Beatties Studio: Blog en-us (C) Beatties Digital Studio (Beatties Studio) Tue, 23 Aug 2022 06:14:00 GMT Tue, 23 Aug 2022 06:14:00 GMT Beatties Studio: Blog 89 120 Then and Now Rephotography (or then and now) is something I love doing. One of the great joys of living with the Beattie's Studio Collection is that I can take an old photo from as way back as 1849, and if the location exists today, rephotograph it and compare the changes.

This particular example is Elizabeth Street at the intersection of Liverpool Street, in Hobart, Tasmania. John Watt Beattie had his camera there in 1916 and I went back there in 2016, for that hundred years later look. While I was setting up my camera, I kept thinking of the man on the bike in the 1916 version. How was I going to get one in my recreation? Just then, an obliging cyclist zoomed up Elizabeth Street and my jaw hit the floor and I forgot to press the shutter. Oh well, I'm sure I'll get it right in 2116...

The rephotograph shown here is by my good friend Dr Jim Palfreyman. My photograph was alright, but Jim's a real photographer and his version is so much more accurate than mine.


I've been looking for an easy (read: no programming HTML code!!!) way to show the slide over version. I found juxtapose today, hence this example hits the web. I suspect I'll do a few more...




(Beatties Studio) Tue, 23 Aug 2022 05:56:28 GMT
New Exhibition

New photos at the Tea Rooms.

I've selected photos with a story for my second exhibition at The Hobart Town Tea Company, 147 Macquarie Street, Hobart. Each photo has a unique story and together they showcase the work of my grand-father, Arch Stephenson. From his iconic photo of the floating bridge to the Hobart Town Hall and even a photo of the man himself (including my Dad aged about 2) on a motorcycle and sidecar.

I've made videos about some of these photos and I'm working on the others. As I learn the stories behind the photos I'm constantly amazed. Did you know we had a massive department store in Hobart years before Myer? The CML building design was so good, they built nearly identical buildings in most capital cities around the country and even one in South Africa. And the story of the bridge became the video I'm most proud of.

You may need to book a table as COVID restrictions limit the number of people allowed in the Tea Rooms at any one time. Ron's scones are as good as ever and there's always new treats to try, plus hand blended teas. I was fortunate enough to be hanging these pictures while Lili was blending. It's like watching a master herbalist at work. Something I hope to capture on video really soon. An experience worth sharing.

We will try to get a Beattie's History Night in this year, but if you're in town, check out the exhibition.



(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie landscape Tasmania Mon, 31 Aug 2020 21:35:46 GMT
Sandy Bay in the 1800s Sandy Bay

I think this is my best video yet and I'm very proud of it. I had a lot of help and the story is amazing so that made it easier and I spent over 6 weeks filming this one.

I learned the origins of modern Sandy Bay and how the area has changed, but also stayed the same. I found out a little about the first Tasmanians who lived off this land. How the land fed the people both before 1803 and after. It was really the food bowl of the south. I learned the importance of fresh water and about the people who were exiled three times and arrived by boat to be pressed into service as farmers in their 50s.

I also discovered my own connection to Sandy Bay and how the area played a significant role in my early life.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did making it.


(Beatties Studio) beatties studio tasmania Mon, 31 Aug 2020 21:35:24 GMT
Forgotten Tasmania YouTube season 2 launch I’ve had 6 months on YouTube and it’s been a steep learning curve. I did a full analysis and wrote myself a long paper on where it was all at and what I had learned. It was a great document if you ever want to get into YouTube, but then I had an epiphany.

In Season 1, I think I fell into the trap of becoming a professional YouTuber, asking for subscribers and chasing the coveted 1000 where I can monetise the channel. This season, I’m making documentaries because I want to find out the story behind each photo. There’s usually an amazing tale of a Tasmanian who had a life so different from ours and faced challenges that we just can’t imagine today. And they often achieved much more than we could hope for.

I went on a holiday and discovered my passion for the stories. I’m making documentaries because I want to see them. They’re sort of a by-product of the research into each photo. And my focus is on telling the stories. I won't say I've totally given up on monetising YouTube to fund the collection, but I have given up on thinking about it and trying to make certain numbers move a certain way on YouTube's statistics. I'm making the sort of documentaries that I like to watch and hopefully you do too.

I have found it’s really hard to do this on my own. Your feedback is really important to me as well as your input into the stories. 

If you wish to and are able to, you can contribute to the collection by making a pledge on Patreon. Just a small amount each month really helps keep the lights on and the collection out of mothballs. And a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has already done this.

I wrote a lot of marketing stuff as part of that long YouTube document, but here's the mission statement, I think that is worth keeping. The rest can sit in the cupboard for now.

Forgotten Tasmania shares the wonder of Tasmania with the world.

John Watt Beattie left a legacy. He started a passion for Tasmania that is still burning more than one hundred years after his death. His photographic collection gives us a view of Tasmania’s wilderness, industry, our people, both those that arrived in the last 200 years and those that were here before; our indigenous, convict and colonial ancestors.

These photographs are an extraordinary window into our past, they can take us back in time 

and show us how things have stayed the same or changed with the ebb and flow of history.

We are Tasmanian, these are our stories.




(Beatties Studio) Thu, 06 Feb 2020 05:01:18 GMT
Beaumaris, Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Devil Watch the video here; YouTube


The Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart had Tasmanian Tigers and Tasmanian Devils. Mary Roberts was the first to breed devils in captivity. All of this right in Hobart city and I didn't know it was still there. The animals have long gone but the fabulous property remains. In this episode I explore the house, the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) and the Tasmanian Devil and I even managed to capture the devil's unique sound.

Beattie's Digital Studio seeks to treat all people with respect. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that our videos do contain images, sounds and the names of people who have passed away.

Thanks to Knight Frank including Jim Playstead for getting me invited to the photo-shoot at the property. This episode was made possible because Jim is selling the property at the end of the month. That is the first time it's been for sale since the 90s when Defence finally finished with it after the second world war. Many of our friends in the RAAF may have been there.

Thanks to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary for allowing me to film their devils and capture the unique Tasmanian Devil sound, which is harder than you think because they don't normally make the sound in captivity as they are happy and content and the devil sound is an angry warning. Bonorong is a great place to visit if you want to see Tasmanian native wildlife and witness the amazing people who treat injured animals.


Thanks to Dr Nic Haygarth ( for doing the research and allowing me to interview him. Nic's research is all about the Tasmanian Tiger Bounty and the lives of the people who claimed the bounty. He also talks about the fur trade in Van Diemen's Land and how the tiger was collateral damage to that industry. It's great work and I pulled one tiny line out of it.

Photo (wood panel background) by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Some photos courtesy Colin Dennison OAM

Some photos from TAHO

Drone footage by Open2View Tasmania

Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter;

Disclaimer: This video and text contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission. This helps support the restoration and storage costs of Beattie’s Digital Studio.


The toilet paper I keep carrying on about;


The jumper I bought to replace the torn one in the previous videos;


The clapper board I use;


I use Moment lenses on our iPhone 8+;


The lights I use in the studio;


The camera I use (new model);


Music by Epidemic Sound

"Extinction Path"

"Devil in a Can"

"Dreams of the Brave"



(Beatties Studio) Thu, 07 Nov 2019 21:00:38 GMT
Forgotten Tasmania Episode 7 is out! Forgotten Tasmania Episode 7 is out!


In this series, I tell forgotten stories about Tasmania through the photos in the Beattie’s Studio Collection. This episode is about the GPO. It is based on photo number 42 from our collection;


4242Hobart GPO from Franklin Square.



The GPO has been a constant in my life, but also a constant for Hobart. Here I go getting political again, but over the years as some of our historic buildings have been demolished to make way for change, the GPO has remained pretty much the same, and that makes me happy.


There were mail services in Hobart Town immediately it was established in 1804. Mostly mail was carried by ships and payment was made in kind; barter or trade. In 1812 Governor Davey appointed John Beaumont to the position of Post Master General, but he resigned to take a job with actual money. Postal fees being his only income, so perhaps the position wasn’t as high up as the title suggests.


In 1814 James Mitchell, a deputy to Isaac Nichols the Post Master General of New South Wales, operated a post office from his house on the corner of Argyle and Macquarie streets until 1818, when it moved to Collins Street and then to Murray Street in 1822.


 By 1835 there were three mail deliveries every day except Sunday. In those days a letter took 225 days to get from Hobart to London.


The corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets where the GPO stands today was not always the site of the post office in Hobart. In 1818 that piece of land was owned by the Lord family and referred to as Lord’s corner. Mr David Lord built a house there around 1820 and it is said he kept a tame eagle chained to the main gate on Macquarie Street to guard over the entrance. It was a private house until it was acquired by the government in 1901 and demolished to make way for the current GPO building. Judging by the newspaper articles, in 1901 the people of Hobart Town were just as unhappy about their old buildings being torn down as they are today.


There was a competition to design the new building and local architect Alan Cameron Walker was selected over 8 other entrants to provide the design. Walker was educated at Hutchins school and had apprenticed to Henry Hunter. He went on to have a successful career as an architect designing many, many buildings around Australia. 


The GPO cost 35,000 pounds to construct. The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of York who went on to become King George V. The Commonwealth Government refused to pay for the clock tower and so 1465 pounds was raised by public subscription to fund that final stage which officially opened on 22/6/1906.


The clock was made by Fritz Ziegler of Melbourne and has traditional Westminster chimes. The bells were made in England by Taylor and Sons.


Six years later in 1912, Roald Amundsen sent his famous telegram to the King of Norway announcing the first successful trip to the South Pole. The photos of that expedition were developed by John Watt Beattie as Amundsen would trust his glass plates to no other.


