Historical photos of people from Spring Ridge and Armidale are just two images of interest in the State Library of NSW's Shot exhibition, which features 400 moments captured between between 1845 and 2022.
In 1944, photographer Norman Malden photographed Linda Malden, 23, while she was working on her parents' 890-hectare (2200-acre) property 'Ramajon' at Spring Ridge.
The photograph's details note that as well as "ploughing, drilling, harvesting and droving", she "killed and dressed the mutton for meals and tended the household garden". In the picture, "she is 'taking a break' from heavy labour to oil the windmill."
In another striking image two female farmers, Betty Tout and Dulcie Edwards, are seen walking through an opium field in Armidale in 1943, taken by Pix magazine.
The exhibition's senior curator Geoff Barker said with the outbreak of the Second World War, Australia realised it could be cut off from the supply of morphine needed for its hospitals and on the battlefield.
"Members of the Women's Agricultural Security Production Service (WASPS) helped plough and sow the 16ha (40ac) plantation seen in the image," Mr Barker said.
The photograph's details note the firm of "Felton, Grimwade and Duerdins Ltd helped set up plantations" and "Dulcie Edwards was secretary of the WASP organisation."
The physical Shot exhibition opened in October 2023, with a virtual exhibition launched in January 2024, which is being extended to November 3, 2024, due to popular demand.
Shot delves into the library's collection of two million images to deliver a visual feast of 400 captivating moments by 200 photographers taken across three centuries, said State librarian Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon.
"Almost every photographic format and every year between 1845 and 2022 is represented in the Shot exhibition, starting with Australia's oldest photograph, an 1845 daguerreotype by George Barron Goodman."
Mr Barker spent two years trawling through the library's extraordinary collection - one of the largest and most diverse in Australia - and came across images that immediately piqued his interest.
"The 400 photos are arranged into decades creating a unique visual history of Australia over the last 180 years," he said.
"As you scroll through the decades you will see things like fashion, architecture and transport, as well as photographic styles and printing processes, change over time."
Mr Barker said the library's collections were a revelation for the fascinating development of photographic technology, and the impact it had on the way Australians saw themselves.
"No other collection in the country is so rich in its ability to explore the visual history of the nation," he said.
The exhibition's highlights include:
- early examples of colour photography (including rare photo-crayotype prints)
- one of the original Paget plates Frank Hurley saved from Shackleton's sinking ship Endurance in Antarctica in 1915
- iconic works by some of our most acclaimed photographers, including Max Dupain, Harold Cazneaux, David Moore, Olive Cotton,
- contemporary images and commentary by more than 30 living photographers, including Stephen Dupont, Tony Mott, and Anne Zahalka.
To ensure the best possible user experience, the Shot online exhibition has been designed to be viewed on computer desktops only so users can easily move through the timeline to view images either by decade, alongside captions or at full screen with zoom capabilities.
A mobile view will be developed later.
Dr Butler-Bowdon said the State Library of NSW was home to Sydney's largest photography gallery.
"If you can't visit us on Macquarie Street, or indeed you want to find out more post-visit, photography lovers across the globe will now be able to view this extraordinary collection of images in their own time," she said.
To view the Shot online exhibition, visit the State Library of NSW website.