the eighth by ZOOM

Toronto. We held our eighth COVID-19 inspired exec meeting via ZOOM (This is beginning to feel like normal). Thank you Celio for arranging the meeting once again. Key changes are shown below. Toronto is in stage 2 modified at present as we enter the second wave of COVID-19. ALL live events are cancelled at least until 2021. Our monthly meeting venue (North York Memorial Hall) is closed to events by the city until at least December 31, 2020. We hope to do meetings beginning November 18 via video. Stayed tuned.

PHSC News goes out shortly for November. Sign up at for a free pdf copy. Members 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

Our October Exec meeting via ZOOM


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silver and glass

Silver and Glass – click on photo to see article

Toronto. George Dunbar came across this article on Kodak’s work on films and lenses. It appeared as the article “Brains of Sliver — Eyes of Glass” in the April 1930 edition of Science and Invention magazine.

The article covers Kodak’s research into film and lenses and its contribution to Kodak’s famous little VP cameras. The film is the now notorious Nitrate (nitro-cellulose) based film while the huge lens is said to be the largest ever ground in the USA. The lens, for the Army Air service, was likely for use on  an aerial camera, perhaps used to map enemy terrain just over a decade later in WW2.

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Photographic Canadiana Vol 46-4

Gundlach Shutter in PC Vol 46-4 pdf version

Toronto.I hope you have enjoyed the coolish evenings this fall (November was mixed cold and windy to spring-like). Yesterday, members WITH an email address received another delightful magazine via pdf. It  is  the Photographic Canadiana 46-4 dated December 2020 – January 2021.

This is another 26 page delight in full colour as  envisioned by editor Bob Lansdale to help create the excitement we all feel as we await an end to the rotten  pandemic which has dragged its heels all year. As this is definitely a weird year we are doing more than 4 issues. Editor Lansdale is working with our printers to print and package the entire Vol 46 for those few members sans an email on record or wishing to have a hard copy.

Drop me a line at if you are a member and haven’t received this special pdf edition. Not a member? Easy-peasy, just break out your plastic (VISA, MasterCard, etc.), follow the rules at the upper right of this page and sign up via PayPal (no PayPal account needed – we will pay the modest fee). Membership is an incredible bargain. Period!

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every one should have one …

Leitz CEYOO (left) and CTOOM in original Leitz boxes

Toronto. … said the late Ted Shepherd. So I agreed to buy his flash gun (CEYOO) with its folding plastic base (CTOOM) at our November 21, 1978 meeting in the NorthYork Public Library. A few days later, I sent a cheque for $7.50 off in the mail. At the time of the sale, Ted was president of the Toronto chapter of the PHSC.

Later on, I bought other flash guns and brackets, including the boxes and test light shown here. The CTOOM held the flash to the side of a Leica. The CEYOO flash took #5 bulbs (or smaller with an adaptor). A folding metal “fan” reflector was removable to make the flash more compact when not in use. The CEYOO was sold before inexpensive electronic flash became common-place. The synchronized shutter speed was slow with regular bulbs. Special FP (focal plane shutter) bulbs had a longer burn period and allowed a faster speed to be used.

Both flash and bracket are well made and solid – typical Leitz. The CEYOO used a 22.5v battery (modern batteries are a bit too thick apparently) and a capacitor  (replacement was once available from Leitz) allowing shots even with a nearly exhausted battery. In later years the CTOOM was metal, not plastic. The CEYOO flash was sold throughout the 1950s while the bracket was sold a few years later and lasted to about 1963 in the retail shops. Without a bracket, the flash was mounted on top of the Leica in its accessory shoe.

The photo (and those of many earlier posts) was taken with an Apple iPod Touch (8 mp) equivalent to a 35mm lens under a wide spectrum LED light.

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what’s in YOUR collection?

PHSC member interest form

Toronto. When the PHSC was established back in 1974 the majority of members were camera (and lens) collectors.

While many collectors had an eclectic taste, others collected by maker (eg. Leica, Zeiss, Ernemann, Kodak, etc.), or by date or price or style, etc. Truly devoted collectors rose early each weekend to browse garage sales, bought tables at fairs, attended photographic auctions and societies. Once cherished items were sold when ones in better condition were discovered, or interest in an item waned.

To write articles and select speakers of interest to most members,  an interest form was prepared and later modified (the modified form is shown here).

Two decades later, about 15% of our members collected images. Today this has grown even more. Members also collect ephemera, books, studio items etc. Many current members are actively interested in photographic history, especially Canadian which tends to get overwhelmed by far louder interests in our world.

With the advent of digital, collecting cameras (other than truly rare, high end, etc.) has fallen by the wayside. Today, our members tend towards professionals in the industry, historians, students of photography, and collectors of images. Attendees at fairs look for vintage gear, things to expand a growing interest in film, things to furnish studios and augment user equipment – especially lenses and useable but older digital cameras.

NB. The title of this post is a riff on the very popular tag line “What’s in your Wallet?” used by the American company, Capital One, to flog credit cards in the States  and Canada.

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what the deuce is a duex?

Kodak Duex c1940

Toronto. In the days of film, Kodak was well known for its many inexpensive cameras. Kodak made its money by the sale of film and other materials. The cheap but sturdy cameras were great film burners! This inexpensive camera was only made in 1940-42. By swapping a front plate it could say “MADE IN U.S.A.” or “MADE IN CANADA” as this one does.