Over the years, the building has been renovated a little, they added a wheelchair ramp and moved the private box area around a bit. Elizabeth Street outside is now a bus mall and I can’t park there anymore. I’m a touch obsessed with the GPO and I’ve taken more than a few photos of it.


In the collection we have a few including this one of motorcycles outside which features my Dad in the middle of the shot;

32143214Motorcycles outside Hobart GPO (A A Stephenson on number 34 BSA) Photo taken by Arch Stephenson c1934

See the video at Forgotten Tasmania YouTube Episode 7

(Beatties Studio) tasmania tasmanian Sat, 07 Sep 2019 01:46:27 GMT
I started a Patreon A few people have asked if they can contribute to the restoration of the Beattie's Studio Collection without buying prints or books. And more than a few have actually done so. I am so grateful that the community values and believes in this collection as much as I do.


The storage and web hosting costs are not insignificant. 2Tb+ of photos costs around $300 per month. So a little help from my friends is most welcome. I started a Patreon page to open up this process to the wider community. For those who don't know, Patreon is a web site that connects generous people (patrons) to artistic and creative projects that need their financial support.

There is absolutely no expectation, but if you can and wish to contribute to Beattie's Digital Studio, the page is here;

Forgotten Tasmania Patreon page


I thank you for everything you do for me.



(Beatties Studio) Wed, 14 Aug 2019 05:53:08 GMT
I thought I'd never enter a photography contest As you know I'm all in with YouTube at the moment. The goal is to get enough material on YouTube and enough people watching that YouTube pays me enough to keep the collection alive. From the outside, being a full time YouTuber seems like a pipe (the kind with water in it, possibly legal in California) dream for teenagers. In fact when my own son listed "YouTuber" as one of his career options, I was first to suggest that he might need a backup plan. But I have met actual real Australians that make real money doing YouTube and they're not into pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing or expensive water filters. So it looks possible.


The key to YouTube success is content. Good content. Making videos that people want to watch. And part from videos on how to make YouTube videos, my second favourite type of video is documentaries. I love them. Mythbusters, Horrible Histories, Abandoned Engineering, Breaking Bad and The IT Crowd. Ok, so the second last one isn't a documentary, sorry. Anyway, this gives you an idea of what inspires me.


The makers of Filmic Pro (the app I use to film with the iPhone) have just announced a competition with prizes. Make a short film about anything. Challenge accepted! "Forgotten Tasmania - Awesome Place". Look out world, here I come!





(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Tasmania Sat, 27 Jul 2019 05:40:09 GMT
Who was John Watt Beattie? A man born on the other side of the world became one of the most famous Tasmanians of his time. 


People ask me if I related in some way? I grew up in a family of photographers. I asked my father how come his work was called Beattie's when our name is Stephenson. He told me of this old man who was a famous photographer and his name was Beattie. Pop had bought the business from him and that’s why it was called Beattie's Studio. But who was John Watt Beattie ?


To answer that we need to go back to Scotland in the 1870’s and look at his father John Beattie senior, an elder in the West Free Church in Aberdeen. Beattie senior was raising his family and earning his living as a portrait photographer. By this time he was in his 50’s. The church features highly in his life and a new minister was appointed against Beattie senior’s wishes. He was so affected by this ministers views on music in church (it sounds like the new guy was for it and Beattie was against it) that Beattie felt he had to resign and withdraw from the church altogether. This action was not enough and Beattie senior soon decided that his family (wife Esther and 8 children) must uproot and move to the colonies to put enough distance between himself and the dreaded church music.


As Beattie senior was almost blind by this time, John junior read aloud to him. One night while reading from an illustrated book of sheep farming in Australia, Beattie senior had an epiphany and decided to send young John (18 at the time) to spy out the land and find them a new home on the other side of the world. The dutiful son arrived in Melbourne armed with letters of introduction and made his investigations both in Victoria and Tasmania. He was soundly told that times were bad and businesses were failing. It was not the right time. He told his father this, but nothing would sway Beattie senior and so out to Tasmania they came. In 1878 they settled on 320 acres on a property called Murray Hall at Mt Lloyd near New Norfolk and farm sheep they did until the money ran out.


John describes the land as beautiful. Quoting Charles Barrett “Doubtless God could have made a lovelier valley but doubtless He never did”. Beattie also wrote that bushland clearing was not to his taste. This is our first hint of his conservationist views to come.


The full story including Beattie's career and legacy, family and much more will be in the first episode video on YouTube, coming soon. I have filmed it all and it's with the editors now. I hope to release that on June 1st to launch the YouTube channel "Forgotten Tasmania"


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Tasmania Wed, 08 May 2019 05:10:35 GMT
Video is hard, but fun! I'm doing a series of videos for YouTube which is owned by Alphabet (Google) and gives me another way of getting our photos listed with Google and attracting more audience.

I've planned and scripted the first batch of videos. I've set up a video studio and sorted lighting, talent, hair, makeup, sound and colour. That's been 3 months work. I have even started filming. I've got music and an editor to sort out next and then I'll have a pipeline (process) for making videos. I'm hoping to launch around June 1st.


Here's the very rough proof of concept demo piece;

Forgotten TasmaniaDemo version of Forgotten Tasmania YouTube series coming soon.


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Forgotten Tasmania Wed, 24 Apr 2019 23:23:28 GMT
Leaving FaceBook There’s lots of things one can say about Facebook. But my main problem is that they do everything in their power to prevent my audience seeing my photos and that’s the main reason I joined Facebook in the first place; to share photos.

It started out that anything I posted as Beattie’s was seen by all the followers and a few others. So that was a good way to get photos out there. And then Facebook started restricting the people that saw the photos. Not everyone who followed the page got to see the photos. Of course if I paid money more people could see them. So I was paying to reach the audience that I previously had for free. Then even that wasn’t enough. They wanted more money and showed the photos to less and less people.

FaceBook seeks to punish me if I try to take a Facebook user off the Facebook platform to another web site, even my own. So if I include a link to a photo hosted on my web site (rather than a photo stored on Facebook) that post will be “demoted” or punished. Facebook wants people on Facebook and not directed off Facebook to any other web site.


I’ve been voicing my concerns about Facebook for years. There are lots of people for whom this isn’t a problem or Facebook wouldn’t still have a billion users. But there is a growing trend of people who just use Facebook Messenger and never go on the Facebook web site and so Facebook wants me to run robot messenger posts. That is a Facebook message allegedly from me to you but run by a robot. Its a form of advertising not unlike robot-calls.


Facebook wants me to advertise specific products for sale and use the Facebook sales engine to process the sale giving commission to Facebook as well as paying to run the ad.


Facebook wants me to pay for targeted advertising based on your private personal data.


It's no longer serving me at all well. I'm not going away angry, I'm just going away, I’m moving to YouTube and closing the Beattie's Facebook account. If you are not on the email list, please get on it now. That's my primary way to communicate the newsletter and feature newly restored photos and discussion about them.


(Beatties Studio) Wed, 24 Apr 2019 23:22:46 GMT
John Watt Beattie's story John Watt Beattie's father John Beattie SeniorJohn Watt Beattie's father John Beattie SeniorJohn Watt Beattie's father John Beattie Senior


I'm writing Mr Beattie's life story for a talk at U3A (University of the Third Age). I really thought I knew Beattie, having written about him for the web site 6 years ago. I read a lot of stuff at the time and thought I had it pretty right. I was wrong.

John Watt Beattie came to Tasmania purely by chance. A weird set of circumstances really. I'd read about his father's (pictured above) fight with the church but I never realised how random that all was. The church features heavily in his life and Scotland in the 1860s was a pretty serious place. As a church elder and in his 40s you would think he was at the top of his game, in his prime. But the matter of music in the church so upset him that he started making rash decisions. First he resigned from the church and then he cut all ties. But that wasn't enough and he decided the family would have to emigrate to get away from this offence. His eyesight was failing which is a terrible thing for a photographer. (My own father's eyesight failed him late in life and I saw how that affected him.) Young John Watt Beattie was reading to his father and one night from a book on sheep farming in Australia. Old Beattie jumps up, and decides on the spot that the only solution was to go far enough away so he couldn't hear the music!

Young John was dispatched to Australia to scout the land for opportunities. He spent time in Melbourne and then travelled by boat to Launceston. The place did not make a good impression on him at all. I think it's fair to say, reading the letter he wrote to his father, that he hated it. He points out that Tasmania is incredibly beautiful but business was bad here and sheep farming was doomed to fail miserably. Beattie senior would hear nothing of that and packed the whole family off to Tasmania. They settled in New Norfolk and farmed sheep. And they failed miserably, losing all their money. Young John showed such great promise as a photographer that two different people offered to start him in business, the first offering to put up two hundred pounds which was a fortune in those days. He accepted the second offer from the Anson Brothers and that was the start of his career and his lasting contributions to Tasmania.

It seems to me that Beattie's success in Tasmania and in fact his very arrival was such a roll of the dice. If he had packed up and gone back to Scotland with his father and family, Beattie's Studio might never have happened.


The full story will be in a video and I'll post the written version too, that'll be out sometime in June.

(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio john watt beattie Tasmania Wed, 24 Apr 2019 23:16:52 GMT
Oh look, SQUIRREL!!! Staying on target is often a problem for me. I get distracted by the next shiny thing or, in the case of the Beattie collection, the next great way of sharing it with you.


Squirrel in LondonSquirrel in London


So there I was, happily embarking on the rephotography project and some bright spark (name of Connor Stephenson) had to go and introduce me to YouTube. More addictive than chocolate. After watching their entire collection of "stupid person does something funny" and "the earth is flat - NASA lied to you" videos (all 57 billion of them it felt like) I started to get more selective. A search for "Tasmania" revealed a sad, sad fact. The only spectacular cinematic footage of Tasmania was a few holiday videos taken by Italian tourists.

