tip toe

… through the tulips

Toronto. Our favourite editor, Rita Godlevskis sent us the latest info from PhotoEd magazine including her latest digital issue featuring “Botanical Inspiration”. The linked page also covers many events of interest to photographers, and collectors, plus software, and a call for submissions for Food photos.

Join Rita and the gang  in the above link to the digital notice for more information.

You may remember the song that gave this post its name – most recently sang in falsetto with a ukulele accompaniment by an actor called Tiny Tim

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the way we were

A quiet-looking King Street, Toronto, circa 1870, Canada from the LAC in Ottawa courtesy Daily Mail article

Toronto. Back on July 1st, 2017 Alice Evans wrote an article featuring photographs from 1867 and a few years later to show how we looked around confederation.

The photos and article appeared in the Daily Mail. The title of the article is a bit long winded: “Birth of a nation: On Canada Day fascinating photographs show how the wild untamed country looked when it first came into being in 1867“.

In those pre-COVID days of 2017, we had a program celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of our country.

In any case, connect to this link at the Daily Mail website and see, “the way we were”. My thanks go to George Dunbar for sourcing and sharing this article from a few years ago.

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Archives of Ontario puts images online

A church in the village of Willerval, which was captured by the Canadians during World War I (I0004799)

Toronto. Photography Historians take note! The Archives of Ontario has taken to the internet offering numerous free images from selected fonds in its holdings.

Sean Smith of the archives writes, “Good Morning,
“I hope that this e-mail finds you well and that you are enjoying 2023 thus far.

“I am not sure if you are aware, but thought that I would share that the Archives of Ontario has been uploading high resolution images from its collection to the Wikimedia Commons as part of its GLAM Wiki initiative. To date, we have added nearly 4,500 images from roughly 13 collections as part of this work. Your members might be interested to spend some time in this space and to learn that all of the images are free to download and use.

“Please feel free to share this information. I am happy to answer any question you might have. Otherwise, you can find everything by going to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/ArchivesofOntario.

“All the best,


Sean Smith
Senior Archivist
Archives of Ontario”

If you wish to contact Sean, please email info@phsc.ca and I will contact him.

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brass monkey time

frozen falls in late 1800s

Toronto. On January 8th, the Insauga website had an interesting article by Don Redmond titled, “Can Niagara Falls ever fully freeze over?“. Ignore the many, many ads and instead read the words and see the photos.

We had a speaker at one point who also discussed the falls freezing over. And we learn from Mr Redmond that at a few times in past years, it did look like the falls froze, but underneath the ice, the water still flowed on its way to Lake Erie.

A thank you is due to my good friend and fellow photo enthusiast, George Dunbar, for discovering and sharing these photos.


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a colourful projection 

A Kodak 2A projector shown in an October, 1949 ad for Kodak projectors, etc.

Toronto. Most of you don’t remember seeing colour slides let alone colour projectors. I used to buy the Kodak frames to hold self-developed 35mm transparencies by Agfa (colour slides) in those pre-carousel days.

A household  iron sealed the each Kodak frame (folded in half over the single colour transparency). If you avoided touching the delicate transparency with the iron, a projectable and viewable slide resulted.

A few years after WW2, Kodak promoted some new ideas like colour movies, Kodachrome slides, and the then ubiquitous slide projectors. Once the innovative Carousel series from Kodak hit the market, slide projector design changed forever.

A few decades later, when smart phones and the digital wave hit, even the Carousel design and its competitors disappeared into history.

In this post, we have an interesting advertisement from 1949 courtesy of George Dunbar and his investigation of ads and articles that reflect North American photographic history in the last century.

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miracle projector

1949 ad for a so called ‘miracle’ projector

Toronto. The toy advertised back in November, 1949 was hardly a new invention since opaque projectors had been around for decades. This dinky little box sat on a picture about 3×4 inches and  projected it on a screen a few feet away. A light reflecting off the picture etc was bounced up and though a lens.

Professional projectors of this type  had cooling fans and very high wattage bulbs. A book page or picture was bounced through a much larger lens on to a screen further away. The far brighter image was used by educators and institutions. Even fancier machines called epidiascopes could project both opaque subjects and glass slides.

