Dr Orpana of ROM on Family Photo Archives

Dr Jennifer Orpana of the ROM

Toronto. PHSC Meeting, Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017
Christmas Snapshots from the Family Archives
Dr Jennifer Orpana of the ROM

Come out and listen to Dr Orpana speak on the Christmas snapshots in the family archives held by the ROM. Bring along your own Christmas Snapshot to share with the group. And enjoy the annual gift exchange (my thanks to Bob Lansdale for producing the announcement posted below).

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


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A couple of colourful guys

Dr Thomas Young

Toronto. For centuries various folk speculated on how we see colour. The postulate of Tom Young hit it on the nail although he had no means to absolutely confirm his theory. In 1802, Young theorized that humans and other primates could see colour because three different kinds of cells in the retina of the eye were turned on each by a distinct and narrow band of colours which the brain transformed into colour. Thus we needed only three colours to see all visible colours. A mix of different strengths transformed into every colour we could see.

We use Red, Green, and Blue. Just look at your TV screen or monitor using a magnifying glass… Modern colour printing – including ink jet – uses a subtractive process of yellow, magenta and cyan plus a later refinement of black to enhance the crispness of the images. One TV maker promotes using a fourth colour – yellow – with their RGB colours to give a more realistic range of visible colours.

Young’s theory was later refined by Hermann von HelmhoItz, another doctor and scientist. It wasn’t until Jim Maxwell did his pivotal experiment with a tartan ribbon, three filters, and three photographic plates in 1861 that Young’s Postulate was confirmed.

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PHSC News – December 2017

c1900 Field Camera featuring
a Goerz lens and a
Thornton-Pickard shutter

Toronto. Our latest pdf newsletter is out. Read and download this delightful issue filled with the wit and wisdom of our members by clicking on the icon at left.

Editor Sonja Pushchak has pulled together a fabulous read for this chilly month at year’s end. We feature a Wishful List on page 1; A story on our December meeting; An article on the work of Abelardo Morell; Image Finds (at the PHSC Auction and Image Show); and The Ick of Tech (using AI to snap a photo at just the right time).

These pages are followed by Scrooge-osophy (a review of the film Brazil); Equipment Review (Honeywell Strobonar 202  from the 1960s) and many more items of interest to collectors of cameras, images or photography books.

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“I can fix that”, he said.

Sir John Herschel (1867)
by J M Cameron

Toronto. We have all heard or read about the famous processes by Daguerre and Fox Talbot that first opened up the art of photography.  I thought many other names in that fine art may be of interest as well. One such name is that of Sir John Herschel. If you did your own development of B&W film or paper, before they faded from popularity, you likely used his invention!

He was photographed (click the icon in the upper left) by Julia Margret Cameron, famous in her own right for her photographic portraits. In 1819, while doing scientific studies independent of the main stream inventors of photography, Sir John discovered that sodium thiosulfate, or hyposulphite of soda as he erroneously called it, would dissolve silver halides better than a salt bath – and hypo or fixer was born.

When Daguerre and Fox Talbot announced their processes in 1839, Sir John wrote to both gentlemen and suggested they use hypo instead of a salt bath. Daguerre adopted hypo immediately. Fox Talbot dragged his heels  for two years but finally adopted hypo in his process as well.

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Self capping miniature FP shutter

Exakta VXIIa FP shutter

Toronto. When the Leica hit the market in 1924, it used a miniature focal plane shutter that was self capping.There are two curtains. The first moves across in front of the film followed by the second. The delay between the two events determines the shutter speed. On rewind, the first and second curtains lock together keeping light from hitting the film.

Here you can see my Exakta after I had disassembled it to see why the speed test shots were so wavy. A brass stop was nearly worn through and the grease on the second shutter curtain column had dried out (this caused erratic shutter cloth movement and a wavy image on the film – the damaged brass stop meant the camera could no longer be safely used).

The FP shutter actually saved manufacturing costs since one shutter worked with all lenses. Leaf shutters were usually imbedded in the lens meaning each lens had to have its own shutter. Alternatively, the shutter was placed at the back or front of the lens, or only the front elements were exchanged.

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One way of doing it…

Focal Plane Shutter
fabric with slots
for different speeds.
Click above to see
Ed Westcott c1943

Toronto. The Graflex and Speed Graphic cameras were used everywhere in North America as the news photographers choice of camera. They were heavy, well built and rugged – ready for use in every kind of environment.

