[sumo] Old Sumo Picture

Leigh Solland (on Webmail) solland at telusplanet.net
Thu Jun 14 17:54:09 EDT 2007

Quoting Philip Sherman <philnorm at webtv.net>:

> Gee,
>  Quite a difference size wise. I am not a photographer, so could you tell me,
> in that day and age would the photo be taken using flash powder like you see
> in the movies depicting the western's?

I am a photographer, and this is what I see in the photograph.  The light is 
coming from high and to the right, so I would guess that it is natural light.  
The photograph was either taken outside or in front of a big window.  The 
emulsions of the day were very slow, so the sumotori were probably posed 
comfortably, and the shutter was opened for several minutes to make the 
exposure.  The background is clearly a big curtain.  I think the floor surface 
might be rug, but there could have been a rug and curtain set up outside.  The 
corners of the photograph are darker, but that could have been done during the 
printing, by burning-in, or it may have been where the window light hit the 

Flash powder came into use in the late 1880s, so if the photograph was indeed 
made in the 1870s, it would not have been used.

There is no reason why an old photograph would not be "clear".  Photographic 
emulsions and processes were developed in the 19th century, but lenses had been 
around a lot longer.  One reason some old photos look blurry in places is that 
the wind ruffled the leaves, children moved their heads, or some other motion 
took place during the very long exposures.  Most, if not all, shots at that 
time would have been taken with the camera mounted on a tripod or some other 
support -- no jerky hand-held shots yet.

And "westerns" does not have an apostrophe.  Now you know everything I do.


>  How would I go about (or anyone else) finding out who the rikishi's are?
> Thanks for the info. Kurt.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kurt Easterwood
> Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 10:17 AM
> To: Sumo Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [sumo] Old Sumo Picture
> This photo was taken by Baron Raimund von Stillfried-Ratenicz, an 
> Austrian who ran a Yokohama photo studio in the 1870's. Interestingly, 
> much of his "portraits" of various aspects of Japanese society were done 
> with models, not actual samurai, farmers, etc., however in this case, 
> given the chonmage, these look like actual rikishi. A slightly larger 
> copy of the same photo can be seen here:
> http://www.old-japan.co.uk/librarydetail.asp?id=1206
> If you like this kind of thing, more photos can been seen at these links:
> http://tinyurl.com/yqrt8n
> http://tinyurl.com/27peke
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=1260 (Stillfried)
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=1261 (Stillfried)
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=528
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=2144
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=2179
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=2466
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=3351
> http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=3929 (Stillfried)
> http://search.19cphoto.com/search/images.jsp?id=998463
> Kurt
> http://www.easterwood.org/gallery2/v/sumo/
> Philip Sherman wrote:
> > Jeff,
> >  Never mind. I went back to the link you gave and got the photo article.
> Wow, the two rikishi sure look physically different in terms of body weight.
> > That is a clear photo for being taken so long ago.
> > Thanks again.
> >
> > PHIL
> >
> >   
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