The Duex uses 620 film and has an f/11 doublet lens mounted in a bakelite helical telescoping front. This example is courtesy of member Mark Singer, who collects cameras badged as Kodak Canada, and as made in Canada or Toronto. Mark brought this one – complete with its original box – to our 2019 Show and Tell meeting last December (before this nasty pandemic hit us in full force closing the Memorial Hall).

The little Kodak was also mentioned in our Journal Vol 38-2 when it was part of a story of Stan White and his collection.

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when photography was deadly

Kodak Safety Film

Toronto. Have you ever wondered why the historic old movie films were so hard to find? And why archives like the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) preface really old films as “remastered” from pieces found at various other archives?

At the beginning of the last century, the base for film material – movie and still – was the dangerous Nitrate film. It was attractive for its high optical quality and clarity. Unfortunately, this film proved highly unstable in archives and tended to ignite by spontaneous combustion. Fortunately it gave off a strong acetic acid (vinegar) smell as it disintegrated before bursting into flames and burning with highly toxic fumes.

Mid last century a shift was made to so called safety or Cellulose acetate film which didn’t suddenly burst into flames. Since old films were shot on Nitrate film, it was less costly to abandon them rather than remaster them on safety stock. Some WW2 surplus film was Nitrate too and would slowly disintegrate and give off a strong odour of vinegar warning any would be photographer.

During the pursuit of film history, my friend George Dunbar came across this article in the August 1929 issue of Science and Invention. The article recounts a disaster at a Cleveland Hospital in May of 1929 where x-ray film caused a fire with toxic fumes killing members of both the patient body and staff.

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Amalgamated Photo History Newsletters

Amalgamated Photo History Newsletters 1-6

Toronto. We issued the 6th in our series of exchange newsletters recently (since we are unable to hold our regular monthly meetings, members received this pdf version of the amalgamated newsletters from our exchange members who gave their blessing for inclusion in this venture. In this case it is the “Re-Union Issue of Cascade Panorama”.

“In October 2010, editor Ralph London of the Cascade Photographic Historical Society assembled a Re-Union Issue of his Cascade Panorama newsletter which had last published in December 2003. It was a most interesting issue bringing together great authors and stories that needed to be told.”

I hinted these packages were coming for members, ” … we elected to compile other material in pdf files ready to send to members IF they supplied an email address AND had a fast enough internet connection to receive the 2 – 10 mb or so pdf files. …”.

Well, the Volume 1-6 file (4.8 MB) went out last Saturday, November 21. If you didn’t get it but you do get our newsletters, drop me a note ( I will verify you are a 2020/2021 member and send off a copy. If you are a current member and didn’t see a copy, please check your junk folder. This and all other specials will only be sent to paid members. Not one yet? No big deal – pull your plastic and use the PayPal set up at the top right of this web page. Note that we will continue to send our PHSC News to all who are on our MailChimp list – PHSC member or not.

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the time has come, the walrus said …

editing a photo with macOS 11 (Big Sur)

Toronto. When photography first burst forth in 1839, lenses were made by opticians and cameras by them or others. As time progressed, optical houses began to make both cameras and lenses. Some like Zeiss also made lenses for others.

By the time film came on the scene, the media manufacturers like Kodak, Ansco, Agfa, etc. began making and selling cameras and lenses too. Later last century, electronic companies like Sony and Panasonic got in the act.

In this century, we seem to ignore the camera makers (other than the professionals and advanced amateurs who choose Leica, Canon, Sony, Nikon, etc.). We seem more interested in the make of our smartphones which always includes a camera and lens assembly. Their electronics in this age of digital technology can imitate depth of field, bokeh, etc. and always assure a technically perfect result (sometimes blurry or grainy from shaky fingers or poor lighting).

Where once one spent hundreds of dollars on photo adjustment software like Photoshop, today many such tools are included in the smartphone and computer at no added cost. Only collectors and some professionals enthuse over camera models and lenses. The rest of us just use our smartphones and the “free” editing software. The time has come …

This post’s name is a line from the whimsical 1860s poem by the reverend Charles  Dodgson (better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll) called, “The Walrus and the Carpenter“. The first full length book I can remember reading was “Through the Looking Glass” – that and books like Black Beauty, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, etc.

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be positive

1929 Amateur B&W Movie Processing

Toronto. Did you ever wonder how negatives were converted to positive images – where white was white and black was black? The key was to process the negative, then bleach the film rather than fix it (removes only the developed silver), expose the remaining silver halides, develop again and then fix the film.

This was most commonly done with amateur movie film creating a positive print for projection. Decades later, three layers of dyes and colour couplers in the colour film tri-pack transformed colour negatives to colour positives – either amateur movies or transparencies (slides).

In the January, 1929 issue of Science and Invention magazine, a system used for the  commercial processing of amateur B&W negative film into B&W positive film ready for projection is shown and explained.

Thanks to friend George Dunbar for sharing this tidbit of photographic history with me. Nowadays we make videos in full colour on smartphones ready for sharing with friends beside you or around the world. And with nary a bath or external process in sight! How times have changed.

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don’t take your camera to town, son

photo of a car wreck in the 1930s or 40s

Toronto. Once photography took off and became simple for everyone to use (roll film and drug store processing) it became a means to record assets and asset losses amongst other purposes.

When automobile accidents became epidemic, Insurance companies demanded proof of loss. Perhaps the photographic print of the damaged vehicle served as this proof (when I was a kid, people said a picture was worth a 1,000 words and no one thought a photo could be faked).

Nowadays, there are assessment centres to determine damages for Insurance companies, leaving stills and videos to families and TV stations.

NB. The title of this post is a riff on the Johnny Cash ballad, “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town

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