a CHPF off the old block

Gears down east by George Hunter, courtesy of the CHPF online digital collection

Toronto. Back on March 22, 2021, I did a post on the CHPF photo contest. Tusday afternoon I heard directly from Nicole Plaskett on a new on line image facility.

Nicole writes, “The Canadian Heritage Photography Foundation (CHPF) is excited to announce the launch of over 4000 images digitized through our recent project: Through the Lens of George Hunter: Digitizing and Preserving Photographic Images of Quebec and the East Coast 1940-1990. This project was made possible in part by Library and Archive Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program 2020/2021.

“The images of Quebec and the East Coast of Canada, photographed by acclaimed photographer George Hunter, cover a wide area and feature diverse communities, industry and landscapes from all across the provinces.  There are photos of mining communities in northwestern Quebec like Malartic, French communities in New Brunswick like Bouctouche, and small fishing villages in Nova Scotia like Pictou.  Also digitized are some of Hunter’s aerial photographs both of more remote regions, as well as more well-known sites such as the Bay of Fundy, Quebec City and Peggy’s Cove.

“This year presented unique challenges to say the least. The dedicated CHPF staff and team of student interns had to deal with delays, strict covid protocols, and working from both home and in the office. Despite these challenges, all 4000 images were digitized and are now available online through the CHPF Digital Collections at: https://www.thechpf.com/digital-collections

“We hope you all enjoy these beautiful images and the many others in our ever growing digital archive!”

 

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Photographic Canadiana Supplement 2-3 (April 2021)

Phootgraphic Canadiana Special Supp 2-3 cover

Toronto. The PHSA’s  Northlight appears once again in our special members-only supplement, this time its first two issues from 1974. As a member of the PHSC, you received this supplement Friday, the 9th of April.

Vol 2-3 was sent out last Friday afternoon to all current members with an email address. If you did NOT get a copy, please email me at info@phsc.ca and I will send you a copy 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! And you can donate to the society the same way via PayPal, or go to our Canada Helps entry on the link below the PAY NOW button.

The preamble to 2-3 says, “The NORTHLIGHT was the Journal of the Photographic Historical Society of America, once published quarterly. The Photographic Historical Society of America became a formal organization in November of 1973, and the first issue of their journal came out in the spring of 1974 with John S. Craig as editor. Eaton S. Lothrop Jr, Matthew R. Isenberg and Nathan R. Skipper Jr. functioned as the advisory board. Several other societies were involved in the publication: The Ohio Camera Collectors Society, Midwest Photographic Historical Society, Chesapeake Antiquarian Photographic Society and the Western Camera Collectors Association.

“In their first issue, John Craig stated that NORTHLIGHT was destined to become the magazine of photographic collectors and historians everywhere. As the journal of the Photographic Historical Society of America, it was to report in each issue on the activities of affiliated and participating societies in the PHSA and was to provide a calendar of events for these societies around the country.

“Following in this PDF is the NORTHLIGHT Issues Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1974 and Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 1974.

“In an effort to make this material available to collectors, historians and those interested in the history of photography, this content was digitized by the Photographic Historical Society of Canada (PHSC) and Milan Zahorcak in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for distribution to PHSC members. If you have any questions or would like higher resolution scans of any of the images, please contact the PHSC at info@phsc.ca.”

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future history

Mock-up of Ingenuity flight cortest of NASA News

Toronto. The title of this post may sound like an oxymoron but it isn’t. The American agency, NASA, successfully landed an explorer and a tiny helicopter (drone) on Mars a few weeks ago.

The helicopter, Ingenuity by name, has a camera on board and will take photographs of the red planet from up to 3 metres high.

Keep in touch with NASA News as details unfold.

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baker’s dozen

Toronto. We held our 13th ZOOM exec meeting Wednesday evening. And once again, Celio deserves a huge thank you for arranging it in spite of his busy teaching schedule at post secondary institutes. The third wave has whacked Toronto into total lockdown and stay at home status. ALL live events are still cancelled and our monthly meeting venue (North York Memorial Hall) remains closed.  Meantime vaccinations race on.

The April issue of our newsletter, ‘PHSC News’,  goes out this month to nearly 1,900  addresses (sign up at news@phsc.ca for your 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 us or with MailChimp. Questions? Drop me a note at info@phsc.ca.

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a photo’s back pages

Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange, courtesy of MoMA Magazine

Toronto. In the dirty thirties, the FSA in the States was busy recording the impact of the severe dry spell and depression on farmers. Dorthea Lange was one of their photographers. She captured this iconic image of a migrant mother and her three children in 1936 when the tiny family was in dire straits.

Decades later in 1979, photographer Bill Ganzel managed to group the lady, Mrs Florence Owens Thompson, and three of her grown daughters for this retrospective photograph. One of NYC’s MoMA curators, Sarah Meister, unravelled the story of the photographs and Mrs Thompson and her girls. Ms Meister wrote an article for the MoMA Magazine titled “Piecing Together Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother” back on February 6th of last year before the nasties arrived.

My thanks to friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar for sharing this bit of photographic history.

Note: The title of the post is a riff on the 1964 song by Bob Dylan “My Back Pages

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a camera fit for a Queen

Queen Elizabeth II with Leica M3 c1958

Toronto. The German optical firm of Ernst Leitz began as a maker of optical objects including microscopes. In the mid 1920s to keep its factory open and staff working, Leitz began the sale and manufacture of the 35mm Leica camera (LEItz CAmera). Over the years, milestone microscope serial numbers were commemorated by awarding the instrument to a prominent individual. Perhaps this also occurred with camera manufacture.

