The Value of Dirty Windows
If the movie Girl With the Pearl Earring is to be believed, the Dutch painter Vermeer was obsessed with keeping his studio windows dirty, preferring the diffuse pearly light that they cast. This photo of an early Chinese photography studio, complete with props and backdrops, certainly supports that idea. It was taken through a dirty window and contained a fair amount of reflection as well. The gauzy effect it created lends the perfect atmosphere to this old-time scene.
This old town recreation in Nanjing made an effort to merge modern commerce with historic appeal. Off to the right of the scene in this photo was some modern studio lighting equipment, indicating the studio is still being used.