a spark of light

Worthington’s spark photo c 1900

Toronto. We all (almost all) can remember Dr Harold Edgerton of M.I.T. and his famous speed light shots in the early days of electronic flash. These shots allowed us to see phenomenon that was too brief for the human eye to observe. One famous photo was his 1957 record of the milk drop coronet.

Few of us however, have heard of  Arthur Mason Worthington, FRS. He was a British Physicist who pioneered high speed photography decades before Edgerton’s remarkable work in Boston. Worthington, a professor in fluid mechanics used an electric spark to create short duration illumination to record splashes photographically.

A tip of the hat to member George Dunbar for this reminder of the century plus experiment in speed light in Britain.

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things we take for granted

LIFE September 28, 1953
ad for Polaroid

Toronto. See a great photo. Out comes the smartphone. Click, click, click, click, and one of the rapidly taken shots is a real winner. Upload to home and friends. Phone into pocket and we continue on. Just a normal sunny day in the life … Well it wasn’t that way over a half century ago, not  by a long shot!

Most pictures were black and white, not colour. Processing (unless you had a darkroom or access to one) took a week or longer. And you took only one or two carefully composed shots – prints cost money back then- real money!

Polaroid came out with their picture in a minute process in 1948 and five years later they  were STILL trying to convert amateurs into regular users. But the one minute Polaroid process was limited to one print, and a very pricy print at that. Too many amateurs decided to keep going with traditional film and prints. Sure it was slow, but really, really cheap compared to Polaroid and their big clunky folder cameras (shades of Kodak decades earlier).

In response, Polaroid made ads like the page 5, 1953 LIFE ad above to encourage amateurs to go for their pictures in a minute process for the fun involved. My thanks to PHSC member and good friend George Dunbar for bringing back memories of those days of old when pictures in a minute were truly revolutionary.

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smartphone portraits

Austin Mann using an iPhoneXR camera and software

Toronto. Studios have been disappearing rapidly these days. One possible cause is the ubiquitous smartphone. The example at left was shot with the iPhone XR’s  12 megapixel camera which has a lens equivalent to a 35mm lens but with a much wider depth of field.

Can’t see the wide depth of field? That is because internal software allows both HDR and depth control so the shot looks like one taken with a regular camera using a 35mm lens set to something like f/2!

Apple is using shots like this portrait by travel photographer  Austin Mann to highlight the potential of its newest smartphones. Read this article titled, “Apple Highlights Photos Shot on iPhone XR” on the MacRumors website.

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PHSC News newsletter 2018-11 issued yesterday.

Daguerreotype Camera from PHSC News Vol 18-05 (November 2018)

Toronto. Did you miss getting this issue directly? Just let me know your email and name as I will add you to our MailChimp list. This tasty edition of Sonja’s latest thrilling newsletter is available by clicking the thumbnail daguerreotype camera at the top left, or by clicking the word NEWSLETTER here or on the menu bar. The front page is titled “Into the Soup” from a book by Belgian artist, photographer and filmmaker Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976).

This is followed by the announcements for our November speaker, our fall Image Show and our fall Estate Auction. A page covers the latest exhibition at the RIC, and John Morden covers the challenges faced by early underwater colour photographers.

David Bridge and his lab rats cover “Designer Cool before the Age of Apple” in his Equipment Review.

“Web Links” compiled by Louise Freyburger (and hot linked too) have a trio of arresting topics.   A page covers “PHSC Talks and Events” over the next few months while “Vi asks Dot” chats about paradigms, tattoos, and changes of mind.



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Toronto. The city of Toronto is formed from many, many neighbourhoods, one of which in the south east area is known as Corktown (really).

If you haven’t a clue about Corktown or its people, you need to read Coralina Limos’s book of the same title which will be published and issued on December 3, 2018.

Check her web site here for current news,  and read the press release here on this book about an historic part of our city.

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small club, huge impact

Martin Scott of TPHS in Rochester NY

Toronto. The Photographic Historical Society (TPHS) across the lake in Rochester has always been a small organization but its impact is world wide. This tiny group organized the famous Symposium, generally held every three years. The group was founded in 1966, eight years before us and is one of the oldest if not the oldest photographic collectors groups in the world.

Some of our members also belong to the TPHS and at least one of their members regularly proofs our journal. Their speaker this evening is Edith Cuerrier of Newfoundland who currently works at the GEM cataloging their Cromer collection. Edith had an article in our Journal (issue 37-3) on George Eastman and his visit to Newfoundland.

This issue of their 2018-10 newsletter has, amongst other items, a short history of the TPHS. Read and enjoy!


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a great photo resource right here

photo by Jamell Shabaz
speaker at Tanenbaum Lecture tonight at the RIC

Toronto. We are enjoying the expansion and flexing of our newest University – Ryerson. Over a half century ago the much smaller institute was called the Ryerson Institute of Technology. Today, it is a bustling rapidly growing university, ready to take on all contenders.

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) is a fabulous resource for budding and newly minted photographers, ready to tackle the digital world we now occupy. Just look here at their most recent newsletter – the current and planned activities covering their Gallery, Research, and Collections.

Thank you to editor (and Ryerson Grad) Bob Lansdale for sharing this news with me.

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A great Kodak

Kodak Signet 35 from the 1950s/60s

Toronto. The August 13, 1953 issue of LIFE magazine (page 87) touted this camera that chose to compete with the pricier Leicas and Zeiss cameras of the day. The Signet 35 has an f/3.5 lens – likely based on the famous Tessar design.

The camera has a coupled rangefinder and a leaf shutter with a top speed of 1/300th second. This model was the best of the series. It had a few adjustments. It competed more with fixed lens and auxiliary element lens cameras than with the high end German makes. Special models were made for the American military as well.

Thanks to George Dunbar for sourcing the LIFE ad for this Kodak model that tried to compete with fancier and more professional cameras of that era.

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VM en couleur

May 1958 photo by Vivian Maier

Toronto. I have written a few times on the posthumous B&W images of iconic Chicago nanny, Vivian Maier. On November 6, 2018, the Guardian newspaper in the UK published a photo essay on her colour photographs.

The colour renditions will form an exhibition at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in the Big Apple. The exhibition runs from November 14th to January 5th of next year. coinciding with the new HarperCollins book on her colour photos, published on Nov 6th of this year.

A big THANKS to my friend and fellow PHSC member George Dunbar for taking the time to email me on the Guardian article!

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