Boris Spremo died yesterday at 81

Boris Spremo by Frank Lennon – Globe and Mail

Toronto. Thanks to Russ Forfar for notifying me that Boris died yesterday. His accomplishments are noted here by the Toronto Star and by his first employer in Canada, the Globe and Mail with a very brief bio here on Wikipedia.

Boris was a member of the PHSC. He was tagged to speak to us most recently this past April, but was too ill. He did speak to the PHSC of his adventures in March of 2001.

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What the heck is a Perfex?

c1938 Perfex camera made in Chicago from bakelite and metal. Courtesy of Richard Berbier, PHSNE

Toronto. In the most recent issue of snap shots (23-1), the newsletter of the Photographic Historical Society of New England (PHSNE), collector Richard Berbiar writes in the Vintage Camera Corner about his Perfex Speed Candid camera which was the first American made 35mm camera to boast a focal plane shutter.

He describes this odd looking bakelite and metal camera in some detail. This camera was the very first model made by  Candid Camera Corp. of America. It was made from 1938-9 as a cheap alternative to the German Leica. While issue 23-1 of snap shots won’t be posted on the PHSNE site for a few months, many other sites offer details on this rather ugly ducking. Most detailed is Vanguard Real Estate’s site called Marcy Merrill out in Washington State on the west coast runs a studio and collects cameras. Her site discusses a badly treated Perfex 55. And the Historic Camera site which links to us discusses the Perfex camera as well.

The struggling Candid Camera Corp. continued on past the end of WW2 to around 1950. It was then sold to Ciro. Ciro too was eventually sold to Graflex who discontinued US production of 35mm cameras in 1957 and began importing Japanese models made by Kowa.

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a 1913(ish) Graflex makes great shots and great friends

Using a 1913 Graflex at F1 Races

Toronto. Using an old 1913 Graflex camera. My friend and fellow PHSC fan Russ Forfar sent me this link about using an old Graflex which had only two working speeds – slow and slower – to shoot high speed F1 races.

The photographer used a century old film based reflex beast while all others used modern digital cameras. 10 film holders allow for at most 20 shots per event. The lens appears to be back of the lens board in the shot that shows the camera front.

Have a look at his work and think back to the need for serious thought and planning when you only had a few shots in the camera.

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A March 1843 Daguerreotype portrait

John Quincy Adams, March 1843

Toronto. Where would we be without the thoughtful benefit of George Dunbar? Once again George found a photographically interesting item and sent me a quick note. Sotheby’s, the famous auction house, will auction off a daguerreotype of the 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, taken in a Washington DC studio in March 1843, just short of five years before his death. The 76 year old senior politician sat for his portrait just four years after photography was invented.

Sotheby’s estimate the portrait is worth an eighth to a quarter of a million US dollars.

The link George included in his note is for the NY Times article covering the forthcoming auction. Before this portrait, one taken a few months later in August 1843 was considered the oldest known photograph of an American president.

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Canada 1867 – 2017

Happy 150th Canada!

Toronto. The celebration of our 150th anniversary (on July 1, 2017) (come out this September 20th to our next presentation) was celebrated with a quintet of speakers, specially made cakes, a beaver poster, and two group photographs; one “traditional” style format by our journal editor Bob Lansdale, and one in stereo by Bob Wilson.

Both photographs were taken in digital format, the technology that has relegated film and darkroom chemicals to the dust bins of time.

Our quintet of speakers covered the past century and a half plus of photography as follows:

Yvette Bessels on modern wet-plate photography

Yvette Bessels on modern wet-plate photography. Yvette did a very professional slide show documenting her experiences and technique in the modern art of creating wet plates and albumen prints. I made a post about Yvette and Modern Wet-Plate Photography on June 27th. The post links to Yvette’s site and her instructions for anyone wishing to try the century old process. There is a growing niche of people who are embracing the old chemical based processes. Our fairs and auctions are a great source of such materials.

