Toronto. About 40 years ago I wondered why the old process lingered on long after a new process was available. Now I know. Serious folk invested in the older process so they changed slowly to the new. And the older process has a je ne sais quoi look and feel compared to the new.
When you go to any of our events – fair, sale, or auction – someone always seems to have film available. And today there is even a niche market for polaroid style material of all things!
So go with your feelings and break out that wonderful film camera today and experience the wonder of analogue images. A 36 negative roll of film used to last because shots were costly. Today, I shoot that many digital shots in a few minutes knowing I can delete, sort, crop, select, and adjust after the fact using modern software.
Toronto. Hey – its summer (finally). Check out Rita’s latest work here. She has both a print edition and a digital edition available (with differing content!).
Mind the Cyanotype Kit – uses some nasty chemistry – like potassium ferricyanide (a nice orange red powder I had years ago).
Take a look on the link above to see what is happening in PhotoEd this summer.
Arrow Sports Shirts in Kodachrome Hues
Toronto. It’s been a decade now since Kodak shut down the Kodachrome film line and nearly nine years since the last Kodachrome processing facility closed. In its glory days, people used Kodachrome for their best work. It was contrasty, slow, famous for enhancing some colours and for its time stability. Over a half century since they were used and my Kodachrome slides still have a decent colour rendering.
In 1956, Arrow shirts capitalized on the popularity of Kodachrome by offering a line of casual shirts all in “Kodachrome” hues! Thanks to my good friend George Dunbar for sourcing the above May 28, 1956 Arrow Casual Wear ad in LIFE magazine (pp92-93).
Nowadays we automatically expect colour accuracy in our photographs, but back then you chose a particular slide film for its emphasis of reds or greens or blues, etc.
Toronto. The Globe is hosting a number of conflict photographers and moderators today and tomorrow (June 21, 22). Last month we hosted Louie Palu, a conflict photographer and this month we hosted Erin Gregory who spoke on the Imperial Royal Flying Corps in WW1. We have had many other such speakers over the years including Ken Bell (WW2) and Boris Spremo (the Irish troubles).
How appropriate to take part in the Globe’s event with many famous conflict photographers – we used to call them war photographers many decades ago. The above link gives full details. Tickets start at less than $40 – don’t be cheap, see for yourself how modern conflict photographers capture those iconic photos!
Bakelite 35mm cameras made by Spartus
Toronto. In the late 1930s, a Chicago man embarked on a program to create inexpensive cameras and the Spartus Camera Corporation was born. One of the many cameras to emerge was a bakelite wonder that sold under a variety of names.
If you happen to visit our Fairs, Trunk Sales, or Auctions, you are sure to come across a camera made by Spartus Corp. in Chicago.
Thanks to my friend George Dunbar for the idea and to the “Made in Chicago Museum” for the gory details of the creator of Spartus and many other inexpensive articles.
News of the World
Toronto. In the 1930s and 40s we had radio, but what could excite home entertainment like the movies? How about a movie projector and some inexpensive commercial films?
Many companies made and promoted home movies. One firm was Excel in Chicago. It was one thing to push customers to buy a projector, but how can you make them a regular user and how can you make money doing that?
One means was to offer short movies for your new projector. Excel offered timely “News of the World” reels to offer moving images of the latest events at a time when people could only choose newspapers or magazines with lots of text and a few stills.
It was wartime in the 1940s so there was lots of current material to use (in this case with a very strong American bias). And between the news shorts there were always comedy shorts – like the three stooges (from vaudeville). In Canada, movie houses often started their main feature movie with a short “Movie Tone News”. This short gave viewers the lated news in audio and movies edited for Canadian audiences with their allegiance to Great Britain (for most people outside of the French areas) .
Mamiya Universal Camera
Toronto. In its hey-day Mamiya made high end cameras – subminiature 16mm, 35mm, TLRs and medium format press cameras. At a recent PHSC auction the Mamiya Press Universal camera was in one lot. This version is a rangefinder model, with a few interchangeable lenses and backs.
Not as well known as the RB67 model, it is nevertheless an interesting version of a press camera. This model is part of the 23 series which initially had swings and tilts as well. The design is modular allowing the user to add various accessories to customize his/her camera.
Watson Bulk Film Loader c1950s
Toronto. In a recent auction, there was a memory of a by-gone era. One lot featured a couple of Watson 66 bulk film loaders. The one on the left of the large image appears to be a 1950s era loader made by Burke and James, while the one on the right is a more modern version, somewhat simplified, all plastic now and marketed by Pfaff Products (and likely made in south Asia).
A dyed in the wool amateur would have this or a similar bulk loader high on his (her) list of must buy accessories. 50 or 100 feet of 35mm film was loaded in the dark, then blank cassettes were dropped in place in daylight and loaded. A template and knife made a neat leader on each cassette.
You could buy blanks, or just reuse commercial cassettes, ignoring the “single use” warning. In this way, the cost of film could be dramatically reduced. For professionals, the savings didn’t cover the convenience of a bunch of commercial rolls in the nearest pocket ready for action.
While I didn’t have a Watson bulk loader I did have an alternative brand and made regular use of it. In fact Leitz encouraged bulk loaders with the special Leica brass cassettes that opened in the camera’s darkness to allow the film to glide through the camera without recourse to a double felt light trap with its risk of dust particles and tram tracks on the film.