food for thought

Mathew Brady c1861

Toronto. During the US civil war, Mathew Brady became famous for his battle field wet plate photography. The process demanded that the plate be sensitized, exposed and processed while still wet or its sensitivity would disappear like the morning mist as the sun rises. And the process was too slow to take any action shots at all.

Nearly a century later, an American Insurance CompanyJohn Hancock – promoted this ad in a 1954 LIFE magazine issue. We all know the battle field scenes Brady shot were monumental commercial disasters leading to his ruin and bankruptcy, but did the other things happen to Brady? Is the painting the least bit authentic or was lots of editorial licence taken? Let me know.

Who knows for sure today? Anybody? In any case a thanks to George Dunbar for unearthing this interesting advertisement.

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Graflex Journal 2018-3 18a is here

A Graflex Super D courtesy of Jim Chasse – retired pro photographer and collector of these beauties

Toronto. Thanks to our editor Bob Lansdale for sending on Ken Metcalf’s latest newsletter on the wonderful Graphic and Graflex cameras – issue 2018-3 18a – Ken’s last opus for this year.

The Graflex Journal usually has one or two items from PHSC member George  Dunbar. The first item here is a photo in the upper left masthead submitted by George. It features two Canadian Services gals from the end of WW2 complete with cameras which I featured here.

Down load this issue or just read it online in your browser since it is a pdf after all. Even if you don’t have or haven’t used these  wonderful old large format cameras, the stories in this jornal are always of interest. And you might just catch the Graflex or Graphic bug …


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speaking of pictures …

Michael Lyons by Fred Lyons c1954

Toronto. Decades ago, LIFE magazine published photos and a brief description each issue in a column they called “Speaking of Pictures“. On pages 4 and 5 of its January 11, 1954 issue, Speaking of Pictures printed the shot shown at left.

This is a shot by LIFE photographer Fred Lyons of San Francisco of his baby son Michael crawling across the floor on a large sheet of photographic paper.

My thanks to George Dunbar once again for unearthing this delightful silhouette of a baby crawling. You can see and read the January 11, 1954 issue of LIFE courtesy of Google Books.


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I spy with my little Minox

Joe Cooper’s 1958 ULTRA-Miniature Photography book

Toronto. Whenever I think of the Minox, I think of spy cameras of which it was the most widely known back in the second world war days (WW2). The camera’s inventor, Walter Zapp, came up with the 8×11 mm frame format. I had two of the little cameras, a IIIs and a model B which was a IIIs with a selenium cell light meter.

The tiny 15mm focal length, 4 element Complan lens uses a curved film plane to help correct it for curvature of field. A fixed aperture of f/3.5 allowed the designer to maximize its corrections at that aperture. The lens could be focussed from 8 inches to infinity.

I did a few posts on the sub-miniature cameras in the days of film. My first experience with the Minox was when an associate of mine used his Minox system to capture images in a factory where cameras were verboten. The area was a skunk works operation, busy experimenting with new ideas.

A big thanks to friend and PHSC founder John Linsky for his diligent research into the Minox camera beginning with this video showing the history of Minox. John found the Crypto Museum site featuring the original Riga Minox. The little camera even has its own website and collectors organization.

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stereo on a shoestring

Coronet 3-D camera ad c 1953

Toronto. In the early 1950s when the American camera industry was trying to retain the momentum it gained during the war, stereo gained its periodic rise in popularity once again. One company that used the rise in stereo was the British company called Coronet.

Like many companies, it’s products were imported in America by a New York City firm, The 3-D Coronet was imported by the long defunct 3-D Camera Corporation in the big apple. This plastic marvel was basically a dual lens box camera made by a British firm specializing in cheap cameras used in various promotions. For under $20 American you could have a camera, flash, stereo viewer, and case. The single speed, fixed focus camera used 127 film to capture 4 stereo views per roll.

My thanks to George Dunbar for spotting this gem in his currently favourite hunting ground – old issues of LIFE magazine, in this case the November 30, 1953 issue now 65 years old.


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Photographic Canadiana 44-3 printed.

Photographic Canadiana 44-3

Toronto. Issue 44-3 has been printed and will hit the mail in a few days. The content quality and reliable delivery is in no small way a reflection of the dedication and “fussiness” of Editor Bob Lansdale. His enthusiasm and diligence belies his age and then some. Being a professional photographer for most of his working life hammered home the importance of deadlines and an obsession for quality.

This issue embraces a variety of subjects of interest to photography collectors and historians one and all! Members will receive this issue directly in their mailbox. Not a member? You know the drill – look over to the right sidebar for Membership -Join or Renew! and do it online NOW via PayPal (no account required, they will take most credit cards). The Price is Right? It’s downright Cheap!

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photo books lost in California wild fire

Fire Loss

Toronto. The local news focusses on the loss of life and property in the horrendous California wild fires but as sad as these losses are, other losses occur too.

George Dunbar sent me a note that he had spotted on the British Journal of Photography website – an article published November 21st about the California wildfires.

The fire incinerated Dutch collector Manfred Heiting’s library of some 36,000 photo books, including many rare volumes. Have a read and weep at the loss.


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Daguerre by Gernsheim

L.J.M. DAguerre

Toronto. Dover Publications in New York made their name by reproducing select out of print books (those strange things you can read without recourse to technology … ) in soft cover using signature sewn pages and quality paper. Today books are antique novelties bought in an ever shrinking choice of retail outlets.

I bought this book on Daguerre August 25, 1976 – two years after the PHSC was formed. The Gernsheims also authored the massive History of Photography book I bought in Montreal in 1971.

The subtitle is The History of the Diorama and the Daguerreotype. The book covers the pre-photographic days of the diorama, the electrifying announcement of photography in January 1839 and its enthusiastic adoption around the world in the following months.

The Dover publication was first done in 1968 using text that was published back in 1956! Nearly 70 years old today. The Dover edition has some 124 illustrations including many of the photographs by Daguerre which became famous long before 1956 book went to press.

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light where you need it

MY-T-MYTE flashbulb ad

Toronto. In the days when photographers used flash to create the light needed to take a shot indoors, prints with burned out highlights were common. One company promoted the solution to be the MY-T-MYTE flashbulb – a lower output bulb by Norelco which was less likely to over expose the photo. Everywhere else the company was known as Philips but Philco in the states managed to block the use of the name so Norelco was used in the States – of course up here Norelco meant Northern Electric Company…

Thanks to George Dunbar for bringing to light:-) this advertisement on page 66 of the November 23, 1953 issue of LIFE magazine (LIFE is a wonderful source for nostalgic photographic ads as are the various old issues of National Geographic magazine.)

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a new meaning to coated lenses

correcting chromatic aberrations

Toronto. Mid last century science perfected a lens coating that improved the contrast of lens designs allowing even more elements to further correct lenses,  paving the way for the complex zoom lenses commonplace today.

And now modern coating technology has evolved to allow chromatic aberrations to be corrected so that all colours focus at the same plane without resorting to additional elements.

My thanks to Russ Forfar who enjoys Science Daily and its research news. On November 20, 2018 in an article written by Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) researchers report how a single layer of nano structures can be used to correct chromatic aberrations. This has implications in the design of miniature lens systems for smartphones as well as designs for complex microscope objectives.

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