Don't get me wrong, the good, contemporary Tasmanian landscape photography (of the still picture variety) is World class. We've got some really talented photographers. But have any of them produced a cinematic high-def entertaining video on YouTube? Well I didn't find any. I found another hole in the market. And on the world's largest social network too. Opportunity for exposure.

So I've decided to have a go and see if I can't do something better. What could go wrong?




(Beatties Studio) Mon, 18 Mar 2019 05:55:45 GMT
Rephotography 102 - getting access to your spot Once you have located the spot where the original photo was taken, you might need to negotiate access to that spot. I'm currently rephotographing this one;


936 - Elizabeth & Macquarie Streets HOBART c1948936 - Elizabeth & Macquarie Streets HOBART c1948Elizabeth and Macquarie streets


And it was taken from here;



Luckily, I know a woman who knows a man and asking nicely with a good business case, the Hobart City Council granted permission for me to visit that balcony on their building. A privilege they obviously can't extend to everyone, so please don't ask, I'm going to need a few more favours from them.


(Beatties Studio) Mon, 18 Mar 2019 05:55:29 GMT
Rephotography 101 - find your spot I'm re-photographing the Hobart Town photos for the book. This year will be all about the book.

Replicating an old photo is a fun but yet sometimes challenging experience. The most important aspect is obviously finding the right spot. I carefully line up features like the tops of old buildings with distant hills or other old buildings. This also involves camera height as well. Even being a few centimetres out can change things.

I have this iPhone app called Repro. It allows me to overlay the original photo while using the camera in the phone.

936 - Elizabeth Street (overlay version in RePro)936 - Elizabeth Street (overlay version in RePro)

This app is really handy for getting close to the spot. It won't get you 100% on the spot as you can't change the camera settings while in overlay mode.

Once the spot is found, then focal length is next. The wrong lens will also make the replication look wrong. I tend to pick a wider angle prime lens, because then I can digitally crop later to try and match the original.

Next we have timing. I study the photo and look at foliage and shadow angles to try and work out time of year and time of day. Finally I try and pick a day that's similar in weather. Overcast days are typically common.

Finally I'll take many photos - especially if there are cars or people so I can get a shot with a similar character to the original. If there's a prominent object (e.g. a tram in the city) then I'll wait for a modern bus to be in the same spot.


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Tasmania Mon, 18 Mar 2019 05:55:14 GMT
Historical Information 1783g1783gKing Street Sandy Bay where it becomes Proctors Road. Original start of Waterworks Road goes off tot he right


Historical Information

One of our fantastic audience (Graeme Rayner) kindly went through our web site picking out photos of Hobart where the historical information was blank. Graeme found about 40 photos that he could identify. He provided that information to me and I've updated our photos.

Our negatives are stored in paper bags and if we're very lucky, there's a word or two hand written on the bag to tell us what's inside. But mostly there isn't anything written on the bag. So, with most of the photos, I have to go on generous input from people like Graeme. Thank you to all those who have contributed to identifying our photos, I really appreciate it. And if you see a photo you can identify, or spot a mistake I've made with the title, please feel free to contact me, I love the feedback and corrections.


The photo above is number 1783 from our collection and here is Graeme's rephotography shot of that place today.





(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie landscape photography Tasmanian Tue, 05 Feb 2019 20:23:01 GMT
New matted print sizes One of our A4 matted prints in a clear bag7x5" photo with A4 sized window mat, all archival material, designed to last 100 years.

I had some new mats made. The previous mats were designed to be "the perfect even sized mat", which is my way of saying they didn't fit in the bags. On advice from two professional framers, I discovered that I can make the mat size bigger and it actually looks better and fits in the bag. Who'd have thought? Lesson learned; listen to the experts, they are usually right. Here's the back view showing the history booklet included with these prints;


Back view of matted print showing the history booklet included.Back view of matted print showing the history booklet included.

(Beatties Studio) beatties studio landscape mat photographer sizes Tasmanian Tue, 05 Feb 2019 20:22:02 GMT
Rephotography Man on the bike Elizabeth Street HobartMan on the bike Elizabeth Street HobartMan on the bike Elizabeth Street Hobart



According to Wikipedia, "Rephotography is the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a "then and now" view of a particular area."

With the Beattie’s Studio collection, rephotography means taking Beattie photos again to show how things have changed and what is there now.


My Grandfather, Arch, was a bit of a pioneer of rephotographs, taking new versions of Mr Beattie’s photos. Recreating the scene from the same view point years later. I think Arch was trying to show the changes over time, but probably also trying to do a better version of the photo, given he had better technology. Now I’m planning on doing that.

I've decided that my first book will be of the Hobart Town collection with "then and now" photos, history and other interesting facts. This book will be about the original photo, the scene, the place, the story of the place. But also about the story of rephotographing it. 

As a warm up to the book, I've been out rephotographing some of the sites. Scoping them out. Watching the light, the timing and the traffic. Doing my homework, you might say. I was out on Elizabeth Street, just outside Banjo's to be exact, scoping out number 771 from our collection. This is the classic "Man on the bike" photo. It's the one that really started it all for me. The first one I ever digitised. It's the reason (well one of the reasons) that I'm doing this. I just love that photo. So there I am, watching that I don't get run over by a bus and trying desperately to get the shot to line up on the screen of my iPhone. I use an app called Repro which superimposes the original shot over the live camera. That makes it easy to find the exact spot and the right angle - in theory. What they don't tell you is that no one can see an LCD screen in full sun, not even Superman. Right on 1pm (the time on the clock in 771) a cyclist rides up Elizabeth Street exactly in the spot where the man is in the original photo. I was so shocked that I was a bit late hitting the shutter button and missed the perfect photo by half a second. It makes a great story if not a great photo.




Elizabeth Street todayWhat are the odds a cyclist will come along almost exactly 100 years later in the same spot at the same time of day when I'm "ready" to take the photo again?


(Beatties Studio) beatties studio historic john watt beattie landscape photos rephotography Tasmania Tue, 05 Feb 2019 00:16:31 GMT
See, I said I'd write soon. Lightroom says I have 5022 photos so I hit my 5000 by 2018 goal. There's plenty of crates left, I estimate another two or three thousand negatives. I just found a whole box of sailing ships, for example.

Last year I went to galleries in England, Scotland, Singapore, Sydney, on cruise ships and in Melbourne. More recently, I took a walk through Salamanca Market and also visited some local galleries. Special mention to Wild Island. And of course, I've been to MONA a few times. When we're away, it's a bit of a running joke between me and the Boss - "Oh Walshie's got one of those." (Props to MONA when I was referring to an exhibit in the British Museum.)

I'm no art expert and my art budget is basically zero. But I think I have a bit of a feel for how it's done. The business of art. And here in lies that elusive business plan I mentioned last blog post. I noticed that I wrote in 2016 that I would be developing products and making the collection more accessible. I think I said watch in the coming weeks. I suppose 2 years is only 104 weeks...


My digital recreations now come as a full featured piece of art. Each one is printed and inspected, then sprayed with a clear coating to protect it. It is “T” hinge mounted on acid-free foam core backing board and window matted with 4-ply cotton museum board. The image and paper is estimated to resist fading or deterioration for over 100 years. Framing options have been carefully selected to make the best presentation. Prints are wrapped in crystal clear viewing bags for transport.

But wait, there's more. (I always wanted to say that)

Included is a certificate of authenticity listing the details of the image, its history and as much information on the scene as we can find. Each certificate has a unique serial number on a tamper evident hologram sticker with its matching sticker on the back of the signed print. There will be no doubt that you have an original Beattie's Digital Studio print.



(Beatties Studio) john watt beattie tasmania Sun, 11 Mar 2018 23:48:06 GMT
New Shopping experience I've updated the web site yet again. If you want to buy prints, frames etc it's now a bit easier.

As you browse the galleries, the shopping options appear on the right hand side of the screen by default. You can turn these off if you wish, just hit the little "x" in the top left hand corner of the shopping pop-up on the right side of the screen. Turning it off makes for more screen area to view photos. And some people are not interested in buying and that's fine, feel free to browse the galleries with shopping turned off. Hit the "Buy" button at the top right to turn shopping back on. Easy.



In that shopping pop-up, you will see a few suggested common products you might like. One click on those adds them to your shopping cart. View items, put things in the cart, take them out. I don't get statistics on that, I won't be offended if you change your mind, I won't even know about it. Once you have everything you want, finish the cart, checkout and pay. That's the point where I start getting information and statistics. Try not to change your mind after you pay, that creates a bit of work for me. Paypal and Zenfolio have charged me their commissions at that point, so it costs me money to refund you.


The real treasure is located in "The Shop". Hit the "Visit Shop" button and you will see ALL of the options, not just the common ones. Bigger prints, frames, acrylics, canvas and maybe one day coffee cups and mouse mats, tea-towels and the likes. Same deal, browse the store, put things in the cart, take them out. Go back to the Gallery if you want to look at more photos or head to the checkout if you're done.


The shopping experience uses cookies. The cart is saved locally on your computer (that's what cookies are), not on our web site. If you clear cookies, the cart will vanish. If it all gets messed up, just delete cookies on your computer. We don't do any evil tracking and we don't give, sell or rent your personal info to anyone (we have to pass some basic stuff to Paypal so they know how much to charge to you). Your credit card details are never on our web site. We don't ask for any information beyond what we need. (e.g. we don't ask for your date of birth, drivers licence or the password to your Cayman Islands bank account - oh go on, I know some of you have one!)


