Archiving Photography During a Pandemic – September PHSC Talk

Toronto.  ** PLEASE NOTE – THIS A REVISION TO THE ORIGINAL SEPTEMBER 7th POST ** Stephanie Normand and Nicole Plaskett of The Canadian Heritage Photography Foundation have worked tirelessly during pandemic lockdowns to preserve and digitize important Canadian photography. Stephanie and Nicole will also provide a look at online exhibitions to be unveiled later this year..

Join us on September 15th, 2021 at 8 pm (we begin around 7:30 with a social get together – all welcome) via ZOOM. Read the poster below for more information. This poster was created by our PHSC News editor Sonja Pushchak and shows her delightful turn of words.

Go to Eventbrite for free tickets or to [email protected] with any questions.

PHSC presents – with members of the CHPF via ZOOM September 15th, 2021

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… under the sun.

PHSC OUTDOOR FALL CAMERA FAIR – SAT. Oct 2nd, 2021. Trident Hall

Toronto. I grew up with the King James version of the Bible. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says in part, “… there is no new thing under the sun.”. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when our indoor Fall Fair became seriously doubtful due to COVID restrictions.  Since we had a good Trunk Sale, we decided an outdoor fair at the same location would work. Our newsletter editor agreed, but suggested a name change and the PHSC “Outdoor Fall Camera Fair” was born.

Come out and join the festivities. We moved up the start and end time from the Trunk Sale times in recognition of the traditionally cooler weather. The date, as shown on the poster is SATURDAY, October 2nd, 2021.  Email [email protected] for reservations. Attendance for buyers and browsers is free – Beverages and food will be available too! Need directions? Use those shown here on an old Fall Fair book mark. TTC access and Free Parking!


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Oh, to be in Montreal in the fall …

Montreal Camera Show this fall

Toronto. When I was at University “dans la belle province“, fall was a delightful time of the year. Studies began anew; weather was warm; skies were sunny; and an afternoon walk up Peel street to Mount Royal was bracing. But see for yourself this month on the 19th.

PHSC member Sol writes about his Montreal Camera Show as follows. “Le Montreal Camera Show aura lieu dimanche 19 septembre entre 9:30 h et 14:30h au Marriott Courtyard Montreal Airport, situé au 7000 Place Robert-Joncas, Montreal, H4M 2Z5.

“Achat, vente et échange de tout matériaux photographiques, numeriques , neufs et usagés: caméras, objectifs, flash, filtres, trépieds, films etc..

“Visiteurs: $7 Ã la porte. Songez-vous vendre votre équipement? Location de table: $75 par réservation seulement. SVP, veuillez contacter Solomon Hadef au 514-898-5351. PLUS QU’UN MARCHÉ AUX PUCES!

“VEUILLEZ NOTER: Selon les règlements gouvernementaux, toutes les  participants (visiteurs et vendeurs) seront priés (requis) de fournir une preuve de vaccination complète, ainsi qu’une pièce d’identité légale. Ce qui ne peuvent pas se conformer sera pas autorisé à accéder la salle. 

“The Montreal Camera Show will take place Sunday, September 19th between 9:30am and 2:30pm at the Montreal Courtyard Montreal Airport, located at 7000 Place Robert-Joncas, Montreal, H4M 2Z5.

“BUY-SELL-TRADE. Everything photographic, new or used, film and digital, cameras, lenses, flash, tripods, filters, film, accessories etc..

“Visitors: $7 at the door. Thinking of selling your unused or unwanted gear?? Table rentals are $75 each. Reservations required. Please call Sol Hadef at 514-898-5351


PLEASE NOTE: As per current government regulations, all visitors and sellers will be required to provide proof of complete vaccination, as well as a piece of government ID. Those who cannot comply will not be allowed entrance to the show.

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how to fail without really trying …

April 1949 ad for B&H FOTON 35mm camera

Toronto. “What the heck is a photon, anyway?”, you may ask. Actually, it is a measure of light. In 1948, Bell & Howell misspelt the word to create a unique name for its still camera, as is often the case (think Canon, Beatles, etc.).

The Chicago firm, known for its professional motion picture gear used in Hollywood and around the world since about 1910, decided to jump into the still camera market with a 35mm camera called a FOTON. The engineering was intended to exceed the specifications and quality of the best of the German industry (Leica, Exakta, Contax).

Unfortunately, at $700 American retail, it was priced well above the best of the German 35mm cameras. Worse, the price was dropped a couple of hundred dollars shortly after introduction further eroding support. The FOTON was a marketing failure, disappearing into the fog of history by the very early 1950s. It was touted as an interchangeable lens camera, and telephoto lenses eventually showed up but nothing shorter (wide angle) than the original 50mm lens.

Very few of these cameras seem to have been made, making the FOTON very collectible by those with deep pockets and a good knowledge of camera models.

This advertisement appeared on page 34 in the April, 1949 issue of Popular Photography. My thanks to good friend George Dunbar for sharing his diligent research into photographic history with us. NB. The FOTON link above goes to Mike Eckman’s web site and is a very good read.

Note: The title of this post is a riff on a book, musical and movie from mid last century called, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying“.

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do you remember Marilyn?

Monroe by Kirkland courtesy of Gadcollection, Paris, France

Toronto. Do you remember my post just over three years ago on April 15, 2018 in those pre-COVID days?  Well, our friends at GadCOLLECTION over in Paris are hosting another Kirkland exhibition this fall from September 3rd to October 10th (2021).

