Kodak Girl

Another Kodak Girl?

Toronto. Thanks to George Dunbar for mentioning the Kodak Girl.

I did another post on the same topic last February under the title Smart Advertising.

The comic Peanuts by the late Charles Schulz uses Lucy to say it best while tying to my recent post on flash.

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a flash of brilliance

Sylvania and Argus share a LIFE ad in 1954

Toronto. In the 1950s, amateur flash photos in colour were the big event of the decade.  Pictures could be taken indoors and in colour! To differentiate basically generic products, the makers promoted minor improvements as the next big thing.

Sylvania was no different (I tinkered with their 1N34A glass bodied diode and booklets).  The tiny blue dot on the flash bulb would turn pink if air had seeped in the bulb and increased  the risk of it exploding with glass particles flying everywhere. Many camera companies included plastic covers to be placed on flash guns “just in case”. My Hawk-eye outfit even had one clear side and one blue side to use clear flash bulbs with outdoor colour film indoors!

A blue coating or amber coating eliminated any need for filters. Blue would allow outdoor colour film to be used indoors and amber bulbs allow indoor film to be used outdoors by flash. And clear bulbs were used with B&W film (or on camera filters). And clear bulbs were used with outdoor colour film outdoors for fill-in flash.

There was no such thing as colour balance. There was one colour corrected film for daylight and another for incandescent light which had a lower colour temperature. You could use filters to convert – or colour coated flash bulbs for colour shots by flash.

This February 15, 1954 LIFE ad on pp 64-5 was typical. It showed Sylvania sharing a spread with Argus – All Argus cameras with a flash, of course. In this day of digital photography and high ISO ratings, it is hard to imagine how terribly slow film was in the 1950s, or just how expensive electronic flash could be.

Plus bulbs were more powerful and far lighter than electronic flash. I had a massive Ultrablitz Reporter IIL flash that barely matched a tiny #5 bulb in light output.

GeorgeDunbar sourced this nostalgic advertisement for flash and cameras.

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Stephen Wilkes – A Journey

Pont de la tournelle – Paris
Stephen Wilkes

Toronto. Fancy a trip to Paris, France this Christmas? Then visit our friends at GADCOLLECTION Galerie and view/buy the gorgeous photos exhibited there.

Stephen Wilkes has his series called “A Journey” on exhibit from today, December 6th through next January 20th, 2019. You can see the catalogue here. I did a post on his series called “Day into Night” a year ago on October 11, 2017. His photographs are still hauntingly arresting today.

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food for thought

Mathew Brady c1861

Toronto. During the US civil war, Mathew Brady became famous for his battle field wet plate photography. The process demanded that the plate be sensitized, exposed and processed while still wet or its sensitivity would disappear like the morning mist as the sun rises. And the process was too slow to take any action shots at all.

Nearly a century later, an American Insurance CompanyJohn Hancock – promoted this ad in a 1954 LIFE magazine issue. We all know the battle field scenes Brady shot were monumental commercial disasters leading to his ruin and bankruptcy, but did the other things happen to Brady? Is the painting the least bit authentic or was lots of editorial licence taken? Let me know.

Who knows for sure today? Anybody? In any case a thanks to George Dunbar for unearthing this interesting advertisement.

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Graflex Journal 2018-3 18a is here

A Graflex Super D courtesy of Jim Chasse – retired pro photographer and collector of these beauties

Toronto. Thanks to our editor Bob Lansdale for sending on Ken Metcalf’s latest newsletter on the wonderful Graphic and Graflex cameras – issue 2018-3 18a – Ken’s last opus for this year.

The Graflex Journal usually has one or two items from PHSC member George  Dunbar. The first item here is a photo in the upper left masthead submitted by George. It features two Canadian Services gals from the end of WW2 complete with cameras which I featured here.

Down load this issue or just read it online in your browser since it is a pdf after all. Even if you don’t have or haven’t used these  wonderful old large format cameras, the stories in this jornal are always of interest. And you might just catch the Graflex or Graphic bug …


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speaking of pictures …

Michael Lyons by Fred Lyons c1954

Toronto. Decades ago, LIFE magazine published photos and a brief description each issue in a column they called “Speaking of Pictures“. On pages 4 and 5 of its January 11, 1954 issue, Speaking of Pictures printed the shot shown at left.

This is a shot by LIFE photographer Fred Lyons of San Francisco of his baby son Michael crawling across the floor on a large sheet of photographic paper.

My thanks to George Dunbar once again for unearthing this delightful silhouette of a baby crawling. You can see and read the January 11, 1954 issue of LIFE courtesy of Google Books.


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I spy with my little Minox

Joe Cooper’s 1958 ULTRA-Miniature Photography book

Toronto. Whenever I think of the Minox, I think of spy cameras of which it was the most widely known back in the second world war days (WW2). The camera’s inventor, Walter Zapp, came up with the 8×11 mm frame format. I had two of the little cameras, a IIIs and a model B which was a IIIs with a selenium cell light meter.

The tiny 15mm focal length, 4 element Complan lens uses a curved film plane to help correct it for curvature of field. A fixed aperture of f/3.5 allowed the designer to maximize its corrections at that aperture. The lens could be focussed from 8 inches to infinity.

I did a few posts on the sub-miniature cameras in the days of film. My first experience with the Minox was when an associate of mine used his Minox system to capture images in a factory where cameras were verboten. The area was a skunk works operation, busy experimenting with new ideas.

A big thanks to friend and PHSC founder John Linsky for his diligent research into the Minox camera beginning with this video showing the history of Minox. John found the Crypto Museum site featuring the original Riga Minox. The little camera even has its own website and collectors organization.

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stereo on a shoestring

Coronet 3-D camera ad c 1953

Toronto. In the early 1950s when the American camera industry was trying to retain the momentum it gained during the war, stereo gained its periodic rise in popularity once again. One company that used the rise in stereo was the British company called Coronet.

Like many companies, it’s products were imported in America by a New York City firm, The 3-D Coronet was imported by the long defunct 3-D Camera Corporation in the big apple. This plastic marvel was basically a dual lens box camera made by a British firm specializing in cheap cameras used in various promotions. For under $20 American you could have a camera, flash, stereo viewer, and case. The single speed, fixed focus camera used 127 film to capture 4 stereo views per roll.

My thanks to George Dunbar for spotting this gem in his currently favourite hunting ground – old issues of LIFE magazine, in this case the November 30, 1953 issue now 65 years old.


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Photographic Canadiana 44-3 printed.

Photographic Canadiana 44-3

Toronto. Issue 44-3 has been printed and will hit the mail in a few days. The content quality and reliable delivery is in no small way a reflection of the dedication and “fussiness” of Editor Bob Lansdale. His enthusiasm and diligence belies his age and then some. Being a professional photographer for most of his working life hammered home the importance of deadlines and an obsession for quality.

This issue embraces a variety of subjects of interest to photography collectors and historians one and all! Members will receive this issue directly in their mailbox. Not a member? You know the drill – look over to the right sidebar for Membership -Join or Renew! and do it online NOW via PayPal (no account required, they will take most credit cards). The Price is Right? It’s downright Cheap!

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photo books lost in California wild fire

Fire Loss

Toronto. The local news focusses on the loss of life and property in the horrendous California wild fires but as sad as these losses are, other losses occur too.

George Dunbar sent me a note that he had spotted on the British Journal of Photography website – an article published November 21st about the California wildfires.

The fire incinerated Dutch collector Manfred Heiting’s library of some 36,000 photo books, including many rare volumes. Have a read and weep at the loss.


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