Instructions on buying our products


(Beatties Studio) john watt beattie tasmania Tue, 06 Feb 2018 01:26:40 GMT
Inspiration 4242Hobart GPO from Franklin Square. You would think finding the inspiration to restore 5000 historic Tasmanian photos by iconic photographer John Watt Beattie would be easy. Well I suppose it would be if I were a photographer, but I'm not. I'm an imposter. My grand father and my father were photographers, my brother is a photographer, as is my good friend, my printer and lots of the people I associate with. I don't know what I am (photography wise that is), I'm an anomaly, a photographer that doesn't take photos. That's not it exactly because of course everyone takes photos. I mean professionally. And I'm not a photoshop artist, although I do a lot of photoshop. I'm some kind of historic photography restorative computer museum curator. See, it's hard to define.


When I started this project, I needed to learn. I needed to come up to speed on the photography industry really quickly. And so I sought inspiration. The Internet is a wonderful place. If you can ignore the rubbish, there's a wealth of knowledge and experience out there. Wonderful people who love to share. I've learned everything from photoshop, digitising glass plates, landscape photography, black and white, exposure etc etc etc. You can literally Youtube anything. My daughter proved that when she made the pizza oven and Youtubed how to lay bricks.


I like lots of web sites. Luminous Landscape, B&H, Digital Transitions, Tim Grey, Scanscience, robert rodriguez jr and LightStalking to name a few.


I find that I have to have a constant stream of new exciting ideas or I get stuck. I'm stuck at the moment. Not on photography or technique but on business model. But that's another story. I'll write soon, I promise. Right now enjoy one of my personal favourite images from the Beattie's Studio collection - Franklin Square and Hobart GPO. I don't know what it is about this one, but I really like it. It's a big slab of glass, I like glass plates. Maybe it was the fact that the negative didn't give me any trouble, it came up the way I like it (all nice and contrasty) without much work from me. Maybe it's the fact that the Hobart City Council is restoring the park right now and I see it every day. Maybe it's because I've had a GPO box (behind the last arch on the left) for 35 years. I don't know. I just love it. I hope you do too.

(Beatties Studio) beatties studio tasmania Thu, 10 Aug 2017 08:20:23 GMT
Wet Mounting 12481248"A quiet corner" Wineglass Bay Freycinet Peninsula Beattie 909A

I'm constantly seeking to improve my photography. With over 4 years invested in digitising the Beattie collection, I think it's fair to say I've learned a thing or two. At the high end of commercial digitisation the big gun scanners use a glass drum and the negative is mounted onto the drum with a special scanning fluid. Historic negatives are not normally digitised this way for fear of damaging them. And of course glass plates can't be bent around a drum. So wet mounting (sticking the negative to glass with fluid) is not something that is used for this type of project. But that didn't stop me researching it and deciding if wet mounting had something to offer. Turns out that it did.

Some of the Beattie collection exists on 120 film. Where the original glass plate was lost, a high quality print was re-photographed on film. Ilford Fp4+ to be precise. So we have a lot of it and some of it is quite old and well worn. The acetate base (the "film") gets scratched with repeated use. One of the downsides to the very high resolution scanning process is that it reveals these scratches whereas the traditional darkroom printing, using an enlarger, does not.

The advocates of wet mounting claim that the fluid fills in the microscopic scratches in the film surface giving a better scan. The other benefits come from reducing refraction. Dry mounting sandwiches the film between two sheets of glass to flatten it. This means that you are photographing through at least one layer of glass. The more layers you put between the film and the camera sensor, the more chance of distortion.

So I decided to try wet mounting.

I got some excellent advice from and the wonderful Mr Dan Max who got me kitted out with appropriate fluid, glass and most importantly technique. This is a lot harder than it sounds because he had to ship "dangerous goods" internationally. The scanning fluid contains a flammable component so it can't fly, has to come sea and road freight.

The results are good. I can easily tell the difference between a wet mount and a dry mount scan. There are less scratches and marks but more importantly more detail and contrast. And the wet mount holds the negative much flatter than a dry glass sandwich. The process takes a bit longer but the results are worth it.

The photo (above) of Wineglass Bay is a wet mount DSLR camera scan with no retouching. Looks very good to my eye.


(Beatties Studio) negative scanning wet mounting Sat, 10 Jun 2017 02:18:04 GMT
Numbers Numbers are interesting things. Most of our photos have numbers. They don't have much else to identify them, no names, no descriptions, no locations and certainly no metadata. Most have a four digit number hand written on the paper bag they are stored in. Mostly the number is also written on the negative too. So that's what you get - 4 lousy digits to distinguish thousands of lovely images from one another.

3647 is an interesting number. No, it's not the combination to my high school locker. I can't recall what that was, yet it seemed so important at the time. No, 3647 is the number of images in the Beattie's Lightroom catalogue. That is where I keep the digital master versions of our photographs. So in theory I've done 3647 out of 5000 negatives in the historic collection. Given 2016 was a bad year on so many levels, I'm pretty happy with that number. I believe I said this was a 5 year project and that number says I'm on track for a 2018 finish.

It's probably not appropriate to go into too much detail of all the pot holes in that track, let's just say they were significant and plentiful. What's more interesting is the journey down that track. And I can assure you that's a more interesting story.

One diversion was the scanner. I still get better results with my archival camera, but I needed a scanner for colour work. I do get people needing reprints of their weddings, portraits and other photos Beattie's took for them over the years. Many of these are in colour. And colour is really hard to get right. With all your fancy digital cameras and really smart software, you've probably never had to work with early colour film. And what a little bugger colour film is.

It all comes down to compression. That's the process of taking a lot of information and squashing it down into a small storage space. Your digital camera does that by taking lots of colour picture information and squashing it into a small jpeg datafile. And it does that really, really well. Even a cheap camera does a pretty good job of that and makes the process so simple that it's invisible to you and you've probably never thought about it. When it comes time to viewing the photo, a computer un-squashes the jpeg and produces a wide range of colours that looks so close to the original image that you are happy. You never think about how closely those colours resemble the original scene. Like I said, even a cheap camera can get this bit so very right.

Analogue film cameras are pretty good a squashing down the colour information. They store it on a piece of plastic film using a photo-chemical reaction. And this is where my problem starts. All of that highly compressed colour information appears to my eyes as a piece of orange coloured film. I can't see any colours in there. The whole thing is just a shade of orange;

Kodak 160NC colour negative120 colour negative Kodak 160NCThis one is a portrait of my daughter Taylia taken by my father

I don't know about you, but for the life of me I can't detect any "colour" in this other than orange. Possibly the background curtain is blue and there's some green in the dress, but it's like one of those silly 3D pictures, you can stare and stare and some people just get it and some people do not. When it comes to colour negatives, I just don't see it.

With black and white, I just invert the blacks and whites (using a tone curve, black becomes white, white becomes black) and the negative un-squashes into a photograph. It needs some contrast adjustment, but basically it's a photo. With colour, I have to invert Red, Green and Blue (RGB) which doesn't sound too bad until you realise that each colour layer has its own compression and that's not a linear process. Oops, I just used a bunch of big words. Sorry.

Un-squashing colour negatives into an exact match of the original colour photo is hard, really hard. Each batch of film was different and you would need hundreds of adjustments and you might not get it right after all that.

So I bought some really expensive software that specialises in this complex un-squashing of colour negatives. It's called Silverfast and it's very good at what it does. The software itself is a right bugger to learn because it's very German. All the translation is literal. There is no manual. The training videos are done by very talented, German engineers who wrote the software so they know exactly how it works. They will tell you that the "achtung-o-meter" controls the achtung of the image, for example. Well WTF is that? The user interface was designed by ... no, just kidding, it wasn't designed at all. It was thrown together. In short, the software is God-awful to use but does a brilliant job.

So, in learning how to process the colour negatives in the Beattie's Studio collection, I spent most of 2016 just getting a grip on one piece of software. See, I told you it was an interesting pot hole.


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Tasmania coloured Fri, 30 Dec 2016 22:09:30 GMT
You find some fun stuff So this week's new arrivals include an award given to the Anson Brothers for outstanding photography, 1879, a shot of Elizabeth Street Hobart that almost exactly matches out signature shot (771, the man on the bike) and many more.


I'm using the Epson V800 with Silverfast 8. This helps me "plough through" the smaller negatives. I say "plough" as they take around an hour and a half per negative. Yes, 90 minutes. Given the grunt of my Mac Pro, there must be some serious number crunching going on. The results are good.


Anyway, I'm back at it, which is good.


(Beatties Studio) Sun, 11 Dec 2016 07:04:24 GMT
Fake news, fake history Modern social media seems to have received a bit of a shock with the result of the US election. They have had this problem of “fake news” for while now. Just so we are on the same page, fake news is the term for non-fiction where the facts are not accurately reported.

Or as founder David Mikkelson put it “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone,”


And there’s a lot of fake news about and not just on social media. Traditional media often displays a lack of understanding of the facts in a story. For example, a story about a scientist making a significant discovery can be be reported with the gender or physical appearance of the scientist taking the lead in the story and the discovery barely mentioned. Or the use of NBN to facilitate Beattie’s restoration gets reported with no mention of NBN at all.

When my late father wrote his book (Pictorial Portrayal of Tasmania’s Past) he engaged local history buff Basil Rait to do the history. Much of what Basil wrote was good, but he had a tendency to guess if the facts were not available to him. Facts can be checked or evidence given to support supposition and every historian brings his or her own views and distortions, no matter how minor or well guarded they keep them.

Once a bad story gets out, it lives forever. No matter how many times reputable, informed sources prove it to be false, there will always be many people who believe the original (fake) article. Vaccination is a classic example. Put aside your gut reaction for a moment. One fraudulent article in 1998 and there are still people who believe vaccines are proven to cause autism. They are not.

History is the same. History is written by the victors. And once fake history gets out, it lives forever.

