Posters at an auction

Vintage Poster advertising Jougla Glass Plates – Swann Auction Galleries, NYC.

Toronto. I used one of the few (only?) photographic posters under the hammer at Swann Galleries on August 2, 2017. The poster (Sale 2453, Lot 81) advertises glass plates by Jougla, or in French Plaques Jougla.  It translates to “Night and Day  Jougla plates are used world-wide”. The poster shows various cameras and people in native costumes around a globe partly in day-light and partly in darkness.

Nick Lowry of Swann Auction Galleries sent me an email Monday announcing his auction of Vintage Posters down in NYC would take place in a bit over three weeks. You can enjoy their online catalogue here and consider tossing in a bid to enhance your collections room wall.

While few of the posters feature cameras or photographic items, all are worthy of wall space – take a look!

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Imitation… Flattery… and all that

Leica Ad – 1925

Toronto. Cameras basically offer a light-tight means to hold a sensitive media the correct distance from the lens, plus offering a means to allow a calculated  brief bit of light through the lens to properly illuminate the light sensitive media – film, glass, or sensor.

I have always been fascinated by the Leica. In high school a more senior student once showed me his new IIIf – the first time I ever saw a Leica. In Labrador, another person showed me a IIIf but the squinty viewfinder just didn’t compare with the bright viewer of the Exakta.

For some time I believed the adage that Leica was the first commercially successful small camera. In May of 1991 (see Photographic Canadiana 17-2) we hosted Jack Naylor from the Photographic Historical Society of New England (PHS of NE). Known world-wide for his knowledge of cameras and photography, Jack talked at length about his collection. At the end of his talk, Jack handed out one of the documents periodically produced by the PHS of NE for its members. This particular pamphlet listed a number of pre-Leica cameras which were commercial successes, including the tiny Ansco Memo which used 35mm cine film in a slightly different aspect ration than the Leica’s 24 x 36 mm (double cine frame). There is some controversy that the Memo is post-Leica but it first sold in the same period as the first Leica – mid 1920s. Continue reading

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124th International Salon of Photography

Toronto. The Toronto Amateur Photographic Association was formed in March of 1888. And a few years later in December 1891 it became the Toronto Camera Club.

Many photographs taken by TCC members appeared in the epic book “Private Realms of Light“, edited by Lilly Koltun and published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside of Markham, Ontario in 1984.

The book is based on photographs displayed the previous year in an Ottawa exhibition by Public Archives Canada.

TCC is hosting a Salon for the 124th time this year. Awards will be granted and the images made available via DVD for a modest sum. Details for submission are HERE on the TCC website. Submissions will be accepted until November 4th, 2017. The winning photographs will be on display in the Toronto City Hall’s Rotunda Gallery for two weeks in February 2018.

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On Learning Photography and Photographic History

Photography: Essays & Images, 1980. by Beaumont Newhall

Toronto. I spent many years learning by trial and error how to make decent B&W photographs. Most of my learning came magazines and some how-to books, plus peppering knowledgeable friends with questions. My first book on the history side of things was Helmut Gernsheim’s opus “The History of Photography“. I picked up an edition published by Thames and Hudson of England. The book was first published in 1955 by the Oxford University Press. My revised and enlarged edition was printed in 1969. I bought it in Montreal the summer of 1971 after seeing a brief note in one of the photo magazines of the time. It was an eye-opener. Until then I had no idea that such high quality images could and were being made in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

Nearly a decade later,  at the PhotoHistory V symposium in Rochester (October 30, 1982)  I met and spoke to Professor Gernsheim. Also speaking at the event was Professor Beaumont Newhall, author of “Photography: Essays & Images” published by the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in 1980.

Both books gave me considerable insight into the evolution of photography. Professor Gernsheim wrote a detailed history liberally quoting from letters and articles of the day. Professor Newhall on the other hand edited a selection of original essays by now famous people. To quote Newhall, “This book is an autobiography of the art of photography , written by some of the men and women who by their inventive genius, their scientific skill, and their artistic sensibility have forged a technique into a vital visual medium.”

These two books introduced me to the rich history and evolution of photography making me realize that I had jumped in media res of a revolutionary art form, record of history, and a means of personal expression.

