it’s in the bag …

Karsh Spoof

Toronto. Goldie sent along this spoof of a famous portrait by Ottawa’s Karsh. The subject of the Karsh portrait was none other than that second world war statesman, Sir Winston Churchill!

American Photographer Magazine for April, 1984 carried this spoof photo on page 84. Click on the icon at left to see a larger photo and the explanation given by APM. Hilarious!

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Pepita Ferrari 1952 – 2018

Pepita Ferrari courtesy NFB
1952 – 2018

Toronto. At the end of last year, we lost another great Canadian photographer, Pepita Ferrari. The NFB fondly remembers this great documentary film maker, producer, and author.

Her obituary article appeared in the Globe on January 30, 2019. Ms Ferrari was born in Australia and as a child moved with her family to Quebec City. She has lived in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but returned to Quebec to marry and practice her documentary film making.

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a rare chance to see history here at the RIC

Portrait of three young girls, ca. 1850, unidentified photographer, daguerreotype in frame. RIC exhibit of portion of Tanenbaum collection

Toronto. The main feature at the Ryerson Image Centre is the fabulous selection of images from the collection of Carole and Howard Tanenbaum. Kate Taylor of the Globe was there and wrote this engaging article for the newspaper last week.

Coinciding with PHSC’s own sponsorship of a Kodak Canada exhibit by Ryerson students at the RIC, editor Bob Lansdale toured the Tanenbaum exhibition and has added some charming photos of the opening night to his News supplement to Photographic Canadiana  issue 44-4 which will go out this month to all members (not one yet? Easy-peasy. Just use the PayPal link in the upper right sidebar of this site).

Member or not, it is well worth a visit to the exhibition where you can see photographs from 1839 on, many being recognizable photographs by well known photographers.

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Bolex joins the game

Bolex 8mm ad LIFE 1954

Toronto. After the world-wide 1929 stock market crash ushered in the great depression, many small companies failed. BOL SA, founded by Jacques Bogopolsky, was one of them. A Swiss company, it made cameras for cine.

Paillard SA made watch parts, music boxes, radios, typewriters etc to make money. Paillard survived the crash in relatively good shape. So good in fact, that it bought out the smaller BOL SA firm for its patents and launched the Bolex line of movie cameras as high end cameras made with Swiss precision.

Bogopolsky continued to develop cine and still cameras (Bolex cine models, Alpa SLRs) before moving across the Atlantic to the states and establishing the Bosley Camera Company.

While Bolex 8mm cameras have been around since 1936, other companies jumped on the post war band wagon for home movies. To compete, Paillard and its Bolex line began to advertise in broad consumer oriented American magazines. This example, courtesy of my friend Goldie, is from the November 15, 1954 issue of LIFE magazine (p64). Put your smartphone and its video camera back in your pocket and look over this mechanical marvel from days gone by. And check out one of our fairs or auctions – you can often see both 8mm and 16mm Bolex movie cameras offered at a good price.

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California Dreamin’ (on a winter’s day)

Waiter at St Moritz
Eisenstaedt 1932

Toronto. The weather this week past plus Eisenstaedt’s epic 1932 photograph of a waiter in St Moritz bringing cold drinks on ice skates brought to mind the 1966 song by the Mamas and Papas on an LP that I once listened to those many years ago.

Eisenstaedt took many famous photographs in the last century. A silver print processed in the 1990s (lot 79) is featured by Swann Auction Galleries in their February 21, 2019 auction down in the Big Apple. Take a look at their auction – you may be able to augment your own collection!


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not all Oreo’s are cookies

mid 1800s Oreo Case

Toronto. Over a century ago, you could get a cookie size round case for your images. These tiny marvels  were offered in the mid 1800s to house tintypes etc.

The tiny union cases came in various colours. This one from Paul Berg is in a lot being auctioned by Cowan’s Auctions on behalf of the Daguerreian Society Online bids are being accepted too.

Since some are rare, you might like to bid and grab a case for your collection.


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Joseph Tyrrell, gold miners and dinosaurs

Gold Commissioner’s Office in Dawson City by J B Tyrrell c1898

Toronto. My friend Goldie was wandering around the Fisher Rare Book Library on the U of T campus when he discovered photos of the Dawson Creek area around 1898-1901 (during the gold rush). The photos were taken by Joseph Burr Tyrrell. He was a famous Canadian as noted by this text in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

There is even a museum named after him just outside Drumheller. My youngest daughter and I visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum a bit over 15 years ago. It is a small museum with some amazing dinosaur bones and other artifacts.