I am not a historian. I think I’ve said that a few times now. The history I report comes from other sources. Where I infer things, I admit it. The story of my grandfather’s camera bag came from my head, I admit it. The fact is it’s in the shot. The reason he put it there could have been laziness or incompetence, it could have been stylistic but I prefer to believe it was to piss off his son the perfectionist. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

(Beatties Studio) Sat, 19 Nov 2016 21:57:42 GMT
A few more tweaks I made a few more tweaks to the web site view. It's still not where I want it, but it's better than it was. I've posted the pros and cons of hosted websites before so I'll not repeat myself - again.

The (useless) camera info is gone. This referred to the camera I use to capture the image, not the antique camera used to make that image. Unfortunately, ancient film cameras did not record metadata like modern digital cameras. Working out which wooden camera Mr Beattie used for each photo is not something I am going to attempt. But all the cameras will be on display when I open a museum. (no cat out of the bag there I hope)

Over on the right of each photo, you will see the Title in grey text (generally a 4 digit number, occasionally with a letter prefix and/or suffix) which relates to the original Beattie's negative number. (e.g. 28g, the "g" means glass negative). That is the number we refer to the photo by. Don't ever quote any other number to me, it probably won't make sense. 

The numbering on the thumbnails is gone. Very pleased to get rid of that, the extra numbers confused the heck out of everyone including me. You now just press the right and left controls to browse through the photos. If you are at the first photo, there is no left. If you are at the last photo, there is no right. If your device has a touch screen (tablet, phone etc) you can swipe rather than hit the buttons.

Under the Title is the Caption (in white text), which is the name of the photo or its description. (e.g. "Man on the bike, Elizabeth Street c1914"). This is there so you can search for photos of something you are interested in. (e.g. Elizabeth Street)

Then below that is "Categories and keywords". I finally found out how to fill in the "Category", "Subcategory" and "Subcategory Detail" boxes. These have been empty for years. That's how long it took me to find out how to use them. Anyway, these fields aren't as useful as you might think and really only help Google find images. The categories are pre-set and can't be changed. Like I said, not really useful. But I now have data in there. Just please no one complain that I have silly categories, because they are not my categories. I have to have this box showing as that's the only place the keywords show up. So no categories box, no keywords. And I do use keywords and they are useful. The thing that I can't display yet is the star rating of each photo. So I'll tag the photos with the keywords "3star" and "5star". Soon.

I got rid of more overlay information. And generally cleaned up the look. I'm aiming to make the viewing experience as clean and easy as possible, within the limits of a hosted web site. You came here to see photos, not pop-up information.

Thank you for your suggestions, I have to hang onto them until I design my own site. I think I have pushed the hosted site as far as it goes.



(Beatties Studio) Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:39:29 GMT
Product development Not having studied marketing or design at school, the world of product development is all new to me. And I have to say somewhat exciting. It's sort of like shopping. You search for materials, compare research and select the ones you like the best. Then you find that they just don't go with that other amazing thing you had your heart set on, so you have to change one of them and so on. It is not as straightforward as I would have imagined.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am working on framing for our prints. And that is the product I'm currently developing. I'm probably not ready to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but let's just say it will be as elegant as I can make it.

Just to clarify, this will be an additional product range, not a replacement. If you want a bare print for your album, scrapbooking, or to frame yourself, that will still be an option for you. Not taking that away.

(Beatties Studio) Sat, 05 Nov 2016 23:02:26 GMT
Framing, finished products coming soon. The journey to digitising all of the Beattie Collection is a long and expensive one. If you've read any of my blog posts, articles etc you will understand that it isn't just a case of tossing them under the scanner. And the quest for quality, modern digital recreations is not easy. I've admitted before that I'm not (and there is no point) just trying to produce perfect copies of these historic Tasmanian photos exactly the way they've been done for the past 150+ years.


For a start, there’s no certainty that the washed sepia look was what the photographer (Beattie) would have intended. Sepia was developed to make the prints last longer. And the original Beattie prints (and those of that era) that have survived are black and white, not sepia. It is my personal theory that sepia toning was introduced by subsequent curators to present a historic look, rather than an accurate look.


And most importantly is the copyright issue. The copyright on original photos would have expired 25 years after Beattie’s death (i.e. 1955) But in creating new, derivative works, the copyright starts again. And it would be very hard to argue that my new digital recreations with their vastly different toning and Photoshop enhancements are mere copies. They are clearly a new spin on old images, making the grade as derivative not duplicates.


Now we could just donate this collection to The Archives and they would probably be scanned and stuck on a web site. And after a few years, the collection would fade into history, popping up here and there when someone needed an old photo. And if you want the proof of this, there’s plenty of examples. My belief is that this would not be good enough for the Beattie Collection. Read my blog article on the photo my son found at the tip if you doubt my passion.


So that’s NOT what is going to happen to this collection under my watch. It is being digitally preserved and enhanced and it IS available to the world. But that costs money and this collection has always paid its own rent. It’s an open commercial collection. Yes, decades before Creative Commons and Open Source and all that hippy "sharing economy" talk, this little collection found a way to survive. And this brings me to the point of my blog article. Hopefully, you are still with me.


I’ve said before that the web site as it is now is a beta for what I want some time in the future. It’s a hosted web site. It lets everyone browse (and search) for free, fulfilling my promise. And for those that wish, there are items for sale. The web site mirrors perfectly the museum experience offered by Beattie himself. But what you’ve not heard before is that the collection isn’t just photographs. There always was more to it than that. Beattie had artefacts from colonial Tasmania. My father added cameras and photographic equipment, books and other historical items. I want to add lantern slide lectures, because Beattie used to tour Tasmania showing his slides and giving his talks. (You didn’t think PowerPoint was an original idea, did you?)


With bigger ideas come bigger costs. To meet bigger costs, the collection has to work harder. Has to offer more to the public. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. And I’ve tried to figure out where I am going wrong with the products. And then I took a holiday and visited some galleries and museums. It struck me that this web site doesn’t really offer finished products. We offer bare prints you can turn into finished products. But you need to frame a print before it can be hung on a wall. And (up until now) I haven’t offered framing.


Modern galleries sell art in lots of ways that don’t equate to a bare print on paper. In fact, you are hard pressed to buy a “naked” print in most galleries. Everything is framed, ready to hang. And that’s where I am going. I want modern framing to suit modern houses. I had thought about a Tasmanian timber frame, but those are cost prohibitive. And then a friend asked me “are you selling the photo or the frame?” and I had yet another epiphany.


In the coming weeks, you will see new products added to the web site.

(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Tasmania Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:16:50 GMT
Old Beattie's photos  

unknown brideunknown bride

My wife and son found this photo at the Tip Shop. This beautiful framed photograph in perfect condition with no damage at all. Given the style and fashion, I estimate this to be 1950-1970. In truth, if I had the man power, I could search the old hand written registers and probably find out whose wedding it was. But I don't and that isn't the point. Back in the day this was taken, colour photography was far from perfected. The colours were often not accurate and the images tended to fade over time. Your beautiful wedding photographs probably wouldn't look so great by your golden anniversary. The chemical process just wasn't great. So despite colour photography having been around since about 1907 (and allegedly made popular by Hitler) it was not used or recommended for weddings at the time this one was taken. The photographers preferred to take black and white images and have them coloured by an artist painting the colours onto the photo. (hand coloured) The colours were more accurate and the photo lasted a lot longer. This one is probably well over 60 years old and the colours are still as bright as the day it was taken.

Several people worked very hard and used all their skill to produce this photograph. The bride, the dress maker, makeup artist, hair dresser and attendants (maids, as in bride's maids). All of these people got the bride (up 3 sets of stairs) to the studio looking just right. Then the photographer (and in this case I am pretty sure it was A A Stephenson) had to capture that look. He put the bride at ease, posed her and used his charm to get the right expression and look. He used his technical skills to capture that image on a negative whilst looking under a hood (a large cloak to shield the light) at the image upside down on ground glass. Then another technician in the dark room (probably William Stephenson) had to use chemicals and light to develop the negative. And yet more skill to produce the print onto paper. Then the colourist (and I'm guessing Miss Heather Brown did this one) went to work, based on fabric samples, notes etc. (She wasn't at the wedding, and had never seen the dress, complexion, flowers and makeup, so how would she know what colour to paint them?) And then a picture framer had to mount the picture onto stiff cardboard, seal it with a varnish and frame it.

The sad part is that this bride and all her family are possibly long gone. I'm guessing there was no one left that wanted to keep this photo.

So my son bought it with his pocket money (a whole $5) and brought it home. Mostly because his grand father had taken it. And I scanned it and present it here. Because it doesn't belong on the tip.

(Beatties Studio) coloured hand Mon, 03 Oct 2016 04:33:08 GMT
A little re-arrange Now that I have NBN and can actually upload historic photos of Tasmania at a reasonable speed, I have taken the opportunity to have a little re-arrange. The collection from Tasmanian Historian and icon, Colin Denison had previously all been in the "Historical" gallery by themselves. They didn't have proper titles and the metadata was pretty basic. That wasn't Colin's fault, it was mine. At the time he donated them to me, I just didn't have spare time to properly catalogue them. And now I do and I have.

So these old photos from The Courier have now been integrated into the collection and properly tagged. That should make them easier to find. For example, if you search for "Port Esperance" you will now see the restored photos and the published versions. My guess is they were taken on the same day. It looks like the same lady (subject/model) to me.

Being re-printed and scanned from newsprint, they are not the same high quality, high resolution as the rest of the collection. There is not much we can do about that. The news paper prints in about 75 dpi and we like to get 300dpi. Incredible software will fill in the screened bits and give us slightly better copies, but we can't put back everything that was lost in the printing process. (Doctor Who, if you're reading this, I could use your help here.)


So enjoy them. Just be aware that if you order any prints, they won't be as stunning as we would like.


