1900-1915 HD quality photos of the United States cities. Is that normal?

I don't know about you, but this quality of the 1900-1915 photography does not quite match my perception, based on the dogmatic education I received. Below are some photos available on the Library of Congress website. The quality is beyond explainable IMHO.

These photographs predominantly pertain to New York City, with a few from Detroit, Chicago, Memphis, Atlantic City, etc.

Atlantic_city_early_photo_29.jpg

Atlantic_city_early_photo_32.jpg chicago_early_photo_16.jpg detroit_early_photo_17.jpg jacksonville_early_photo_26.jpg memphis_early_photo_27.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_1.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_2.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_3.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_4.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_5.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_6.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_7.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_8.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_9.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_10.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_11.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_12.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_13.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_14.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_15.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_18.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_21.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_22.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_23.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_24.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_25.jpg new_york_city_early_photo_30.jpg pensacola_early_photo_31.jpg richmond_early_photo_19.jpg san_francisco_after_earthquake_early_photo_28.jpg Washington_dc_early_photo_20.jpg


KD: What do you think? Does the quality of the photos match the known technology, and the time when they were supposedly taken?
 

Triskell

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Some of them looks like CGI to me.
If this is real pictures, then the type of lens in use and the shutter speed is similar, maybe better than most modern camera.
 
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  • Turpinhero

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    No movement blur anywhere, that’s some fast exposure right there when 80+% of the cameras in use were still glass plate. Even expanding images on my iPad can’t catch them out.
    Korben, right on cue, just as I’m settling down for the night, once again you pop up and give me something new to think about.
    Bleary eyed, just when he thought the day was nearly over, he staggers out of the room to switch on his desktop....
     

    Aiahavezred

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    No movement blur anywhere, that’s some fast exposure right there when 80+% of the cameras in use were still glass plate. Even expanding images on my iPad can’t catch them out.
    Korben, right on cue, just as I’m settling down for the night, once again you pop up and give me something new to think about.
    Bleary eyed, just when he thought the day was nearly over, he staggers out of the room to switch on his desktop....
    There is a bit of motion blur, but it's hard to spot. Mostly in people's feet as they're stepping forward, or rubber wheel tread/ spokes.

    The quality is from dry glass plate and fast exposure times.
     

    Banta

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    This all seems about right to me, but I'm probably too "radicalized" at this point. At the very least, it is yet another example that the arrow of progress, especially when it comes to technology, does not necessarily move forward. Being "better" often isn't the endgame, being cheaper/faster plays a role, as does the politics of the industry. As KD has shown repeatedly, mass transportation was clearly better 100 years ago in terms of efficiency, availability, and most other standards, but there was big time money to be made selling everyone a gas burning car.

    With photography too, I think we have to deal with the modern day marketing of HD and the switch from analog to digital. It's really all just a different delivery mechanism for a people with clearly different entertainment priorities than 100 years ago. The fact is you only need a higher resolution if you need something to be huge (which is again a need promoted by marketing).

    Basically, it makes sense to me that wonderful "HD" quality photography was available 50 to 75 years after it was allegedly invented, but most people didn't have a use-case for a photo the size of a mural. So the industry was able to scale down the quality for reasons of quicker/cheaper production (think Polaroid) in order to get more people to buy it. Eventually, once the market is saturated, it's time to unveil the "upgrades" which is just rebranding what already existed (think Tesla).

    What's interesting (and probably the saddest) is that it really seems like there's nothing new under the sun, just a market that expands and collapses based on the overall culture and the average person's disposable income.
     
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    This all seems about right to me, but I'm probably too "radicalized" at this point.
    I think some of us are to a degree. For me it can also be hard to separate the “common core” narrative from some of the things we see.
     
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  • Banta

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    I think some of us are to a degree. For me it can also be hard to separate the “common core” narrative from some of the things we see.
    Heh, yeah. I mean, sure, the average person might find the picture quality available here to be anachronistic, but I would suspect that any expert in the field of photographic history wouldn't be. It's just that we are raised in a certain paradigm that tries to reject any anomalies to the overall storyline. And we live in a world that is increasingly specialized, so most people's knowledge outside of their field of expertise is so shallow, they have no choice but to accept the consensus (which is more driven by corporate interest and the media than by actual "experts").

    That said, I do believe everytime someone becomes confronted with one of these perceived anomalies, there's an opportunity to expand one's personal paradigm. Or you can just say "cameras wouldn't show people back then, idiot!" and go back to sleep.
     
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    Agreed. We probably need a certain standard of when and what was possible, within the narrative, of course. Unfortunately, the narrative is too vague about many things. Could be for a reason, I guess.

    Here we could run into some difficulties figuring out what the actual narrative is. Things we uncover could arguably be an overlooked, and therefore unadvertised narrative. Well, at least, this could be a convenient position for the PTB to assume.

    May be the narrative is what’s commonly accepted as normal, for there have to be other reasons why certain things are not being advertised.
     

    jd755

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    Look into what they recorded the images on to. Film/glass plate, emulsions, size of film sheet/glass plate. I'm of an age to know these things really matter when it comes to the amount of visual clarity captured. Basically the larger the sheet the more detail there is assuming the emulsion is up to it.
    Ipads and all screens are incapable of rendering an analogue image in full detail as they are all limited by pixel size.
     

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