Page 34 - Apr2017

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The 15-year-old found his first opportunity working with
the Santa Fe Railroad in the office of C. O. Wheeler. After
only two weeks Maurer was “plain fired,” as he told the
story, for sending some letters to the wrong destination.
He then worked in the Janke Music house for about six
months before hearing of an opening at the photography
studio of Justus Zahn in 1893. That was where he
discovered a passion for the art of taking photos.
In those days, the task of photography required much
more than posing subjects and snapping a picture,
however. A great deal of patience and a meticulous
personality were required both before and after the
actual sessions with customers.
Dry plate photography, which used a glass plate coated
with a silver bromide emulsion, had already been
invented by that time but the paper on which to print
the photos, called albumen paper, needed to be created
at studios.
Studio employees would arrive at work early in the
morning to individually silver sheets of paper, which were
each about 19 by 24 inches in size, for about 10 minutes,
then hang them to dry in a dark place. Drying time could
vary greatly depending on the island’s humidity.
The next step was placing the paper in a box and
exposing it to ammonia fumes for approximately an hour, after which
it was cut to the desired size by hand. This was the type of task
normally delegated to apprentices Maurer and Paul Naschke, who
became another well-known island photographer.
After a client photography session, the tedious process of printing
began. This took place either by a window that faced the sun, or
on the roof of the building. The process was straightforward when
the sun was shining brightly, but during rainy or overcast weather it
Part I I i
Fort Crockett during the First World War
in 1918. The fort was located on 40 acres
along the Seawall from 43rd to 57th Street.
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APRIL 2017