Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When Bad Photos Are Actually Good, Part III (Frederic Remington)

August 23, 2011

John Langellier is doing a piece on Frederic Remington in Arizona Territory in 1888. Someone, I think it was a friend of Paul Hutton's—Brian Dippe, perhaps, sent me a washed out photo of Remington on horseback getting ready to go out on patrol. It's hard to see the detail, but he appears to be wearing his legendary pith helmet.

I assumed that Remington handed his bulky camera to a trooper and asked him to take a photo. I also figured the trooper didn't really know what he was doing so it was overexposed and he caught the horse moving away. I figured it was a moment lost to history.

Imagine my surprise when Meghan Saar contacted the Frederic Remington Art Museum in New York and requested a better copy of the photo. Was it worth the $75? Well, check it out:

Check out the pistol and holster, check out the rifle butt (can anyone tell what model it is from the stock?), check out his leggings, check out the background (San Carlos?). Amazing.

The moral? It pays to do due diligence on photos.

With that on my mind, I was cleaning in my studio this morning and ran across a failed rendering of Remington drawing in the field. I had good photo reference from Jim Hatzell's Artist's Ride. Grabbed it out of my Failure Pile and gave it a tweak:

"Same old story. Young men full of enthusiasm, old men full of whiskey."
—Frederic Remington, describing the military in Arizona, circa 1888

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