Salt Spring Island Archives

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Bullock Photographs

Betty Peters

Betty Peters describing the work with the Harry Bullock glass plate photograph collection.

Accession Number Interviewer SSI Historical Society Address
Date January 9, 1996 Location Central Hall
Media cassette tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 128 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:03
You're asking me you can see most of my background in essences has been in physical education, and sports and things like that. But my father's camera caught my fancy when I was just a youngster. And somehow photography, the pictures of the family. Particularly when I look back at those pictures, it's my grandmother has passed away and looking to my mother, and my grade and arguing over the Uncle Joe or his best friend, Elaine going back to pictures. And all of a sudden the generation that we sort of took for granted. And my generation, I guess, growing up, were all with us, forever. Sad to say the house. And all of a sudden we have records and pictures and some of the most disasters, I guess, things that I saw my camera drop back in the pathetic images that came in, that had been thrown in the garbage can and have gone through the water that that had already burned Dustin and using them on us and somebody coming in and do kind of photos and saying, because the only picture I have is my grandmother, the only picture I have of my great grandparents. And I spent literally hundreds of almost 1000s of hours over a period of 12 years. There storing, photographing and doing all kinds of things. And so in some of the courses and programs that I probably learned more about photography, because I have the option of going back to a secondary school and spending three or four years after spending seven years in the university, getting a different kind of degree. I decided I would do it on the fly and I would take a week off. And as a result, I think I got the best because I got seminars and sessions from some of the best in the world including in there in the restoration and working with old archives material. Sad to say that the two years ago, so when Mary sort of broach the subject with me in regards to Bullock collection, it was like first thing I got to do is around for enough. But my fascination for this item goes back a little further. My great grandmother, due to the death of my great grandfather's great stock for me one of with twin daughters and about the exception or at some probably about and headed to Vegas to California. And as a result, two girls got married and one married to German and one were in English Englishman came up into this area mostly ended up in the Victorian area. And then the other family came up and they all came on. And so I can say in in essence, my historical roots are open Vancouver Island area is sort of joke in the family the thing the Irishman didn't get along to the burden, Alberta and my offspring. But this area has fascinated me and the history of a whole pack in Alberta. You know, Mikey 100 is sort of Oh, come on into battling the 1700s. It's just like, whoa, you know, no part of my background being a teacher. I taught social studies in history and geography. And I have a chunk. I got a letter from her here. I have talked with her a number of years. Because we've been friends over 50 years. And once a yes, we've been friends I guess since we were two years old. And her father and my father went to school together. And this young lady also happened to have a fascination for history. And due to a few problems with university graduate courses, she turned around and said the equity University and started their own publishing company, which started off as Canadian social sciences and it's now our publishing company. And in this Phyllis has set up multimedia kits and projects that could go into the schools in an inquiry approach into history, rather than just taking the books and memorizing the facts. So Phyllis, drew me into this and I do we did. I did love photography for her. So with all this kind of background and a minefield are five stuck within the central Alberta area in the Philippines publishing. I turned around and got a very novel job for me. And asked if I would do some pictures of the Stark family home here is the topic. So this was sort of within the realm of the type of stuff. And so this was the sort of rather interesting and I got curious You're interested in what was going on or particularly in the States. And from there, the next thing I have GVM, asking you by the turn around and talking a bunch of photographs for the, for the pictures that they put on. And this in turn, I was married with a GVM, consultant and a hole into that project. And in trying to dig for information, I was very, very fortunate to spend an afternoon trimming back sheets to die, but we managed to saccharine copied the number of photos from the family album, and also went digital Kathleen rock wall here, halfway, she got back encouragement, I got a number of those pictures. And so in getting into this, it's all of a sudden this island in this history, it is opening up and the fascination of my own family from from being out here. It's just I find it hard to express. There's a fascination I guess about the background. When I heard a soccer, ball and those kind of things. It's like, why, why? What's wrong? Why are these things being destroyed? Why are things being tore down? Why do all pictures get thrown in the garbage can. And to me, it's somehow I think the who is in the certifiers really need a lot of credit and pulling together, the opening of the archives and the museum here because the articles are getting the pictures are getting lost again. And so I hope that you continue to put the effort in younger people sitting in here. Somehow we have to get them to the assets about saving the statues. And talking to families in the island hear that you have negatives or slides or pictures that if they don't want to give them to the archives, well, then at least we're ready for an afternoon with their camera and I will copy it and get you guys records for your archives. Lastly, to get acquired, may have been a fascination. We're heading to anybody who get ulcers, I could have got ulcers over this this little episode. But the fascination of the stark projects that I did in the GBM started to realize just how precious this type of stuff was. And I happen to make a comment to one of the archives ladies that I said to you I wish somebody had spent this kind of money if you guys do it on this on my personal family history. I'm afraid I insulted somebody which wasn't intended. But when I first looked through all of these Intel the material look oh the first image that I had off with this the next thing is I went through these was the fascination of these boxes. This is one of five the shape that these are designed for do I've been doing a lot of stuff. But this is the final set that I know not an archivist is watching of stuff out there. But to have these in these boxes, these false negatives are absolutely fantastic. rather strangely enough Mary brought the one box

