At the Virginia Historical Society's exhibit "Photography In Virginia," a 1915 Walter W. Foster gelatin print of a horse-drawn fire wagon barreling toward an emergency through Ninth and Main streets resonates with the dramatic confusion captured in another digital print, taken in Arlington following the 2001 attack on the Pentagon. The arresting image commemorates the end of an era, both in history and photography.
The scientific knowledge of chemicals and techniques required in early photography has evolved into pocket-sized cameras that use pixels, not glass negatives.
The three large galleries organized by Jeff Ruggles, curator for prints and photographs, comprise a massive photo album chronicling Virginia's post-1840s history, and also stories of the people who clicked the shutters.
Allow ample time to browse decades of war and strife, man-made and natural disasters, celebrations and commercial promotions (including smiling, leaf-adorned "Tobacco Princesses" leaping through a field). A lavish catalogue, written by Ruggles, enriches with detail and amplifies some tiny images.
Admission to the VHS is $5, no added cost for the exhibit, and free on Sundays. The exhibit is up through May 3. For information, call 358-4901 or see vahistorical.org .