double your pleasure

Whoops! c1981

Toronto. The “double your pleasure, double your fun” jingle may have applied to Wrigley’s Double Mint gum but it certainly did not apply to accidental photographic double exposures.

In fact, camera makers went out of their way to tout their designs as “double exposure proof”.

Unfortunately, we all succumb to those momentary periods of stupidity –  even Leica users. Usually my mistake was rewinding a fully or partially exposed roll of film then forgetting to mark it. It would then be used some weeks or months later in the camera and re-exposed to totally different scenes. Bah!

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the long and the short of it

extension tubes

Toronto. Those photographers wishing to get closer to their subject than their camera allowed had two choices: an auxiliary lens could be added to the front of the normal lens, or if the lens was interchangeable, the lens could be mounted away from the body using extension tubes, or if money was no object, a bellows.

The remaining issues then where how to focus and how to frame the camera so the subject was in sharp focus and framed without accidental surgery, like missing heads or feet in normal shots. The major camera companies not using an SLR design had lots of options – spider legs, focussing mounts, mirror boxes, tape measures, tables etc.

A tripod or a copy stand was often essential to keep the subject framed and in focus – spider legs or a fancy wire frame could be substituted.

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faster than a speeding bullet

Super Anscochrome ad in 1957

Toronto, No, it’s not Superman – it’s Super Anscochrome colour film. Anscochrome touted its film as being “faster than standard black-and-white film” on pp32-3 of the June 17, 1957 issue of LIFE. With ads like this, the Binghamton Brigade set out to tell the world about their marvellous products.

As number two in the photography industry, Ansco always had to try harder to catch up with Kodak. They too made film, cameras, papers, projectors, etc. Post war Ansco became a division of GAF – General Analine and Film.

When Don Douglas and I did a dog and pony show for the PHSC, Don always brought samples from his Ansco camera collection, He was fond of saying that Ansco cameras always used a bright red shutter button, “so you could tell your aunt Tilley to just push the red button…“.


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a long shot

working for peanuts

Toronto. I saw this Exakta ad long ago. In fact, it was part of my mental background making me decide to go for an Exakta decades ago back before I was married, or a father.  The big selling point was that viewing was through the lens rather than through a squinty viewfinder.

In those days, I had no idea that Leica mirror boxes let you see through the lens as well, all be it in a much clunkier fashion. Or that Exaktas were not really meant for wide angle lenses. Or that the bulk of my photographs would ultimately be taken with a medium wide angle (35mm) lens.

This photograph appeared in LIFE magazine’s “Miscellany” column at the back of the June 3, 1957 issue. It emphasized the virtue of using an SLR over a viewfinder/rangefinder camera back  in the late 1950s before the onslaught of Japanese SLRs and their innovations. Exaktas were made in Dresden which after the war ended up in the Russian zone. My camera body, although imported via New York, is boldly stamped U.S.S.R.

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CNE and Cinematographe

An exciting time at the CNE in 1896

Toronto. Cinema and Movies seem so passé these days of TV, streaming, and smartphones but over a century ago movies where the newest means of education and entertainment. The CNE was known as the “Toronto Industrial Exhibition” in those days and was the place to go to see the very latest ideas and inventions.

In 1896, the Lumiere Brothers latest movies and machines were on exhibit for all to see. What a marvellous time! This photograph is courtesy of the Ryerson University’s website. I noticed the Dreamland theatre in Barrie was mentioned as one of the province’s movie venues in a 1915 listing. The Dreamland moved to a building just south of the “five points” in Barrie around 1929 and closed forever about a decade later.

When I was a kid in grade 9 or 10, my dad took me to that long closed theatre. It had become a used goods ((junk) store known as Nipper Tuck’s. Nipper was said to live in the projection booth while the entire auditorium area was filled with junk he had collected over the years for future resale. The building was being cleared to house the new home of the local newspaper, the “Barrie Examiner”.

Since the 1930s/40s movies dwelt on the main street in three nearby movie houses. A fourth, a drive-in, opened post war in the town’s south west area. Since then, the excitement of 1896 and the Cinematographe of the Lumière brothers, has drifted into history and few regard “going to the movies” as a special event these days. With a population of over ten times its size when the Dreamland shut forever, Barrie has only half as many movie houses left (two).

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Louis who? Movies before Edison?

Single Lens Camera

Toronto. Thanks to my good friend George Dunbar who emailed me when he found this insightful article. Back in August 29, 2013, the British National Science+Media Museum website in Bradford, UK posted the article by Kieron Casey. Casey suggested that Louise Le Prince invented and demonstrated movies years before Edison and the Lumière Bros. promoted their inventions in North America (Edison) and Europe (Lumières).

Have a read – it is a thoughtful mystery!

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Toronto.  You do remember actress Mamie Van Doren don’t you? No? What about photographer Ralph Crane? No, again? Then you are either too young or never saw a movie last century in a theatre or on TV!

Crane worked for LIFE magazine in Hollywood, California – you know, where movies were made. And he took photographs for that prestigious magazine.

Having both a humorous side and a 35mm robot camera, he concocted this gadget to catch the reaction of his victims, er subjects. Have a read of LIFE magazine’s April 22, 1957 column “Speaking of Pictures” on p20.

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the great yellow father

Kodak was everywhere in 1957

Toronto.  In the early to mid last century Kodak was the pre-eminent name in photography. The company was known world-wide. Retailers featured Kodak film, paper, and if not exclusively camera shops, Kodak cameras and gift kits.

Kodak offered every imaginable variety of camera: box, 35mm, professional (Graflex), movie, stereo, fancy, or cheap. A camera for everyone and an insistence on using Kodak accessories, filters, films and papers.

A Professional branch catered to the pros offering professional products not readily available to amateurs. I can remember asking a retailer for a Kodak product and being advised I would have to contact Kodak or its professional chain for the product since he could not order it.

This 1957 ad in LIFE shows the amazingly wide range of Kodak products for amateurs back in the mid last century when the Rochester company was a force to be reckoned with (as I mangle my grammar). A special thanks to George Dunbar for sourcing the ad and bringing back so many memories.

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China through British eyes in 1980s

Shanghai 1985 by Adrian Bradshaw

Toronto. Russ Forfar often alerts me to interesting scientific concepts potentially of use in future photographic endeavours. This time Russ sent me a note on a new book by the British photographer Adrian Bradshaw.

Adrian has been interested in China for decades. His book, “The Door Opened: 1980s China” was published in 2018 by Impress, London. An article on Bradshaw and the book was posted online by BBC News a few days ago on August 8th.

The article and Bradshaw’s photographs offer an insight into the middle kingdom, all the more relevant with Trump’s current trade bun-fight and the tête-à-tête with us and China over a Huawei executive and Canadians in China.

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something’s wrong with this picture

confusing viral photo…

Toronto. Over half a century ago, I was struggling with my black and white prints. They were terrible. I resolved to focus on improving them and eventually did so by matching my negative contrast to the print contrast and choosing a matching paper grade along with doing the correct initial exposure, chemical mixing, time, and temperature when processing. etc.

Today, digital pictures can be manipulated in various image editors such as Photoshop or Affinity Photo to fix or fake results. In the colour shot above or left, look closely at the background to see the effect of Photoshop and ingenuity.

My post title is from a line sung by the late Glenn Frey in the song “Love in the 21st Century“. Frey was one of the musicians to go it alone when the Eagles imploded. I have this song on his CD album “Strange Weather” from 1992.

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