photographs indoors

1930s Kodak Brochure

Toronto. Can you imagine a media so insensitive and cameras so slow that a special technique was needed to show amateurs how they could take photos indoors at night. And worse, the resulting negatives and prints were black and white exposures!

In the mid 1930s Kodak published this free brochure to show amateurs how they could take indoor night time photos with any (Kodak) camera having a ‘time’ (T) shutter setting and at least an f/6.3 lens. All they needed were Mazda photoflood lights, or Mazda flash bulbs, and a Kodak reflector and Kodak “SS” Panchromatic film.

Kodak, like many photographic industry giants, earned their money from film and paper purchases more than from hardware. Cameras and accessories were offered so you would buy more Kodak film, paper, and chemistry. As the daytime amateur market reached capacity, new sources of revenue were investigated. One promising new revenue was from the promotion of indoor night time photographs.

“High speed” film, and flood lights let you hand hold the camera, or with a hand held flash bulb holder and reflector, the camera could be placed on a nearby table, set to ‘T’ on the shutter, and the flash bulb triggered at just the right moment. The camera shutter was clicked to set it open, and then after the flash was triggered, clicked again to close. Easy-peasy in the years before smartphones!

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instruction booklets

Using the Kodak Six-20 c1936

Toronto.  In about 1936, my dad bought a Kodak Six-20 folder, a big step up from the box camera he took west with him a few years earlier. Kodak made the folder in this first version from  1935-1937. The rather simple camera was a step up from the box camera he first used, but it came with a 34 page booklet telling the new owner just how to perform various functions and how to take photographs. Imagine – a detailed instruction booklet necessary so the uninitiated amateur had at least a chance to make a Kodak Moment!

Ironically, different makers and different models worked in sometimes non intuitive ways making such booklets essential to the uninitiated so they could at least have a chance of success. There were no standards back then. One had to learn how to use each camera. Some cocked the shutter, then set the speed, others worked in reverse. In some cameras the wrong sequence could actually cause damage, in others the result was an incorrect exposure. My Exakta was intended for left handed operation.

Often for common or inexpensive cameras, the instruction booklets and original packaging  were more valuable than the camera itself. The late John Craig made a business from providing instruction booklets and other ephemera. Initially the booklets were originals, but over time many became reproductions or even pdf files.

One member of the PHSC donated his large collection of very old cameras to a museum in Ottawa. On a visit, he was dismayed that the staff showing his treasures seemed completely flummoxed by how the cameras worked, how to load film, how to make intelligent settings, etc. Worse, after making some 75 short videos to teach how each type of camera functioned, no one passed them on to those in need of such enlightenment!

By the way, our fairs, like the spring fair next month, are a great source of film cameras, films, and instruction booklets. Don’t sleep in and miss out!

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PHSC News April 2019

Toronto. Sonja has whipped up another tasty treat for aficionados of her PHSC News. Like each April issue,  this one has a mixture of articles blending fake and real situations and facts… fun to read and fun to figure out which article/fact is real and which one is fabricated.

Page one has the Timeless Tech story of a novel alarm clock. Check out the camera! Look at the video too (on the linked page).

Page 2 covers our speaker this month and her topic – remember to bring your photos for a look-see and suggestions for conservation. Chloé Lucas speaks on Preventative Conservation for Photographs.

Tired of all the political delays to public transportation in the city while demand escalates? Then you will enjoy Sonja’s ideas in an article marked “News Exclusive”.  Fair poster, “Equipment Review”, “Time Travel 101” and “WebLinks” are just some of the other interesting articles in this issue.

Click here to read and print our April 2019 newsletter (number 18-10)



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preventative conservation for photographs

Ms Chloé Lucas

NEXT MEETING: Wed April 17th, 2019
Preventative Conservation for Photographs – Chloé Lucas Chloé holds degrees from the Sorbonne  and the Institut National du Patrimoine. She has studied conservation and interned at the National Gallery of Canada,  Libraries and Archives Canada, and the Canadian Conservation Institute, amongst other facilities.

Chloé operates her own conservation company in Ottawa catering to large institutions. Audience members are invited to bring some photographs for examination and discussion.

Come on out and share an interesting evening with Chloé. The public is welcome.  Go to our Programs page for times and directions.

