommers…”

One of the cutest Fifties pictures I’ve ever seen.  The little man has the stance, the hat and the weapons to remain part of popular culture well into the 21st Century.  I wonder if – as an adult – he realizes that his picture is all over the InterTubes these days.  And the object of his determined look?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the YB60 strategic bomber.

The YB60 was a jet-powered prototype version of the Convair B-36 Peacemaker.  Both planes – being integral to the defense of America during The Cold War – were designed to carry nuclear weapons.  While the B-36 enjoyed a fairly long career (1946 to 1959), the YB60 never got past experimental stage.

The official statement that went with this picture says,

A young “cowboy”, the son of a member of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, looks over the Convair built YB-60 during its visit at Edwards from the Fort Worth, Texas, plant.  1953

Ride `em Clem!!

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US Air Force Photo, 1953 (Public Domain)
Original Image URL: www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040315-F-9999G-008…

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