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Men at Work
boblipton from New York City
21 August 2010
This 1901 actuality was shot by Robert K. Bonine, a now-obscure
cameraman for Biograph whose career petered out in 1906. The set-up and
composition are just fine, but for a 53-second piece, its repetitive
action is obvious, even though briskly performed -- or perhaps it was
just a trifle undercranked by Bonine.
American Mutoscope & Biograph shot a lot of these men at work items.
Among the most famous were Billy Bitzer's innovative series at the
Westinghouse factory three years after this. As a record of how they
did things at the turn of the 20th century they are of some historical
interest, but it's best to view them as items in the transition from
photography composition to more dynamic film methods; with a still
camera, they don't quite work for the modern viewer.
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