Our world is wondrous yet weird, surprising yet monotonous, always ready to amaze. This gallery of photographs reinforces my view that one can never stop being enchanted with the wonders of the world until one’s dying days.
Main picture: A village in Yemen
Oddities prevail everywhere. Whether it is people with too much time on their hands who design the most exquisite but odd creations to an ape grooming a buck as if it were a fellow ape, the world has seen it all. Some are just happenstance – chance in modern parlance – being in the right place at the right time, such as a ship crashing into a pier or due to exquisite timing when a fish eagle catches a fish.
All in their own way are highly unusual. This blog reveals forty such eclectic oddities.
Main picture: Who would want to cycle around on a toilet? Clearly the designer / builder is not out to impress the females but rather his own ego.
This was another first for Port Elizabeth. By all accounts, the first photographic studio in South Africa was established in Port Elizabeth.
The first publicly announced photographic process, was the Daguerreotype process, or daguerreotypy. It was introduced worldwide in 1839. For following nearly twenty years, it was the most commonly used photographic processes internationally.
The first photograph using this process in Port Elizabeth was on the 17th October 1846.
Main picture: The best guess what this photograph represents are the old market sheds below what is now Military Road. One can identify them in the larger panoramic view often taken from the St Mary’s Cemetery across the Baakens River
These 40 photographs span the period from the advent of photography to the 1970s. They provide a glimpse into another world. For me, the most revealing photographs are those of the nineteenth century and the early 1900s. Being almost alien in the 21st century, I find them both enchanting and repulsing in equal measure.
Main picture: a wood-plank prison in Wyoming, 1893
The past always seems so idyllic, so serene, and so sublime. The reality of day to day life is more prosaic, more challenging and far crueller. For instance the use of horse and carriages raises a number of questions. Firstly consider the welfare of the animals. In ancient and not so ancient wars, more bemoans the tragic loss of human life but what about that of the animals especially the horses. The movie The War Horse puts the atrocious treatment of horses during WW1 i.e. only a century ago into perspective. But what about another factor which had to be born with equanimity by the population especially those residing in the cities – the streets caked with horse excrement!
Main picture: A Normandy Beach landing photo they don’t show in textbooks – Brave women of the Red Cross arriving in 1944 to help the injured troops, WWII.
This series of historical photographs is certainly exceptional. From a slave auction place, circa 1870 to a snapshot of New York in 1887 looking more like modern day Mumbai with telephone wires strung from every pole. I am curious about the slave auction place being dated as 1870 because slavery was abolished at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 unless this is a remnant of that event. Another of the insightful pictures of a bygone era, is a photograph of an opium den in America as it is evocative of the opium scourge in China itself during this era.
Main picture: An opium den in San Francisco, 1900
Of these 50 historical photographs, I have personally only seen half a dozen previously. Hopefully you will also find these as interesting as they offer an insight into how our ancestors lived.
Main picture: Locals carrying a Rolls Royce in Nepal in 1950
Some of these photographs are profound but most are mundane. Whatever they are, they afford us an opportunity to take a peek into the past. Each in their own way, offers but the merely glimpse into that past.
Main picture: 1924 – Friends in Ohio enjoy a ride in their new car
So many questions never get answered. Not that one is incurious but life is too short or the answer is not readily available. Whatever the reason, one never finds out. Instead of the usual canon of photographs of stunning sunsets or virgin African bush populated with grazing animals, this is an unusual collection of eclectic photographs. Take time to ponder on each.
For instance I have always been fascinated with Mount Everest. For me it defies belief that people would want to climb it knowing that the risk of dying is 1 in 10 and that the risk of losing a digit or a limb is even higher at between 2 to 3 in 10. Yet, for all that, men in the hundreds will not be dissuaded by the deprivations of freezing cold, oxygen sparse altitude and precipitous climbs in order to satisfy an inner yearning, a life-long desire to conquer their fears and the mountain.
Main picture: Climbers ascending the highest mountain in the world and the greatest challenge in their lives