something fishy

a fisheye 110 camera sold by Lomography

Toronto. Those of you who still use film for that special feeling, remember Lomography. Ms Birgit Buchart at recently sent me an email. The folks there are re-introducing the 110 fisheye camera. See photos of the metal version here, or the bauhaus version here.

Think you need more about the camera or film? Download a Press Kit here. Or just take the plunge and buy one of the 110 cameras here.

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so near yet so far

Streetsville School c1900

Toronto. The second book in Douglas Adams‘ five volume “trilogy” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – is titled “The Restaurant at the end of the Universe“. It clarifies the difference between physical distance and temporal distance.

Similarly, while we in west Toronto are physically just next door to the photographs, time-wise we are over a century away from them. Their graininess is due entirely to the halftone process of the day that ‘transformed’ black (ink) and white (no ink) into shades of grey so photographs could be reproduced. I have books from the 1950s and earlier whose photos have a similar lack of resolution thanks to the halftone process once used.

The photographs for this post are on the Insauga [In Mississauga] web site. Take a look (caution: you will be bombarded with ads and solicitations). Once again we owe a debt to good friend and fellow photo-historian, George Dunbar, for finding and sharing this site with us. Along with the above link, George writes, “An extensive site here with hundreds of historic images of Mississauga and surrounding towns and villages”.

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he is the flash man

freeze Frame

Toronto. The March, 1946 edition of Popular Mechanics has an article on a unique 35mm camera designed for the US Army’s Surgeon General. Around the camera’s lens is a flash tube that flashes a 1/25,000th second burst of light “brighter than the sun” to capture the photo of an open eye for example.

Three decades later such ‘ring’ flashes were common place for shadow free close-ups of all sorts of things. Thanks to my good friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, for discovering and sharing this piece of photographic history.

NB. The title of this post is a riff on that incessant and irritating TV advertisement by Oliver Jewellery, “I am the cash man”. The commercial encourages you to bring in your old and broken gold, etc. jewellery for money.

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anything for a buck …

ad for a photo ring – only $1 US in 1946 when our dollar was worth a bit more than that.

Toronto. Some people will do anything for money. While a dollar ring sounds junky (and maybe it was), 20 years later 18k gold was still about $25/ounce Canadian.

This ad, from the March 1946 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, touts a ring with a photo for only a dollar! Mind you shipping and postage more than doubled the cost to the buyer…

The ad shows just how ubiquitous  photos were about 70 years ago. A big thanks to our good friend, George Dunbar, for spotting this tiny piece of photo history and sharing it.

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a letter of recommendation

a camera goes to school

Toronto. Have you ever noticed that others imitate successful processes? For decades in the first half of last century, camera makers used to tout how reliable their models were by printing  ‘letters’ from organizations that pushed them to the max.

Universal Camera in the States was no different. In 1946 their ad reproduced a letter from the observatory at Climax, Colorado associated with Harvard College, part of the world famous Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Climax Observatory was high in the Rockies and observed many critical things contributing the the American war effort in WW2. This letter commends the reliability and durability of the Mercury shutter at high altitudes.

We must thank our good friend, George Dunbar, for finding and sharing this bit of photographic history with us. To us old codgers, 1946 wasn’t that long ago, but to youngsters of today, it is so old, that it has a beard like father time ….


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Franz Scholler August 23, 1941 – September 23, 2022

Franz Scholler – 81

Toronto. I was sad to learn of the passing of Franz when Brian Battler sent me an email last Friday. Franz often had a table at our fairs with his wife Marianne. He and I shared an interest in Leica cameras and lenses as well as PHSC membership over the years.

His passing is recorded by the Tribute Archive which notes, “Passed away suddenly but peacefully at St. Mary’s Hospital, Kitchener surrounded by his family on Friday September 23, 2022 in his 81st year.

“Franz is sadly missed by his loving wife Marianne. Beloved sons Andrew and Michael  (Sherry), grandchildren Anna, Bethany, Chris (Josie) and Anthony (Claire) and great grandchildren Rosalie, Rowan and Daniel. Survived by older brother Werner.

“A Celebration of Life will be held privately in the near future.

“If you wish, donations can be made to St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation or Canadian Lung Association, in Franz’s memory”.

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bright night

detail from 2022’s “Those Who Watch Over Us” by Yung Yemi

Toronto. After you have a great time at the PHSC camera fair today, hang around and see contemporary art exhibitions here and all around the city. For the first time since COVID hit, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche is being held from sunset Saturday October 1st to sunrise Sunday October 2nd.  From Etobicoke to Scarborough.

After our fair, there is time for you to have a leisurely supper then set out to see the displays here and all over the city. Join in and take a few shots to try out your gear – new from the fair, or old and familiar cameras and lenses you brought to the fair.

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Sgt Leonard E Thompson: Combat Cameraman WW2

Kew, England July, 1943 (Thompson at left) courtesy of Deleyne Wentz

Toronto. Being a small country (population), and a relatively new country, we seldom see our heros get recognition. Sgt Thomson is a fine example. The Canadian Film & Photo Unit website recounts many tales of the Canadian photographers who recorded WW2 overseas.

On February 28,  2022 this site told the story of Sgt Thompson of Regina courtesy of his daughter and grand daughter. Have a look at the story and those of others who were part of the CFP Unit.

A deep felt thank you to my good friend and fellow photo-history enthusiast, George Dunbar, for discovering the Canadian Film & Photo Unit website article on Sgt Thompson and sharing it with us along with the newspaper article below.



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shooting product photos today

shooting product images today – courtesy of Adobe Creative Cloud

Toronto. I know, I know, we are an historical society but after all, digital has been around for decades and how we record photographs has changed for ever, especially with vastly higher ISO ratings, lens stabilization, auto-everything and ever smaller cameras (especially those included in smartphones).

When one of our editors over 70 years ago did product shoots, choice of film, lighting, and even subject matter (things that looked the same but didn’t melt under the hot lights) were critical to quality success. Even a few shots took much time and preparation.

Today, shots can be taken with a smartphone and ‘developed’ in digital software like Adobe Lightroom and its alternatives for those averse to Adobe’s business model of monthly payments. This article by a young Mexican/American photographer offers some useful hints.

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did ya see the collision?

photography shows imminent collision – courtesy of NASA

Toronto. We watched the collision Monday on local TV courtesy of photography and a camera on the DART vehicle in space. The How-to Geek web site noted the next day, “Happy Tuesday! NASA just smashed a satellite into an asteroid, as a test for future space rocks that could threaten life on Earth. Too bad the dinosaurs didn’t have NASA when they were around.”

Just another example of how photography allows everyone to see historic events! DART jettisoned a smaller vehicle that can record the results of the impact about 3 hours later. Stay tuned to NASA via your local news station.

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