Thursday, October 29, 2009

November Program:

Our speaker for November will be Andrew Bevington, Photography teacher at Amphitheater High School. Andrew is a Tucson native who began teaching in 2002 on the Tohono O’odham Reservation and moved to Amphi in 2004. He recently won a Fulbright Scholarship to Photograph Turkey: Secular & Sacred Spaces. His awards come from Photo Imaging Educators Association and Prix de la Photographie in Paris. He’s also had works in a number of publications. Andrew will talk about his experience teaching students to create bodies of work that convey a theme or idea using color psychology, symbol, metaphor, etc. to expand and extend the conceptual value of each image. It also encompasses the transition from film to digital and how he trains students to choose a form (film, digital, historical process, etc.) that enhances the meanings of their series. For the last few years, he has been trying to change the focus from preparing students to work as studio assistants to preparing them with a wide range of skills to succeed in the photographic industry. Click Here to Read More!

October Meeting Recap

At our October meeting, James Gregg shared the life and works of a photojournalist with us. His ability to get people to talk about their situations and then to take photos that catch the story is impressive. He called it taking “pictures with heart”. Pictures from his recent trip to Puerto Rico gave us an entirely new sense of the vibrancy of life there with glimpses of the more difficult sides of life.

James always carries a camera with him and noted that, as a photographer, he always looks for the “unexpected in the expected”. As a newspaper photographer, he is assigned some routine shoots—a high school football game, for example. James got the expected football shots, but also showed us an intriguing picture of a baton twirler performing with the band.
One of the most impressive sequences of shots was taken while James stayed with a homeless man in Tucson whom he had befriended. Taking a camera “I could afford to lose”, he went to live with the man for three days with not much more than bus fare in his pocket. James’ confidence to survive in such a potentially dangerous situation was rewarded with some amazing shots that give the viewer a real look and feel for the life of homeless persons.

There are some quieter moments when James is reviewing all the shots he takes. He may take 10,000 shots in a day in order to get just the shots to tell the stories.

James likes the life of a newspaper photojournalist and has covered stories from the difficulties along the US/Mexico border to the winter celebration at La Encantada when the fake snow rains down on the courtyard. Thanks, James, for sharing your photos and enthusiasm with us.
Late Breaking News: James Gregg just won two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for “His Own Fight” about a Tucson mixed martial arts fighter and in the achievement of craft/photography category.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Spy Cameras

September Meeting 2009
Our September program exhibited some of the cameras that have been made to take pictures surreptitiously. Why anyone would create a camera that required wet plates and looked like a big brass pistol is beyond anyone’s guess, but that was the first (from 1862) in a long line of disguised cameras. After that, Liz Whitaker showed slides of cameras disguised as purses, cravats, canes, binoculars and even bowler hats. Anyone attending WPHS meetings wearing a hat with a lens sticking out the top of it will be asked to remove the hat! Gerry Whitaker shared some cameras from his collection including the Expo (disguised as a railroad pocket watch, popular in early 1900s) and the Petal (a really small watch-looking device, featured in October, 1987 issue of the Smithsonian magazine). He also showed us a camera that could be hidden in a cigarette package, worn on the wrist or hung on a chain around one’s neck—the Tessina made in Switzerland in the ‘60’s. One of these was used in the Watergate burglary, but we don’t know who carried it. Gerry also had a special version of the Robot camera made for the Luftwaff in WWII which had a spring that would enable the camera to take several pictures with one winding. History has it that the pilot was to trigger the camera and then hold it out the window, taking pictures of whatever was below. (Should have just used Google Earth….)
Paul Garrett brought in a prized cigarette lighter camera, and it really works as a cigarette lighter. He also showed a large collection of miniatures including the Kombi, the first miniature roll film camera made in 1892. The little brass box was elaborately decorated and called a “Kombi” because it could be used both as a camera and as a viewer. Paul also showed us very small cameras from all over the world made in the 40’s and 50’s. The Mikronas from Czechoslovakia, the Minicord from Austria, the Rollei 16’s from Germany and the Mamiya’s and several “Hit” type cameras from Japan. He also had Hit style cameras from Germany and the US.
Jerry O’Neill presented miniature cameras from his collection and also from Joseph Pacholczyk. He showed us several of Joseph’s Minoltas that could easily be hidden in a pocket and used when no one was looking. Jerry’s Pentax 110 is still a very usable camera and was manufactured with a variety of lenses. The little Minolta XA4 took only macro shots and was intended for copying documents.
Any respectable spy in the late 20th century would have some Minox equipment. Paul brought in a whole collection of Minox cameras and accessories—lenses, tripods, flashes, right angle viewers and even an enlarger.
Of course, now all these great cameras have been replaced with digital spy cameras also in watches, pens, and even eyeglasses. The really great film cameras will live on in collections such as the ones we saw. Thanks to Gerry, Paul, Jerry and Joseph.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Return of Instant Film?

According to a recent article in Time Magazine a pair of Polaroid enthusiasts are making a run at once again manufacturing instant film. Florian Kaps and Andre Bosman, armed with almost three million dollars in private capital, founded a company named Impossible and have set out to come up with new formulas for the instant film. The first trial version of the film will go into production in October. Hang on to your old Polaroid camera.


