Thursday, 13 September 2018

With So Many People,

owning photographic drones,

 we take aerial pictures for granted, but what about the days before drones and aircraft, how did you take a aerial picture then? enter the pigeon camera! amateur pigeon fancier Dr Julius G. Neubronner decided to make a camera for his pigeons, up until then, the two best ways to take aerial photographs both had their drawbacks, balloons and kites could take a camera but were very restricted in their movement and speed, since 1903 Neubronner had been using pigeons to exchange prescriptions and urgent medications with a sanatorium a few miles from his home in Kronberg near Frankfurt,

 a pigeon lost during one of these flights had delighted Neubronner by returning to its dovecote four weeks later, safe and sound, the episode gave Neubronner the idea of creating lightweight, wearable cameras to record his couriers’ flights, He built several models which included a pneumatic timing mechanism to activate the shutter at set intervals, leather harness, and aluminium breastplate, Neubronner would take the pigeons up to 60 miles away before releasing them, knowing that they would want to take the most direct route home to unburden themselves, to increase the mobility of his fleet, he also built a horse-drawn dovecote with an attached darkroom, by 1907 he was in business, with the first satisfactory camera made,

 the German patent office objected to Neubronner’s application on the grounds that domestic pigeons could not possibly carry a 75 gram load, Neubronner countered the objection with photographic evidence and, in 1908, finally gained his patent, the invention brought Neubronner international notability after he presented it at expositions in Dresden, Frankfurt, and Paris in 1909–11, spectators in Dresden could watch the arrival of the camera-equipped carrier pigeons, and the photos were immediately developed and turned into buyable postcards, 

 above the Schlosshotel in Kronberg, it became famous as in the picture the wings of the bird were accidentally captured when the shutter clicked,

 the pictures were of course random, 

 but know roughly that the birds would go the shortest route back,

he had a general idea of the views that he would get from the camera, the German military considered the images sufficiently impressive to test the pigeon cam on the battlefields of the Western Front, however, rapid improvements in aeroplane reconnaissance consigned Neubronner’s birds to their traditional role of carrying messages, pigeons would go on to also play a similar role in the Second World War, as detailed in this amusing documentary, the Bird War of World War II! Rorhof has published a wider selection of pigeon pictures in their 2017 book The Pigeon Photographer, the pigeon drone,who would have thought it?

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