Swann Galleries Photo Auction

Spirit Photography – Lot 321 Oct 18, 2018 Auction by Swann Auction Galleries, NYC

Toronto. Now the NAFTA heat and rhetoric have lessened, maybe it’s time to visit the Big Apple again. Our friends at Swann Galleries are conducting their periodic photograph auction beginning Thursday, October  18, 2018 at 1:00 pm.

Have a look-see at the catalogue – you may find just the print to add to your collection!


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women photographers

the Over 90s Club – by Ruth Maddison

Toronto. With all the current action here (our federal government) and in the states (#metoo movement), it seemed appropriate to look at women photographers.

Georege Dunbar sourced out this collection housed in the National Gallery of Australia. The picture he and I chose is one taken by Ruth Maddison in her “The Box Hill over 90s club: from Women over Sixty series” taken in 1991.

Closer to home, our president Clint (Lewko Hryhorijiw) has performed a double challenge bringing both women and youth into our rather dusty and ancient old executive (where else could you find so many people in their 70s and 80s still actively contributing to a great cause?).  Browse through the contents of the NGA and think about the other half of our population  (with a wife and two daughters, I confess to being biased).


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Edward Burtynsky – Anthropocene

Palm Oil Plantation in Borneo – by Ed Burtynsky

Toronto. I first learned about Ed Burtynsky and his large camera prints of how we are affecting the world when I saw Jennifer Baichwal’s  Manufactured Landscapes at TIFF in 2006. I did a post on Ed a decade later in 2016 after an article appeared in the New Yorker.

I discovered Ed is a Toronto photographer known for his use of large cameras. I next saw one of his huge prints of the Three Gorges Dam in China at the AGO during our February 2009 outing at the AGO, A Night at the Gallery with Maia Sutnik.

He recently was featured along with Jennifer Baichwal in a third film called Anthropocene in which the above scene appears. My thanks to long time friend and fellow PHSC member Dennis Cannon for mentioning in his September 28th email that the film is appearing now in Toronto.

Dennis writes, “A  new film was  released to-day – ANTHROPOCENE and is playing at The Bell LIghtbox Theatre on King Street in Toronto until October 5th.

“The trailer is on YouTube.

“We’ll see this film, the third completing  a Trilogy by Ed Burtynsky.”

If you are interested in our environment (and we all should be) be sure to see this film. Ed’s work is stunning.

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a crying shame

Baby it’s Cold Outside!
LIFE Feb 9, 1953 Issue

Toronto.  Mid last century photo studios used lots of ideas to increase traffic as our program director, Yvette Bessels, suggested in  a recent Toronto meeting program. My friend, pro-photographer, and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, suggested one great option that brought back memories of the birth of my eldest daughter back when man first walked on the moon. We too had a visit from a baby photographer. He was given our name and telephone number by the hospital in those simpler days of a bye-gone era.

An American company called “Aunt Mary Birthday Clubs of America Inc.” posted this ad in LIFE Magazine in 1953. The ad suggested you write them for the name of a photographer offering their special deal of a baby portrait each year for six years on your baby’s birthday.

Studios could increase traffic as parents would traipse in with their bundle of delight at least once a year and be living and breathing candidates for another studio special, perhaps a family portrait to grace the year’s Christmas card.

Some one up here offered those special baby shoes too. I still have my first pair (copper plated, not pearlized in pink or blue) forever cast as book ends …

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McLuhan and the PHSC

McLuhan Seminar
by Robert Lansdale

Toronto. An oft repeated axiom is that you are never more than six degrees removed from someone famous. As time has pased, I have always admired the accuracy of this simple statement, which brings me to Marshall McLuhan and his series of talks for the U of T.

You may wonder what this Canadian Icon has in common with the PHSC. In a name, Robert Lansdale. For over two decades now Bob has served as our Photographic Canadiana journal editor and in 1973 he recorded the McLuhan Seminar at the Coach House Series for the University of Toronto (the institution that houses many of his negatives in its archive).

I was reminded of this recently when Bob was sent an email from his eldest son, Robert C Lansdale who spoke at our June 2016 Toronto meeting on the building of the CN Tower:

“Hello Dad,

“You might be aware of this. The ‘McLuhan Centenary’ twitter feed posted this Tweet about your work in March of 2018:


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the wonders of Polaroid

courtesy of the Guardian

Toronto. My thanks to George Dunbar for sending me a note on the Guardian article by Christian Sinbaldi and Mee-Lai Stone (Picture Editor, Culture) titled Strictly analogue: Polaroid’s past, present and future – a photo essay.

