Julian Schnabel at Ostlicht (WestLicht) Gallery this summer

Mickey Rourke
by Julian Schnabel

Toronto. Stefan Musil of the Ostlicht Gallery for Photography sent out an email on the 25th to announce that the gallery will host an exhibition of American  Julian Schnabel’s Polaroids this summer from June 7, 2018 to August 4, 2018.

Julian’s work was on diplay here in Toronto at the AGO in 2010. If you are planning to visit Vienna this summer, be sure to drop by the Ostlicht Gallery.

Julian says in part, “I never intended to show the pictures I took. The Polaroids are documents of places I built, sculptures I made, people I know, the process of painting. I used the camera as a medium.  Because of the camera I had the experience.

“Anomalies, idiosyncrasies, light leaks and accidents form the character of these photographs – I just happen to press the button. Using this camera is like riding a good horse, you just hold onto the reins and let her run.

“I don’t have a camera.  I don’t walk around taking photos. It was this particular camera that I became engaged with.”

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summer in the city

melted DSLR – Bill Ingalls

Toronto. George Dunbar sent me this photo the other day, The Daily Mail in the UK was the source. NASA photographer Bill Ingalls set up a $3,000 plus camera remotely to shoot the Space X 9 Falcon as it shot into space the other day.  (I didn’t link to the Daily Mail home as it is just too invasive with stupid and persistent ads).

When he came back, his Canon 5DS DSLR and lens investment was toast … But it wasn’t the heat from the rocket lift off that did it in, it was the heat from a near-by bush fire!  Summer in the city

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castles in the air

Hohenzollern Castle by
A. Kniesel, Lauffen

Toronto. Yesterday, the EU placed in law the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which is similar to our own CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) which was initiated July 1, 2014 and gave us two years to comply. A security company called Collibra put this Collibra-GDPR-Pitfalls-Ebook-1 together.

The GDPFR seems more comprehensive than our CASL. In any case, we do and have kept member data safe and do not offer it to others, period. Our newsletter is distributed by MailChimp who have undertaken to keep all email lists private and offer an unsubscribe link with every newsletter.


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a hard lesson, a wet lesson

In the drink …
LIFE Feb. 1950

Toronto. In its February 20th issue for 1950, LIFE magazine posted this cheerful article about a photographer so busy capturing a shot of unfortunate skaters in London, England that he too broke through the pond ice.

We often think of photography as a low risk occupation. Not so for the war correspondent/photographer or the news photographer sent world wide to capture the news as it happens!

My thanks to Goldie of the website urbantoronto.ca for spotting this photograph and article and taking the time to email me.

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focussing on specific fields of interest

books by Blaker – mid 1970s

Toronto. These two books by Alfred A Blaker are related to a 1965 book he wrote titled Photography for Scientific Publication. 1977’s Handbook for Scientific Photography is a complete rewrite of the original and covers the use of photography in a laboratory setting. The subjects often demanded microscopical or macro techniques and lighting.

1976’s Field Photography was a more comprehensive book covering the use of photography in the field (i.e. outdoors) to record scientific subjects from tiny bugs to vast landscapes.

I picked up the books around the time I bought my first microscope – a Leitz IIb stand made in 1904 (bought at a PHSC fall photographica-fair to complement the Leica cameras I collected at the time).

The books are typical of the mid 1970s publications teaching photographic techniques in specific fields of endeavour.  The books address mainly 35mm technique using black & white materials. While mostly black & white photos are used, a few colour photos adorn each book as well (and cameras larger than 35mm are briefly described too).

Being from the late 1970s, the books reference film only – not even a thought of a digital future. These two hardcover, saddle stitched, books with dust covers each cost a bit over $50 when new. Today they can be found for a fraction of that amount in a used book store.

By the way, if you are enthusiastic about film and black & white analogue (chemical) photography then why not join us Sunday May 27th at our spring photographica-fair? You will find lots of film gear readily available. Admission is free to students with school ID – and there is free parking!

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the golden age of photography

Focal Press offered
many well written
instruction books like
this 500+ pager

Toronto. What do you think was the golden age of photography? To me it was the 1960s – 1980s. Lots of camera stores, magazines. books, etc. Cameras and lenses were well built and ever higher quality. Prices were reasonable. Colour had become main stream by the middle of the period fostering in small shops offering cheap and fast colour prints.

Most cameras and lenses were mechanical, with only super sensitive CdS cell light meters using batteries. Zoom lenses proliferated making it easy to shoot with a range of focal lengths without changing the lens.  A Leica could be bought without need for a loan.

And home processed colour was now available to any amateur willing to take the time and care. Chemistry and tools abounded. Drums – and motors – soon made colour printing possible for the most part in daylight. Sadly the best you could do was make a correctly exposed and colour balanced print – glossy or matt. It was only Black and White that leant itself to a range of contrasts, exposures and kinds of paper.

