PHSC Spring Fair May 28, 2017

PHSC Spring Fair Poster

Toronto. Have you heard the news? It’s fair time again and we are hosting “The Big One” at Trident hall on Sunday,  May 28th, 2017 in the west end of Toronto.

Click here or on the little poster icon at left for details.

Save your questions for the dealers and come on out to add to your collection or dip your toes into the new niche area of film photography – or the growing area of digital photography.

Film, books, cameras, lenses, darkroom, and all things photographic. Join in as we begin our 43rd year!

Posted in fair | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on PHSC Spring Fair May 28, 2017

Miniature Camera Work

Toronto. May 12, 1982 I picked up this book used from Edwards Books on Queen Street near Spadina. The bookstore was selling off a massive collection of photographic books. This book was a 1938 first edition by Morgan & Lester of  Leica Manual fame. The cover was a full colour engraving by Beck Engraving Co. of Philadelphia with branches in Springfield and NYC. It was created from a Kodachrome slide taken by Nickolas Murray. Kodachrome 35mm had recently been offered by Eastman Kodak in Rochester.

The attraction of this book was its focus on miniature cameras including the Leicas of the day, its extensive catalogue section, and its generous dollop of technical information for amateur darkrooms of the late 1930s. The choice of photographs told an unintentional story of the fashions and beliefs of the day. Continue reading

Posted in book, camera | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Miniature Camera Work

Steinheil Optical Institute

Steinheil Quinar 135mm f/2.8 lens in Exakta mount

Toronto. In the late 1950s I bought my first Exakta. Months later I wanted to expand the camera with added lenses. Naively, I felt 35mm and 90mm were too similar to my standard lens of 55mm so I opted for 28mm and 135mm lenses. I chose an f/2.8 135mm Steinheil Quinar for my long lens as I had a 55mm Auto-Quinon standard lens and quite liked the quality of construction. This pre-set lens was a beauty and in later years showed to have the best resolution of my three Exakta lenses. Much later, I realized that both the standard lens and 28mm wide angle were marvels of design. Both were modified retrofocus designs created in the days before computers. Retrofocus meant that the lenses have a physically longer distance from the lens centre to the film plane than the actual focal length of  each lens. This distance is needed to clear the mirror of the Exakta, especially at the infinity setting. Unfortunately in the mid last century such designs had significant graphical distortion (pin cushion and barrel). In contrast, the Leica 35mm and 28mm lenses were extremely low in the degree of graphical distortion. Continue reading

Posted in lens, people | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Steinheil Optical Institute

Ilfobrom Photographic Paper

Ilford Test Strip Holder

Toronto. As I learned more about photography I gravitated to Ilford products. The icon at left shows the Ilford Test Strip Holder.

To save on the cost of paper and chemistry, it was common practice to do a series of test exposures before using full size sheets of paper and their associated chemistry. This little gadget let you expose the same portion of a negative at four different times for comparison.

One of the cotton tail kits my daughter kept

Continue reading

Posted in processes | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ilfobrom Photographic Paper

The Need for a Shutter in the 1890s

My c1895 POCO 4×5 camera with a UNICUM shutter and a RR Lens

Toronto. I have a POCO 4×5 made by Rochester Camera Co. in the 1890s. This camera uses the dry plates that led to the early success of George Eastman. When Richard Maddox of England invented a successful dry plate formula in 1871, it led to the so-called instantaneous or sub-second photograph. Until the dry plate and later film became popular it was customary to use a lens cap or even a hat as a “shutter” since most photographs took a few seconds or more in broad daylight for a decent exposure.

With the advent of rapid dry plates, a formal shutter became necessary. My camera uses a Bausch and Lomb UNICUM shutter surrounding a rapid rectilinear lens. The dainty device  allows a photographer to set his shutter speed to 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/25, 1/60, or 1/100 of a second plus T and B (Time and Bulb). Focussing is by bellows and a ground (frosted) glass plate viewed without a dry plate inserted, shutter set to B and held or set to T, and the camera’s back opened. The camera has a waist level viewfinder with a tiny ball to level the camera on a tripod.

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on The Need for a Shutter in the 1890s

Photography and Stamps

A War Effort Stamp

Toronto. George Dunbar has searched out some more vintage camera ads including one on how we once printed sheets of postage stamps.

Do you remember when stamps were made from famous art or photos? This has been going on for many years.

In fact, Popular Photography dated September 1944 in NYC, had an advertisement for the way Canada Post (the Royal Mail in those days) created a stamp to help our war effort. Have look here or click the stamp icon.