The Polaroid company has been around as long as me. Post war, Land introduced its epic picture-in-a-minute technology forever changing the face of photography. This essay in words and images tells the story of this innovative process and how a small company in Europe is keeping it alive in the face of the digital revolution. Have a look!

Girl in a SX-70 size Polaroid courtesy of the Guardian

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National Geographic

National Geographic
May 1920

Toronto. What does a magazine and your favourite telephone company have in common? Alexander Graham Bell, that’s what, In 1880, Bell founded the Bell Telephone Company  in the states and here in Toronto followed by the Bell System which was a powerful monopoly through most of the last century. Up here the company quickly moved its headquarters to Beaver Hall Hill in Montreal and in the 1950s when I joined it was called The Bell Telephone Company of Canada.

Just a few years after Bell Telephone was founded, in 1888, Bell was one of the founders of the magazine and the National Geographic Society.. I remember in the 1960s that every used book store had stacks of old National Geographic magazines.

The magazines were of interest to camera and photo collectors for two reasons: Old magazine carried advertisements for the German  cameras like those made by Leitz and Zeiss showing how explorers used these wonderful mechanical marvels in all kinds of inclement weather conditions; and each issue had many historic photographs showing all parts of the world. Back issues dutifully recorded time as history unfolded. In the mid last century the maps were a welcome addition to any private library. In time a magnificent book of maps was published called the National Geographic Atlas of the World.

The Globe and Mail noted the first issue of the National Geographic was produced on September 22, 1888 in its MOMENT IN TIME column which usually appears on page 2 of the first section (A2). And 130 years later in 2018 the magazine and society continue on.

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southern fried

Liberty Theatre
by Rosalind Fox Solomon
courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery

Toronto. Last Saturday’s Globe had an article by Rachel Wine on an exhibition at the Stephen Bulger Gallery of the photographs of the American south taken in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by Rosalind Fox Solomon called Liberty Theatre.

You can see more about Solomon in this Wikipedia article.

The exhibition of her photographs runs from September 15th to October 13th of 2018 at the Stephen Bulger Gallery.

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ever seen a Gowlandflex camera?

Peter Gowland’s 4×5 TLR camera for glamour photography

Toronto. My thanks to George Dunbar for getting my attention on this series of cameras (only about 600 made – too small for McKeown’s 2001-2002 camera guide).

The late Peter Gowland was a famous Hollywood photographer. His studio was well known for its glamour work that led to numerous cover shots and Playboy magazine centre-folds. Peter was known for making his own studio gear. His 4×5 and 8×10 TLR cameras were used to shoot many studio and outdoor shots.

The cameras began in the late 1950s – even Karsh used one. Perhaps the most famous TLR, or twin lens reflex was the Rolleiflex. TLRs have two lenses with their focussing linked together. By using a faster lens fully open for the viewfinder, the camera design ensured the smaller aperture taking lens was always in sharp focus. The design removed a major user complaint against other popular cameras with their tiny squinty viewfinders and rangefinders.

Gowland’s covershots included photos used for camera magazine, The November 1989 issue of American Photographer had an article on the cameras titled “Parallax, Anyone?“. While Peter and his wife Alice have been dead for a few years now, their website carries on covering exhibitions, famous photographs, and of course, the Gowlandflex cameras.

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Where were you on August 9th, 1945?

Nagasaki Japan
A colourized photo by Hiromichi Matsuda taken fifteen minutes and five miles away on August 9th, 1945

Toronto. I had just turned 8 at the time. The second world war in Europe was over that May and we had celebrated V-E day. In early August, we saw a newspaper photo of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A few days later a second  bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and days later the war was over  with V-J day and we had entered the atomic age.

Few understood the horrendous risks brought to humanity or the devastation such “dirty” bombs could cause. A few years later the so called hydrogen  or “clean” bomb was invented. Dirty bombs used fission to break down uranium 232 atoms letting loose heat, energy, and radiation. Clean bombs used fusion to smash special hydrogen atom isotopes together releasing far more heat, energy, and less(?) deadly radiation. It was years later when I had grown up and read about the effects of radiation and the impact of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that I understood just how devastating radiation is to humanity.

My thanks to Russ Forfar for spotting this article by Noelle Talmon (Nicky Benson?)  on www.ranker.com showing a colourized version of photographer Hiromichi Matsuda’s famous photograph taken just minutes after the second American atomic bomb was dropped on a Japanese city.

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