Some Thoughts on Optical Institutions

Carl Zeiss Workshop outdoors in the 1850s. From Zeiss and Photography by L J Gubas

Toronto.An optical institution was a German optical workshop turning out various optical devices and lenses. Other countries used other names.

As cameras and binoculars and microscopes became popular,  brands like Zeiss, Zeiss-Ikon, Leitz, Ross, Bausch & Lomb, Rochester Optical, Kodak, Krause, Polaroid, Nikon, Canon, etc. became known world wide.

Before photography arrived (1839), the institutions made such things as eye glasses, opera glasses, binoculars, microscopes and telescopes.  The raw glasses of the day were basic varieties and tended to vary in optical characteristics depending on how well the molten mass was mixed. Some batches were contaminated as material in the crucible leached into the molten glass. And some glasses were less clear than others – no big deal when used in thin windows or tiny lenses. Continue reading

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CAMERA – A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital

Camera – Todd Gustavson 2009 book published by Sterling Innovation NYC London

Toronto. At our May 1999 meeting we had the pleasure of hearing Todd Gustavson talk about the Cameras of George Eastman House (GEH). A decade later in 2009, Todd published a book titled “CAMERA – A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital” when he was the Technology Curator at GEH.

This book covers the history of photography from its beginnings in 1839 to 2009 with an American perspective. The book is profusely illustrated with examples of cameras and prints from the vast GEH collection. The cameras are to a large extent American manufacture and in later times often of Kodak manufacture.

Many of the cameras featured I saw at the PHSC meetings and fairs over the past decades. Some I was tempted to buy, others to handle and look over in awe.

The book wraps up with the Kodak EasyShare One camera – the first camera to offer wifi and image uploading with a 3x optical zoom lens and 4 MPX sensor. While smart phones of the day could upload images, their built-in cameras used plastic lenses, lower pixel counts, and tiny sensors. The last essay, titled The Future of Image Capture by Alex Gerard is especially timely. The key to the essay is the concept that future digital cameras will more closely match the human eye in terms of resolution and sensitivity.


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Review of Book on 19th Century French Lenses

c1843 lens by Chevalier courtesy of Camera by Todd Gustavson, published in 2009

Toronto. I did this review for Bob Lansdale back on August 3rd, 2013. At the time, the author had sent the book to Bob for review and write up in the journal Photographic Canadiana. This the review I wrote at the time.

Berthiot Chevalier Darlot Derogy
Hermagis Jamin Lerebours Soleil
Photographic Lenses
of the 1800’s in France

Corrado D’Agostini (author)
Caroline Elo (translator)
Copyright 2011 by the author
Published by Bandecchi & Vivaldi, Italy

This 371 page coffee table size book is published on high quality coated paper. The full colour pictures of French lenses (including many very rare examples) from the first century of photography are worth the price of the book. Copies are available from the author for 80 Euros plus shipping, or via for $149 US [$159 USD used in 2017 plus shipping. Also available from Camerabooks on the West Coast of the USA for $139 USD plus shipping.] Continue reading

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Stefano Cerio, Italian Photographer

Chinese Fun – Little China, Shenzen – by Stefano Cerio

Toronto.  The Parisian Gallery GADCOLLECTION sent me notice that it currently has an exhibition titled Amusement Places featuring photographs by Italian photographer Stefano Cerio. The exhibition runs from 8 to 29 June 2017.

“Stefano Cerio lives and works in Rome and Paris.
He began his career as a photographer at the age of 18, contributing to the Italian weekly L’Espresso.

“Since 2001, his interest has gradually moved towards explorative photography and video. His work increasingly focuses on the theme of representation, exploring the boundary line between vision, recounting the real and the spectator’s horizon of expectation, the staging of a possible reality that might not be true but is at least plausible.

“In this sense, projects such as Sintetico Italiano (Italian Synthetic), Souvenir, Aquapark, Night Ski, Chinese Fun are stages in a coherent artistic development which finds in the concept of memory, in the “other” place as a catalyst for present desires and future memories, in the idea of holiday and entertainment, that suspension of daily life which the author studies and recounts in images. His works are to be found in many public and private collections.”

Take a look on the gallery site and if you are in Paris, be sure to drop by – you may even add to your photo collection.

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Book on 19th Century German Lenses

A German Lens design in the 19th Century

Toronto. Journal editor Bob Lansdale loaned me the second book in Corrado D’Agostini’s series on 19th Century Photographic Lenses. Both are sold in the US by This book is posted as costing $109 USD plus shipping.

The first book in 19th Century Lenses ($139 USD) looked at the French contribution while this beautiful book records the phenomenal contribution of German and Austrian industry to 19th century Photographic Lenses.

