Extinction meters

Zeiss Diaphot c1930

Toronto. Another popular design to aid the photographer in is pursuit of the correct exposure was the extinction meter. This device relied on the photographer looking though an eyepiece or tiny aperture as a filter was slowly moved across the field of vision until it was extinguished. A dial or table would convert the just extinguished reading to a choice of aperture and speed based on the plate or roll film being used. A small insert lists the various plates and films of the period and the suggested corrections to use.

In 1921 ICA in germany created the elegant Diaphot. This slim watch shaped meter used a blue filter and a wedge that could be rotated across the field of view until the scene shadows just disappeared. In 1926 ICA was merged into the newly formed Zeiss-Ikon group in an attempt to rationalize the German camera industry. Larry Gubas (editor of Zeiss Historica and president of the Zeiss Historical Society) describes the merger in his excellent and massive book “Zeiss and Photography“.

Gubas states that after the merger ICA became the accessory maker for all the Zeiss Ikon companies. The Diaphot ICA created was rebadged Zeiss Ikon (as is mine) and continued manufacture through 1934. From 1936 to 1940 a more modern version was manufactured and sold.

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Actinometers

Wynne’s Infallible Hunter Meter c1915

Toronto. Since the beginning of photography people tried to find reliable ways to predict the correct exposures for a given light and scene. One idea was to expose a sensitized contact paper in the shadows enough to “tint” the paper slightly and then calculate the needed exposure based on how long it took for the paper to tint.

In 1893, Wynne of Wrexham, Wales patented the “Wynne’s Infallible Exposure Meter“.  A few years later, the meter was simplified as the “Infallible Hunter Meter” which was built into a slim pocket watch-like case. On one inner side was a round hole to expose the sensitive paper edged on two sides by tints too light and too dark. A milled ring allowed the hole to be rotated to a fresh spot on the paper. The ring could be aligned with the case hinge and “winder” allowing the ring and its plate to be carefully pulled up to insert a fresh piece of paper. Snapping the case closed protected the paper from light, eliminating the previous need for an orange filter. Continue reading

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Le Posographe of 1923

Le posographe by Kaufmann, France in 1923

Toronto. We are spoiled today. Our digital cameras automatically adjust settings to match the light. What was coal black a century ago is like daylight today. When dry plates and roll films arrived on the scene, development was split from exposure. A plate or film would be processed hours or days after the exposure. This made it critical that the exposure was correct.

Many gadgets and tables were produced all with the objective to give the aspiring photographer an idea of what setting to use for a given scene. In addition to tables and calculators, extinction meters and even exposure meters were offered. Sadly the extinction and exposure meters were far too slow to be of use. Even when I was a youth in the late 1950s, exposure meters were so slow that flash was preferred indoors or outdoors late in the afternoon and in the night (unless special effects were desired).

Continue reading

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Pictures a century ago

5th Ave and 42nd St in NYC in 1910. Original image named “amerikanskie-goroda-retro-12-940×747.jpg”

Toronto. Mo Patz dropped me a note from BC yesterday. Maureen was president of our Toronto chapter which folded into the national chapter many year sago.

Mo writes, “A friend of mine in the States just sent me this e-mail that brought both of you to mind [me and John Linsky] and I thought that you might enjoy looking at them too and perhaps send them on to others to enjoy (like Mark Singers, whose e-mail I don’t have to hand)….or even you might want to print this e-mail out for the next club meeting.

“Aren’t these pix lovely? I think they are great and I couldn’t resist forwarding them to you.”

You can see the prints too at this site which is a page on Memolition – Explore. Dream. Discover. While they are all American locales, the images capture the scenes of cities in the era. The original photographs were likely taken on glass plates with field cameras on tripods (not pinhole cameras as one site mentions). Roll film was available at the time, but was most commonly used by amateurs.

The image files are all named in Russian as “America Cities, Retro” followed by a sequential number and the image size in pixels. There are many sites on the web with all or some of the same photographs down to the same file names.

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Lansdale Photograph from The Star Archives

McLuhan at U of T in 1974 by Robert Lansdale

Toronto. Over a week back I was sent an email by George Dunbar. George had spotted a photograph in the Toronto Star that Saturday taken by Bob back in 1974. Bob’s photograph of Marshall McLuhan  was used to illustrate a column by Brennan Doherty reviewing a conference held half a century ago.

