Photographic Canadiana 43-1
Toronto. Well we are entering our 43rd year as a society! Hard to imagine that we have lasted so long. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we continue to serve. The emphasis has shifted from primarily a camera collecting society, to a true Canadian historical society. This is in no small way due to the talent and dedication of our editor of nearly the past two decades.
I had the pleasure of participating on the proofing of editor Bob Lansdale’s latest issue, 43-1. This issue will hit the printers shortly and should be in the mailbox of all members by or shortly after month end. Look for it!
FisherPrice Toy Digital Camera
Toronto. If you were or had children in the past half century, then you bought or someone gave you a Fisher Price toy. I gave my daughters many of the toys sold by this famous company. One toy was a plastic imitation of a 126 camera. It had a rotating cube and in the viewfinder a tiny series of wild animals appeared – changed after each shutter click.
The camera above (or at left) was loaned to me by John Linsky. Like the cameras made for grown-ups, the toy cameras went digital when film began to disappear. In this case the cameras took digital images saved to memory or a removable card. It offered either a .3 or a 1.3 megapixel image. The aspiring snap-shooter could see his photograph on the back screen – just like in his parent’s camera! When I take a picture today, my granddaughter wants to see her picture immediately.
At right you can see my 3 year old grandson seven years ago as he snapped me snapping him. we both used digital cameras, his a toy (not FisherPrice, but a Little Tikes) and mine a Sony.
Mick-A-Matic circa 1971
Toronto. A few weeks ago John Linsky lent me two cameras and two books. The idea of making cameras for children began in the early days of the 20th century when Kodak introduced the Browne line in 1900, packed in boxes complete with cartoon figures of the famous Brownies designed by Canadian Palmer Cox from Granby, Quebec.
This camera was unique in that it was shaped like the head of the cartoon character it represented – Walt Disney’s famous little mouse. It is the size of a child’s head. Produced for the Child Guidance Products Inc. in the USA (back when such whimsical items weren’t made in the far east), the camera uses a cube flash and a 126 film cartridge. The lens is in the nose and the viewfinder is in the toy mouse’s forehead, just below the flash socket. Gently pulling up the right ear (original) or pressing a lever down (between the right ear and right eye) snapped the photo.
Jin-me Yoon, Souvenirs of the Self (Lake Louise), 1991, printed 1996, chromogenic print laminated to Plexiglas, 192.7 × 232.8 cm. CMCP Collection, National Gallery of Canada. Purchased 1996
Toronto. Have a great Good Friday folks. If you live in the Ottawa/Gatineau area or plan a visit to celebrate our 150th anniversary, drop in to the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada (CPI) and see this remarkable exhibition of photographs created in the period 1960 – 2000. The exhibition opened April 7th and runs until September 17th this fall. If the name CPI sounds familiar, it should. The late Matt Isenburg’s daguerreotype collection moved there after a brief period of months here in Toronto.
The works of many top Canadians are featured including my favourite Toronto photographer, Ed Burtynsky.
The CPI ad states, “Experience the diversity of Canadian photographic practice and production from 1960 to 2000 in this exhibition organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada. Bringing together more than 100 works by 71 artists — including Raymonde April, Edward Burtynsky, Lynne Cohen, Angela Grauerholz, Michael Snow, Jeff Wall and Jin-me Yoon.
“It explores how the medium articulated the role of art and the artist in an ever-changing world, along with differing ideas of identity, sexuality and community. Formulated around themes such as conceptual, documentary, urban landscape and portrait, this exhibition celebrates the enormous growth of the practice, collection and display of photography over more than four decades”.
Editor Norm Rosen by Robert Lansdale
Our March speaker, Norm Rosen, spoke on the status of photographic magazine publishing today in Canada. Norm is the current editor of Photo News. He spoke with great enthusiasm about the business of publishing photography magazines in Canada. Norm graduated from McGill University in Montreal. He lives here in Toronto and has over 40 years of experience as a teacher, photographer, and editor.
Norm and several of the attending PHSC members brought along many hard copy examples of magazines covering the mid 1800s up. He asked that the audience take care in handling the samples as many are rare and in delicate condition. Norm began his talk by providing the assembled audience with handouts of his talk and the most recent issue of Photo News magazine (I read it the day before with the Globe and Mail over my breakfast).
He began his presentation by acknowledging the people who mentored him over the years including such early PHSC members as the late John Barras Walker, Gunther Ott, and Ms Lorraine Monk. And as a Montrealer, he slipped in a few French sentences along the way, including a poem (Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays c’est l’hiver) usually sung by its writer Gilles Vigneault. During his talk, he chose his words to confirm his strong identity as a Canadian. For the first few minutes Norm read with emphasis from a carefully scripted paper, then he was off to a Power Point file and set the paper aside. Continue reading
Silent film comedian Mabel Normand directed and starred in the 1914 film “Won in a Closet”. It is the first surviving film she is known to have directed
Toronto. In the late 1950s – early 1960s when I began to take photography seriously, I bought some 6 x 9 cut film stock for a Japanese knock-off of a Graflex I bought new – the Rittreck IIa camera.
Decades later, I began sorting out negatives and prints. To my dismay, a sleeve with cut film inside smelled strongly of vinegar – a sure sign of deteriorating nitrate based film. Opening the envelope I saw the emulsion was badly wrinkled and sloughing off the backing material – off to the garbage it went before it started burning.
All this came back to me when I read an email from George Dunbar on nitrate film. George included a link to NPR. While nitrate film stock is highly flammable and must be archived and handled in special ways, the clear material offers crisp black and white negatives or crisp contrast and bright colours for colour negatives and transparencies.
Houston TX Photo Van
Toronto. I first met my friend Fritz Schulze when he was with C. Zeiss Canada and organized the Historical Microscopical Society of Canada (HMSC) which eventually was merged with an American society. Many HMSC members were also PHSC members since many German optical houses manufactured microscopes, cameras and photographic lenses. In fact, Carl Zeiss Jena managed Zeiss Ikon, the largest consortium of camera makers ever formed.
On Monday, Fritz sent me the note about an annual Art Car parade in Houston, Texas. This year, one of the cars was festooned with hundreds of old film cameras. The car and parade were picked up by a Frankfurt newspaper that Fritz views occasionally, the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
Fritz comments, “I hope you can trace the following: Houston Texas, Car Parade 2017 (around April 9). Among the 200 or so cars on show is one Minivan completely covered with old cameras!!!
“What a sight (or what a waste of old cameras, you might think). I found the picture on the website of the Frankfurter Allgemeine (faz.net) of April 9, a German national newspaper, always at the very end of the news is a unusual picture.”
GE Exposure Meter DW-28 in a December 1945 LIFE ad
Toronto. The advertisement for the GE exposure meter DW-28 in LIFE (Dec 17, 1945) was the third of three ads sent to me the other day by George Dunbar.
In late February I did a series of posts on determining exposure for photographic purposes including this one on a selenium cell meter.
When I bought my Weston Master III in the late 1950s, the GE model of the day (PR-1) was a close runner up. At the time Weston was the leader of the exposure meters and so it won the nod from me.
Ansco Color Film 1946
Toronto. George Dunbar is fascinated by LIFE magazine during 1945. Contrary to my earlier post, actual colour was occasionally used in LIFE ads.
In its issue of October 16, 1944, for example, Ansco announced and demonstrated its colour sheet film to a NYC audience. Called “The 90 minutes that made Color Film history“, Ansco showed that anyone could produce beautiful color transparencies using their new product. The ad included a full colour picture of actress June Havoc. Continue reading