Regardless, the Leica M3, meter, lens, and case were given to Queen Elizabeth II, an ardent family photographer and ardent collector, by the Ernst Leitz company in 1958. This, according to an article by Lucia Davies on the AnOther Magazine website dated May 18, 2012.

A big thanks and tip of the hat to my good friend, professional photographer,  and president of the PHSC, Clint Hryhorijiw, for suggesting this item.

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catching the wave

Polaroid ad from 1967 for special ASA 10,000 film

Toronto. My now elderly NEX-6 boasts a maximum ISO of 25,600 (so noisy only black and white images are okay). Back in 1967, a maximum ASA (ISO) unpushed, was around ASA 400 (Tri-X). This speed was far too slow to capture very brief pulses on an oscilloscope (an antique laboratory device that uses a cathode ray tube (CRT) to display alternating current and pulses as wavy lines with a horizontal axis of duration (time) and vertical axis of voltage).

Polaroid solved this dilemma by offering a super fast film/paper of ASA 10,000 and cameras that connected to the oscilloscopes to record such brief events. Nowadays even cheap digital cameras like my old NEX-6 have sensors with ISO ratings beyond Polaroid’s 10,000 ASA rating shown in this 1967 advertisement in their house organ.

Thanks due to good friend and fellow member George Dunbar for alerting us about this historic Polaroid medium.

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midnight on main

Night Scene in USA courtesy of Daniel Freeman, photographer

Toronto. Daniel Freeman of the UK is a photographer who enjoys taking night scenes. He writes, “Fascinated by the way the world appears at night, I am drawn by a compulsion to photograph in the times when everything is at its quietest. While the hustle and bustle recedes and recharges, I embrace the darkness to capture locations that rest silently under the cover of darkness and flaunt their beauty in the hours between dusk and dawn.

“I have specialised in night photography for over a decade, with travelling always at the forefront of what I do. The sense of motion and adventure are regular contributors to the discovery of locations, scenes and subjects, as well as the image creation itself. Whether the other side of the world or just a few miles from home, the feeling of tranquility and escapism offered by the night keeps me hooked. 

“I hold a Fellowship with the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and Qualified European Photographer (QEP) with the Federation of European Photographers (FEP) for my nocturnal work. My photography has featured in a number of online and print publications, and my photobook ‘Midnight on Main’ was published by Hatje Cantz Verlag in November 2020. I also hold a full PGCE teaching qualification and lecture at photographic seminars and education establishments.”

On March 29th of this year, the BBC News posted an article on Freeman called, “Photographing the ‘endless diversity’ of America by streetlight” covering his trip to the states to take photographs.

I don’t know just how George Dunbar discovers these websites, but I am grateful that he generously shares them with members of the PHSC executive – especially this website!

NB. Suzanne Vega’s haunting song “Night Vision” comes to mind when I see these wonderful images by Daniel Freeman.

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controlling the market

LIFE ad for new Kodak Pocket Instamatic film, projector, and cameras

Toronto. For decades Kodak controlled the film market by creating new film sizes and the cameras to use them. Heavy advertising prompted the ill informed public to buy the latest Kodak camera and use Kodak film.  An example is this May 5th, 1972 ad for the new Kodak ‘Pocket’ line of Instamatic cameras.

The popularity of subminiature cameras with their specialized films and the ever increasing film resolution (and cost of ingredients?) led Kodak to promote a new smaller Instamatic film size and associated cameras and projector. While resolution was still poor, small prints so common with cameras of the day would look fine to the target population.

When the 1972 Pocket stuff appeared on the horizon, colour and flash capability was the norm not the exception so every camera had a magicube flash socket and used the special smaller Instamatic Kodak color film. Even a slide projector was offered so customers could buy a slide projector for colour transparencies snapped with the new Pocket camera.

Thanks to good friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, for sharing this May 5, 1972 LIFE advertisement (pp13-16) and its bit of history with us. All back in the time when Kodak and film ruled the day.

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nearly as scarce as hens’ teeth

A fine example of a late period (c1880) camera suitable for wet-plate photogreaphy

Toronto. Have you ever seen an authentic wet-plate camera in fine condition? No? Brass lenses from the wet-plate period abound at fairs like ours, but few cameras exist and even fewer unrestored ones in top condition. And there is good reason.

Wet-plate photography was the time of large wooden view cameras, contact prints, and mainly studio bound photography. To be effective, the wet-plate media had to be applied to a glass-plate, exposed, and developed – all before the plate dried and its sensitivity plummeted.

The complexity of the process limited its use to the few professionals and advanced amateurs of the period resulting in a smaller number of cameras made and sold. While a wet-plate holder often had a trough at the bottom to collect the drips, and cameras were often made extra sturdy, that dripping goop used to sensitize the plate, hit the wooden parts, staining them black. Worse, over time, the goop rotted the wood rendering a well-used camera  junk. Keep the lens; toss the camera; good-bye history; good-bye.

Check out this page for “Trends in General Construction of Field Cameras“, part of the Pierce Vaubel web site. You can read mare about the collodion process used in Wet-Plate photography here.

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