It’s Labor Day, and that means millions of Americans are celebrating. Most Americans have no idea what Labor Day is, other than self-serving political speeches, hot dogs, burgers, a pool party, and the last day of a three-day holiday. Few even know that Labor Day exists to allow people to remember and honor the struggles for respect, dignity, and acceptable wages and working conditions for the rank-and-file employees.
We don’t know that the Knights of Labor created the first Labor Day in 1882 and that Congress made it a national holiday in 1894.
Almost none of us, including life-long union workers, know the personalities of the labor movement. About Mother Jones (1830-1930), the militant “angel of the coal fields” for more than six decades. About “Big Bill” Haywood (1869-1928) who organized the Industrial Workers of the World, a universal coalition to fight for the rights of all labor. About cigar-chomping Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), the first president of the American Federation of Labor, a job he held for 38 years.
This photo is shot in 4×5 on Kodachrome Professional Type B, probably with a Speed or Crown Graphic camera using a normal (150mm) or normal-wide (135mm) lens. “Type B” refers to the color balance of the film, in this case set at about 3400 Kelvin. This film has an ASA (ISO, or film speed) of 10, which means that if you wanted to take a picture at 1/8th of a second @ f/5.6 you’d need about 4000 watts of incandescent light, set up 15 feet away. Needless to say, this picture was likely taken not with tungsten floods but with magnesium-foil flashbulbs, which in the larger sizes could put out a truly heroic quantity of light.
The very natural but vibrant color and incredible sharpness are the reason why Kodachrome was so well-loved over it’s 75-year lifespan, and it is part of what makes this photograph look so stunning.
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