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photo engraving

Ad for Photo Engraving 1891

Toronto. Have you ever wondered how photographs ended up in magazines and newspapers, or why it took so long, or why colour was so sparse? The short answer is expense and technology.

The earliest books used actual prints tipped in. Wood cut or steel cut engravings from photographs allowed images like our wet plate man to be in print as an accurate and detailed drawing. Black and white drawings could be placed on a page with text, or  placed on a single sided, full page size plate facing another page. These plates carried colour drawings too on occasion.

In January 1891, The Canadian Architect and Builder magazine carried an illustrated advertisement on page 12 from the Toronto firm of Moore & Alexander for Photo-Engraving, Half-Tone, Cuts. and Reproductions made by their company The Canadian Photo Engraving Bureau, 203 Yonge Street,  Toronto. (Just around the corner from Massey Hall, between  Shuter and Queen.)

Thanks to PHSC member George Dunbar for emailing me this piece of Toronto photographic history.

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analog (film) delights

PhotoEd Magazine Spring/Summer 2019

Toronto. PhotoEd magazine has just issued a paper version of its Spring/Summer 2019 issue. This issue uses film as a theme “the resilience of analog” If you want even more of the theme topic, editor/publisher Rita Godlevskis has also produced an online version for free – with a twist. The online version is not the electronic version of the paper magazine, but it is an extension of the magazine with additional editorial content to complement the content in the for-pay paper magazine.

And the colourful ads (including ours) are included in the online version with yet another thrilling twist! If you hover over an ad and see a hand symbol, a click on the ad takes you to their web site – WOW! A big tip of the hat to Rita and her crew at PhotoEd. Thrilling ideas in this era of digital turmoil.

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Light Painting Photography

Another use for TV – George Dunbar c1952

Toronto. Light Painting Photography has a long history. The relative insensitivity of glass plates and film readily lent them to this form of art. It was not unusual for professional photographers to “paint” a scene with a series of flash exposures using an open shutter. The result (if done right) was a correctly exposed scene.

Over the years we have all set a shutter open and used a light source to “draw” an image on the exposed film or plate. The image above left can be enlarged with a simple click to see a larger size view of the efforts of a very young George Dunbar to paint his B&W TV set when he lost interest in the wrestling event on screen!

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words, words, words

Words, Words, Words

Toronto. I put our first website online over two decades ago on April, 1996. A few years ago, in 2006 or 7, I began an investigation of means to simplify maintenance and updates to our web site so it would be an easier task to transfer responsibilities to a new person. I began looking at various public domain content management systems (CMS) that would allow posts and pages to be written and automatically search them and sort them in chronological order.

While many CMSs were tried out, I settled on WordPress since it had a large following and was easy to use unlike some others that were comprehensible only if you had deep computer knowledge. And in August 2008 I moved us over to WordPress. I created the heading image in Photoshop and I used a WordPress template with a right side bar as a standard. Since WordPress was written in a scripting language, it was also easy to fine tune its look without deep diving into the language. Continue reading

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first Graflex Journal for 2019

Victor Hasselblad – Sweden

Toronto. Ken Metcalf down in North Carolina has issued the latest journal for large camera folk – the 1-19 issue of the Graflex Journal. The lead article is by Davis Strong, a recent member of the PHSC. You may recall last December when Davis joined our show and tell session with his Kalart camera, a short lived competitor of the Graflex.

Lots of great articles in this issue. Just click on the above link and have a read! The masthead photo reminds me of a French expression which paraphrased is “Big man big camera, small man all camera” – definitely the case when the camera is a beautiful Graflex!

Another PHSC member, George Dunbar – you know my friend George of IBM Canada fame – contributed the page of advertisements for the large cameras by Graflex. By the way there is an exhibition on now at York University in Toronto featuring many of George’s photographs.

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April Show in the Big Apple

Albert Einstein – 1950

Toronto. Just a brief reminder to join the Daguerreian Society at its New York Photography Fair today, April 6th, 2019. Lots of stuff to see and buy – like this 1950 gelatin-silver print of Albert Einstein.

You can enjoy April in New York City while helping the Daguerreian Society and augmenting your image collection.


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