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Kels of Vancouver in 1946 Pop Photography Ad

William Kels of Vancouver BC in 1946

Toronto. My thanks to my friend George Dunbar for bringing this to my attention. According to an ad for Graflex in the June 1946 issue of Popular Photography, William Kels of Vienna emigrated to Vancouver BC in 1940 and became “one of the best in the dominion” at portrait photography.

I did a brief search but didn’t find a Kels Studio in BC  today – there is one in Alberta, though. And once again, like all good ads, this one promotes the camera as a key ingredient to success!

With the rather slow films of the day, Kels mentions the use of floodlights to let him “stop down and shoot fast”. Our recent fairs and auctions have offered floods and big electronic flashes but there seems to be little interest given the speed of modern day DSLR sensors.

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Trouble Finding Photo or Camera Collector Societies?

A bear checks out a Franklin Auto looking for camera collectors (in Yellowstone Park c1925). Courtesy of the Graflex Quarterly.

Toronto. Our society (PHSC) has been in continuous operation for over 43 years. We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic and talented core of people willing to volunteer and do much of the heavy lifting. We offer monthly meetings (except – you guessed it – July and August), fairs, auctions, evaluations and education.

There are also many societies around the world. Some specialize in a particular size or make of camera, while others focus on photographs. Many groups are exchange members with the PHSC meaning we get their publications in exchange for ours.

For example, Ken Metcalfe of publishes this delightful Graflex Journal (download 2017-1 here). Included in this issue are articles by Nick Graver, David Bridge. and Marty Magid – past and present PHSC members. Continue reading

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Our other Facebook page…

Canadian Photographic History – Facebook

Toronto. Louise Freyburger reminded a number of us on Wednesday that she manages TWO Facebook pages for the PHSC! The first is the link you go to when you click on the Facebook logo in the right hand sidebar.

The second page, aptly called “Canadian Photographic History” is located here. The page actually has a larger following than the prime page. While it is called Canadian Photographic History, it is actually a place to post old Canadian photographs for comment from all.

Louise created the page as a home for discussion on Canadian photographs.

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A Sensitive Thing

Silver Nitrate

Toronto. After 1851 when Frederick Scott Archer invented the first practical wet-plate process, you could tell a photographer from his blackened finger-tips. This situation came about by the practitioner’s need to sensitize his glass plate with a silver nitrate solution.

First, a collodion emulsion was carefully poured over the clean glass plate. This viscous emulsion stuck to the glass and offered a base for the silver halide bath (the silver nitrate and collodion – the viscous emulsion –  form light sensitive silver halides). The whole gooey mess had to be moved to the camera, the camera to the scene for the shot, and back to the darkroom to develop the negative, all before the sensitized emulsion dried. Even in bright daylight a tripod was a necessity for sharp images.

And the bottle shown here was an essential ingredient to create a media sensitive to a brief daylight exposure in the camera, suitably mounted on a tripod, of course…

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Can you spot the photographer?

Victoria 1916 – Click to see full image

Toronto. What a difference a century makes! The millennials of today with their ubiquitous smart phones are everywhere! A commercial jet lands on the Hudson river? Click! Click! Click! … A car crash occurs on the 401? Click! Click! Click! … Tourists visit the CN tower? Click! Click! Click!

Today everyone is a photographer. Most of the shots are too blurry or too poorly framed, but the odd one grabs your eye. When 1,000s of shots are taken, the inevitable few good ones make headlines and prove the old chestnut that “the best camera is the one in your hand”.

Not so a century ago. This photograph is from the Victoria BC Times Colonist newspaper of April 2nd, 2017. In an article by Michael D. Reid titled “100 years after Vimy Ridge: UVic exhibit tells of sacrifices”, Reid reports on the exhibit mounted at the University of Victoria to celebrate the centenary of BC soldiers fighting at Vimy Ridge. Look carefully and you will see a single photographer on shore recording the send-off of the troop ship.

Continue reading

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Frozen Motion

Part of Motion by Camilo Diaz of Colombia. Cick to see his full photograph

Toronto. GADCOLLECTION in Paris is featuring an exhibit from July 4 – 16 of the photographs that won the Sony World Photography Awards this year.

The winner of the Open Competition with Motion was Colombia Photographer Camilo Diaz with his thrilling shot of the Colombian national underwater rugby team as it fights for the goal.

Magnífico, Camilo!

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