To meet the demands of a shutter, the Folmer-Schwing company elected to use an opaque fabric focal plane shutter. To me, this shutter was classically awkward to use. A long piece of the fabric had slots in it at various distances,. The slots were used with adjustable spring tensions. A table showed which slot and tension setting to use for a given shutter speed from say 1/1,000th second to 1/10th second.

The dark slide or a lens cap blocked the light while the cloth was wound to the chosen slot and set. Examples are often seen in old movies depicting news hounds with their huge cameras and flash guns. Clicking on the icon above shows Ed Westcott with his Anniversary model Speed Graphic in 1943 (this photo is shown in his 2005 book Images of America, Oak Ridge).

And on the subject of Ed Westcott, George Dunbar suggests a visit tumblr to see more of his photographs.

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Hats off to Larry

Lauro Boccioletti
Photographer and founder, PHSC

Toronto. On a summery day in July, 2004, I got a bad news phone call from John. Larry had just passed away. He left a big hole to be filled in the PHSC that fall.

All this came rushing back when George Dunbar sent me some photos of local photographers via email. I had been a good friend of Larry for many years. He made a strong, rich cup of coffee and I used to tease him that it spoke with authority.

Larry became a photographer in Welland, Ontario. He taught photography both in NYC at the New York Institute of Photography and in the GTA at Centennial College with fellow PHSC member Fred Hunt. Larry was also a scuba diver, barbershopper (sang in a quartet), camera collector, exhibitor, movie prop house, B&W film processor and printer, auctioneer, and all around entrepreneur.

I had the pleasure of visiting him at his summer camp one warm and cheery day. The Harmony Ranch Recreation Club was founded by local  barbershoppers.  The visit was the  occasion of his marriage to Julie. She met Larry when she sold him the house on Jane Street. Continue reading

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Thinking of Ev

Ev Roseborough
1912 – 2011

Toronto. George Dunbar recently sent me a note on the images of some Canadian Photographers. Amongst them was this photo of Ev Roseborough. Ev died at 99 years of age in London Ontario on April 8th, 2011. His friend and associate Stan White did a remarkable multi-page article on Ev in 37-1 of our journal beginning on page 15.

Ev was certainly a renaissance man in the full sense of the word. In addition to being a photographer with his own studio for many years, he was organist for a local church, member of the PHSC, editor of the Photographic Canadiana, until Bob Lansdale took over, member of the Historical Microscopical Society of Canada (HMSC), and had many more interests and pursuits.

Members can find the full story of Ev and all the issues of the journal that he edited on the DVD given to all new members.

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Front or back – that is the question

B&L UNICUM shutter with air pistons

Toronto.  Around the turn of 1900, a number of Leaf shutters emerged, all at the front of the camera. For efficiency, the shutters were usually mounted between the lens elements next to the aperture diaphragm.

Bausch and Lomb made a number of shutters including the popular UNICUM model shown here at left top. A hollow rubber tube could be pushed on the base of either cylinder so a rubber bulb could be used to trigger the camera.

Optionally the operator could squeeze the lever at the top of the right hand cylinder. The various shutter speeds are set using the chrome wheel on the top of the shutter and lens assembly.

Most inexpensive cameras, and some high end models used leaf shutters. The benefit was slower speeds than the focal plane shutters of the time offered. Almost all Kodak cameras used simple self capping two leaf shutters. Box cameras often had time and instantaneous (about 1/25th second, fast enough for hand held shots) settings with more expensive folders giving a variety of instantaneous settings  up to 1/100th second.

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Strings and springs and things

Shutter on Kodak No. 1 camera in 1888

Toronto. In 1888, George Eastman concocted a camera to use his newly invented stripping film. He famously named the well constructed box camera the Kodak. Since the film was too fast in sunlight to use a lens cap as a shutter, Eastman used a long cylinder and springs as a shutter for instantaneous (and time) photographs.

A string was pulled to cock the shutter and when the button was pressed for a picture, spring power rotated the cylinder to briefly expose the film to the scene via a fixed f/9 rapid-rectilinear lens.

Note that the illustrations are courtesy of Brian Coe’s book Cameras mentioned in an earlier post.

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Thornton-Pickard shutter to update your camera

Thornto-Pickard shutter

Toronto. When instantaneous dry plates became available, there was suddenly a market for an accessory shutter. Thornton-Pickard made just such an accessory well after the turn of the century. The shutter was made in many sizes to fit the front or back of a lens and instantly convert the camera used with the lens to operate with the newer faster dry plates.

We saw many of these accessories at our photographica-fairs over the years. Long out of manufacture and marketing, these fancy roller blind shutters can be repaired following sites like that of our own Yvette Bessels, or  paulwilliams.com.

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