rapid rectilinear lens design

Rapid Rectilinear lens design

Toronto.After the announcement of photography early in 1839, there was a flurry of competing lens designs across Europe, each design trying to better the resolution and error correction qualities of the other.

In 1866, two Germans, one an immigrant to England (Dallmeyer) and the other in Germany (Steinheil) independently came up with the idea of using two couplets centred about a diaphragm. Dallmeyer called his idea a Rapid Rectilinear lens while Steinheil called his slightly earlier design (literally days earlier) an Aplanat. Dallmeyer patented in Britain an earlier lens as a Wide-Angle Rectilinear design. It was patented a few years later in America (USPO).  It quickly became apparent to Dallmeyer that a slight change would improve his lens and so the Rapid Rectilinear design was born. Continue reading

Posted in history, lens | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on rapid rectilinear lens design

Empire State View Camera c1910

Empire State Camera
courtesy of piercevaubel web site

Toronto. Around 1960, I would drive down to Toronto on a Saturday and browse down Yonge Street above and below Wellesley. One one such trip, I discovered and bought an old view camera called an Empire State. It was in an old suitcase but came without a lens or shutter.

Years later in Dorval, a manager in accounting supplies saw me with some old camera brochures and offered to give me two old lenses he had. The next day he dropped by with the pair – including an old lens fitted in a UNICUM shutter and just the right age and focal length for my full plate Empire State camera.

I made a lens board and viola! I had a workable camera. At our June 1977 picnic at Pioneer Village in Toronto I used the combination to take this picture – it is from Photographic Canadiana 3-3, page 15. The journal printing was rather crude in those days with poor resolution and half tones. I used a bleach on the submitted photo, which was much better quality, to whiten the post tops. I had fitted one of the the camera film holders with an adapter to take 4×5 cut film to take photographs. Continue reading

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Empire State View Camera c1910

sprocket rocket

Sprocket Rocket

Toronto. A century ago the panorama print was popular. Cameras like the Cirkut models could turn about the lens nodal point while affixed to a tripod by using gears and a spring wound motor.

This format is common place today. Most digital cameras and smart phones can create an auto-stitched panorama – you slowly rotate the device manually from side to side or top to bottom.

Earlier versions of programs like Photoshop could stitch together film camera sequential shots with some over lapping details. A very few cameras were made with the stretched aspect ratio common to all modest panoramas.

The Sprocket Rocket is the latest model offered by the Lomography organization. It is based on a simple box camera design using 35mm film. A number of frames (2 to 3) are used to create the stretched aspect ratio seen below. The vignetting and sprocket holes just add interest to the print.

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on sprocket rocket

brush and comb

Part of a B&L 20 inch telephoto lens

Toronto. Christmas, 1980 was rapidly approaching with its usual challenges as to suitable gifts. I said to my wife that I had a great suggestion: a 20 inch lens for my Leica. Sure enough that Christmas I was the proud owner of a Bausch and Lomb 20 inch telephoto lens complete with a Kilfitt mirror box! The lens ensemble was courtesy of Jack Addison. The lens had a dodgy aperture and suffered a poor paint job courtesy of an obvious amateur repair person. Sadly, speaking to B&L representatives here, they had no idea the company ever made anything besides eye-glass and contact lenses!

The company was formed in the 1850s in Rochester, NY. The founders, Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb were Germans who emigrated to America and began manufacture of microscopes. Two decades later they briefly picked up another (rather testy) German immigrant by the name of Gundlach.  Do a google search for more details than shown here by Wikipedia. Continue reading

Posted in history | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on brush and comb

April 17, 1996

A typical PHSC web page in the summer of 2000 after a major facelift.

Toronto. The late 1980s were a busy time. Film was still king. Personal computers and bulletin boards were all the rage with techies. A telephone call to another country was very expensive.

Few had heard of the internet or emails, or the Web. In the early 1990s efforts were underway to create a standard mark-up language for the internet. Called HTML (hypertext mark-up language) it standardized a script to write electronic pages on the internet and to allow hot links to other sites and pages.

We had tried hypertext before, of course. Back in the early 1960s, hypertext text books were a fad. Depending on how you answered a question, you were directed to different pages which either congratulated you or explained the error in your logic. And of course followed with another short question and choice of answer! Continue reading

Posted in history | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on April 17, 1996

on sight

who is watching who?

Toronto. I shot this photo some 46 years ago in Montreal’s Lafontaine Park. It showed my family searching for some food while the goat and the other family watched what was happening. The photograph is a still but has lots of activity going on. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment, it was taken with a Leica.

This morning I read my favourite newspaper, the Globe, and there I saw an article called “On Sight” by author and photographer, Rawi Hage. In the article he discusses what “drew him to photography”.  Have a read on the link here (or in your morning newspaper).