Jeff Ward on the Maritimes photographers

Jeff Ward on documenting Maritime photographers. Jeff flew up from Halifax to visit family and was delighted to review his progress in documenting the activities of Maritime photographers, principally members of the Rice family. PHSC members have helped Jeff in his research efforts using resources at hand including the databases indexed by

The Rice family consists of many documented photographers in our eastern provinces. Jeff gave fully illustrated slide show linking the various members of the family.

Baldwin Street Gallery

Laura Jones on Baldwin Street Gallery. Laura joined the PHSC when it first began and has spoken to the organization many times. Tonight she presented another facet of the Baldwin Street Gallery.

The gallery was the first photographic gallery in Canada. Laura noted that the neighbourhood surrounding Baldwin Street was like family. Many people, including our next speaker, dropped in at Baldwin when the gallery was a destination for Toronto area artists.

Vincenzo Pietropaolo – photographer and author

Vincenzo Pietropaolo on modern day publishing of photographic books. Vince has spoken to us a few times. Tonight’s talk was affected by technical issues prompting him to speak without slides. And he chose to speak at length on his latest book, Ritual, based on photographs spanning 46 years for which he used various b&w and colour negative films, Ektachrome and Kodachrome slides, and digital photography and the difficulties facing modern-day photographers wishing to publish books of their photographs. Vince explained the need to self-publish which means handling the funding, finding a publisher, and doing entire sales and marketing all on your own.

Nick Chomps on the downright scary art of Roof Top photography

Nick Chomps on Rooftop photography. In a nod to modern day photography, our last speaker was the young Torontonian Nick Chomps  speaking on the latest youth-oriented fad of shooting breath-catching photographs on the roof tops high above unaware passersby as they scurry about their business. Nick related how rooftop photography works with his primary photographic business of architecture photography. Nick noted that roof toppers prefer the high end digital full frame cameras (Canon, Nikon, Sony)  and ultra wide-angle lenses. Telephotos are reserved for the times when a tighter frame is more appropriate, while drones are used to give an overview of the shooting area. Nick said most security people were polite and helpful once they realized the photographer had no intention to damage the building or disrupt its inhabitants. (Note that various government officials decry the risky art of Roof Top photography.)

We finished this delightful evening with the two photographs taken of those audience members who remained available after the evening’s very interesting lectures.

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huge and SHARP

International Geological Congress at U of T Toronto in 1913

Toronto. My friend George Dunbar sent me an email recently with this massive image of a group photo taken here at the University of Toronto in 1913 of attendees to the International Geological Congress by the Dominion Photo Co., Toronto Can.

I wondered why  the conference was held in Toronto and why it was put online at the UBC Library Archives in Vancouver BC. This lead me to do a bit of research.

Firstly, the Dominion Photo Co is not a Toronto firm. According to Memory BC, a website associated with the Vancouver Public Library (VPL), “The Dominion Photo Company was a commercial photography firm established in Vancouver in 1914 by Percy Bentley. The company was involved in photojournalism, theatre slides, timber surveying photographs, police photography, postcards, amateur developing and printing, commercial/industrial work, and portraiture.

Interesting note, but just above it the site shows, “Dominion Photo Company (1871-1944)”. Continue reading

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The (nearly) forgotten photographer – Edwin Haynes

Edwin Haynes c1878

TorontoThis report is a review of our May, 2017 presentation on Edwin Thomas Haynes (come out this September 20th to our next presentation). The story and selected photographs by Edwin Haynes were presented by his grand nephew and photographer Bruce Hodgson. In attendance was Bruce’s daughter, Lizz Hodgson. Bruce told an enchanting tale of this seldom mentioned Canadian photographer born in Cheltenham, England near the border with Wales late in 1876. 

Barely two years old, Haynes emigrated to Canada with his parents, settling in Toronto. In early 1910 he married a miss Earla Stouffer in Stouffville. On their honeymoon the couple took a world wide tour and photographs. Included were a visit to Edwin’s birth place in Cheltenham, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Gibraltar. Back in Canada, Haynes settled briefly in Chesley, Ontario (my father’s dining room set was made by Krug in Chesley from American grown Walnut). Haynes eventually moved home to Toronto where his son Edward was born. Shortly afterwards, the little family travelled west, with Edwin taking photographs along the way.

