I first saw the work of Alvin Langdon Coburn while re-watching the BBC ‘Britain in Focus’ series that was originally broadcast in March 2017. I’ve got notes on the series here. Coburn’s images of London had an instant appeal to me, and so I decided to spend some time finding out about him.
My first port of call was, of course, the Wikipedia entry on him. I think I can see an immediate problem; he’s listed as American, but further down it says ‘Coburn finally became a British subject in 1932’. Doesn’t that mean he’s British – or am I missing something? I also searched Pinterest and Google for images. On Pinterest I found a lot of images of his vortographs and I really like them. I’d like to try creating some of these myself if I get time.
I can find reference to Coburn using 3 mirrors around the lens to create these, but other than that I’m not sure how they worked so I suppose it will be trial and error. I’m working with the idea of a kaleidoscope type of setup around the lens.
The images he took of London are, of course, now impossible to recreate, but I’d like to try to take some images in the same style and see what I can do. Next time I’m there I’ll start working on some ideas and taking some initial shots to see what the issues are.
As far as I’m aware these images are now out of copyright, but are used here for educational purposes.