Eutin, Germany, 1896

1896 – A photo print dated 1896 shows the outdoor area of a restaurant at the lake promenade of Dieksee in Eutin, Germany. Photo © Alb. Giesler

The story behind the image

I have been able to obtain this awesome shot by photo pioneer Albert Giesler. It shows the restaurant at the promenade of the Dieksee in Eutin, Germany. The print is dated 1896 in the lower right corner and is in very good condition. My ancesters had been living in the area for many decades at that time, so I’m more than happy to get this master piece for our archive.

This shot is remarkable in many ways:

  1. It’s a true photo print carries many details. The scan at 1200 dpi is just a bit soft, but it can be safely enlarged to 40×60 cm. That’s awesome in my view.
  2. The promenade has changed significantly over the past 130 years. The restaurant seems to be gone now and replaced with a modern lake promenade (without restaurant.)
  3. The exposure time must have been looong. A clear indicator is the motion blur of a rowing boat. Well, there are two boats actually, one in the far distance, operated by a man and perfectly sharp, and one next to the gentleman in the center. This one shows many characteristics of motion blur and resembles more a ghostly shadow than a steady object.
  4. Despite the long exposure time, the people in the image are perfectly sharp and still with no signs of motion blur at all. I imagine that Giesler asked them to stand still and not move until the photograph had been completed. If this is the case, then we have to assume that Giesler arranged the people in the image, so it’s not a spontaneous or authentic shot at all. It’s a work of art.
  5. Finally, Giesler seems to have added the ducks to the image later, or at least manually highlighted their presence. To me, they look like having been scratched into the glass plate. This makes a lot of sense since Giesler certainly could not control the birds in the picture who would have resulted in more motion blur. But he might have wanted a few more living elements in his photograph to get closer to reality.

As I am writing this, I wonder what a master and pioneer like Albert Giesler would have done with today’s technology?

The rowing boat in the front shows clear signs of motion blur while the boat in the back seems to be motionless and sharp (despite a man operating it.)
The people in the image look casual and are perfectly sharp. The woman looks a bit stiff, but that may be related to the dress code of the time.
The ducks in the image look like hand drawn or scratched into the negative.

A few words about Albert Giesler. He was born in May 1862 in Eutin in Germany and pursued a photography career after graduating from school. He got trained by various photographers across Northern Germany and opened his photo studio in Eutin, his hometown, in 1886, at the age of just 24. Starting with landscape photos, he continously explored new and promising technologies like stereographic photos or artistic portrait photography. His work quickly became popular and many customers started collecting his photos. It’s no surprise then, that he was appointed as official photographer of the Oldenburg court very soon. Even today, his work is outstanding both from a technical and an artistic point of view (especially considering the limitations of his period.)

On 27th October 1932, Albert Johann Anton Giesler died in his hometown Eutin at the age of 70 years from a heart stroke. His work, however, will continue to live eternally.

The high resolution image

Capture Date1896
PhotographerAlb. Giesler
LocationEutin, Germany
Image Source9.8 x 14.5 cm CDV print
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions6785 x 4651 Pixels
CopyrightPhoto © by Alb.Giesler, Scan by Mark Zanzig/

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