Posted in photos | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on on sight

the brick

Argus C3
LIFE May 5, 1952

Toronto. No, not the famous Canadian furniture discounter, but an American camera made in the very late 1930s to mid 1960s by an Illinois company that touted itself as the “world’s largest manufacturer of 35mm cameras“.  The company began as a branch of the “International Research Corp. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, later moving to Illinois and in 1944 renaming itself as Argus, Inc. after its most famous and popular cameras.

The inexpensive C3 was commonly called the brick due to its weight and shape. My friend Terry proudly owned one in the late 1950s. The biggest fault was a tendency for the rangefinder to drift. To fix it, the camera had to be disassembled and the rangefinder adjusted. Once adjusted the camera had to be reassembled to test the setting.  Not a great idea.

The barrage of 35mm cameras came at a time when Germany was at war seriously curtailing camera sales. Post war, the Japanese models soon over whelmed the Germany models while the American models silently disappeared, reappearing occasionally as a brand name pasted on an Asian made and designed camera bearing no relation at all to the original.

My thanks goes to George Dunbar who thoughtfully emailed me when he found the original ad on page 114, in the May 5, 1952 issue of LIFE magazine, a time when American cameras were in their heyday –  Britain and Germany were still struggling post-war, and Japanese models had yet to reach its shores.

Posted in camera | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on the brick

and now for something completely different

Schiffer Publishing’s
History of Philco Radios

Toronto. No, not the Flying Circus routines of Monty Python fame. A couple of decades ago I dealt with a small private publisher in Pennsylvania called Schiffer Publishing Ltd. I was interested in the quilting books they published. The books would sell well in my store. Later, I sent for a catalog and to my delight, I saw that while their main business was military history books, they also published a few  books for collectors and included a small collection of books for collectors of phonographs and radios. I bought a few about brands or devices of interest to me. One was Philco.

When I was a kid, my mother had a call from a neighbour who had an old radio for me. I took my wagon across the street and up the long sloping  driveway to the kitchen door. A strange radio with a heavy speaker on top was sitting in a wooden box waiting for me. That night, I was pleased to discover that it worked and was very sensitive (all radios of that period were AM which meant amplitude modulation). It turned out to be a Philco 90-A radio (made in 1931 as I learned long after it was taken apart). Old Jack Gribble, a radio repairman in town gave me a schematic diagram for it. Years later I bought a Philco SB-100 transistor which worked up in the 10 meter short-wave band and made a tiny tuner, but that’s another story.

The other day, I had an email from Schiffer Publishing that brought the old radio to mind again.  Their current catalog also has a handful of photography books they publish – which may be why I was emailed at the phsc address!

Posted in book | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on and now for something completely different

Wet-Plate Photography

Tintype – Stephen Brûlé

Toronto. PHSC Meeting, Wed, Sept 19 2018 at 7:00 pm
In the BURGUNDY ROOM of the Memorial Hall

Wet-Plate Photography – Stephen Brûlé
The technology of wet-plate photography was invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. It replaced the first commercially  successful processes, the Daguerreotype and the salt paper negatives. Wet-Pate was used by Mathew Brady to record the American Civil War – a war that prompted the formation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

Stephen Brûlé, a graduate of Ryerson, is a Toronto photographer who works with the century and a half old wet-plate process. Join Stephen on September 19th and discover this remarkable process that once was the mainstay of photographers world-wide. The process was both an improvement over the earlier processes and a complication. Much better resolution than paper negatives, yet able to easily be replicated. Alternatives to prints were Ambrotypes and Tintypes that were made in camera and chemically reversed to make a positive.

The process was slow enough to require a tripod, even outdoors and complex enough to demand the camera negative remain wet until processed and developed. Sound familiar? Yes, it is embodied in our logo – the wet-plate man.

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

Posted in processes, program | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Wet-Plate Photography

Taking of Niagara – review

Dr Anthony Bannon
by Robert Lansdale

TorontoOn May 16, 2018 we held our second meeting in the newly remodelled Burgundy room A at the North York Memorial Hall. We were pleased to have Dr Anthony Bannon retired from the GEM as our guest speaker. Tony spoke of the photographing of Niagara Falls in the early decades of photography. Since its discovery, the Falls has attracted artists and photographers. Over the years we have had other talks on Niagara such as its industry and history by Dr Norman Ball, and dating images by Ken Nelson (dtdfu, or Dead Trees Don’t Fall Up).  

As expected of his education and experience, Tony gave a terrific scholarly talk on the famous falls well illustrated by images he had selected. He managed to include Canadian references when possible which was greatly appreciated by the audience. He began speaking with an historical overview of the falls and arguably the first drawing ever made of the famous falls, by the Belgian explorer, (Franciscan Father) Louis Hennepin. Hennepin is said to have estimated the falls to be about 600 feet in height, possibly an error since an accurate measure today is 183 feet high. Also he grossly exaggerates Goat Island in his drawings.  Continue reading

Posted in program | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Taking of Niagara – review