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A. R. Dresser, Photographer

Arthur R. Dresser was born in Yorkshire, England in 1846. His childhood was spent traveling throughout Asia and Africa with his family. At the age of 16, he settled in Canada, and continued his extensive travel throughout North America that included a three-year stay with a local Native American tribe near the vicinity of Fort Garry. Mr. Dresser later lamented he wished he had taken a camera with him on his early travels. He was not introduced to photography until 1883, when a severe nervous attack forced him to seek medical attention. His doctor recommended taking up a hobby, and he purchased a camera shortly thereafter.

Mr. Dresser completely immersed himself in the art of photography and he became a member of the Photographic Society of Great Britain. He became one of the co-founders of London's Camera Club, eventually serving as its first Secretary and he spent many years as its Director. His camera of choice was a hand camera, from which he produced enlargements up to 10 x 18 and 12 x 10. Soon dubbed the "hand camera man", Mr. Dresser turned his attention to lantern slides, eventually amassing over 2,000 of them. His text Lantern Slides and How to Make Them was first published in 1892, in which he described the contact and copying techniques. The contact method places the lantern into direct contact with the negative that allows the dry plate to be exposed through the negative in the same manner as albumen, silver, and bromide prints. However, only one negative that is the same size as the original plate can be reproduced. Mr. Dresser noted that copying in the camera gave the photographer a much greater selection of slide reproduction and better overall technical precision. He also advised applying crystal varnish to protect the slides before they are mounted. He also authored Bromide Enlarging and Contact Printing: How to Do It, in which he celebrated the versatility of bromide papers that can be produced anytime. He preferred rich brown bromides to add subtle color tones to his subjects.

In 1890, Mr. Dresser began exhibiting his small, hand camera photographs, for which he won more than 100 awards over a three-year-period. His preference for a small Kodak box camera fitted with a wide-angle Voigtlander Euryscope lens of 4-1/4" focus and an aperture of F8, with a shutter that could easily make exposures from 1/200 of a second to 1 second. He spent his later years experimenting with both still and film photography. A.R. Dresser died in 1903.



Ref:
1891 The American Annual of Photography, Vol. VI (New York: The Scovill & Adams Co.), pp. 61, 63.

1892 Lantern Slides and How to Make Them (New York: The Scovill & Adams Co.), p. 55.

1890 Photographic Mosaics, Vol. XXVI (Philadelphia: F. Gutekunst), pp. 150-154.

1894 The Photographic Times, Vol. XXIV (New York: The Photographic Times Publishing Association), pp. 310-312.


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