Free Black North – Dr Julie Crooks of the AGO

Dr Julie Crooks of the AGO

Toronto. PHSC Meeting, Wed., Feb. 21, 2018
Free Black North – Dr Julie Crooks of the AGO

We celebrate Black History Month by welcoming Dr Julie Crooks of the AGO to talk about her first exhibition at the AGO titled Free Black North.

Dr Crooks has a wide background in art and photography. She, ” … received her PhD in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K.

“Her research focuses on 19th and 20th century vernacular photography in West Africa and the diaspora.  Julie is also a curator working on projects concerning 19th and 20th century photographers from Africa and the diaspora. Julie has taught numerous courses in these fields at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), as well as Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU, Toronto), University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University, and York University (Toronto). From 2014 to 2016 she was a Rebanks Post Doctoral Fellow at the ROM (Royal Ontario museum). ”

From the ROM, Dr Crooks moved to the U of T’s Department of Visual Studies at Mississauga, and currently she holds the title of Assistant Curator of Photography in the AGO. We are delighted to have her talk at the PHSC’s Toronto meeting in this special month.

The public is always welcome. Go to our Programs page for directions.

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smart advertising …

Kodak Girl(s) on catalogues

Toronto. Have you ever heard of the Kodak Girl?” No? She was the brainchild of George Eastman many years ago. Men bought cameras. Men looked at pretty women, Case closed! Oh, yes, and the Kodak Girl showed the women of the day how easy it was for them to snap a picture with a Kodak!

Once again I have to send out a big thank you to my friend George Dunbar who emailed me a thoughtful reminder of the popularity Kodak had with its “Kodak Girl” who was featured in advertisements, in house brochures, and consumer catalogues. The Kodak Girl always had a camera in hand and usually showed how it was used. She was updated from time to time so she was always a fresh face for each generation of camera buyers. The Kodak Girl advertisements lasted well over half a century.

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a 35mm Graflex camera – Graphic 35

Graphic 35 ad
Sept 1956 Pop Photo

Toronto. In 1955 Graflex entered the 35mm market with their own brand calling the camera a Graphic 35. This was a few years after the first foray into 35mm film territory when Graflex bought out the Ciro camera company.

The camera used two marketing strategies: two handed focus buttons, a set up that, like Ford’s Edsel automobile, used a unique way to operate a major function – in this case focussing the lens with camera body buttons rather than a ring on the lens itself. And secondly by hopping on the colour bandwagon.

The focussing buttons were never adopted by others – a telling opinion of the feature. In the early sixties, the Graphic 35 Jet came out. The buttons were still used to focus but they moved the focal plane instead of the lens to focus!

Thanks to George Dunbar for finding this advertisement from the September 1956 issue of Popular Photography.

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PHSC News 17-08

Diana F+ “Love Letters”

Toronto. Another delightful newsletter by our editor Sonja Pushchak. Sonja’s newsletters have themes – this issue mixes Valentine’s Day with Black History month.

She begins with a backgrounder on the song Paper Moon – a riff on Valentine’s Day. Next up is a wonderful introduction to our next speaker,  Dr Julie Crooks whose talk will celebrate Black History month as does page three on the Scurlock Studio in Washington DC and page four on a Toronto Exhibition called Rich and Poor at the RIC featuring photographs by Jim Goldberg.

This is followed by an update to an earlier story on pre photographic use of lenses by oil paint artists. David does a comparison of a new Samsung smartphone camera and a “Y2K” vintage Olympus digital camera. Louise tosses in her always interesting Web Talks column  (with live links). In Photo History, Sonja discusses Kara Walker and Shadows on the Wall, a modern take on the pre photographic tool, the silhouette, this time using obviously Black antebellum scenes and images.

All the above plus ads and posters make this another very readable issue. Click here or on the Diana F+ icon to read and print.

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1956 and stereo is rising again

Exakta 3D ad from the
September 1956 issue
of Popular Photography

Toronto. In the 1950s, stereo made one of its periodic rises to the conscious mind of the common man. Books. cameras, attachments and movies touted the impressive 3D imagery. I remember seeing a 3D movie one Sunday starring Vincent Price in a theatre on the Main in Montreal.

Leitz had a number of 3D accessories for its cameras including the tiny Stereoly prisms that attached to its screw mount cameras (I have a Stereoly and arm in its original leather case).

But none of the special 3D cameras or accessories could compare with the Exakta and its 3D accessories. With a suitably equipped Exakta, one could view a scene in 3D before it was snapped! Of course, your eyes see in 3D too …

My thanks to George Dunbar who sent along this September 1956 Popular Photography ad for the Exakta V and VX accessory prisms and 3D viewer. Later cameras like the VXIIa or the Varex branded models could also use the 3D accessories.

