where the big boys are

April 1954 ad for Kodak’s 620/828 Chevron

Toronto. Post war serious photographers migrated to the 2-1/4 inch format on 120 roll film. Instead of 120, Kodak had a proprietary 620 version.

The short lived Chevron (1953-1956) was Kodak’s high end camera replacing the massive Medalist which was first released in 1941. As an homage to the tight fisted and amateur brigade, an adaptor allowed 828 film to be used in the Chevron.

The ad shown appeared in the April, 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics. It is shown here courtesy of George Dunbar who sent the ad along after his research spotted it. The Chevron was a classic, short lived design created and made on this side of the Atlantic.

Note: The post title is a riff on the title of the song , “Where the Boys Are“, released by Connie Francis in 1961.

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the long and the short of it

Frank Wendt captures the tallest man in the world, Capt Geo Auger (in 1905) then living in Lansing MI

Toronto. In the late 1800s, dime store museums  all had so called freak shows. The people featured in these shows often frequented nearby studios. One such studio at 229 the Bowery in east New York City, was operated by Chas Eisenmann.

His story and photos were featured in the late Michael Mitchell‘s book, “Monster of a Guilded Age“. When Eisenmann called it a day in the Bowery, Frank Wendt took over his studio and practice for a few years before moving to Boonton  NJ.  The image shown at left was taken at his Boonton studio.

This photo was spotted by my good friend, George Dunbar, in his tireless pursuit of photographic history.  George refers to this link in a blog called, “Dull Tool Dim Bulb“. The info on Wendt’s operation of the old Eisenmann’s studio is from an article here.

NB. here’s the theme from Cheers, an old TV series (1982-1993). To me it is appropriate since another Wendt (George Wendt) was one of the two ‘barflies’ at Cheers. Also Cheers was shot in a bar just down the street in Boston from the original “Cheers” (saw both the TV version and the original years ago).

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a different flashlight …

Graflex advertises its Stroboflash III electronic flash in the mid 1950s

Toronto. In the 1950s, one of the big fresh eggs was the portable electronic flash. Mind you the cost would buy a lifetime-plus of flash bulbs and guns for most serious or beginning amateurs.

In the December, 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics, Graflex advertised its ‘new’ StroboFlash III with a 200 watt-second flash. The extremely brief flash was the equivalent of daylight and once connected, simple to use and reliable.

In any case, as electronic flashes became smaller and cheaper they became firstly hot shoe accessories, then built-ins. Today’s smartphone cameras have an even tinier built-in flash that can be set to on/off/auto. The huge and heavy external strobes of yesterday are but a memory now – brought to mind when we see ads like this.

Thanks is due George Dunbar for sharing this touch of history (nearly 70 years ago) with us.

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combatting deep fakes

The Leica M11-P camera takes photos with built-in content credentials – courtesy of IEEE Spectrum article

Toronto. Unless you have being living ‘off the grid’, you have heard about artificial intelligence (AI) and deep fakes. Even TV programs have addressed the issue where a ‘deep fake’ is made by using images of a person and possession(s) to be combined by AI into something that never happened. This also happens with stills which are addressed in the following.

A recent article in the IEEE Spectrum by Matthew Smith called, “First camera with built-in content credentials verifies photos’ authenticity” discusses how credentials and hardware (cameras) are beginning to combat this sinister situation for stills. The first camera to offer this protection is the digital Leica M11 shown here.

This reminds me of the old Mad magazine stories about  “Spy vs. Spy” where each action sparks a counter action (or today’s battled between hackers and computer counter action).

Our thanks to George Dunbar for spotting and sharing this article on this very modern issue.


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people, places, things

People, Places, Things exhibition at Stephen Bulger Gallery

Toronto. The Stephen Bulger Gallery is hosting an exhibit from November 18, 2023 to December 23, 2023 of people the gallery represents and more.

Stephen writes, “Our exhibition will contain highlights of work made by the artists and photographers the gallery represents, as well as a selection of secondary market items owned by the gallery, and the many consignors who entrust us with finding new homes for the photographs that have enriched their lives.

“The collection of photographs spanning over 150 years includes works covering a variety of genres, processes, and intent. Acknowledging photography’s ability to provide masterworks at many levels of quality, photographs will be priced to fit a variety of budgets. Photographs will be available to purchase and collect before the exhibition closes in recognition of the holiday season.”

For those PHSC members in southern Ontario who collect photographs, this will be a great opportunity to augment their collections.

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fingering the press

Photo of Lady Diane by Alison Jackson courtesy of Westlicht

Toronto. An honourable branch of photography is news photography. While many news photographers work for a specific newspaper or agency, many are  free lance. Of the group, a small subset caters to shooting celebrities incessantly and trying to flog the results to gossip magazines or the yellow press. Collectively, such photographers are known as  ‘paparazzi’.

