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BCA News: Winter 2020

H. Lou Gibson, RBP, FBPA, 1976.
Photo by Nick Graver, RBP, FBPA

Recollections of Lou Gibson, RBP, FBPA
Thomas P. Hurtgen, FBPA

Looking at past members who have made a major impact on our industry and our association.

Editor's Note: Tom Hurtgen followed Lou Gibson as a Technical Editor at Eastman Kodak shortly before Lou's retirement in 1971.

When Danielle Edwards asked me to write a few comments or remembrances about H. Lou Gibson, it took a while to figure out where to start and what I could add to what has already been written elsewhere. With consideration to readers who may never have met Lou or may not know about his impact on BPA/BCA or the field of biocommunications, basic biographic information as well as personal comments are included below.

Henry Louis Gibson (1906–1992) was born in Truro, Cornwall, England. He immigrated to Canada and lived there briefly before enrolling at the University of Illinois. He graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Physics and joined Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY shortly thereafter. He was an active participant in the BPA/BCA chapter and Association-wide programs and activities. He served as President, Editor, Director, and member of the Board of Registry, as well as serving on number committees. In his retirement Lou Gibson authored the "gold book", The Biological Photographic Association, its Half Century in 1981. This early history of BPA/BCA chronicles the early history of our association.

Probably unknown to many is that Lou for many years was a regular contributor to the Photographic Society of America pictorial salon. If you were lucky enough to visit with the Gibsons in their living room, many 16x20 prints lined the room. Within the profession and within Kodak, Lou was a consultant, editor, lecturer and innovator in medical, biological, scientific and technical photography. The titles of some of his books will illustrate his areas of interest and expertise — The Photography of Patients (1952), Copying and Duplicating Medical Subjects and Radiographs (1953), Close-up Photography and Photomacrography (1969), and Photography by Infrared (1978). In total, Lou authored 14 books and many articles in our journal and well as book chapters and articles in related disciplines.

One has to remember that Lou lived and worked in the era before copy machines, word processing, all things digital, cloud storage, etc. I remember Lou saying that he had the manuscript (over 500 typewritten pages and over 700 references) for one of his last books in a hard shell brief case sitting near a window on the front porch. "If there's a fire, I'll rush to the porch and push the case out window."

I don't think he ever went to the gym but I can tell you that he never took the elevator even though we worked on the sixth floor of Kodak tower and the cafeteria was on the ninth floor. Of course, one quickly learned that the exercise of climbing the stairs with Lou was split equally – he would crisscross the inside and outside lanes at every stair landing.

One of the last photographs that Lou made at Kodak was of a human mandible from the Smithsonian Institution with full spectrum light, ultraviolet reflection and fluorescence, and infrared reflection and luminescence. He told me what films we'd use and I loaded the 5x7 film holders. After the exposures were made, he commented that these might be the last photos he would make on the job. "Well then you better process them." He insisted and trusted the rookie. The point of the photographs was to determine what material had been used by the native American to "fill a cavity" in one of the molars of the mandible. The infrared luminescence of the cavity repair matched that of fish bone.

A couple random comments:  If Lou were alive today, he'd clean up backgrounds with Photoshop rather than expensive airbrushing. When our family visited Lou after a heart episode in his early eighties, he said, "This is the first time in my life that I have had to act my age."  Our children loved to play with the bowl of small wooden tops in Lou's front hallway – always considerate, he met you where you were even if you were two years old and playing on the floor. He authored the definition of the word "photomacrography" for the dictionary. For me his seminal work is the book Close-up Photography and Photomacrography (1969), Eastman Kodak Company. On his office door the Monday after retirement was a sign, "Gone fishing" and a red pen, the staple of every editor.

Read more about Lou Gibson, a pioneer member of our Association and the history of BCA (BPA) in the "gold book", The Biological Photographic Association, its Half Century.

H. Lou Gibson, RBP, FBPA, 1976. Photo by Nick Graver, RBP, FBPA

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