Unknown Speaker 8:41
there's one other piece of crap but most of the damage actually if you could say returns this is not really with that actually had to do with the parser all of these there are cracking pulled out people's favorite because they like that. But in essence the the only real damage other than that one crack corner in other words is that I know how much do people know about photography but we have an emotion. We just see the glass mixed up a little dab this little dab of dots to paint brush and floss off blocks off and put a motion on the backside. So on one side of this great ordinary glass of scotch and all I want you to do on this side I will start by testing putting a drop of water on the floor of this I can tell what kind of emotion and this is a water soluble motion. I mentioned to Marian and people the archives that I personally I mean I still very knowledgeable work What I have I have a funny feeling that these may have been purchased they may have been handmade but they were handmade the man was doing a fantastic job because the emotional means including many of the ones I've done in the past you can see the brush marks where someone has taken an emotional emotional stroke on and there's different one corner and sending another these are totally safe they were hands on beautifully. And technically when you have the size of a picture in terms of what you do and the way people may initially was that will turn around, okay, I've got this emotion and I laid it on a piece of photographic paper and it may have been in a wooden frame or a holder for flour or something like that. So the old papers were very very slow some very sensitive slides. So I might switch the lights on 45 light bulbs for maybe 30 seconds depending on the paper that was used to turn the lights on and then I turn around I put this little piece of paper in the developer and it's exactly the same size as the block and I put in sort of a call stop accent and I like to get out and put it in effects now the most damage that is done through any of these old pictures and your old photographs that you have whether they be the negatives or will they be the prints

Unknown Speaker 12:05
if you have some old pictures in the yellow the reason that they have yellow image is that last month and also into these last negatives the same thing if any of these are pretty yellow say see well it has to do with that last process of the fixing process to stabilize meaning out of all these 223 or negative I think basically there may be four or five that have y'all with us which is tremendous again to the people and the knowledge that I've also mentioned to the archives people I think whoever gives you the fodder for the European training because I will point out this person was very very aware of like the shots and many of us we just are hazy that looks like a knife to the corner camera that shoots and we just look at it but we don't see the light in the shots we don't see what's dark

Unknown Speaker 13:17
the other damage in the end one of the most interesting things about the pictures offices particularly their head size and market size is that several of these young ladies very very quick inflection stores to three of these families particularly and when you have a negative of this size and proportion compared to those 35 millimeters it probably is Can you can you see that there's two swirl marks. Okay, those swirl marks were naturally chemical I've listened since I have no idea what they use that at the time because most of this stuff is dates on it

Unknown Speaker 14:17
read somewhere in there. Were done. And so I don't know what they use for for retouching, but you can't find it now. But back 20 years ago when I started the the Bible remodels and it was called a retractable roof. And what you did is you swapped it on because the emotion side negative is probably toxic now so so that was probably but anyway what it did is it didn't have to because this emotion is very not as shiny as waffle. But it's it's very true. So what this recap solution did swirling around. Well then you could take an ordinary black carbon pencil and scissors but dot dot dot dot for an EPI.