And for everyone who is waiting for the site re-design and better colour scheme - I haven't forgotten you. I said I wouldn't do a knee jerk, but I will get there, I promise.

(Beatties Studio) Tasmania Sun, 27 Sep 2015 04:37:07 GMT
Sunday Tasmanian article A funny thing happened while I was working on some photos the other day. NBN called me to see if I was happy with my new NBN connection. To say I'm happy is an under statement. With the older, slower ADSL, it was taking me nearly all week to upload photos I had finished on the weekend. Yes, 5 days to upload 2 days work. That's slow. And often the connection would time out and I had to start again. Anyway, long story short, when NBN found out how happy I was, they asked what I was using the NBN for. So I told them about Beattie's and my project to digitize the historic photos of Tasmania. That's when they asked if they could run a story about me in the Sunday Tasmanian.

The experience of being interviewed and photographed was fun and I'm delighted with the article. Being mindful that The Mercury doesn't have unlimited space and so any article can only tell a small part of the story, I think they did a great job. There's obviously more to the Beattie's story on this web site (see History).

A few people have jumped to the conclusion that we have 100,000 historic photos on the web site. Regrettably this is not so. There are roughly 5000 historic negatives in the collection. I have digitized about 2000 of them and most of those are on the web site. The exact number changes day to day. The 100,000 are the studio photos of people, groups, babies, weddings etc. I will think about starting on those if and when I finish the 5000 historic photos.

By "historic" I mean that the photos are of interest to a wide audience. They are often of places, buildings or events. A large number of the historic photos were taken by J W Beattie, more by Arch Stephenson and the other photographers who either worked for Beattie or before Beattie. The historic collection continues after Beattie's passing, so there are photos from 1930-1993 in there as well. Our oldest photo (that I have found so far) is dated 1867, but there probably older ones in there that I don't have dates on. Rarely did the photographers of that period actually date their photos.

And the biggest omission in the article (which is entirely my fault) is that of my brother, William Stephenson. His contribution to the preservation of the collection is as important as those before him. He is the current custodian of the collection. I am the computer geek turned photographer that is digitizing it, slowly.

John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Tasmania Mon, 17 Aug 2015 00:56:02 GMT
Yet more surprises As I dig through the old photos of Tasmania in the Beattie collection, I find stuff. Sometimes it's diamonds and sometimes it's dog do. I use this metaphor as one of the discovered treasures was a portrait of the late Bingo, loyal dog to my grand mother.


This week I started on a mixed box of glass plates, whole plates and other large format negatives. All old photos of Tasmania, well mostly. I found some cartoons, funnies and other pictures that were circulated long before the Internet was ever dreamed of. I found another panorama of Port Arthur and a curious landscape of New Norfolk with some obvious photoshop by razor blade, a technique my late grand father preferred.

Some of the glass was golden. A lovely scene of Hobart taken from Lindisfarne. This 10x8" piece of glass probably survived two world wars and several fires and it still looks as good as any photo taken today.


And some of the glass could have stayed buried.


1599 done and counting.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:57:37 GMT
Is Pozible possible? As I progress through the old photos of Tasmania in the Beattie collection, I'm running out of money. There is a substantial cost in getting professional PhotoShop to clean up these glass plates, large format negatives etc. The web hosting etc, I can handle, but the ongoing retouching has drained all the funds I had saved. I need about $20,000 to finish the entire collection.


So I'm thinking of a Pozible campaign. Do we think this would work? Feel free to comment.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 12 Oct 2014 05:59:18 GMT
Amazing what you find This week I moved on to the "Bowls Club" box of old photos. This box contains mostly historic old photos of Tasmanian bowls clubs, especially the club that my Grand Father (Arch Stephenson) belonged to. I was expecting to see lots of photos of bowlers and maybe the odd one of Arch and his wife (my Grand Mother) and bowling partner Florence. Except I didn't. What I found was bowlers and Masons galore with nary a relative to add any interest. This was fast becoming the most boring box of glass plates and large format negatives that I had ever digitised.


Then I came across a picture of some family in front of their shack. I couldn't identify them or the location, until my Mother dropped by and instantly identified Florence and her family at their shack at Blackman's Bay, just south of Hobart.


A little further in the box revealed some studio test shots. When the photographers received new film or equipment they often tested it before using it for paid work. And this is how I get most of the pictures of my family. You see they didn't take a lot of their own family photos, that was the last thing on their minds after they knocked off work for the day. So these test shots are what I have.


So if you're into bowls, you will be delighted.


On the non-bowling front, the Port Arthur series is just about complete. Over a hundred historic photos of Port Arthur and surrounds. Convict relicts and even photographs of Port Arthur when it was a working prison. These are some of the oldest glass plates in our collection. You may have seen some of these images in museums or elsewhere, but these are the glass plates fully restored. There is plenty of detail and clarity in these old photographs.

(Beatties Studio) Arthur Port Sun, 05 Oct 2014 06:02:24 GMT
3 stars revisited I've been looking into the problem of the ratings not showing up on the site. I've spent some considerable time on it and finally come to the conclusion that the one thing Zenfolio doesn't let you share with your audience is ratings.


So I invented a new tag. 3star


You will see this tag on photos that are 3 star rated. That is they are not perfect. They have flaws. Or they have not been edited fully yet.


Initially I wasn't going to have anything less than 5 star rated photos. But there are so many good historic Tasmanian photos by Beattie, Spurling, Searle and other great Tasmanian photographers. And some of them haven't fared well over the years. Some have degraded. But they are still amazing photos. And frankly, I can't afford to PhotoShop every picture at this point in time. So I have released a number of 3 star pictures.


If you order one of these, I will see if PhotoShop is going to improve the image. And I will do that before you get your print. But for some, no amount of PhotoShop will ever restore the original image. And those we have to accept as they are. Amazing but flawed.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 28 Sep 2014 10:37:37 GMT
A quiet weekend? A trip to Sydney made for a quiet weekend on the Beattie photos front. I did note from our web statistics that the popular search term is Beattie photographs scoring higher than historic photographs or old photographs of Tasmania.


Whilst in Sydney, I visited the Rocks Market where I saw lots of historic old photos of Tasmania and Hobart as well as other areas of Australia. Most of these old Australian photos dated back to the 1880's or slightly before. The quality left a bit to be desired but I was delighted to note their price was slightly more than we charge. It's always good to know our price is right.


Back to digitising the glass plates and large format negatives this week. Expect more surprises. The collection on display on the web site is very close to 1000 pictures now.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 14 Sep 2014 08:27:18 GMT
Father's Day I chose to spend the day honouring my father by restoring more Beattie glass plate negatives. I shot about 20 today, all of Port Arthur. The amazing thing about this batch is that they seem to be Anson Brothers originals of Port Arthur when it was still operating as a prison. I found a few dated 1860. John Beattie is often credited on these photos but he didn't arrive in Tasmania until 1878 so they can't have been his as Port Arthur closed in 1877.


These images have been re-printed numerous times. But actually holding the piece of glass that captured the image back in 1860 has a special privilege. I constantly aim to bring out as much detail as possible, whilst restoring these images in a contemporary style. My black and white toning is more reminiscent of Ansel Adams perhaps than Beattie. And that's how I bring these photos to a modern audience, whilst honouring my ancestors.


Best Wishes to all Fathers today.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 07 Sep 2014 07:38:00 GMT
Crisis of conscience or new business plan? The collection of old photos of Tasmania in Beattie's Digital Studio has grown steadily over the last 6 months since our soft launch in February. From a mere 100 photos, we now have over 700 unique images. There are glass plates, large format negatives and copies of prints. All lovingly restored and presented in glorious black and white.
The progression through the rest of the collection will be a challenge. So far I have funded the restoration work from my own pocket. As well as the initial capital outlay for the digitising rig, computer, camera and software, there are ongoing expenses for the talented individuals who carefully PhotoShop each image to remove spots and imperfections and restore each picture to its full glory.
I didn't start Beattie's Digital Studio to make a million bucks. But I do need it to be self sufficient at some point. I don't have unlimited funds to pour into it. And I don't have a cash machine. I did make some money from the sale of an IT business. Not the millions you hear about from companies like Google or even that Tassie IT firm that floated, nothing at all like that. But what money I did make has been used already.
So I am at a cross roads. The place where deals are made. And I'm sure there's a devil around somewhere if I wanted to go that way. (I'm talking about advertising)
I've surveyed my initial audience; the FaceBook generation. Because, yes, FaceBook has been where my audience came from. Just shy of 500 of them, or should I say you? And a good audience you are, don't get me wrong here. But what I have found out is that you like me, love viewing these photos of Tasmania. You love seeing how Tasmania was a hundred years ago. You love seeing the wilderness and the towns, the old buildings and the cars, trains and trams. And you genuinely love looking at them and reading about the history. But like me, you have a limited supply of spending money and find it difficult to justify buying prints of these amazing images.
I didn't really expect to build a separate online community around these photos. You are happy to be part of a community, but you want that to live on FaceBook. And that's understandable given that's where you came from.
I also found out that I wasn't doing anything wrong. Or at least not badly wrong. You didn't want sepia. I wasn't charging too much. Yes, there are a few things that (I had already thought of) you would like. There's framing, downloads, books and e-books. And yes I will do those things. But the main reason you aren't buying is that you don't have the cash.
So a change of business plan is in order. I don't think you are my target audience. I still love you FaceBook generation, and I will continue to entertain you. But the customers who can pay for prints are clearly elsewhere. I need to think about a gallery, books and other places to show off these fine photographs. Suggestions welcome.
So there you have it. A long winded, heart on my sleeve approach to the survey results. After 6 months, 2000 visitors and 700 photos, a picture emerges. And it's as clear and beautiful as any of the Beattie photographs, even if its histogram was painted by Survey Monkey. Thank you all for taking the survey and thank you for being honest and open. I love you all and there will be plenty of photos for your free enjoyment.
(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio tasmania Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:11:59 GMT
Ploughing ahead As I work my way through the historic photographs of Tasmania in the Beattie collection, I never know what will come next. This is the nature of a collection filed by arbitrary numbers and not by subject or location. In fact adding that location and content information (or Metadata as we call it) is my job. Yes I have to digitise the large format negatives, slides and glass plates. But without some catalogue information, they are not much use to any one.

