World’s First Analog Instax Square Camera

Toronto. Film is a niche process that continues to attract followers. A subset of the genre is the “instant film” brigade.

These people are so active that companies continue to make the “Polaroid” type instant film.

Now the Lomographic Society has announced a Polaroidesque camera  that uses Fuji Instax film to make traditional square format photographs in colour.

You can read all about it in this pdf format press release!

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Larry Towell – Union Station

Union Station Toronto – Larry Towell

Toronto. The Stephen Bulger Galleries invite you to see the Union Station series by Larry Towell.

Exhibition Dates: September 9 – October 14, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 9, 2-5pm

“The Stephen Bulger Gallery is pleased to present ‘Union Station’ our eighth solo exhibition of work by the world-renown Canadian photojournalist Larry Towell, and our inaugural exhibition at the gallery’s new location which will open to the public at 2pm on Saturday September 9th.

“Toronto’s building boom exceeds that of any city in North America. Union Station, the city’s vintage transportation hub originally built in 1927, continues to be used uninterruptedly by more than a quarter million commuters daily, despite its eight-hundred-million-dollar renovation to accommodate a burgeoning urban growth. Revitalization includes a glass atrium above the train shed, a dig down four metres below current level, retail expansion, and extended train concourses. Begun in 2009, completion of the project is now scheduled for 2018. Continue reading

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Seeing Toronto through a different lens

Volunteer Megan Leigh at the MYTORONTO display

Toronto. George Dunbar found this GTA contest that was open to special people in our city and sponsored by the Toronto Star newspaper.

“Tobias, with four friends he knows through Native Men’s Residence, is trekking through the trees, near St. Clair Ave. W. and Bathurst St. All are armed with disposable cameras to shoot photos for MYTORONTO, a new contest aimed at showing Canada’s largest city through the eyes of people who have been pushed to its margins.

MYTORONTO is modeled on MyLondon, launched by Café Art, in England, in 2013. It was brought to Toronto by humanitarian charity Ve’ahavta and the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, with the support of the London team and made possible with the help of city staff, agencies supporting marginalized people, commercial businesses and leaders in the photography world.

“Camera pick-up, drop-off and phase one of a two-part judging process took place at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts building.

“The winners of MYTORONTO photo competition will be on display from Oct. 18 to 22, at Artscape Youngplace on Shaw St. Their stories will be featured in the Toronto Star and [on a calendar]. Details about the contest and where to buy the calendar are at http://mytorontocalendar.com .”

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small camera – big man

Willard Morgan with Leica  in 1928

Toronto.It was spring 1925 when a new tiny camera was first marketed at the Leipzig fair by the family owned microscope manufacturer and optical institute, Ernst Leitz Wetzlar, Germany.

To most people, the Leica was a very expensive novel toy for those who had too much money. However, a silent, dedicated following began. These were photographers who realized that the Leica could take decent photographs after all and do so in many places where the bulky instruments of the day were too unwieldily or too visible.

Three years later, a tall inquisitive American by the name of Willard D Morgan acquired a Leica A and was mesmerized by the pictures it could make. Willard and his wife Barbara, negotiated with Leitz NY to get TWO Leica A’s in exchange for articles and Leica photos showing the little camera’s potential as a commercial instrument.

A video of the photos Willard and Barbara took in 1928 on their trip to the US Southwest is shown here on Vimeo. Willard joined Leitz NY and went on to create numerous magazines and books. He patented the first FocoSlide (see the 3rd edition of the Leica Manual). I have one – a ring held the camera body tight to one slide while the lens screwed in to the other. Willard arranged for Leitz NY to manufacture the clever accessory.

Willard joined forces with Henry Lester to found the Morgan & Lester publishers in 1934. The nascent  company produced books such as the Leica Manual, Graphic Graflex Photography, Stereo Realist Manual, Photo-Lab Index, etc. Years after his death, Willard was the subject of this  RIT Thesis.

Check out this page if you want to see the birth and death dates of Willard and the books published by him and his wife Barbara Morgan.

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AGO photography prize – public opening Sep 6, 2017

AGO AIMIA Opening Sep 6 2017

Toronto. Join the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on September 6th at its AIMIA opening. The event is open from 6 – 9 pm at the AGO downtown (317 Dundas West in Toronto at Beverley).

The public can vote on the four runners-up (Liz Johnson Artur, Raymond Boisjoly, Taisuke Koyama, Hank Willis Thomas) to this year’s award either in person or on line this fall.

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Daguerreian Symposium Oct 26-29, 2017

Dr Mike Robinson

Toronto. Need an excuse to visit The Donald in Washington? How about taking in the world famous Daguerreian Society’s symposium as well? The symposium will be back in Washington D.C. this year.

The prestigious agenda of speakers includes our own Dr Mike Robinson.

“Dr. Mike Robinson is a artist-practitioner, teacher, conservator, and historian of the daguerreotype.  In June 2017 he earned his PhD in Photographic History with the dissertation titled ‘The Techniques and Material Aesthetics of the Daguerreotype‘.

“He has researched and written on the studio practice of Southworth and Hawes for the Young America [the book by Grant Romer on Southworth and Hawes] catalogue and for the Daguerreian Society annual.

“Mike taught graduate and undergraduate courses in 19th Century Photographic Processes at Ryerson University in Toronto, and has lectured and taught daguerreotype workshops in Toronto, Rochester, New York City, Lacock Abbey UK, Bry-sur-Marne France, and Kolomna Russia.”

