hey, hey, hey, it’s fat Elmar

Fat Elmar made 1931-2. Photo courtesy of Ritzcam.com

Toronto. In 1930, Leitz began marketing the tiny Leica with an interchangeable lens mount. According to Dennis Laney in his “Leica Collectors Guide” of September 1992, The medium telephoto 9 cm Elmar was one of the first three lenses added to the fold. The version in 1931-2 used the same lens head as future ‘thin’ versions but with a fatter lens mount similar to that on a 73mm Hektor lens.

Less than about 3,000 of these truly odd lens were ever made (the earliest were not rangefinder coupled apparently). I never picked up one although I did see a few offered at PHSC events in the early years of the society. Mine were all the ‘thin’ version – aesthetically more pleasing to me.  The image at left is courtesy of Ritz Cam and appears on this website.

The post title is a riff on the now vilified, but great comedian, Bill Cosby’s childhood character Fat Albert and the signature saying, “Hey, Hey, Hey.It’s Fat Albert“.

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ah! movies and cars- how great was that?

A 1933 idea captures two favourite pastimes: cars and movies (and saving money in the bargain)

Toronto. In the 1950s, I remember clambering in our car or a friend’s car and trundling off to the local drive-in to watch a movie outdoors and listen to a tiny tinny speaker hung on the widow. Sadly up here drive-ins were too cold and snowy in winter and started very late at night in the summer when it was finally dark out.

They proved to be a disappearing fad, but did you ever wonder about them, or their history? According to the August 1933 issue of Electronics, the drive-in first appeared in a seven acre farmer’s field outside Camden NJ. It was said to be invented by Dick Hollingworth Jr. who applied for patent rights. Electronics magazine was interested in the massive high fidelity sound system that provided every car with “80 watts of acoustical power” Impressive, since most so called high fidelity systems of two decades later used a fraction of that acoustical power for home filling stereo sound (there were systems far more powerful, of course).

The premise seemed to combine two favorite pastimes, cars and movies, for a low cost family outing. The closer to the equator you lived, the sooner darkness descended and the less likely you would have snow and freezing cold. For the photographer in us all, it was amazing to see a half frame 35mm shot blown up to around 60 feet across from about 3/4 inches. Remarkable!

This post was based n an idea suggested by my good friend George Dunbar who passed along the Electronics article.

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a dawg gone great read

Cover – Annual 2019-2020

Toronto. A few days ago, I saw a car pull up to my garage door. Out popped Wayne Gilbert fresh from a mail run. He dropped off the PHSC exchange copy of the Daguerreian Annual for 2019-2020. What a great read it is!

Anyone seriously interested in daguerreotypes (one of the first processes announced this month in 1839). the preeminent process for the next two decades, should join The Daguerreian Society, if only to read their material like this annual and participate in the once a year seminar.

A few of our members also joined the Daguerreian Society. The society’s annual is a massive, fine resolution, full colour, letter size publication on semi-gloss clay paper available in soft cover or by special request in hard cover. While predominately American in content, some articles are by folk north of the border such as the past president of both the PHSC and The Daguerreian Society,  Dr Mike Robinson, one of the few modern practitioners of the ancient Daguerreotype.

A few years ago, a member of that society mentioned to me that the process was more revered in America than in the home country of Daguerre. The wealth of daguerreotypes made by American studios certainly suggest this to be the case

Enjoy the articles in this annual.

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keeping your head down

c1907 British Enlarger

Toronto. Any enlarger I used was vertical in design. In fact, I never saw a horizontal enlarger until I visited the late Larry Boccioletti, one of the founders of this society. At the time, Larry was looking for an old vacuum to operate his vacuum easel used with a horizontal enlarger.

I happened to have an old British GE model vacuum that worked. Years earlier, my grandfather had swapped it for a bottle of rye whiskey (I have forgotten why I even needed a vacuum back then).