The column reminisces about the time in 1967 when McLuhan, Allen Ginsberg, and Sidney Katz (of the Star) and a large group of attendees met at the “Perception 67” conference in 1967 to discuss the many wonders of LSD. The drug was relatively new and certainly not fully understood at the time. I remember reading about June Callwood trying to help out those youths in Yorkville and publishing her experience.

As many of you know, we are blessed at the PHSC to have Bob as both our official photographer and editor of our journal, Photographic Canadiana.

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50 Muybridge plates go for $62,500 US

Eadweard Muybridge plates on Animal Locomotion sell for $62,500 US

Toronto. I received an email the other day from Ms Daile Kaplan of Swann Galleries talking about their latest sale of photographs and books by auction.

She says, “On Valentine’s Day we offered Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks, precisely 65 years after Swann held the first U.S. auction dedicated to photographs. Known as The Marshall Sale, the top lot in the February 14, 1952 auction was a collection of more than 1,000 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion, which sold for just $250.

“Tuesday’s auction cleared $1.5M, with a selection of 50 plates from Muybridge’s 1887 magnum opus topping the auction at $62,500.

“Also available were multiple works by Ansel Adams, Edward S. Curtis and Roy DeCarava, and a set of 22 large prints from NASA missions that reached $43,750.”

I remember the NASA prints. I was in Montreal at the time and a woman bought some for a young family member of the celebration of the first moon walk. She kindly ordered a set for me as well. My first daughter was born that summer when America first put a man on the moon – 1969.

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Geoffrey James Exhibition: Stephen Bulger Gallery

Canadian Photographs by Geoffrey James at the Stephen Bulger Gallery

Toronto. You may have seen Geoffrey James’ excellent show at our last November meeting. Nevertheless, be sure not to miss his wonderful exhibition of prints at the Stephen Bulger Gallery From February 25th to March 25th, 2017. A preview of the exhibit is planned for February 24th, 5-8 pm with Mr James in attendance. Details can be seen here or by clicking the icon at left.

Mr James is our city’s first Photographer Laureate. Born in Wales, Mr James has been in Canada for a few years now and has published many books of photography.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the wonderful and thought provoking images captured by Mr James.

 

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Ottawa Illinois Auction Today

Click above for details

Toronto. The Daguerreian Society sent me notice of this auction to be held today in Ottawa Illinois. Includes live auction online!

Here’s a chance to add more images to your collection. Click here or on the icon at left for full details.

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A 1904 Wedding movie captures four photographers

Stereo Photographer at 1904 Wedding

Toronto. George Dunbar turns up the most unusual sources. The other day he suggested we look a a web site for the American National Public Radio (NPR). The NPR site published this article by Colin Dwyer yesterday (February 16. 2017) called “WATCH: Is This [Marcel] Proust? Scholars Say They’ve Finally Found Author On Film“.

Included is a short movie clip taken at a 1904 wedding. Colin Dwyer says, “Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan, professor at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, says he has found the notoriously solitary writer in footage of the 1904 wedding of Élaine Greffulhe.” This clip is courtesy of the Minstere de la Culture, Les Archives du film du Cenrew ational de la cinematographie in France.

Of even greater interest to photo historians are brief images of the photographers of the day. Early in the clip, a photographer takes hand held shots with a stereo camera, its case strapped over his shoulder. Moments later sharp eyes will see another photographer carrying a huge tripod mounted stills camera down  the stairs. Later in the movie there is a third fellow carrying a hand held bellows camera and then a fourth man slipping what looks like a movie camera or a glass plates case into its leather bag. Perhaps there are even more cameras – take a close, a really close look!

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An eye with a Brain!

Ad from LIFE Magazine, September 19, 1938. Click on it to see it larger.

Toronto. I remember LIFE magazine as a Saturday afternoon read in the barbershop as I waited for my turn under Nelson MaGee’s sharp scissors and clippers. It was founded in 1883 as an American version of England’s Punch. The version most of us remember is Henry Luce’s big brash photojournalism magazine boldly touting American ideals and principles.

It was a wonderful magazine, full of black and white pictures and interesting bits of text and cut lines that clarified the photographs. When I looked at it, the magazine (and I) was about a decade old.

My friend George Dunbar found this interesting two page spread LIFE published in their September 19, 1938 issue. The revitalized LIFE had published as a photojournalism magazine for three years by then and felt a need to educate its readers about photography and its importance in illustrating the world of the day to its readers not just as entertainment but as serious news too.

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