Written in Italian and published in Italy in late 2016, this edition has been translated into English by George Tatge. Once I finished reading the large 319 pages plus book, I will write and publish a review. This book is truly a delight!

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Another Super Trunk Sale Coming July 9th

Toronto. The back scene boys have pulled together another super trunk sale for this July. We are hosting the 7th Annual Larry Boccioletti Memorial outdoor photographic trunk sale at the Trident Hall. Usual time 8am – 1pm.

Come out and enjoy this summer. Add to your collection. Have a great Sunday. And help the PHSC at the same time! Admission is free, Parking is free. Exhibitors pay a modest fee for a first come, first serve spot. Contact our coordinator, President Clint Hryhorijiw at 416-919-9617 or via email


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Westlicht Camera Auction June 10, 2017

A beautiful 1925 example of a “hockey stick” Leica I with the rare Elmax lens with cap, eveready case  – Lot 1

Toronto. A regular contributor of notices to this author is the well known Westlicht Gallery in Vienna, Austria.

Their latest auction next week is a fabulous opportunity for those of you wishing to augment your collection with some rare beauties. Take a look!

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Bulger Gallery Announces a Move


MoMA, NYC, 1959 © The Estate of Lutz Dille

Toronto. Stephen  Bulger writes, “After nearly 15 years in our current location, we have finally found a new gallery space in our neighbourhood that is large enough to accommodate our ambitions to be one of the world’s leading commercial galleries for great photographs of all types.

“On September 9, 2017, we open the doors of 1356 Dundas Street West to welcome visitors in a purposefully designed space of over 11,000 square feet. Designed by architect Michael Boxer, the new space will dramatically increase our exhibition space, include several private viewing areas, and better enable us to house the more than 40,000 photographs that currently comprise the gallery’s growing inventory.

“We will operate out of our current location until June 17th, then will move into the new location, taking the summer months to unpack and prepare for our first exhibition, which will highlight Larry Towell’s photographs of an even larger construction project: the renovation of Union Station.

“Since opening in 1995, Stephen Bulger Gallery [Photograph © Catherine Lash] has become synonymous with photography in Canada. Its extensive exhibition program of more than 180 solo and group exhibitions has introduced Torontonians to important local and international photography, has exhibited Canadian photography in special exhibitions at prestigious institutions around the world, and has exhibited in more than 60 art fairs.

“Stephen Bulger (Born 1964, Toronto) has played vital roles in the founding of the CONTACT Photography Festival and the Ryerson Image Centre, and is a past President of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers, which is comprised of over 125 specialists in photography from around the world. The gallery has sold work to important private and public collections in every continent, and is Canada’s go to destination for photographic art and artefacts.”

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Remember the Wollensak Lenses for the Leica?

Leitz NY 127mm lens for the Leica – April 1945

Toronto. PHSC Member George Dunbar sent me this April 1945 advertisement from Popular Photography. During WW2, Leitz NY continued to operate. One big problem: merchandise from Germany dried up. To solve one of the issues, Leitz NY manufactured lens mounts that fit the Leica screw mount cameras and designed in a style similar to the Leitz Wetzlar products except they used Wollensak lenses.

The telephone companies used Wollensak lenses and cameras as recorders for their traffic registers which indicated how busy their various routes were. The 127mm lens was made as a standard lens for the Graphic and Graflex lines so it had a far wider film coverage than needed for 35mm film. Similarly in Germany the 135mm lens was first designed for view cameras hence the seemingly vast coverage of the 135mm Elmar lens on the tiny Leica.

Leitz NY survived the war on its service department doing Leitz repairs and by selling some lenses and accessories made for or by them.

Leitz NY even produced a lens brochure. This four page example is from 1948 along with a sample page. In spite of the blustery tone of the marketing minions, few true Leicaphilliae believed the lenses were superior to the Elmars of the day.


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L Stedham, Photographer, Oshawa c1880

A High Wheeler bicycle – Penny Farthing style. Taken by Stedham of Oshawa.

Toronto. On May 28, 2017 PHSC member Sarah Shrigley sent me a note with this bicycle cabinet card attached.

Sarah states, “The Oshawa Museum has published this picture on their Facebook page. I know we have a member who collects these kinds of pictures, so [I] thought you might pass it along. BTW – “L. Stedham” is the photographer.

Member Lorne Shields notes the photo is a “nice Canadian High Wheel Photo”.

The Oshawa Museum stated that it had several examples of Stedham photographs in its archives. This example of a bicycle would be have been taken around 1880. The penny-farthings were introduced in 1870 France and lasted about two decades. The safety bicycle and chain drive replaced these picturesque machines.

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