Unknown Speaker 15:18
And it doesn't take more than a line here a line here you've taken 510 15 years. My fellow friend, Senator Carper, many of you probably would have to work for you can get some anyone yardwork. I found over the years that I used to do a lot of it now, I mean, because it turned around and I get one or two one of two ways. Either don't look like grandma anymore. Or it don't look like me. Or you didn't do enough. Maybe look younger. And as I was younger and taking pictures, there was nothing that fascinated me more than taking a picture with people with results. I called it character. I love now that I'm getting up there myself, no. Not at all. Strangely enough, some of you will like this. But as a photographer I have certain people come in, and their standard probably. Absolutely. It's 67 days. And then I'll have to make 35 and 40 always know the differences. The differences, when you talk to people that basically have put themselves in. This is clearly improved efforts. Not documented. But it's very, very funny. All your people who have never spoken six years old and who doesn't have. Anyway, this retouching, many of these, like this one are not damaged at all. But there are about five or six in the collection, that something has oxidized that. And so it's just when you look at him, it's even read on the emulsion on the fly. And the result is that most of the image of those faces is no longer. So basically out of the 225, I don't think so basically, you can say there's only maybe three or four that are the rest of them with sad, they're not yellow, they're so cute and yellow, that they there really is nothing or very little, or whatever needs to be done to this election. To turn around, somebody went a step further, and actually wants to restore is about it. Unfortunately, I've come into a little disagreement with your archives people, but it's just a personal opinion of mine. And to follow it up my action fully archives of Canada, in Ottawa, the storage of this kind of material, they recommend that you put into acid free boxes that you put into the phones and the protections. But I've advised your archives to take as soon as they so desire somebody to probably tell them different disbelieve the negative in the box. I actually think that I could take this box here and put the lid on top of this and drop it on the floor. And I wouldn't do it to the point. I'm not kidding, the little slits in the way these are in here. But into cardboard boxes. And in fact, the archivist told me when I was asking about storage of this stuff. And I was telling me we're putting these other things that nobody uses. We have a number of broken ones around here. So it was like I was trying to put a point across that basically everything that's in photography has to do with all of these emotions. They're all assets. And so then the archival I think and into materials and storage stuff is that acid free, well, archival photographic material is not acid free because mostly acid. And these boxes, they've been around for over 100 years. And I don't think that there's any dyes or oils or greases or anything else and if these have not been damaged beyond what the chemical damage on these things is at this point, I was just I suggested that people leave them leave them in. This project took me a little longer than I thought partly unlocked as fast as it used to be. I also happen to have chronic fatigue syndrome. And I have to do a lot thinking when Mary first asked me to get on this project and I did on it to microbiology with I can do this in so many hours. Okay, here's your

Unknown Speaker 20:03
book. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. That's another story of my life. The first thing is I'm just gonna go in and start

Unknown Speaker 20:20
Okay, started thinking of, I guess, the teacher or bookkeeper, or, or an archivist. All right, so now this gentleman comes into the archives, and he sees this picture