Haynes was relatively short lived, falling victim to the world-wide Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Initially the Toronto influenza victims were buried in a mass grave site.  Once it was known that the bodies did not carry the deadly flu virus, his was exhumed and reinterred in Prospect cemetery. Haynes’s widow and son moved to BC leaving Edwin’s box of slides with Bruce’s father in Toronto. Sadly Edwin’s widow died in BC in childbirth and four year old Edward was sent alone  by train to his aunt May and her son, Russel Hodgson in Toronto. Edward grew up in Toronto as the son of his aunt. On his death, his father’s cherished wooden box passed on to Lizz’s father.

Some of Haynes’ photographs had been reduced to carefully assembled glass slides, complete with a cover glass and tape binding to make them air-tight. The slides were housed in the  wooden box that accompanied both Haynes and his relatives as they moved from place to place over the years.

Bruce Hodgson decided to open the old wooden box one day. He looked at a sampling of the 200 slides the box contained and to his surprise, they were technically well exposed and artistically framed. Bruce selected some 70 slides and created digital images from them. He used Photoshop to clean them, make any minor adjustments, and add identifying cut lines making them suitable for presentation. Following are a few examples.

Earla Haynes’s home town of Stouffville


paddling (L) and camping (C)  at Georgian Bay and using imagery to tell a story (R)

Earla taken by flash simulating the fireplace flame

field workers

Research to date shows that Haynes had photographic studios in various towns. He was a member of the Toronto Camera Club, but doesn’t appear in Lilly Koltun’s epic 1983 book on amateur photography in Canada from 1839 – 1940, Private Realms of Light. A few of the slides shown tonight were possibly taken by others and copied by Haynes for his collection.

Toronto Camera Club outing in 1911 when Edwin joined the TCC

Bob Wilson noticed a few slides, including a photo of Vancouver’s Railway Station, were half of a stereo pair in his personal collection. A lively discussion wrapped up the evening. Some members promised to assist the Hodgson family in its pursuit of the images of Edwin Haynes.

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Photographic paper – crafted paper cameras

IIIf Red Dial Leica paper sculpture

Toronto. Lee Ji-hee is a paper artist. His creations range from life-sized paper dogs to mouthwatering paper food! On a visit to Seoul and the Korea Camera Museum, Ji-hee fell in love with the antique cameras on display and decided to create them using his paper sculpture techniques.

PHSC member and long time friend, George Dunbar, sent me this link to the article and photos appearing in the British newspaper, The Guardian. Take a look at the Saturday, August 12 column written by Kim Buchan and see what a creative and whimsical person can create!

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…news at eleven – an homage to News Photographers everywhere

Abandoned on the beach…

Toronto. This is a review of the April 2017 PHSC meeting on News Photographers. Who would have thought Toronto would have two sports teams in the playoffs? Between this and medical issues, we changed the speakers to Spike Bell of Windsor along with our own Bob Lansdale. Both Spike and Bob have a long history as photographers. Both have written books on photography. Both are comfortable talking to a room full of photographic enthusiasts. Note that the images below are off the screen and cropped so the quality doesn’t approach the original prints.

We saw two different perspectives in the art of news photographs. Spike talked briefly about the challenges and dwelt at length with his impressive itinerary of subjects across North America. Meantime Bob talked in depth of facing the news with dicey gear and deadlines, choosing to show just one of his illustrious subjects.

Spike began with his news shots of the 1967 Detroit Riots across the river from home. This was followed by photos of the Beatles who visited Michigan three years earlier in 1963).

Spike captured many American politicians – often in close ups – Kennedys, Eisenhower, Nixon, Regan, Humphrey, etc. And personalities galore like Martin Luther King. In Canada he met Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, John and Olive Diefenbaker. In Europe, he captured on film the Queen and Prince Philip.

… of cabbages and kings

John and Olive, Pierre and Margaret

As a wrap, Spike showed a cover shot of his book “Memoirs of a Border City”. All of the images he used in his talk are in this book including his photographs of eight American presidents and five Canadian prime ministers!