A thanks to George Dunbar for spotting the ad and sharing it. Brings back memories of the decades before cheap scanners and computers when both the cheap toys and the far heavier and expensive professional models saw much use.

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PHSC News newsletter for March 2022

a San Francisco camera obscura from the 1970s

Toronto. The Camera Obscura shown here is from the right top of page 1 in this month’s PHSC News newsletter. The ‘Giant Camera’ once in San Francisco, California, was coloured like a huge Ektachrome box.

What do you know? It’s January, 2023 already. Most COVID rules have disappeared but the pandemic is still around – much diminished by vaccines and sensible practices.

Our interim editor, Etaoin Shrdlu, and team have produced a great  issue of PHSC News for you.  PHSC News (22-01) has the usual bunch of articles – short, crisp, and ripe for argument. Take a few moments and read them and feel inspired (or irritated) once again.

BORN TO BE WILD on page 1 touches on a motorcycle from the great war (WW1) and its photo. Page 2 is a blatant request for volunteers to augment the PHSC executive – time on your hands? – contact us! Page 3 & 4,  under NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT and MORE NEGATIVES looks at lost negatives discovered by our staff. Page 5 is the poster advertising our January talk by Lorne Shields. In David’s EQUIPMENT REVIEW (upbeat and cheeky as usual) he looks at repurposing your film enlarger in this digital era. Page 8 covers OTHER FUN EVENTS. And as usual, we wrap up this issue on page 9 with our editor’s, ‘THE BACK PAGE‘ compilation of shows and wanted ads of interest to collectors & photographers everywhere.

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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1949 ad for the Pixie 16mm film cassette camera made in Hollywood

Toronto. Can you imagine a “fine precision camera” for only $6.25 US including a roll of colour film, shipping and all taxes? No? I can’t either, but that is what the makers claimed in this  July, 1949 ad.

The cheap plastic “wrist” camera was actually a box camera with a special film cassette that made “Big 4 x 5 inch prints”. The Pixie in McKeown’s 11th edition price guide was sold by Whittaker down in L.A. and valued at about 10x the original price without the 16mm cassette of colour film. It was sold around 1950.

Our thanks goes to my good friend George Dunbar for  sourcing and sharing this advertisement

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announcing the tiny Raspberry Pi camera module 3

Toronto. As collectors, we think of film and plate cameras as from well known makers with sizes from the Minox (sub-miniature) up. When digital came along, most digital cameras emulated their minicam film brethren in size and style.

This changed with smart phone cameras. A camera module was tucked into almost every smart phone, whether wanted or not. The module with lens and sensor was downright tiny. In many cases the price point and size took precedent over name.

My iPod Touch has a relatively old 8 MPX sensor and a lens equivalent to a 35mm focal length in angle of view (about 54 degrees horizontally). Recently Raspberry Pi announced its tiny camera module 3 with nearly a 12 MPX sensor and autofocus for $25 US up. The image at left is courtesy of ZDNET (ZD stands for Ziff Davis, who published magazines when I was a kid).

With smart phones, we no longer fuss over adequate lighting, camera make, lens design, etc. Instead we shoot and send the beautiful colour images world wide. The tiny camera shoots and combines multiple images for a good (steady, correct lighting) shot, often in HDR. Amazing!

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a brighter view

Ad for a Kodak Reflex II camera in April, 1949

Toronto. One issue that Kodak likely had with its folders and box cameras was tiny, dim, viewers. Kodak solved this problem in many ways. One was advertised in the April, 1949 issue of Popular Mechanics – a TLR with a fresnel lens behind the ground glass.

The fresnel lens is like a plano- convex or bi-convex lens smashed down to make it light (often made of plastic – you likely saw the letter size plastic sheet magnifiers that use a fresnel lens to make the magnifier flat and light – they were popular a few years ago).

Kodak called its TLR camera the ‘Kodak Reflex II Camera’  It was basically the original Reflex with a built-in ‘Ektalite Field Lens’ or fresnel lens under the original ground glass. The model II was offered from 1948-1954 according to McKeown’s guide.

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