Unknown Speaker 20:40
what's your? What's your gang gonna have to do? They're gonna have to go through all of these, what are the times you have to find out what? There's absolutely nothing on these two ID. So I took a time to try to figure out how I could do it. And basically, I did something that probably a lot of archivists would say they shouldn't do. But anyways, I remember on a blog site that could be based off bit of alcohol. But I did every one of these. And in the process of doing this, I thought they look pretty clean. But when I got looking at them a little more carefully, I realized there were a lot of them. A lot of dirt. We needed storage stored in here, and the point dirty. So the first thing that I did was actually, basically both sides of this emotion ended last night, we're cleaning, it was basically 100%, nice, clean. So right now, there's no fingerprint thumbprint on me, unless somebody very, was accurate in our system and somebody. Basically, most of the European guys, this took quite a few hours to do this, to clean them. And to identify them with some kind of a number on it. And I sort of felt this being put on the side would then when I printed this, I figured this number would show through. But the density of these pictures and printing them from being light to dark, some of it shows some of that. So basically, once I've come around bodily queen, I sent her around and I thought, Oh, this is going to be fun. So then I just stick them in here. Well, then what what are you going to do when you get into this box. So the next thing that I did was I turned around and Id them along the edge of the box. So basically is a picture is pulled out with my continuing ID. So that basically they can travel back and forth. That number ID, here's a picture in the book. And here's E 5199. Okay, if for some reason, which Peggy's hoping we will never have to do, but you don't know what's going to happen down the road, or quad, or whatever. These are the archival, not the stuff I made for you, these last negative sets your archives, and some people are going to want it directly. These are what you call your first generation. This is your second generation. So between here and here, there can be you can lose sharpness, you can lose quality, if it's something that you're loving on that particular one. And for some reason, somebody may want to pull something out that the smaller negatives that I've made for you, or reproducing an awful disease isn't going to do is they make it unique for that disease. So this way, and putting an identification number on 20 Black negatives and then I didn't want the boxes is really quite easy for the galleries that you're looking at, oh gee whiz, for some reason or something that just if this year, so why aren't you going to guarantee a safe and effective if you've got a photo, you got some photos that go back and some of them is yellow. Some of them have. By the way, some of those yellow old faded photographs can be reprocessed in chemicals and treated and actually images brought back just for information, Les Brown. The Brown was basically the paper. In fact, the only old paper had a brown face to it, which basically gave the papers they make today are black and white. And in fact, I've got some people on the island who are wind pictures in the grass competition. They want that brown paper and it's very fun hard to get your hands on, I got some very old stuff still. And I can still print some for some people. But all of this stuff today is basically it's just color red, classic. The Kodak like they will say on the colored stuff. Well, this might last for five years. For my last for 10 years, if you keep it in a shaded place and you don't have sunlight shining on your car, other color pictures will will eventually fade. Strangely enough, over the years of being in the photographic business of dealing with an awful lot of laughs, I have found out that one lab I used here in Vancouver a number of years ago way back in 77. I still have colored pictures that are way more brilliant than I have that I had produced here three years ago from another lab, the color has faded way out for the stuff I had done. And it has to be to do with the chemical process that they do. So much of this instruments that stuff are going to find the space. And so many photographers in their studios, some of the most elite ones in the space here, they don't think they really do black and white because they know the color of the rock. What we say it's the process, that when I asked Kodak, what they would guarantee when he read images that I did, they all they all turn out that maybe the last five years that it will be the last one. They don't. Because they're worried that if we turn around, they say this was last four years, four years down the road, even if they just faded away. And this is not because I didn't process this right, these things were processed to the nth degree correctly, which is why it took me way longer to do much of this than I really wanted to be as creative as possible. But as they say in do, they will say strangely enough, plus negative. fantastic thing about it. So in all my little progress of going from thinking of how it has to idealities and playing these, my next process, of course was to go ahead and make the contact prints. And so I went ahead and started printing. And as I started to do this, as you will probably see if you get into the archives, you'll see that there is one set that I printed the way I thought they should be. And there are some that are copies of a bit of one a little lighter, a little darker, they were sort of trial for it, but I found them all over the archives. So there actually are two of everything, but there is one. And some people may say that their face is very dark, and some people seem to fit in lighter. But in essence, basically, to look at a photograph to find out if it has been printed correctly. When you have light shining on you, I don't know whether if I stand like this, whether I can do it, whether this side is brighter on my face and the size of the shadow or not, it should be and this side that is in light should have detail. Beside here the star because in order to create as a par fours mark in shape, and the shadow that we use it as a pen or pencil sketching, we can round moments. But as a photographer, you have to look at the light where the light is shining, to see a description in your photography, this is a pretext for the turnaround, highlight shadow. So any of the stuff printed should be printed in this highlight sock and that's what I tried to do with all of these, if so many things, they've been printed very dark, dark. So what I was doing today, as a photographer, I'm sure what the gentleman here did and I spent four years of my life trying to develop. So once I got these done for you, basically that was for the job within the thing is is that he doesn't want to be hurt. So I figured So how then again, if this gentleman comes in and says this is my great grandmother was her dog, and I would like to copy this, then the next process is to take these and copy all the negative. Now it was possible and some photographers would have done it to turn around taken me and made actually negative but I the quality and the filament stock that Kodak uses for it was actually quite coarse grain and I sort of felt that with the camera equipment that I have and film that I have that we would go the other route. So basically then what we came up with is a set of negatives