Posted in miscellaneous, people, photos | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Photography and Stamps

TPHS Newsletter April 2017

Brownell’s version of the Bull’s Eye Camera for Kodak

Toronto. The Photographic Historical Society (TPHS) across the lake in Rochester often have interesting speakers as befits the home of Kodak. Click here or on the upper left icon to read this excellent issue and learn the history of the Blair camera company – and more.

There is a tie to us as well. Students doing a Masters at Ryerson do their second year at George Eastman House in Rochester.

And about once every three years Photographic Historians world-wide are invited to present and attend their Symposiums. Wonderful events.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on TPHS Newsletter April 2017

Some thoughts on Colour

Maxwell’s Ribbon Photo – 1861

Toronto. Once monochrome images were successfully captured by Daguerre and Fox Talbot and announced in January 1839, the holy grail of photography became capturing life in full colour. Beyond experimental processes, and hand colouring, this goal wasn’t reached as a marketable process until the next century.

Two basic colour schemes were identified. Firstly, the additive process where layers of red, green and blue light combined to create colour. We are most familiar with this process today in our TV screens, smartphone, tablets, computer monitors, etc.

Secondly there was the subtractive process usually a Cyan, Magenta and Yellow with some times black and grey tossed in the mix. This is most common today in computer, newspaper and magazine printing. The old style film days most recently showed additive processes in colour slides and subtractive processes in colour negatives (often an orange filter was tossed in the mix as well to shift the colour balance.) Continue reading

Posted in people, processes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Some thoughts on Colour

Some Thoughts on Close-up Photography

Leitz FULDY focoslide c1950

Toronto. One of my favourite pastimes is close-up photography. Close-up is generally thought of as 1:4 down to a magnification of 1:1 or life size. Greater magnification is usually the domain of microscopes. Most cameras can handle 1m to infinity. Some can handle  20 inches or even 12 inches to infinity.

Close-ups need the lens adjusted for moving closer to the object. This is basically handled in two ways – firstly by extension rings (or a bellows) between the lens and camera body or secondly by adding close up elements (+1 to +3 diopters) to the front of the lens. The big issue then becomes how one frames a close-up shot. If you use an SLR or view camera, framing is trivial since what you see is what you get. Continue reading

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Some Thoughts on Close-up Photography

Pinhole Cameras

Home Made Pinhole Camera

Toronto. Some of the earliest cameras were pinhole cameras. The mechanics magazines of the 1950s periodically gave plans for making your own pinhole camera. The challenge was the creation of a pinhole the right diameter and perfectly round.

Often the magazine articles suggested a suitable darning needle and a sturdy foil. The hole was carefully centred on one side of the light tight container and the sensitive medium – film or photographic paper – was placed across from it in the container.

The choice of container size and, shape, plus the sensitive material size determined whether the camera image was a panorama, normal, wide angle, telephoto, etc. At one time I even had a small book on pinhole cameras called The Hole Thing. Today, as my friend George Dunbar recently mentioned, we have an annual pinhole camera day each April. The results of the pinhole event are posted on line to celebrate the world pinhole day.  This year, the day was April 26th and the results are now posted. Toronto had two images, one by Larry Reid and a second by Freddy Lum.

Posted in camera | Tagged , | Comments Off on Pinhole Cameras

Graflex Wins Again (in 1938)

Graflex Ad April 1938

Toronto. My friend George Dunbar sent me another whack of ads the end of last month (April 2017). One ad stuck out for me since Popular Photography magazine, founded in  1937,  had recently closed its magazine doors.

The ad featured a Grafex camera, the preferred instrument of North American news hounds. If you didn’t use a massive camera in the 1930s (or earlier), you weren’t a real photographer! In fact, the recently released Leica of the day spent its time convincing photographers you could get a decent picture using a small camera with its “small negative, big picture” campaign.

In the April 1938 Popular Photography magazine, this Graflex ad touted a prize winning photograph taken by Howard Robbins for the Oakland CA Post-Enquirer newspaper. Robbins snapped the ship Ohioan as it was fatally awash with ocean seas off San Francisco late in 1936 using his Series B Graflex and a telephoto lens.

The theme of the ad was that you had to have an American-made Graflex to win awards, and make money (talent isn’t mentioned, of course). The ad suggests a ‘penny postcard’ will be enough to get you a catalogue of the Graflex cameras and accessories!

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Graflex Wins Again (in 1938)