With the retouching team expanded, the pipeline is getting quicker. 600 down, 4400 to go...

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 17 Aug 2014 03:32:04 GMT
3 star update I've mentioned before the difference between 5 star and 3 star rated photos. Basically 5 star is as good as we can get them and 3 star means there are some technical quality issues with the photo.


Today I added a series of hockey team photos, all of which are 3 star. I have down that because I want to get these photos out there and find out who these people are. And if someone does want to order a print of any of these 3 star photos, I will make sure they are retouched and cleaned up before they are printed.


Photographers commonly presented proof copies to their customers before they printed finished photos. These proofs allowed the customer to see what was in the photo, who had their eyes open, who was smiling and who was looking just right. The proofs were usually stamped with "proof only" across the photo to remind customers that they did not represent exactly what the photo would look like once it was "finished". The photographer would make developing adjustments, retouching and cropping to ensure the "finished" photo was as good as it could be. 


And that is how you should consider our 3 star images. Mostly they are proofs, indicative of the content, but not the quality.


600 down, 4400 to go...

(Beatties Studio) Sat, 09 Aug 2014 08:50:17 GMT
New retouchers join the team I'm pleased to have 3 new retouchers join the team; John D, Jim D and Scott. This makes 5 professionals plus myself. I have to use initials now as we have 2 Johns and 2 Jims.

The retouching of all 5000 photos is a job I never realised would be so big. I didn't spend as much time as I should have at the studio when it was running full time. I never learned how to develop these historic glass plates and make stunning prints. I never learned the retouching ("spotting" they called it) with a brush, inks and bleach. And I certainly never learned hand colouring.

When I asked my brother, William, about this, he smiled and said he gets into a sort of meditation and just spots with the brush, away with his thoughts for hours at a time. And that's how long it takes. Hours. And they did (and he still does) this for each print made. Every copy was hand retouched. Each one a hand crafted piece of art.

So those of you with hand coloured photos by Beatties Studio, including the hundreds of copies of the Tasman Bridge, please take a moment to appreciate the individual work you own. No two are identical, but all are perfect. I've honoured these old time retouchers and colourists before, from Miss Grislingham, Heather Brown and the others that have passed to the last 3 (that I know of) left alive; Betty Roberts, Mrs H and of course my brother William.

At least in the digital world, we only have to retouch the photo once. Then the copies are identical.


(Beatties Studio) Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:39:15 GMT
Beatties Devonport As I mentioned, I visited Ron Jessup who ran Beatties Studio in Devonport. He kindly lent me photos to add to the Beatties web site. He had a few prints with him in his room at the nursing home. I have now digitised these and most are on the web site already. Check out the North West gallery.

As these images came from prints, the quality isn't as stunning as I would like. The original negatives are not available to me and the prints were all I had to go on. But some of them have come up a treat. There's even a photo of the studio in Devonport.

Ron has promised to find some more for my next visit. I am looking forward to that.

(Beatties Studio) Sun, 29 Jun 2014 03:14:04 GMT
Just catching up Hi All,

Just wanted to say I have finally caught up with the email enquiries for Beatties portraits. I've helped quite a few people locate family photos taken at Beatties Studio in Cat & Fiddle.

This is a sideline for me, since my goal with this web site is to publish the historic photograph collection. I don't charge for this search service and the web site does not receive any revenue from the sale of re-prints of portraits. That said, I'm happy to help, it just takes a while.

When you are enquiring (about portraits) please think carefully about which photographic studio took your photos. Beatties was not the only one in Hobart, and we don't have the negatives from any other studio, just Beatties Hobart. Our few "failures" to date have turned out to be photos from other studios, which is why we couldn't find them.

Beatties photos were signed (mostly). The proof sets were numbered and stamped "proof only" or embossed. Proofs, for those who don't know, were the small sample prints made just so you could see who was in which photo. They were produced quickly and automatically and the colour and tone were not balanced by hand. They were also not retouched. So the studio was always concerned that a customer might think the finished photo would suffer these flaws and hence the "proof" stamp was applied. "This is just an idea of what will be in your finished photo, not what it will look like" was a catch phrase I know my mother used regularly.


Anyway, enough inside baseball. If you definitely had Beatties Studio in Cat & Fiddle take your picture and you want a re-print, please do get in touch.



John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:08:43 GMT
Photoshop, easy to say, hard to do right Photoshopping the Beatties photos

(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Sun, 01 Jun 2014 06:30:55 GMT
A new mask makes all the difference I made a new mask for the 120 size negatives. These smallest photos in our collection (well not strictly true, we do have a few hundred thousand 35mm, but not in the historic section) are the hardest for me to handle. They tend to be the last ones I digitise in any box because I avoid them as long as I can. In each box there are dozens of paper bags, each one containing a single frame of film. Typically it is Ilford FP4 (fine grain, high sharpness).

I have investigated the commercial masks sold with scanners like the Epson V700. And there's a generic 120 negative holder from DigitaLIZER and another from Plustek. All of these devices are basically a plastic frame for holding the 120 size negative. Then you pop it on your scanner, turn on the back light and scan away.

I've already made my thoughts on scanners vs camera well known. You get good results with a scanner, but I use a camera for the ultimate in picture quality.

The problem I have with these holders is that the negative is not pressed. There will be micro-wrinkles, warps and bends. In short, the negative is not perfectly flat.

My technique is to mask down the light source to about 200x150mm. I then place the 120 neg on the illuminated glass, cover with a another piece of glass, centre and finally mask with my 120 size cut out. This 3 tier sandwich ensures the negative is flattened perfectly. I focus in as close as I can. The 60mm Macro lens allows me to get close, really close. The end of the lens is just 50mm from the negative. I work at f4.5 and adjust the exposure for maximum contrast. I know serious photographers will be thinking about depth of field, but this isn't a concern for me. My subject is flat, really flat, so there is no depth of field. I've worked this lens from one end to the other and f4.5 is my sweet spot for this type of work.

And Newton rings are not a problem. The first layer of glass is from a gutted scanner - anti-Newton Ring scanner glass. The top layer is 5mm plain glass. For some lucky reason, this combination doesn't seem to give me rings. I absolutely see rings through the eye piece, but not in the captured image.

Oh, I forgot to say, I work in the dark. All the lights are off and the curtains drawn. It isn't a traditional dark room, but the light is severely restricted. I even angle my monitor away from the camera to avoid reflections. Virtually all of the light entering the lens is from the light box, passing through the negative.

I take a series of shots until I am absolutely convinced I have the best exposure. This is then developed into our digital negative.

And there you have it. There's no magic in this, it's just good technique and good equipment. You have to have the right tool for the job, as my late father was fond of saying.



John Stephenson



(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Tasmania tasmania Wed, 07 May 2014 09:01:35 GMT
Some quick stats We have passed 1000 negatives digitised. (That's about 1/5th of the collection.) And over 250 fully developed photos on the web site.


So as you can see the Photoshop takes the most time. But it's very important that the photos we offer here are the best quality we can produce. And with the dust spots, scratches and other marks on the original negatives, Photoshop is the only answer. Some people have suggested the newer scanners with ultrasonic dust sensors and these are an excellent invention, but the dust we are dealing with is varnished into the negatives or printed in the image already, making detection almost impossible. And often when we are Photoshopping an image, it is hard to tell what is a dust mark and what is a piece of gravel on a road or mark on a building (that is actually supposed to be there). And we don't want to remove any information from the photos thinking it was dust.


So I think we are on track.



John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Mon, 05 May 2014 06:46:15 GMT
The "Groups box" is now done. I never know what I'll find going through the Beattie negative collection. There is no catalogue, no list. Just boxes of negatives in paper bags with numbers on them. Sometimes a bag will have something written on it, mostly they don't. Sometimes a negative has a title, often they don't. It's like a lucky dip.


The box I just finished was called the groups box. Most of the shots are of groups of people. Sporting groups, school groups, teacher groups, clubs, organisations and business groups. Most of the ones that are dated were taken in the 1930's.


This box did at times feel like it would be the death of me. So many different sizes, subjects and the quality ranged from poor to excellent. Some negatives were eaten away by some chemical residue unknown. With others, the paper bags were rotted to dust that fell off when I lifted the negative out. A lot were glass plates, but there were whole plates, half plates and those glorious custom sizes where a piece of film left over was cut to size, lest it go to waste. Hey, I even found a photographic copy of Cloe, the famous nude from Melbourne, although she won't make the web site.

Most of the photos are still with the (incredibly talented) retouchers. But many are available today on the web site. Check out the People gallery.



John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie tasmania Sat, 19 Apr 2014 03:44:13 GMT
Spot the camera case As I plough through the old negatives, I sometimes find a photo with an old leather camera case in the shot. It's the same one, popping up again and again. So I asked my brother about it. Turns out it was our grand father's (Arch Stephenson) and he left it in shot sometimes. Our theory is he did it to stir up our father (Bill Stephenson) who would have thought it terribly unprofessional. Arch was the landscape photographer and Bill the portrait man and somewhat of a perfectionist.

So it seems this was a little inside joke between father and son. It puts a smile on my face, I hope it does for you too.


John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Sun, 23 Mar 2014 00:44:34 GMT
Digitising gets going again Hi All,


Spent the long weekend digitising glass plates. I like working with them but they are so fragile and sometimes sharp. No band aids yet.