Unknown Speaker 29:56
and then when I started getting negatives and realizing again Okay, fine. So we've got this one ID by a number off of it, and we've got it sitting in here. And this particular kitchen, well, we want e 5199. And all it means is that each one of these boxes, I didn't know whether these were in any particular order historically or not. So I took the premise that they were left them exactly, I did not move them around the blocks in exact, each box has a number of segments. So basically, my be I just started my block one afternoon a. So basically, it was a one, and I started at 401. That's the way the numbers are. And box two is in the box. And I just put enough coding letters in there that if the archives ever wanted to play around with these like they could do so that gave them a variety of COVID that they could do. So after sticking these, then copy board, and going through the whole collection, for for the camera I produce, these are from a Hasselblad camera 32nd lens, the lens is old long to copy. A lot of this code number here, though, it it would show basically negative. And these pictures could have been larger on here, but I wanted to retain that code. So that basically, that would be the same thing for the contact friend. And so there's a contact for the wall, the negative, the negative all the glass. And you can look to these. So that, for example, if this picture was this gentleman, great grandmother. All right. II 519. All the archives people have to do is go through and basically look through and find E Fi, or that that was certainly good. I can do it. Or you can turn it off for black and white lives. These negatives that I've made for you could produce pictures and hold the quality quite well probably up to like 30 they're excellent quality. And I mean, they just come off that there is no great. This is just absolutely fascinating. No brainer brain. What's the weather, you know, what is it about rain, you got to film and you got 100 As a film, you got a 200 day film and a 400 and an 800 you get the pictures back and look like he got the measles, particularly little discounts that had 200 Yes, a film that's tiny, tiny negative, then you get those was probably the worst. Well, this, there's just no brainer. And that's one of the things that the commercial photographers that you hate by saying negative contact, for instance. And that's that beautiful quality that you see if you don't read that example chalkboard by now, but some electronic technology is allowing now. So immersed now, when I was doing all of this, going through this thinking process actually thinking probably took me more hours practicing than the actual but probably altogether in the actual practical part of this, I spent hours.

Unknown Speaker 33:24
Working on this, it took way longer than I thought it was. And because all of a sudden I just didn't want to rush it.

Unknown Speaker 33:33
A good prayer for enlargements in the darkroom can print around five enlargements in our hands. And that's if you're exceptionally good. I figured I could do three or four. So when it got down to this, I started doing two, three as it was last time. But to me I felt that people coming in and looking historical and saying hey, well this is my grandmother the grandfather someplace and I get a picture about what I'm doing and historical arguments such as such as family want to turn around and have all these pictures you know 200 some odd pictures I said you're in what order do you want them in this book? What are you want these negatives you want to get started hold true to like so then Marian company a few hours now the archives in Florida true and started to get some of the families and groups of families together. And that way they were put together just kind of into them. And then that was the way they were basically photographed. Well I felt that probably for a day like today. I just need to be doing this. And I hope that other people who will be getting to know these pictures better. But I sort of thought hey, I mean more fun with the Historical Society in the house and fly disease. And so after I finished doing all of this and I took the pictures that I didn't do double I just took them on It was the best if there was more than one person. And I copied and made slides up. I did that with Troy Mac 100. Black and try not to 100 black and white film, which is what I produced these negatives with, get this practice in a rehearsal industry for good produces black and white swans. Now I have a chemistry at home, but because I wanted to gain good stuff that would last and be chemically. So I developed six or eight rules, rules maybe aren't peripherals of chemistry. So I phoned up my lab and I said, do you do this? Do you take? Why do I sell process it immediately is the slides. Yes, we do. I send it off. And I come back. And I have an enormous lab bill.

Unknown Speaker 35:56
They processed to try not to go into negatives. And then proceeded to project the negatives and make slides on color. That is what you're going to see today. I am extremely upset with my lab. Because I'm already been talking about quality control. First generation.

