About this website
The photos scanned in this website have an interesting history. They all came from a cardboard box filled with negatives that was unopened and virtually forgotten for over 45 years. When Frank Larson passed away in 1964, his wife Eleanora boxed up all of their possesions and moved out of their retirement home in Lakeville, Connecticut. The box of negatives were one of these items, and it has remained with the family ever since, tucked away in storage.
Last year my mother, Carole Larson (the widow of Frank's youngest son David) was sorting though old boxes and found the box of negatives.
I had seen a few examples of my grandfather's photography over the years and always admired them - our old family photo albums have a few small prints of his work in them. My father also used to speak with admiration about his father's love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square.
But when I opened the box and began to explore what was inside I was truly shocked at the quality and range of the images, as well as the effort, dedication and love he brought to the task. When Frank died in 1964, I was only three years old, and too young to remember this gentle, carefull man.
Inside were over 100 envelopes filled with mostly medium-format, 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" negatives. The packets were marked by date and location, carefully sealed and left exactly as he packed them 50 years ago. As I began unsealing each packet and holding the negatives up to the light, it was like a trip back in time, back to the New York of the early 50's.
So I build him a website, as I did for my father David's artwork, and I present it to whomever is interested - lovers of New York, of the decade of the 1950's, or just those who admire a good photograph.
The majority of the photos in this website were shot with a Rolleiflex Automat Model 4 camera, which uses 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" medium format film. About 10 percent of the images are from 35mm negatives. They were all scanned on an Epson V500 scanner.
I used Adobe Photoshop to adjust all the images. Some of them retain the original framing, while some do not. I know there is purist photographic credo that reserves the most respect for a image and a photographer that is able to present his original image with the original borders, a kind of sanctity for the original framing. I used this approach whenever I could, but only if I thought it worked for the photo. You can usually tell that when a photo is square, it's most likely the original framing.
But I took the liberty to crop some of the images and felt justified in doing so for the following reasons: First, every photo we have that Frank printed was cropped, some quite a bit - none retained the four walls of the original negative. So there was a precedent there and I think Frank took the pictures framed as best he could, but knowing he would alter them in the dark room. Secondly, being a TV news cameraman/producer and the son of an artist, I felt comfortable with my artistic judgment - that I know what a well-framed image is and that my cropping would add to the picture. And thirdly, some of the images were cropped simply to remove a damaged edge, i.e. where there is a light flare on one or more of the edges. So in that case it is simply to remove what would distract from the rest of the picture.
In terms of brightness, contrast and black levels - here again I had to trust my eye and do the best I could.
I also used the Photoshop stamp tool to remove dust specks and hair shadows from the images.
But under no circumstances are any of the images altered in any meaningful way. I never used Photoshop to alter the original image itself. I never removed any object or added any object to the shots.
If you have any questions or comments about the above feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org