Magic Lanterns

Larry Cederblom showing a magic lantern slide

Magic Lantern slideshows were very popular in the US and England from about 1850 to the 1920’s. The shows were what people had instead of radio or tv or movies. The pictures did move, imagine 1 to 3 frames of animation – very simple movement. Enough movement to show very clearly how a snoring man could swallow a rat. Yep, “The Rat Catcher” was a very popular slide.
Larry Cederblom of the Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada is preparing to give a show here. These slides were hand painted on glass. The projector originally had two kerosene lantern wicks in it. Larry has electrified this one. We also saw slides that were used to advertise movies and business. Many were used in schools. Old school technology that could be done without electricity and one of the last groups to make use of lantern slides was NASA. As late as 1972 magic lantern slides were being used to describe the planned Space Shuttle.


woman gathering water at well
Woman getting water at community source. Kuba, Azerbaijan, 1993.

man and cows
Man herding two cows. Romania, 1990

These are the two oldest photos of people at work that I have archived and indexed. As I go back through my old film archive and scan things I’m sure I’ll find more.
The man herding cows was in Romania. I went for a walk in these woods and took a little nap and woke up to the sound of these cows coming at me. I was in Romania for their first free elections in April, 1990.
The woman is in Kuba, Azerbaijan. In 1993 I traveled there to photograph the ancient Jewish community of that region.
I like both of these images because they look timeless.