The term ‘paparazzi‘ means ‘mosquitoes’ in Italian slang. Victims of paparazzi try their best to avoid or lose these pesky nuisances but not always with success – witness the deadly consequence such an attempted evasion had on Diane.

WestLicht in Vienna is featuring photographs by paparazzi in an exhibition of the same name from Nov 24 this year through to February 11, 2024. Have a look at the site.


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name game

the name game – a Leitz ‘Xenon’ with a Taylor-Hobson Patent number

Toronto. Shortly after the Leica was first marketed, Leitz standardized the lens-to-film distance and offered a group of interchangeable lenses suitable for any camera. To compete with the Johnny-cum-lately CONTAX by the mighty Zeiss factories, Leitz looked to others to complement their line of lenses. It looked to Schneider for a fast f/1.5 50mm lens.

The Xenon was offered from 1936. Marked Leitz, it used the Schneider Xenon name. In all, a bit over 6,000 were made including around 165 or so in 1936. Exported lenses were marked with the Taylor-Hobson patents (some British and US; other US only).

In 1949, a few years after WW2 ended, A redesign of the lens was named Summarit and the Schneider designation of Xenon was dropped. About 65,000 lenses of this newer design were made (including the bayonet mount version of nearly 40,000) until it was discontinued after 1969.

Come out to Sunday’s auction – you may get the 1936 Xenon lens (in beautiful condition)  for your own collection!

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executive meeting No 41 by ZOOM

Toronto. The executive meeting  Wednesday evening, November 1st, 2023, was the 41st held via ZOOM. A small group of us met for a pleasant and productive session (Psst, please note our membership year now ends next month, December 31st).

Our November newsletter (under new editor Katrin Faridani) is being written. Remember, if you prefer a personal copy of the newsletter but haven’t yet joined the PHSC, drop me an email at news@phsc.ca and I will add you.

As to a new Membership Secretary, drop me a note to forward to Clint if you can help as a volunteer (in this or possibly any other executive position, or at any of our events). Use this email address: info@phsc.ca.

Our next Toronto meeting will be our November Auction this Sunday.  The Estate auction in September was very successful, and we have more estate lots on hand to do a sequel this month. With Clint’s skilled camera work, we now have 193 of those lots on the web along with a pdf version of the lot descriptions.

a few lots at our Estate Auction/Toronto Monthly Event this Sunday, Nov 19th.

Co-editor David Bridge gave us an overview of the status and the present work in progress on the next issue of our journal. A draft version was just released recently for proofing. Well done David!  It should be noted that both David and his partner, Louise also wrote articles for this edition (ps – the new green trim is awesome).

We are currently updating out MailChimp data. If you are a It is important to us that you are notified for each new journal edition. If you are a member but DO NOT see a notification for any journal since you registered/renewed, please email me at info@phsc.ca.

As I noted before, like many other societies, the online pdf-only version of our journal will remain. PS. Gary Perry held his CAMERAMA show November 12th, and is planning to hold the next one on February 2nd, 2024. How time flies!

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moon shot

test unit of the first telescope on the moon – including a film cartridge

Toronto. The year my first child was born, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was an exciting time for all. And photography proved its worth by capturing space images on the moon, not earth.

Years earlier, I learnt in school that the biggest challenge we faced to reach the moon and planets was to get enough speed/power to break free of earth’s gravity and atmosphere.

My good friend, George Dunbar, in his pursuit of photographic history came across this telescope used to film images from a base on the moon.

George writes, “The first telescope used on another world was the lunar surface camera designed by George Carruthers of the Naval Research Laboratory, one of the few African American scientists to work on Apollo. The Smithsonian has a qualification test unit with the actual film cartridge brought back from the Moon.”

Appropriate music for this post would be Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – one of the first classical pieces I ever heard. It is played here by Kassia.

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I’se the b’y that writes the book …

Fishing Village by A C Shelton, c1941

Toronto. In 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador formed the last and 10th province of Canada, Joey Smallwood as head of Newfoundland negotiated the transfer of this beautiful and rugged land from England control to Canada. 1941 saw a brief history with photographs written by A C Shelton and published by E P Dutton in NYC. The book was archived by Memorial University in St John’s and was discovered by my good friend, George Dunbar.

George writes, “Some photographs of Newfoundland by Alfred Cooper Shelton, from his 1941 book, ‘Newfoundland Our North Door Neighbor‘.”

The illustrations were selected by Shelton from photographs he took. Once again photography expands our knowledge and understanding of history! Click the link and enjoy the pre-confederation history of our 10th province (I spent a time in Labrador in the late 1950s).

NB. The title of this post is a riff on a line in an old Newfoundland jig that I like, “I’se the b’y” sung here by the Great Big Sea.

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