Unknown Speaker 36:17
We're picture second generation. So if I turn around, we've already got first second and I make a slide off of this third generation they tend to maybe make a slide off the negatives we're now in the fourth generation. So so basically what I'm going to be doing is my ask the lab and I'm sending a call back. And I said but I prior to save me and would they allow me to show me so they're letting me show the slides to you today. But I will be boring the books back from the very beginning and going through processes and costing this time I guess it looks like I will do the project myself to make sure the essay would have processed on the black and white negatives that I have on there. They're just beautiful we would have made a really nice slide and in coffee and what you will see here are for each step there, they're not there later than what the sequences one of the things also the colors will not last. And that's the other thing

Unknown Speaker 37:38
you want these so something is there in the years anyways any questions on what I've done, turn around and make contact copies and clean them the idea being and following through to try to track them down

Unknown Speaker 37:58
actually, anything that we report anything that was a portrait of somebody he had his shoulders and basically I can say we will send it back. So I would say the percentage doesn't work. Now I will also have to admit quite openly that that recession so you're ready to start up better

Unknown Speaker 38:38
know the old pocket barbers you see they use the five or seven negative or negative. And this point if you've got any global photographs and you look at them at home, you will find that beautiful beautiful I mean that's the best way to do it. And you can do it on the negatives. But our negatives today are so small I mean he turned around and and take a family picture on here five or six people on a little negative this side and realize you're certified negatives adjacent you know basically it used to be the head side hadn't been the side of the dawn. Now with the new technologies computers I mean a lot of the things that couldn't be done before are being done now. I mean if computer turns around cameras picture they can go in there and they can put this here on this side of your head and this eye over here. I mean you know if you don't have any skin on your face here I mean these damage pictures that are here if they need to be stored for some reason because there wasn't one photo could be very easily put into the computer system now and just get from the other side of Facebook over here and place the quality on some of this is improving greatly to I haven't again like the quality because of the brain. But that's that's assuming as well. You really don't today you cannot do The infographics in the pictures are negative. Most of the photos use the negative walking sample all done box build style eight by 10. Camera tilt, since we've done our rapid wood, there is no way you can reduce with your device's camera. Absolutely not I can't even reproduce. And they have to be the tilting points to create the angles or the proportions and all of all of that kind of stuff, which is the pictures, where does all of these old block ligands were down on that camera? So it's a it's kind of an indication that it was there on these pictures? Absolutely no, such those. No, no. In fact, that's what really slowed me up because Mary's and Peggy decided they were going to you know, do it the archivists that they've been advised in the training they've been taking, told them to put them in these cardboard boxes. And they have these acid free envelopes. And so I was going marijuana without flying Regis ID each envelope, I put this in the last envelope, and I go to put it in here it didn't fit. Right where it's like timeout spot. I slowed up at that point, because I was fighting it should have just been taking says you were paid to do this doctor. But then he backed off. And I just hated to see this stuff in these envelopes, put it into cardboard boxes. If you took a hunk of stripe or that really heavy, heavy, dense gravel and you're getting blocks like my artery turn, you turn around have a big sort of block of that and sort of cut slits cut Flynn and leave about that muscle to put these into that, then yeah. But even the archives in Ottawa, can't guarantee about the chemical off of the polyester, and hydrocarbons as well as they don't

Unknown Speaker 41:56
doubt unlock a lot of knowledge. He would he would have to even if he was a teacher in Milan, in fact, disease and stuff and he had he worked under somebody, you know, for the fun of it or whatever. He was probably in Europe somewhere and wanted to learn. I mean, I worked in the photographic studio when I was 16 years old and when a lot of things. The Europeans are trained I mean today anybody who's got a photographer and hang up a shingle and say I'm courted by Betty, they have absolutely no training behind. Absolutely not. If you don't do that in America, and European photographer goes in and he sees the floors while he's sleeping in floors for five years. Then they turn around give them a hunk of glass it says grinder. He grinds his own lens. Make your own box, make your own cameras. You make your own film, you take your glasses, there's still lots of use. So in other words, you learn photography from the papers up over a period of many, many years and apprenticeship programs. They are definitely and even as the posing of many of these so they'll also be there