Now we have 2 amazing retouchers working on the collection, the finished photos are appearing on the web site a little faster. This frees me up to start shooting again. See the Facebook page for a few advance samples including Roy Cazaly.


Tell your friends, Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. But check back on the web site regularly as the collection grows.


Best Regards

John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Sun, 09 Mar 2014 02:18:55 GMT
To 3 star or not to 3 star, that is the question.


As I progress through the hundreds of photographs I have already digitised, some decisions have to be made. Many of our photos are good enough to display as they are with little adjustment. Many need work and some need extensive work. Some are just so amazing that I can't wait to share them. And these make up the 3 star images. They are incredible photos but they have technical flaws. One day, if demand and resources allow, they will be fully restored using the latest technology. But for now they are as good as I can get them.

I have also found some curios. Images that Beattie and his team either took or acquired. Today's lot included photos of the prison ship Success tied up at Hobart dock. Wikipedia that one, it's a fascinating piece of history. As the image is signed by Beattie, I assume the copies out there on the Internet were taken from his photo. And then there are the photos of the first South Pole mission by Amundsen, another one for you to Wiki. History tells us that John Beattie developed the plates when the ship docked in Hobart. I assume Beattie had permission to make copies, because they were displayed in his museum.


He was clearly an important photographer, but I have no illusions that Beattie was a saint. The copyright laws were different and so was the culture. Sharing and displaying treasured photos was widespread. We may think of Instagram, Facebook and Flickr as new concepts, but they are not. Photos are meant to be shared, most of the time.


I hope you enjoy them.


John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Sun, 02 Mar 2014 02:39:26 GMT
Launch Day feedback please

Hi All,

Our launch day was tinged with sadness for me as I remembered my Dad. I spent the day with my mother and my son and we visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. We enjoyed a nice lunch, the service was a little slow, but we really enjoyed the food. Then a stroll through the museum. We had three must-see things; the Beattie Collection, dinosaurs and I was searching for a Leslie Kingsley painting having just inherited one.

My son Connor got to enjoy the Muttaburrasaurus while we ate and he enlightened us on its unique abilities.

John Beattie offered his museum of convict artefacts to the Hobart City Council back in the 1920's but they were unable to purchase it and it sold to the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston operated by the Launceston City Council. This collection sat in storage for many years but is now shared between Hobart and Launceston. I personally think this is a wonderful outcome. I am a little confused as all the exhibits were labelled "from the Beattie Collection courtesy of" and a name I didn't recognise. But I suppose the museum will fill me in if I get the opportunity to ask. The good news is these items are on display.

I am not sure that I agree with the label on the old wooden camera which claims to be Beattie's from Devonport in 1878, Beattie having only arrived from Scotland that year. I suspect the facts there are a little confused. But as I have said often enough, I am not a historian.

I also noted a book on Tasmanian photographers in the gift shop which spelled our surname incorrectly and listed our family only as a post script to the entry on John Watt Beattie. Whilst I do not claim to be any authority on Beattie, history or even old Tasmanian photographs, I do take offence to the suggestion that my family has made little or no contribution to these subjects when we have preserved and presented the Beattie photos for over 80 years. 

I was pleased to see my late father's book "Pictorial Portrayal Of Tasmania's Past" on offer. Although this book is now owned by Winnings Newsagency I do like to see it available. It has some great photos, although the text by the late Basil Rait (MBE) has some educated guess work.

My search for a Kingsley painting was not fruitful. I will need to ask the museum as I do remember there being one there, but it was not obvious to me on Sunday.


So my advice to you is go and see the Beattie collection at the new and improved TMAG.




John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beattie John Tasmania Watt collection of old photographs studio Tue, 25 Feb 2014 10:56:01 GMT
System maintenance Our provider tells us;

System maintenance is scheduled for Thursday, February 27th, between 11:00pm and 3:00am US Pacific Standard Time (07:00 and 11:00 UTC). Service may be inaccessible or slow during that time; we apologize for any inconvenience.

(Beatties Studio) Tue, 25 Feb 2014 10:14:09 GMT
Launch Day! Well here we are at the launch of Stage 1.

500 photos digitised with 100 fully developed and ready for your enjoyment. We will be adding more finished photos every few days until the entire collection is online. In case you are wondering why the total number of photos seems to change or why we are a bit vague on the exact number, I'll  let you in on a secret - no one has actually counted them. Each one has been assigned a number, but the numbers are not completely sequential. Until we have digitised and catalogued them, the exact number remains a mystery. Our best estimate, based on the number of boxes, is somewhere between 3000 and 4000, but the boxes are all different sizes. Maybe we'll run a "guess the number" competition?


Anyway, enjoy the collection, feel free to comment, especially if you have verifiable information, dates etc. As it says on the History Page, we are are not historians. But most of all, keep coming back to check out the new photos being added and tell all your friends.


John Stephenson

(Beatties Studio) Sat, 22 Feb 2014 21:19:12 GMT
Launch day approaches As our launch approaches, I am excited to present our photographs for public display on the Internet for the first time. So far I have digitised around 500 of the 4000 negatives in the collection. It is a slow process as it's all done by hand. Of these 500, around 100 have been "developed" and are ready for viewing. It is very important that every photo be fully restored and presented in the highest quality. Anything second best was described as "rubbish" by my late father and was never acceptable. I have compromised a little by allowing "3 star" photos into the collection. These are historically important enough that they just couldn't be left out. The Japanese letters in the War gallery are a perfect example. As I progress through the collection, I am sure to find more amazing photos.


So we are launching with a small number of photos compared to the eventual collection. I will add new ones as fast as I am able. Please consider following us on Twitter or Liking the Facebook page. I will be posting updates and sharing gems I find.


John Stephenson

(Beatties Studio) Thu, 20 Feb 2014 19:20:17 GMT
History I am not a historian and this web site is about presenting photographs, but I am learning that history can be controversial.

In the late 1970's I met Sir William Crowther at the State Library of Tasmania. He came in to the library occasionally to visit the collection he had donated and to speak with interested young people like myself. I wanted to find out about a microscope I had inherited and Sir William had several like it in his collection. We chatted for as long as he could and I am very grateful for that time with him. It was years after his passing that I learned of his involvement in the removal of human remains, which were later handed back to the Aboriginal community.

My microscope will be part of our museum in the future.

By all accounts John Watt Beattie respected the Tasmanian wilderness and the Aboriginal people who lived here before European settlement. These ideas were very new and seen as unusual in his time, but they are values we at Beatties Studio hold dear today. The collection does include some photographs of Aboriginal people and we will be presenting these because we want to show and celebrate their lives and culture. We understand that depiction of people who have passed away can be upsetting.


John Stephenson




(Beatties Studio) Thu, 20 Feb 2014 18:57:56 GMT
E-Commerce side coming together Over the past week, we have been developing the e-commerce side of our web site. This allows you to search, view and purchase images. One of the big concerns was making sure our customers all over the world are catered for. It is quite easy for us to offer prints in Australia as that is where we live. Through our partner labs in Europe and the USA, we can now offer high quality digital prints to customers in nearly every country.

With our lab in Hobart, we are able to produce stunning digital prints on highly specialised paper. These have a matte finish that really brings out the quality in our black and white photos. For the very best quality we recommend these "printed in Tasmania" products. We are happy to post these worldwide for our international customers.

(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio printing tasmania Sun, 16 Feb 2014 00:51:59 GMT
More history of Beatties Studio uncovered Today I found the portfolio my father created just before he passed in 2013. As well as some photos I expected, there was a lovely inscription which I have re-produced in the History page. It tells more of the story.


John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) A Beatties Studio John Watt Beattie Stephenson" Tue, 14 Jan 2014 06:16:33 GMT
Beatties Studio Web site goes live For the first time, Beatties Studio has its own web site.

It is amazing to think that a photographic studio operating for over 130 years has never had a web presence of its own. Of course the early photography was entirely analogue chemical techniques, but digital photography has been around since 1975. Given the penchant for new techniques and technology, it seems odd that Beatties Studio never used digital cameras. But I think the answer lies in the lesser quality of the early digital techniques. AA (Bill) Stephenson and his son William did not "go digital" because the quality was not available. Only after the studio ceased portraiture photography (1993) did the quality of digital measure up to the film they preferred.

So the purpose of this web site is to present for the first time, the Beatties Studio collection in a digital form that matches the traditional chemical process of the past.

At this time (January 2014) the web site is just starting to take shape. The collection will come online on 23-Feb-2014, the first anniversary of the passing of AA Stephenson.


It's a big project. Feel free to come along as it takes shape.


Happy New Year!

John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beatties Studio Historic Tasmanian photographs John Watt Beattie Wed, 01 Jan 2014 06:12:40 GMT
Digitising begins! The task of digitising the 3000+ historic photographs that make up the Beatties Studio collection is underway!

Following John Beattie's death there was a fire that destroyed the studio. The history books wrongly say that the collection was also destroyed. In fact a great deal of it was lost, but the Stephenson family and their staff worked hard to save and rebuild it. Many of the negatives were stored off site and other images have been re-photographed from prints over the years. The collection was put back on public display in 1981.

In order to produce images of the very highest quality, the printing process has always been done by hand. The digitising process is being done the same way. With the aid of a very high resolution digital camera, each image is captured and developed to the same standards. As every negative is unique, so too is the attention and respect used to bring out the very best quality in the digital collection. The exacting standards set by John Beattie, Arch Stephenson, Bill Stephenson and William Stephenson during their time as custodians of this collection are being honoured. Customers will be delighted with the finished results.

John Stephenson


(Beatties Studio) Beatties digitising glass plates tasmania Mon, 30 Dec 2013 06:26:40 GMT