In the Usual Manner

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Making photographs in the field during the Civil War was a complicated and disaster-prone affair. It involved a portable darkroom, bulky cameras, large sheets of glass, volatile chemicals and clean water, not to mention resourcefulness and nerves of steel. A productive day might yield 20 pictures. The demanding nature of the process makes it a captivating one to witness, especially in an era of instantaneous image-making. In the evocative film shown here, Barret Oliver brings his darkroom and gear to the Huntington Library to produce hauntingly beautiful work ‘in the usual manner’ of the 19th-century photographer. "In the Usual Manner" was made in conjunction with The Huntington's Civil War photography exhibition, "A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning, and Memory in the American Civil War," which ran from 13 October 2012 through 14 January 2013.

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