A simple click on today's Google Doodle instantly revealed to me a wealth of knowledge regarding one of the great classical composers, Gioachino Rossini. Of course we all know Rossini from his operatic compositions The Barber of Seville and William Tell, or perhaps from the Great Kat's sensible and low-key speed metal masterpiece Rossini's Rape (NSFW).
But the one thing that stood out for me in the Wikipedia entry on Rossini was the photographs. There are three photos of Rossini in his later years on that page. This is a guy who was born in the 18th Century. That's more than 200 years ago. This is a guy who met and talked with Beethoven as a contemporary. And his photos look amazingly clear for having been taken in what would be considered photography's infancy.
Now, when I think "old photos," my mind turns toward the Old West photos of Billy the Kid or John Wesley Hardin, who once shot a man for snoring too loud. ;) Who hasn't wanted to recreate one of these at the little costume and souvenir photograph shop at Six Flags? They're an ingrained part of historic American culture, but these iconic images came about 10, even 20 years after the photos of Rossini and they are far less detailed.
Think about this: had Beethoven lived another 10 or 15 years, we may have actual daguerrotype images of him in a museum somewhere today. That is one old technology. This goes decades back beyond Eastman-Kodak's first amateur photography cameras of the 1890s-1900s.
So, though I must give props to Rossini, as it is the 220th anniversary of his birth, I must also take this Rare Disease Awareness Day to not only make others aware of Friedreich's Ataxia and its horrible effects on those poor children who have been diagnosed but to give a big shout out to Louis Daguerre, who kickstarted this wonderful medium which has fully matured from people sitting perfectly still for hours in their Sunday best to expose the plate and developers spending untold time perfecting dangerous chemical processes, to sexting, SOPA and the ubiquity of the camera phone which led to the creation of anthropologically and culturally valuable websites like peopleofwalmart.com.