One way of doing it…

Focal Plane Shutter
fabric with slots
for different speeds.
Click above to see
Ed Westcott c1943

Toronto. The Graflex and Speed Graphic cameras were used everywhere in North America as the news photographers choice of camera. They were heavy, well built and rugged – ready for use in every kind of environment.

To meet the demands of a shutter, the Folmer-Schwing company elected to use an opaque fabric focal plane shutter. To me, this shutter was classically awkward to use. A long piece of the fabric had slots in it at various distances,. The slots were used with adjustable spring tensions. A table showed which slot and tension setting to use for a given shutter speed from say 1/1,000th second to 1/10th second.

The dark slide or a lens cap blocked the light while the cloth was wound to the chosen slot and set. Examples are often seen in old movies depicting news hounds with their huge cameras and flash guns. Clicking on the icon above shows Ed Westcott with his Anniversary model Speed Graphic in 1943 (this photo is shown in his 2005 book Images of America, Oak Ridge).

And on the subject of Ed Westcott, George Dunbar suggests a visit tumblr to see more of his photographs.

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