Spike Bell’s book with all the photos shown tonight

The book’s cover shot of the two cities, Windsor and Detroit, was taken on film with a Hasselblad. At the last minute, it was noticed that a building had the sign DaimlerChrysler illuminated on it. A quick pass through Photoshop and the sign simply said Chrysler and an awkward situation was avoided (the DaimlerChrysler arrangement was a very uncomfortable one for Chrysler and fell apart before the book was printed).

Bob began with an explanation of the camera (Speed Graphic) and flash strobe gear (Multiblitz) ( he used in the 1950s after graduating from Ryerson. To speed his photographs up, he used a Grafmatic back (holds six cut films) on his camera. The six-pack Grafmatic worked well with the strobe but was prone to jamming. His solution (using a real Grafmatic) was ingenious – involving tilting the camera and film holder on the side and hitting the Grafmatic sharply with his fingers to clear the springs and letting gravity smoothly slide the next cut film piece in place.

Bob worked for Federal News Photos, but in Toronto they did so many Toronto Star assignments they were considered Toronto Star photographers. He was in Europe on a junket doing PR photos of the military bases when a telegram directed him to go to Calais ASAP to photograph the Toronto Telegram sponsored Marilyn Bell as the youngest person to swim across the channel.

Bob arrived in Calais lacking any information. He found the United Press gang. Friends at last.  They directed him to the time and place for the swim. At 7am next morning, Bob walked into the cold channel to get a photo of Ms Bell starting her swim. He had sent his luggage, shoes, money – and passport on ahead. It was a long walk in shallow water to get a good shot with his strobe (contrary to warnings by others, he didn’t suffer a shock from the strobe).

Beginning at Calais (L) and finish at Dover (R)

Later, he was told to wait on the beach for a pick up. So he waited – hours and hours and hours – no money, no shoes, no passport. He had been forgotten! Finally the hotel people found him by accident and arranged to get him to Dover and clothed a bit better, When it came to his shoes, only tennis shoes were found – and those a size too small.

He was worrying about customs with no passport when a launch came back to get lanolin for ms Bell who was struggling with jelly fish. (Now, did the Toronto Tely folk leave Bob behind because he was known as a Toronto Star photographer?) Arriving late on the launch turned out to be a saving grace – the photographers who left earlier ended up sun-burnt and sea-sick.

He got a couple of shots before the launch captain decided to drop him off on the beach under the cliffs of Dover where Marilyn was expected to reach land (she could have landed anywhere within a couple of miles but she came within ten feet of him)! Using his strobe, Bob was able to set the camera aperture and speed for the background while the strobe froze the action of Marilyn getting up from the water (she had to touch the beach without help).

Marilyn in mid channel (at right)

Most of the other photographers had flashbulbs (burnt out foreground; jet black background). Worse, many managed to get on the wrong side of the action. Bob rushed up the stairs to Dover to get  the shot of Marilyn being carried up by an athlete. Fortunately, it was a holiday weekend in Canada – an extra day to get the film to Toronto before the papers came out. Bob had two front page shots and 50% of the coverage inside…. in the Telegram!

Snapping Marilyn as she reaches land on the Dover beach

Bob wrapped up his portion of the talk with a nod to his late wife Margaret and her PPOC columns which he published in a book they called ”…a funny thing happened on the way to the darkroom!”. It has illustrations and anecdotes about photographers of the last half of the last century.

Marg and Bob Lansdale

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Write! Shoot! Edit!

Write! Shoot! Edit! By Deborah Patz (July 2017)

Toronto. Past president of the Toronto branch of the PHSC (1984-5) and the PHSC (1991-1993), Mo Patz, will be at our fair this fall. She will be joined by her son Rick.

They are selling some of her late husband Willi’s collection. Rick lives in Hamilton while Mo and her daughter Deborah moved to BC in the Vancouver area after losing Willi.

Deb hopes to be with her mother here in Ontario in October. She has been in the film industry for many years now. Write! Shoot! Edit! is her third book on film making. Released just last month, this book addresses the needs of the teen filmmaker.  You can check out Deb’s web site for her other titles.

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