The upper left image is courtesy  of the long dormant WPCA. The two last reprints,  annotated with dates, were from old catalogues and covered enlargers -the reprints are  available free as pdf files to all PHSC members. The enlargers shown dated from their earliest catalogue appearances in the 1800s into the early 1900s. The two pdf files like the previous five were sent out to all current members with an email address. (If you did NOT get copies, please email me at info@phsc.ca and I will send you them after verification of your membership.)

Not YET a member? well, for heaven’s sake! Grab your plastic and register via PayPal on the upper right of this page (you do not need a PayPal account. We will pay the small fee charged)! Of course, you can donate to the society the same way via PayPal, or by our Canada Helps entry on the link below the PAY NOW button.

Looking at the catalogue illustrations, I can see that most of the early enlargers were massive horizontal beasts, suggesting they evolved from projectors. In the 20th century, sensitive media had shrunk in size and vertical enlargers took over the majority of market share. This was simply accelerated by the minicam revolution in the 1930s which made enlarging essential, not an option.

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PHSC News January 2021 (20-07)

the Lomography Konstruktor F camera

Toronto. The folks at Lomography have had lots of success with various cameras, lenses and films for those enthusiasts into film technology (and our pre-COVID [and hopefully soon post] days of fairs and auctions).  Shown at left is the Lomography Konstruktor F, as featured on page 1 of our newsletter this month (top right).

The first month of 2021 is rapidly fading as the energetic rollout of COVID-19 vaccines brings a bit of sunshine and hope that all the COVID related restrictions will end so we can get on with life.

However, for January 2021, our editor extraordinaire, Sonja Pushchak, and her team have composed this latest issue of PHSC News (20-07). Take a moment now to read the articles in this issue and ease your personal troubles and cares!

Page 1 begins this issue with Robo Thoughts – a Hollywood remake of the 1985 film “Weird Science“, updated to 2014 and re-titled “Ex Machina“. Next, in place of the usual PHSC Presents, is an essay on dancing robots from Boston Dynamics. Page 3 covers dance art from NYC in “The Incredible Art of We Ourselves“; while page 4 explains how photo advertisements and toys became photo art. Page 5 discusses the recent disturbing anti-democratic antics in Washington by mobs egged on by Trump. David does his tongue-in-cheek Equipment Review, this time on darkroom timers around the era of the GraLab classic, followed by a page of links to the Washington incident, Nikon’s factory move from Japan, and the Canadian works of Paul Strand (illustrated by Strand’s 1915 Wall Street photo, one of my favourites).

Page 8 features a poster on our forth-coming second S&T via ZOOM. NOTE: if you would like to present something, email me at info@phsc.ca with Virtual Show and Tell January 2021 on the subject line, and I’ll pass it on to Celio. I found out last month that ZOOM is better if you send any images/slides you plan to use directly to Celio so he can post them for all to see during your brief talk.

On page 9, Ivy & Izzy banter about “The Conceptual Burden of Being Chris Burden“. And  we wrap up with the ever popular classifieds on page 10.

P.S. As usual, every link shown in the newsletter is a hot link just waiting for your click!

P.P.S. You can visit this issue by clicking here, or by g0ing to the menu item NEWSLETTER at the top of the page. There is a drop down menu that takes you to older issues dating back a couple of decades to the very beginning.

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a tenner for ZOOMer

Toronto. We held our tenth COVID-19 inspired exec meeting via ZOOM last evening (its  beginning to feel like normal). And once again, a big thank you to Celio for arranging it in spite of his busy teaching schedule.

Toronto and all of Ontario, as you news hounds know, is in total lockdown once again as   the second wave of COVID-19 rages on filling our hospitals to the brim. ALL live events are cancelled for now as we struggle to spread the vaccines across Canada in an orderly fashion. Our monthly meeting venue (North York Memorial Hall) is closed until further notice. We are doing meetings using ZOOM and EventBrite based on the good experience we saw last month with the AGM and Show & Tell.

The January issue of our newsletter, ‘PHSC News’,  goes out this Friday to nearly 2,000 addresses. Sign up at news@phsc.ca for your free pdf copy. Members also get specials plus the journal via pdf. (contact me if you are a member and HAVE NOT seen the pdfs. Some members have unsubscribed to MailChimp; some emails are invalid; and others have no email on file with the society). Any questions? Just drop me a note at info@phsc.ca

Some decisions at our 10th ZOOM meeting

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ZOOM and Tell Redux – Jan 20th, 2021

Our January 2021 PHSC meeting is another Show and Tell

You can click the poster above or here for the EventBrite link!