If you are in Europe this fall, be sure to visit GadCOLLECTION and see this showing of images taken by the famous Douglas Kirkland. Who knows, you just might improve your collection with a few “future historic” photos.

By the way, Kirkland was born in Fort Erie, Ontario but has worked most of his life in the States where he currently lives.

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drumming up business

drumming practice c1960

Toronto. In November, 2003, we had the privilege of hearing well known photographer, the late Paul Hoeffler, talk about his experiences as a youth photographing jazz musicians in the Rochester area. Back then, Paul knew and photographed many once celebrated jazz musicians.

Later, he made many large high quality prints from his negatives. Paul’s was a cautionary tale. Doing photography for a client and being paid was a very positive experience. However; trying to sell high quality prints to others long after the shoot proved to be very difficult.

Studios took portraits only on demand and  rarely printed such works before payment in hopes someone else would buy the prints. In fact, very few people were willing to pay the price asked for high quality, large size photographs of celebrities. Going to a live show and photographing the musicians in action, hoping to print and sell the laboriously created photos later, was a huge gamble for any photographer.

Over the years, many professional photographers presenting to us have noted payment or commissions up front were good but unsolicited sales were a challenge – be they to individuals, or media like magazines, newspapers, etc.

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marks the spot

Ad for Argus 21 showing how their Markfinder works

Toronto. After the end of the war, all camera makers used marketing to try to increase market share. Even the most trivial difference between camera makers was touted as an amazing breakthrough.

For example, Safavieh Suzani Collection SZN101A Hand-Hooked Boho Premium Wool chose the viewfinder of their model 21 camera as the “next big thing”. Their strategy was to give an oversized view through the finder and use a translucent moveable frame. As the lens focussing adjustment was moved towards closer focus, the frame moved from top right to bottom left (no rangefinder on this model).

A simple demonstration in the camera shop was meant to confirm the sale! The full advertisement appears when you click on the above-left icon of the camera (and flash gun).

A big thanks to my good friend, George Dunbar, for suggesting this ad from page 33 of the February, 1949 edition of Popular Photography. Looking through the magazines over many months two things strike me; first the intended audience is or wants to be in photography; and second, anyone in the reading audience is a rank beginner anxious to ‘learn’ about this fascinating record maker and art form.


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ZOOM EXEC #18 September 2021

Toronto. Who would have thought a year and a half ago that COVID would still be a threat;  that a FOURTH wave would be here; and that we would still be resorting to ZOOM? Mind you, online has its own virtue – executive (or presenter, or audience) can be anywhere with no travel issues/costs. Have computer, will travel to paraphrase an old TV show.

Our ZOOM host Celio tested out some new backgrounds like the one shown below but we ended up going the traditional route. A few major changes again this month. Our fairs and shows are moving to SATURDAY now that there is no longer a need to use SUNDAY. And the indoor FALL FAIR this October is in jeopardy so we decided to go outdoors with a new OUTDOOR FALL FAIR at the same location as last month’s Trunk Sale – Trident Hall lawn and parking area on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2nd, 2021. We expect to have both food and beverages this time.

a new backdrop tried out this time

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having a heat wave

Sanderson Tropical Camera c1920 – image courtesy of Leica Camera Classics GmbH

Toronto. Sometimes at our fairs, shows and auctions, you see a plate or roll film camera made of varnished wood and may think the leather or leatherette material had been removed. Well, that may not be the case. Cameras for use in the tropics must survive high heat, humidity, bugs, mould, dirt etc.

Metal parts must be non rusting; the tiniest cracks and holes sealed; and mould and moisture proof materials used. Anything less is a walking disaster! It was found that leather/leatherette easily succumbed to moisture mould so cameras were simply varnished wood- preferably teak or mahogany. All metals parts were made of brass and often coated too. Metal and plastic cameras could be used if designed for tropical climates.

I once met  a fellow who spent months on an installation in the heart of South America. He used an Exakta with a Biotar lens. He told me the climate there was merciless on his camera. Frequent cleaning of the lens front element to remove moisture before a photo was taken had resulted in the lens being so frosted that I was surprised it even worked!

The camera shown above is featured in  Leica Camera Classics GmbH in Vienna. The price asked shows just how desirable these “tropicals” are today if in decent condition. Click on the link to see what this high end shop features – you may want to augment your collection!

Note: the post title is a line from Irving Berlin’s Rolling Clay Machine, Machine 7 Clay Machine, Auxiliary Tool Pre. Here it is sung by Ethel Waters back in 1933.

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King of America

Ad for the Ermanox camera with a 100mm f/2 Ernostar lens c 1924 or 5

Toronto. Nearly a century ago, there was a race on to create a faster lens. Such a lens would allow photos  indoors and at night using natural light.

In 1924 Ernemann announced the Ermanox plate camera (4.5×6 cm) with a 100mm f/2 Ernostar lens. Two years later the company was merged into Zeiss-Ikon and the camera was rebadged as a Zeiss-Ikon. Shortly after introduction, the camera was offered with a slightly shorter focal length lens about 1/6th stop faster, the 85mm f/1.8 Ernostar.

The camera was made famous by Dr Erich Solomon a few years later. He became Germany’s first ‘photojournalist’. He later moved on to a Leica. You can see one here with a roll film back attached.

A tip of my hat to good friend and fellow photo historian, George Dunbar, for showing us this amazing advertisement. Today, you may wonder why all the fuss about an f/2 or f/1.8 lens. That is, until you realize how pathetically slow the media (glass plate or film) was at that time when ASA 100, the lowest ASA/ISO these days, was considered incredibly fast!

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