In the 1970s people began to appreciate the history of photography, its processes and equipment, Societies of camera collectors, and to a lesser degree image collectors sprung up. Everyone seemed fascinated by the history of the medium. Our society was established in 1974 during the heady days when it was easy to find old cameras, lenses, accessories, and photographs but hard to correctly date and identify them. Prices were relatively cheap but as collectors became more informed the prices took off and people began to buy and sell items for profit.

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monkeying around with cameras

LIFE Nov 14, 1949

Toronto. I followed with interest the saga of the macaque monkey and ownership of a photo (a selfie) he took in 2011. Back on July 15, 2017 PETA stepped in on its behalf, suing the photographer and owner of the camera used. A few months later in mid September of 2017, we were pleased to report that an out of court settlement had been reached.

So it was a big surprise when our diligent internet detective, George Dunbar, uncovered an even earlier incidence of an animal photographer – this time a chimpanzee who captured a shot that was reported by LIFE magazine in its November 14, 1949 issue! Like all photographers, the little fellows moved from big cameras, film, and monochrome to small cameras, digital and colour!

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Bourke-White flogs RCA Projection-TV in 1949

Bourke-White sells RCA-
Victor TV in this August
1949 LIFE magazine ad

Toronto. After the war ended in 1945, our main source of information remained newspapers and radio. No TV, no internet, Nada. We played board games, bought magazines, and read books. The exciting thing was the imminent arrival of TV in Canada! Our first TV stations began to broadcast in 1952 while those who lived along the border could watch American TV a few years earlier. This was at a time when the vast majority of photographs were still black & white.

In the 1940s, Margaret Bourke-White was a well known LIFE magazine photographer. To emphasize the resolution and detail in the black and white projection televisions, marketeers used celebrities as spokespeople. And who better to assure everyone that RCA Victor projection-TV was sharp and clear but a world-famous photographer? In spite of the ads, in August 1949, TV was monochrome, low resolution, small screen, and expensive – about 8x more than a good console radio set.

To get a larger image than that offered by a 9 inch or 12 inch (diagonal) cathode ray tube (CRT), one had to spring for a projection set using a higher intensity, smaller CRT projecting the image on a screen.  While still larger than a CRT, the projection screen is like a slide show but much smaller, using back projection so the projection tube is hidden.

By the 1960s, CRTs were reliably made in larger sizes, making the fussy projection sets impractical and they faded into history in spite of photographer-promoted ads a decade earlier. Need a video today? Wait ’til I get my smartphone 🙂

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embrace the negative

using the light table – J P Moczulski

Toronto. Yesterday in “tools of the trade” I commented on darkroom needs for film. To my delight, Saturday morning’s Globe featured an article on discovering the virtues of film and chemistry once again. The article by Kate Taylor “introduces her son to old-fashioned film-and-chemical photography – and returns to the slow joy of analog”. Along the way the article is illustrated by some Ryerson students shot by J.P. MOCZULSKI and other photos by  our past speaker, ROBERT BURLEY (type his last name in our site’s Search box on the top right of the page to see a list of references to Robert Burley).

Oh, yes, and at our photographica-fair being held in a week (Sunday, May 27th) you can find many items suitable for film processing. Drop by and see! Lots of parkings and students with ID get in for free …

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tools of the trade

A 1980 film darkroom

Toronto. In  this era of digital photography we need a computer and printer (and what house doesn’t  have at least one of each) to “process” and print the digital images. Not so in the recently departed film era.

The film had to be developed and then printed – usually with an enlarger, timer, thermometer, darkroom trays, safelight (if B&W), easel, and perhaps a focussing aid. And most homes DID NOT have a darkroom and enlarger, etc., etc.

Only professionals and dedicated amateurs possessed the necessary darkroom. Others resorted to community darkrooms (usually camera clubs) or used commercial services. As a youth, I used a high school camera club darkroom, later building my own. The photo here shows my set up in the fall of 1980. To save money I bought 8×10 photographic paper and cut it to a smaller size either before, or as shown, after exposure and processing in a drum (Colour) or trays (B&W).

The enlarger was a Durst M35, the top of the line 35mm enlarger featuring all the details noted by Gilbert Durst in Italy. The enlarger takes colour filters which I kept in a Rollei slide box and tray (2.25 in square slides). I used a Variac and a “true RMS” iron vane meter to keep the voltage to the enlarger bulb constant (Toronto power seemed okay but Montreal in the 1960s and 1970s had terribly unreliable voltage levels).

The Gralab timer was modified with a fuse, relay, start button, etc. The Heathkit Colorval was also modified to have a digital binary timer built-in to match the enlarging lens f/stop settings. The timer uses a 555 timer chip and a tantalum capacitor to control the chip. Switches and resistors determined the exposure time of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 seconds (using two or more switches gives 1 to 63 seconds in 1 second intervals for the truly anal).  I made all the modifications at home.

The inexpensive pictures in an hour shops pretty much eliminated home darkroom colour processing other than for those who wanted to crop or enlarge to a size bigger than the 4×6 or 5×7 prints of the commercial shops like Eddie Black’s or Japan Camera.

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