I had a Leica M4 with me at the time while my daughter had a Canon AE-1. I used ASA800 Fuji Colour Film and had alkaline cells in my Gossen-Pro since mercury cells were banned by then. The built in meter of the AE-1 was used to calibrate the Gossen-Pro. Alkaline cells proved to be relatively stable when fresh. If Gossen had spent a few pennies more, a bridge circuit could have been used making voltage variations irrelevant. Their crude meter, battery, resistor circuit relied on the stability of the mercury cells which had a constant voltage until almost dead.

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the age of selenium begins

Rhamstine Electrophot c1931

Toronto. In February and September of 2017 I wrote a number of posts about photographic meters. One of our long time members was rummaging through his collection when he came across his M-OS Rhamstine Electrophot. This meter led him to a site called a virtual Lightmeter museum. So far it only presents meters from 1931-1935.

Of all the meters shown, only the Weston 650 was the subject of one of my posts. I found it interesting that the 1931 meters needed batteries to function. A year later an improved selenium cell was light sensitive enough to be used without a battery. Selenium cells stayed in use into the 1960s when cadmium sulfide (CdS) cells became common – requiring a tiny battery once again. Far more sensitive, the cells for the first time allowed low light measurements, including enlarging meters used in the darkroom as well as cameras.

Another great site for meters is James Ollinger’s site. Have a look at the two sites and take a walk back in history.





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Nina Leen, Photographer – Erin Levitsky

Erin Levitsky

Toronto. PHSC, Wed, Feb 20 2019 at 7:30 pm
In the BURGUNDY ROOM of Memorial Hall

Nina Leen: Snake Charmer with a Camera – Erin Levitsky
Our speaker for February is Erin Levitsky. She holds an MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson and a BA in Media, Information, and Technoculture from Western. Erin is our Thesis Winner for 2018 and her work will appear in a future issue of Photographic Canadiana.

Ms Leen practiced photography mid last century in the Big Apple. She contributed her work to 374 issues of LIFE magazine. She was also a dedicated author credited for some 15 books. Erin’s talk covers analysis of Ms Leen’s prints and negatives in the LIFE Photo  Collection.

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


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sliding into focus

Anscochrome slide home developed 1958 – Exakta – IOC iron ore mine
Schefferville Quebec

Toronto. As we casually view the colour images on front of our smartphones, we may forget the long torturous route taken from crude monochrome glass slides projected on a sheet or screen in a darkened room to 35mm or 2×2 inch colour slides projected in a dim room on a collapsible lenticular screen.

From the early 1840s, slides have existed. The earliest ones had emulsion affixed to glass and projected in church halls. The sensitized emulsion was far too insensitive to use in a camera but could be contact printed by sunlight. By the 1870s, fancy triple-lens projectors and filters could show a version of muted colour using a monochrome slide taken through a filter, developed and bleached to make a positive representing the light intensity of one of three colours visible  to the eye. Combining the three monochrome slides through the correct filters created a colour image. Only still life exposures were possible at first.

By the early 1900s, delicate Autochromes of live subjects became possible using this additive colour process with all three monochrome images combined as a single panchromatic emulsion coated over a filter of dyed potato starch particles. The image was exposed through the potato starch and later projected through the starch to show the soft colours. It was still very slow demanding the subject to remain unmoving during the exposure.

In 1935, the revolutionary Kodachrome colour film went on market followed a few years later by Agfa’s simpler colour process allowing local processing. Postwar, both Ansco (Ansco Color, later Anscochrome) and Kodak (Ektachrome) used the Agfa concept of large molecule colour couplers for local processing. The big benefit of colour transparencies was good colour balance and a much finer resolution than then available with colour print films.

Specialized slide projectors and hand held viewers became commonplace with companies promoting their products through advertising such as the ad shown on page 136 of the September 13, 1954 issue of LIFE magazine. The Kodak Carousel with its circular tray standardized the 35mm tray format. Earlier projectors, like Argus, used various linear 40 slide trays. to project and store slides.

I took the above slide in 1958 at the Iron Ore Company open pit mine in Schefferville, Quebec. The slide was developed by me in Ansco chemistry. The slide became faded and darkened over time. I used Lightroom to adjust the brightness and colour as much as possible in this digital copy made in the summer of 2012 .

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