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The Leica Manual 1935 – 1973

The 15th and last edition of the Leica Manual 1973

Toronto. As my eyes began to struggle with focussing my Exakta, I sought out an alternative design. On March 21, 1970 I bought Andrew Matheson’s “The Leica and Leicaflex Way” 9th revised edition at Mitchell Photo Supply on Dominion square in Montreal. It was one of the many Focal Press books from England available at that time. It was an eye opener to me and two years later in July 1972 I bought my first Leica – a model M4.

It served me well over the years and I still have it although it has sat unused now for 15 years as digital has overtaken film. On August 2nd, 1973, while visiting Mitchell’s again I spotted a stack of oversized books  by the doorway titled “Leica Manual” 15th edition by Douglas Morgan, David Vestal, and William Broecker.

There were 15 editions of the Leica Manual from 1935 to 1973. If you would like to see one, you can download the 2nd edition, released in 1936 and dated as 1937 here, or visit the Archive web site for the revised 3rd edition noted as 1938-9 here. The earlier editions featured chapters by specialists in various fields. The books were divided into sections: Basic Leica Technique; Leica in Science and Education; The Leica in Specialized Fields. The earlier manuals took great pains to show that tiny negatives could be enlarged to make big prints with little grain provided the negatives were correctly exposed, developed in fine grain developer and handled carefully.

I began collecting older editions of various Leica books including the Leica Manual. The earlier ones were half the size of the 15th edition, but all editions had 500 -600 pages printed on what appeared to be better quality clay paper, suitable for crisp photographs.
The 13th edition featured some colour photos, emphasized the M3 and the IIIf series, and dropped the number of pages to 456. It used cheaper wood pulp paper for the appendix on “Tables & Formulas”. Ads had disappeared. No specialists were mentioned as chapter writers. In the previous 11th and 12th editions ads were very slim.

Specialist writers appeared once again in the 15th edition, and rapidly changing “Tables and Formulas”  were moved to a new loose leaf book expected to be published in 1973 with annual supplements. I found a copy posted as published in 1975 and also “supplement 1” dated 1977. I believe the concept did not take hold like its predecessor, the Photo-Lab Index did (at one time I owned two copies of the P-LI which was also loose leaf and offered annual supplements). A modern take on the Leica is covered here by Eric Kim.

 

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…from one amateur to another

Miniature Photography 1937 by Richard L Simon

Toronto. The shift from large camera photography to miniature hit its stride in 1935 when Fortune magazine dubbed it the minicam revolution. Within a couple of years books were being published to teach the amateur how to embrace the new technology. One of these was called Miniature Photography – from one amateur to another. The amateur in this case was Richard L. Simon, a well-to-do New Yorker and half of the Simon and Schuster publishing house in NYC. The book was published the fall of 1937, a few months after I was born.

Like most books of the period, the paper used doesn’t accommodate clean crisp half tones so the photographs are limited to those printed on whiter clay paper and tipped in at the appropriate spot. The book is a hard cover about 5 x 8 inches and just under 170 pages. Footnotes are used on many pages, to clarify and amplify points, rather than gathered up and listed after each chapter. Appendices address the variation in controls of the Contax and the Rollei.

Simon speaks in the first party voice directly to the reader. He is candid about his advice and choices of camera (Leica), lenses, films, developers, papers, etc. He goes to great length to offer then current costs and ways to save money. He points out the pitfalls of owning a miniature camera and the more satisfying choices of scenes to shoot. Simon cautions that the cheapest processing and print houses are geared to large cameras so they often use ordinary film developer, not fine grain developer demanded by the tiny 35mm negatives. And enlargements are often made by indifferent staff used to the generally sharper large negatives needing less care in the focussing and developing of the print.

Reading it once again reminds me that the transition from a contact print size camera to a miniature camera demanding enlargement to make even a pocket size print viewable was a seismic shift in concept. Of course a decade or two later and 35mm was considered main stream for all but die-hard studio and news photographers.

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Boris Spremo died yesterday at 81

Boris Spremo by Frank Lennon – Globe and Mail

Toronto. Thanks to Russ Forfar for notifying me that Boris died yesterday. His accomplishments are noted here by the Toronto Star and by his first employer in Canada, the Globe and Mail with a very brief bio here on Wikipedia.

Boris was a member of the PHSC. He was tagged to speak to us most recently this past April, but was too ill. He did speak to the PHSC of his adventures in March of 2001.

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What the heck is a Perfex?

c1938 Perfex camera made in Chicago from bakelite and metal. Courtesy of Richard Berbier, PHSNE

Toronto. In the most recent issue of snap shots (23-1), the newsletter of the Photographic Historical Society of New England (PHSNE), collector Richard Berbiar writes in the Vintage Camera Corner about his Perfex Speed Candid camera which was the first American made 35mm camera to boast a focal plane shutter.

He describes this odd looking bakelite and metal camera in some detail. This camera was the very first model made by  Candid Camera Corp. of America. It was made from 1938-9 as a cheap alternative to the German Leica. While issue 23-1 of snap shots won’t be posted on the PHSNE site for a few months, many other sites offer details on this rather ugly ducking. Most detailed is Vanguard Real Estate’s site called web4homes.com. Marcy Merrill out in Washington State on the west coast runs a studio and collects cameras. Her site discusses a badly treated Perfex 55. And the Historic Camera site which links to us discusses the Perfex camera as well.

The struggling Candid Camera Corp. continued on past the end of WW2 to around 1950. It was then sold to Ciro. Ciro too was eventually sold to Graflex who discontinued US production of 35mm cameras in 1957 and began importing Japanese models made by Kowa.

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