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the RED button, aunt Tilly

Ansco Color Clipper c1958 courtesy of Mike Eckman

Toronto. Late in the last century, past president Don Douglas and I represented the PHSC with a “dog and pony” show on the history of photography. Don used his camera collection to show the evolution of cameras while I showed a slide talk on the key developments from Daguerre to the Kodak camera.

Don’s talk was always entertaining. He collected mainly Ansco cameras. The name comes from one of the first photographic supply houses in America – Anthony and Scoville. Like many, I used and processed Anscochrome 35mm colour slide film. Ansco cameras stood out with their red shutter release buttons.

Don suggested that every family had an “aunt Tilly” who was unfamiliar with photography but willing to take a family photograph. All that was needed was to ask “aunt Tilly” to hold the camera steady and just “press the red button”. Simple.

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another KODAK moment

Late 1969 ad in LIFE magazine for Kodak Super 8 cameras

Toronto. Between colour media, and home movies, the post war amateur photography market blossomed.   It was often said that Kodak made its money selling film and other photographic consumables using their inexpensive cameras as a means to further sales.

To expand its market share, Kodak kept inventing and selling new films and cameras. A case in point was their line of Instamatic movie cameras designed to expand Super 8 film sales.  The cameras were heavily promoted in advertisements such as this one on page 35 of the December 5, 1969 issue of LIFE magazine.

The idea sounds much like the Gillette razor business plan or more recently, the ink jet printer business plan: Sell the physical items (cameras, razors, printers) cheaply and make up any loss selling genuine branded disposables (film, blades, ink).

A nod of thanks to my good friend George Dunbar. George found the ad while searching out photographic history in magazines of years ago.

NB. The title of this post is a riff on the forgotten Kodak catch phrase, “A Kodak Moment” which we used before in a post title about Kodak’s early venture into DSLR territory.

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it’s home to print we go …

colour printing brochures and book

Toronto. For about the last half of the last century I enjoyed doing darkroom work and processing of both negatives and prints. In the 1960s and 70s, this included colour processing using paper and chemistry of the day. And beginning just prior to the 1960s, I also processed transparencies – positive 35mm colour film using an alternative tri-pack process to Kodachrome based on the pre-war/wartime work of Agfa.

I began colour processing with a cheap enlarger, home made filters, Ferrania colour chemicals and paper. I ended my colour processing days with good filters (C,M,Y) a drum, and modern high temperature chemistry. Along the way, I learned that colour developers had an extremely short life; most of the processing time went towards colour balancing and exposure adjustment; colour prints could not be corrected for contrast and look good; technique (other than cropping) could not be changed; etc. In fact, the best you could do was ensure the prints were technically correct. Any artistic action had to be taken when the colour negative was exposed.  Bad negative? Bad print! End of story. Other than some correction for over exposure, of course.

When I first tried the new chemistry and a drum, the paper had a pink overcast that even confused the photography store clerk in Montreal. Later, I happened to read that Kodak paper was very sensitive to temperature and went pinkish in high temperature. A switch to Agfa paper solved my pink overcast.

Sadly, the rapid transition to one hour processing shops by retailers made home colour processing more expensive, not cheaper as we had experienced with home developed black and white. That ended my venture into colour processing.

NB. The post title is a riff on the 1937 Disney songHeigh Ho” in the animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs“.

Disney’s version of the old German fairy tale was the first full colour feature-length animation. And also the first film ever to have a sound track recording offered. I saw it as a child in the early 1940s. It was shown in the only “first run” movie house in the small town where I then lived. I still remember the colour, the animation, the golden ‘V for victory’ over the screen and the red velvet ropes to cordon off patron line ups. Those were the days when movies opened in the States and big cities many months before finding their way to “first run” theatres in small towns like mine.

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