On this blog I am presenting a selection of images by amateur New Zealand photographers from my collection. The amateur's photo album is usually full of those special events that make a family. Mum, the kids, or the 'rallies', [and sometimes dad, when you could get the camera from him], in the garden dressed in their Sunday best, birthdays, Christmas, and don't forget those holiday snaps, out-of-focus, or badly framed. The last two faults can mostly be blamed on the cameras, with their tiny viewfinders and lenses that left a lot to be desired. But one or two shots will stand out, there is something a little different or amusing about them. And sometimes the photographer had a very good eye, a very good camera, or was just lucky. These are the images I will be selecting for this blog, and my only rule for selection is that I like the image.
With many of the images I know nothing about the photographer, but where I do these details are listed, and with some images I have included memories from the photographers family members.
Most of the photographs are from family albums purchased at auction, family estates, from descendants of the photographer, and a few were rescued from the tip. So if you have an old album, I'm interested, BUT please do not dump it. These albums are great to see and should be preserved, they are a window into the past. With the advent of the digital camera, CD/DVD disc's etc, albums are becoming a thing of the past. In 50 years [I'm being generous here] you will only be able to access todays images if you can find a player thats still working.

I welcome any comments from viewers.

All images are copyright and are not to be used without permission.

Captain Lorraine.

These photos from an album c.1899 depict an attraction of those days, a ballooning exhibition, but one with an unhappy ending.
Born David Mahoney in Auckland, 1872, he was interested in ballooning from an early age, and went to England in 1892 to learn the profession. Later using the name Captain Lorraine began making public ascents, descending using a parachute attached to a trapeze making '...performances most daring...' Returning to New Zealand in 1897 as Captain Lorraine he began a tour of the country with his balloon 'Empress'. On Nov 2, 1899, Captain Lorraine made his last ascent from Lancaster Park, Christchurch. It appears from newspaper reports that the parachute became detached from the balloon and fell away, leaving the Captain rapidly gaining height and drifting over the Port Hills towards Sumner. Soon afterwards a signalman at the Port Levy station, 10 miles from Lyttleton, watched as the balloon, with the Captain aboard, fell onto the sea. A boat was sent from the station, and others joined the search, but there was no sign of the Captain. It was reported that he tried to swim ashore and was drowned.
Captain Lorraine was the first New Zealand born balloonist, and unfortunately the first New Zealander to die in an air accident.
The photos here are not from this last ascent, but I have been able to identify the location as Lancaster Park, and dating from the month before, 14 Oct, when the Captain dropped by parachute from 11,000ft.

To give you an idea of an performance this below is from the Evening Post, 5 Oct, 1899.
"Captain Lorraine, a young Aucklander, who has acquired abroad the profession of an aeronaut, yesterday afternoon proved himself a man of nerve in undertaking a balloon ascent from the Basin Reserve, and an exciting and graceful descent by means of a parachute. So great an interest was taken in the unique exhibition that when, at a few minutes before 4.30 o'clock the aeronaut called out to the group of men and boys who were holding down his aerial steed "Let her go!" thousands of people were gathered-outside the Basin, for entrance to which a charge had been made. People blocked the thoroughfares around the Reserve, they occupied every coign of vantage, they were standing in groups upon the hills from Mount Victoria to Kilbirnie, they were even in the belfry of St. Mark's Church. But inside the Reserve only a few hundred people were seen. This was the reward of a deed of derring do! The balloon used by Captain Lorraine [The Empress], which was inflated from the Gas Company's mains, has a capacity of 16,000ft. The aeronaut made his ascent in an unostentatious  manner, and without the gaudy trappings usually associated with balloon exhibitions. So light a wind was blowing that he anticipated being able to descend into the Basin, but when the balloon was let go it travelled so rapidly that before an elevation was reached suffiently high to let the parachute go the captain was balanced upon his trapeze high over St. Mark's Church. It was estimated that the descent was made from a 2000ft elevation. The aeronaut was seen to quietly detach himself from the balloon, and to the accompaniment of a sharp cry from onlookers he dropped for several hundred feet like a rocket-stick, until the parachute, and the trapeze, which was attached, gradually began to fill out like an umbrella, stopping the rapid descent of the parachutist, who thereafter came down so gracefully as to call forth cheers. Within five minutes of his leaving the Reserve Captain Lorraine had descended on the edge of the baths in the Wellington College grounds, where young Wellington gave him a hearty reception, which was repeated by people of older growth when he returned to the Basin Reserve, carrying his parachute. Meanwhile the balloon, which had up-ended on the aeronaut letting go, thus releasing the gas, floated gently over the hills towards Kilbirnie, being afterwards picked up on the Miramar Isthmus."

The web sites 'TimeFrames', 'PapersPast', and 'Matapihi', have been very useful with dating these and other photographs from my collection.

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