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Leica M3 Fall 1956 Advertisement

Sept 1956 Pop Photo ad
ad for the Leica M3

Toronto. In 1954, Leitz finally began selling the famous M3 camera. The design was radically different than the screw mount cameras, adding many features that other makers had adopted. The Bayonet Mount still exists today (over 60 years later) in the Leica’s digital cameras. Rudimentary design began during WW2 as Leitz realized the screw-mount era was fast ending and a much newer and improved design was needed.

My thanks to member George Dunbar who sourced this beautiful Leitz NY ad for the M3. It appeared in the September 1956 issue of  Popular Photography to explain the new M3 and why it was uniquely a Leica through and through.

The camera caught on and became the choice of professionals and advanced amateurs world-wide long after the SLR design took over the 35mm film camera.

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NYC Photography Fair April 2018

NYC Photo Fair
April 4-8, 2018

Toronto. The Daguerreian Society sent me  a notice that they will host the New York City Photography Fair on April 4 to 8,  2018.

The Society offers full details here. If you plan to visit New York City this spring, why not time your visit with this show?

A great opportunity to augment your collection and enjoy what the Big Apple has to offer.

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Kertesz 1930 photograph in auction

Andre Kertesz 1930
Swann auction lot 38

Toronto. Dalle Kaplan sent me a reminder that Swann Galleries have their exhibition for the Icons & Images auction up and will auction the photographs and books this coming Thursday, the 15th of February down in the Big Apple.

Jane Corkin Gallery here in Toronto represented and sold Kertesz photographs for many years. The Gallery still sells Kertesz photographs.

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Whittaker Micro 16 camera ad II

Whittaker Micro 16 ad
from the July 28th, 1947
issue of LIFE magazine

Toronto. Late last year (December 28th), I wrote an extensive article on the Micro 16 and its ad. When first released the camera’s use by police departments as a spy camera was touted.

This ad sent to me by good friend George Dunbar shows how the tiny Whittaker factory down in LA embraced colour and Hollywood actresses. This July 28, 1947 ad taken out in LIFE magazine proclaims how easy the camera cold be used, featuring actress Joan Bennett “photographing” her children (Bennett was a popular actress at the time).

The ad displays sample colour pictures and emphasizes the camera’s precision-set lens with the standard box camera boast that it was fixed focus “3 feet to infinity” while overlooking the fact that such a feat was based on a short focal length, small aperture lens being used. Film and prints came to $1 for 12 B&W photos sent out and returned by post, or 10 colour transparencies for $1 with processing included – prints were an additional 40 cents each or three for a dollar (all American funds). The transparencies were in a strip. Not mounted for a slide projector (SVC made a projector for both 35mm film strips and mounted 35mm film transparencies).

Whittaker’s tag line was”Makers of Precision Airplane Valves and Cameras”. While “precision made” the tiny camera was no more than a simple box camera: fixed focus, Instant or Time shutter, and embellished with three Waterhouse stops for a crude control of light. Suitable for daylight photos using DuPont B&W film or Ansco colour transparency film.



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some thoughts on lenses

Concept of Metasurfaces.
Courtesy of Penn State

Toronto. Thanks to friend and member Russ Forfar for this idea about future lenses.

Before photography, we had microscopes that needed quality lenses (objectives). Initially, the design was “cut and try”.

Designers tried to combine glass elements made with different glasses and curvatures to improve resolution and reduce distortions (geometric, astigmatic, spherical, etc.).  The goal was to have two or three colours come to focus in the same plane. Photography meant that the plane had to be flat as well all across the light sensitive glass or metal plate material.

Ernst Abby  applied mathematics to the problem and challenged glass maker Otto Schott to create glass meeting his criteria.  People became skilled as “computers” and calculated various points on a flat plane based on the specifics of each element. Different curves and glasses were calculated in attempts to improve resolution and speed while reducing distortion. This lead to classic lens designs of multiple elements.

In the 1950s, Leitz used modern day electronic digital computers to do the necessary calculations vastly reducing the time taken and increasing the accuracy of the results. Modern lenses are designed with even faster computers and a vast array of glasses.  Some elements are even made with aspherical surfaces to improve resolution, reduce distortion, and reduce the number of elements needed. Some zoom lenses resort to actually moving a group of elements to retain resolution as focal length is changed.

A recent trend has been to vary the glass characteristics within an element, culminating in the potential of creating a usable lens consisting of a single element as described in this  Penn State article.

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Colour for the masses

Kodak ad in LIFE magazine
July 28, 1947

Toronto. In its 1947 LIFE magazine ad, Kodak tried to gain customers using two emerging themes: the growing popularity of 35mm; and the in roiads of colour (both transparencies and prints).

If a customer wasn’t ready to embrace colour, he could use his 35mm Kodak 35 camera to snap the more common and less costly B&W photos too.

Thanks to George Dunbar who discovered this wonderful Kodak ad which saw the newsstands and mailboxes 70 years ago. Beautiful ad, ugly camera. And sadly Kodachrome is no more.

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