springing the BIG ONE

The PHSC hosts the BIG ONE

Toronto. Some things change, some don’t! We have held the spring fair for over 40 years now. Come on down to the Trident Hall in south Etobicoke (south-west Toronto to visitors) and see what you can add to your personal collection – or add to your user gear too.

Click on the icon at left for full details (members already got this info with a copy of Photographic Canadiana, issue 45-1).

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fly me to the moon

Darryl Dyck (via Canadian Press) captures the silhouette of a Westjet aircraft against a Gibbous moon the other night in Vancouver BC

Toronto. An event occurred during the summer a half century ago that sparked the imagination of everyone! Man first walked on the moon. I was living in Montreal at the time. My first child was born that summer. And I won two of three photographic categories.

This post’s title is from a 1954 song  popularized a decade later by old blue eyes himself. All this came to mind when I saw two things: Tuesday’s Globe in its Astronomy Column on page A7; and Galerie GADCOLLECTION’s Apollo XI exhibition ‘To the Moon and Beyond‘ which runs from May 23 to July 31  of this year (2019). If you haven’t seen the photographs from this epic event, visit the Galerie and pick up a few for your collection of historic prints.

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in Vitessa we trust

Voigtlander 1956 Ad for the Vitessa L camera

Toronto. On the eve of being absorbed by the mighty Zeiss organization, Voigtlander marketed a number of cameras featuring their lenses plus some unique operating features. The series called Vitessa from the 1950s was one such series. The earlier versions are easy to recognize with their odd long plunger to wind the film on to the next frame. Most used a bellows and a “barn door” mechanism to protect the bellows and lens when the camera was not in use.

This page 78 ad from the 1956 LIFE magazine, April 2 issue, shows the Vitessa L version of the camera. And 1956 was the 200th anniversary of the founding of the company as well.  Voigtlander billed itself as “the world’s oldest camera company”. A few years later it was bought by Zeiss and became a branch of the mighty company.


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Replica of 1840 Voigtlander cannon and Petzval lens. At Ryerson Library. Wilhelm Nassau commissioned this replica.

Toronto. One of the difficulties experienced by the earliest practitioners of the Daguerreotype process was the lack of speed, This was exacerbated by Daguerre’s use of an f/19 meniscus lens in his camera. In 1840, Josef Petzval partially solved this problem by designing the world’s first photographic lens, a 4 element f/3.7 beauty some 15x faster.

Petzval turned to a famous German optical house, Voigtlander, to manufacture the lens. They made both the lens and a special brass camera called a “cannon” sitting a top a special adjustable brass column. The lens could be focussed on the subject, then carefully lifted off the stand and taken to a darkroom where the conical focussing back was removed and a circular disk, with a round daguerreotype plate inserted, replaced the focussing cone. A brass lens cap kept light off the plate while the camera was returned to the stand.

When the customer was ready, the cap was removed and the exposure taken. With the cap back on the lens, the camera was removed from the stand and returned to the darkroom for processing. Only a few hundred original versions were ever made although Voigtlander offered serial numbered replicas over the ensuing years. Private replicas such as Willie Nassau’s are seen in museum displays.

The Voigtlander company was founded in Vienna as a scientific instrument maker in 1756. Glass optics were introduced about 1808. After the invention of photography, cameras were introduced. The company later moved to Braunschweig in Germany. And in 1956 Voigtlander merged with Zeiss and the fine old optical house disappeared. Voigtlander continued to influence Zeiss-Ikon camera design until 1972. The Voigtlander branch of Zeiss-Ikon was sold many times in the decades since 1972.

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Dr R G Wilson – a celebration of life

Toronto. As mentioned earlier this month, the life of PHSC member and past president Dr Robert Wilson will be celebrated at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home on Eglinton Ave.,  just two stop lights west of Yonge Street. An obituary appeared in last Saturday’s Globe (May 18th), reproduced below for those who missed the Saturday Globe.

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nailed it!

