Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A slanted story
It's been mentioned a time or two that the photography on 1970s baseball cards was a bit primitive by today's standards.
One of the examples that is cited often is the slanted backgrounds in the photographs. Here, in this 1974 Topps card, the most impressive thing about Tony Oliva is not that he is an eight-time All-Star, but that he is some how remaining upright while the rest of the Oakland Coliseum slides into the Pacific.
There are so many instances of these slanted backgrounds that it's considered almost a standard look for 1970s baseball cards. While compiling my 1975 Topps blog, I'm constantly running into cards that feature tilted stands or fields or baseball equipment.
I'm waiting for one of the players behind Jay Johnstone to start clinging for dear life to the batting cage.
I'm no photography expert, but from what I've heard, the tilting appears when the photographer is a bit lazy in taking the photo. But that's as technical as I can get. I just know that there is a photographer on our newspaper staff who regularly does the "tilt" thing, and she gets ripped for it.
When I write the '75 Topps blog, sometimes I mention the slanted background and sometimes I don't. That's because it is such a common trait of 1970s cards that it gets a little repetitive. It was kind of a way of life.
As the '70s progressed and we continued into the '80s, photo backgrounds flattened out. In card photos, players stood on vertical terra firma, which is really how it should be on a baseball field (unless you're in center field in Houston).
And, with some distance between us and the '70s, we laughed and chuckled at how backward people were in that decade. Those fools with their photos all askew!
Were they tilting photos because everyone was high on coke? Brainwashed by disco?
They were crazy! Wearing their pterodactyl collars and their platform shoes!
Listening to Captain and Tennile and watching Sonny and Cher! They thought Pluto was a PLANET! They had ROCKS for PETS! Their PRESIDENT was a PEANUT FARM ...
Um, has anyone else noticed this?
All of a sudden Topps is slanting photos again.
I didn't come across any of this in Series 1 of the 2010 base set, but in Series 2 there is the J.J. Hardy card.
And then there are these ...
But wait, there's more ..
That's a lot of uphill climbing.
I notice that unlike most of the 1970s cards, the backgrounds are slanted UP from right to left. Most of the '70s cards are slanted DOWN from right to left. I don't know what that means. I would guess, in my very unphotographer way, that the photographer is trying some kind of effect since the slant appears to be going up in the direction of the action. But that doesn't explain the Chris Getz card. And it still looks weirdly sloppy to me.
Perhaps Topps is trying to go retro '70s with its photos?
Maybe someone on staff got a pet rock and is discovering how fascinating it can be? Maybe "Ring My Bell" came over the speakers in the break room?
Anyway, I thought it was interesting. And maybe we can stop making fun of the '70s for everything.
At least for this anyway.