Nagel Recomar c1930 courtesy of The Living Image Vintage Camera Museum

Toronto. In the 1970s while living in Montreal, I saw a newspaper ad and went off one weekend to the English enclave of Montreal West to look at a Kodak 3A autographic folder. The camera complete with case cost $25. For another $10, the old chap threw in a strange looking folder that used glass plates or cut film. It was a technical camera called a Recomar  and made by a company called Nagel Werkes. Eventually I donated both to the PHSC for an auction. (Ironically I once had an uncle by the name August Nagel – not the same person.)

I later discovered that August Nagel and an associate formed a company which became part of Zeiss-Ikon. Nagel was a camera designer. He split from Zeiss after Zeiss-Ikon was created and formed his own company in Stuttgart making some small cameras including the Recomar. When the minicam revolution hit in the 1930s, Kodak bought the Nagel Werkes to form Kodak AG. Kodak went on to make Recomars and the first versions of the Retina in the Stuttgart factory.

Nagel is perhaps best known for designing the original Kodak 135 35mm film cassette which quickly became the industry standard, fitting almost all 35mm cameras.

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Ormond Gigli – photographic exhibition in France

Satchmo in his bathroom 1971

Toronto. Check out the exhibition at the Galerie GADCOLLECTION in Paris.

The exhibition of prints by American photographer Ormond Gigli runs from April 18 to May 21.

Time is going fast, so take a look tout suite and see what fits your print collection.


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some goodies from across the lake (Erie)

Camera at the OCCS auction and trade show May 17, 18.

Toronto. The Ohio Camera Collector’s Society across the lake in Columbus, Ohio are a small dedicated group of enthusiastic collectors. Drop in at the Embassy Suites next Friday, May 17th  to preview the auction items (noon) and participate in the auction starting at 1:00 pm.

Opening speaker, Retina expert Dr David Jentz. begins his talk at 8:00pm. Dr Jentz spoke the the PHSC in Toronto way back in May, 1997.

The following day, Saturday May 18th, the trade show begins at 9:00am (set up at 7:00am). See the above Embassy link for details.


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anything you can do …

Dachshunds c1930s by Ivan Dmitri

Toronto. The title is from a song Irving Berlin wrote for the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” The ditty epitomizes that spunky minicam of the 1930s. The big challenge for the marketeers was to convince professionals that indeed the fashionable little cameras could do a professional job matching the bigger cameras favoured by the photographers of the time.

The most exciting camera of that period was the tiny Leica which touted small negative – big photograph. A popular American book on using the camera was Morgan and Lester’s Leica Manual. Morgan, who worked at Leitz NY made many well designed accessories for the little camera rapidly expanding its capabilities.

The Leica Manual had a decades long run from pre war to post war. The manual was divided into chapters. In the earlier editions, various chapters were written by people who were expert in the field and in applying the camera to that field. Part I was called Basic Leica Technique and had chapters showing how to use the camera and its accessories practically to create professional photographs. Part II covered chapters on Leica in Science and Technology while Part III was called The Leica in Specialized Fields.

In most chapters the reader was shown how the Leica could be used instead of a larger traditional camera to create even better photographs.

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police photography

Sir Sydney Smith

Toronto. Sir Sydney Smith was born in New Zealand in 1883. He left for Edinburgh to become a doctor and ultimately held a prestigious chair in medicine at Edinburgh University. He was a well travelled author who wrote many books and articles including the text-book Forensic Medicine first published in 1925.

While Sir Sydney was both an author and educator in Britain and abroad, his skills were often called upon by the police and the courts. In his autobiography he uses many police scene of crime photographs to illustrate his text.

Modern day police organizations are major users of photography to record events and scenes and to capture the details of a crime. In January, 2007, we had the pleasure of hearing from Larry O’Grady on “The History and Applications of Photography in the Toronto Police Service“. Larry’s talk included some photographs that were deemed inappropriate for publication on the web (various reasons). While the basis for photographs is often forensic medicine, the actual photographs belongs to the police and are used in the courts to demonstrate key points on any criminal case.


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