Instant Photography After the End of Polaroid Cameras - TIME Click Here to Read More!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pieces of Time

A little piece of time. If you think about it, every time you take a photograph you capture a little piece of time on film. (I do, of course, refer to traditional photographic media for the purposes of this discussion as well as any other discussion I am likely to have in the forseeable future.) Everything stands still in the image, more or less, depending on how big a slice of time you have caught. Looking at images, you can see things exactly as they were when the images were made, be it a hundred years ago or yesterday.
Finding a cache of images from the past is a bit like traveling back in time. Kaye Treese has been traveling in time back to the the early 1900s, courtesy of his collection of glass plate negatives.
In 1948, Treese's family bought a house in Altoona, Pennsylvania from the family of local pharmacist Charles Rhodes. Although his profession was pharmaceutical, Mr. Rhodes interests were varied and obviously included the serious pursuit of photography; because in the attic of that house were the results of that interest, hundreds of glass plate negatives.
Prior to his death in 1948, Charles Rhodes, using a 4x5 camera recorded life in a small, early 20th century Pennsylvania town. Self portraits, parades, political rallies, social gatherings, all were subjects for his photography. It is interesting to reflect that the passage of time has lent a certain exoticism to these once everyday scenes and will do the same to the images that we make today, causing our everyday scenes to look quaint and old-fashioned 100 years hence.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Argus, Vershoor And Vokar

By Ron Kuykendall

In the early 1920’s,Charles Vershoor was an engineer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He started the Cavac Co. radio business about 1924. His first real success came in marketing his Arbor Phone radio. In 1931 he formed International Radio Corp on the success of his Kaydette –a 4 tube ac/dc home radio in a phenolic resin case available in many colors. A kit allowed the Kaydette to be used in an auto (first car radio ?). Another offering was a kit that allowed the Kaydette to be controlled from any room in the house. A two tube pocket radio (personal radio), and the Autime the first clock radio soon followed. Vershoor marketed thru neighborhood drug, jewelry, sporting goods and similar smaller retailers. There was a problem with the radio business however- in the summer people were outside and the radios were inside. The summer lull in sales forced Charles to lay off his workforce. A vacation in Europe looking at Leicas, Contaxes and Retinas made an impression. Cheap box and rollfilm cameras using 120,118,122,127 etc. were plentiful. Good cameras like he saw in Europe were expensive-$58 at the least. Why not market a summertime item (camera) priced so advanced camera users could desire and afford it.
He asked Gustave Fassin to design a small compact camera using the new 135 cartridge, with retractable lens, and a phenolic resin body. The first Argus had an Ilex fixed focus 4.5 lens with a diaphragm, sold in 1936 for $12.50. Once again Vershoor judged the market rightly-30,000 cameras in the first week- and his factory ran all summer,making Argus A’s from the same plastic as his Kaydette. Next was a full line of support items-enlargers, darkroom items, light meters and exposure guides, filters, flash units, and slide projectors for the new Kodachrome. His A became a series-A2, AF, A2f, A3,etc. Marketing of the C, C-2, C-3, was started. Graf Optical was bought to provide an in house optical department. The first non-135 film camera, the Argoflex was marketed and the line of radios was sold to concentrate on photography. Argus was second only to Kodak in the U.S. Suddenly Vershoor was ousted- a stockholder revolt- a little matter of excessive compensation from himself, shoddy fiscal management, undocumented expenses-sounds familiar.
With the wealth and reputation amassed from his Argus experience, Vershoor bought a smell factory and started a business. He engaged Richard Bills to design a new camera. The Vokar I was a heavy cast metal camera for 135 film with 2.8 three element anastigmat lens, a combined viewfinder rangefinder, and a shutter that was cocked as the film wind knob was turned-double exposure prevention. It shared the stamped metal aperature plate assembly and the captive take up spool of the Argus A-3 as well as the basic layout(although reversed) of the new C. The camera would be noted however for its film knobs enclosed in the top housing.
The Vokar A was marketed in 1940 while Argus marketed his A3/CC, the C and Argoflex. The Vokar A was simple a 6x6 120 rollfilm folding camera, with a 3 speed self cocking shutter, Ilex 6.3 lens, plastic body with film knobs on the bottom. The first series had a folding viewfinder-later Vokar A’s had a chrome top plate with an optical viewfinder. This unremarkable camera became quite remarkable in its marketing. Development of the Vokar I was delayed by WW II and Charles died in 1943.

With the return to civilian lifestyle,the Vokar B with cast metal top and bottom plate was marketed in1946. Some had a simple shutter and a meniscus lens in a plastic housing, a better version had a Wollensak anastigmat lens/shutter unit. Film knobs appeared both top and bottom. A mysterious Voigt( in Voigtlander script) identical to the simpler Vokar A without the cast metal plates appeared. A Voigt Jr was marketed with the meniscus lens assembly, top and bottom cast metal plates and with knobs on top. There was also a Wollensak version. Unlike the Vokar series, some of the Voigt series did not have lugs for a neckstrap-instead they sported a swivel ring in the center of the plastic back case.
A Wirgin Deluxe joined the party- with stamped metal plates, art deco graphics, and a hinged back- was identical to the Voigt Jr. A model 4.5 sported a Wirgin 4.5 Anastigmat and three speed shutter very similar to the Voigt Wollensak,with cast metal top and bottom plates and film knobs on top. A model 51 was the Voigt with chromed top and bottom plates, the Wollensak Velostigmat 4.5 and Alpax shutter. In most cases film knobs could appear top or bottom.
All body components of all versions were nearly identical or inverted. I have owned several of these cameras and have counted five lenses, three body variations, three viewfinders, three variations in strap attachments, and three different top/bottom units. The Wirgin brothers had escaped Germany before 1940, had established a Wirgin U.S.A. factory, possibly in N.Y. and may have manufactured at least the parts for these multiple versions. Vokar also marketed a number of darkroom items, a tank electric agitator and a slide projector very similar to the Argus PA, which also appeared under the Voigt, Sears and Vokar names.

In 1947 the delayed Vokar I appeared, a model II followed a few months later- identical except for the addition of two screws to the top cast metal housing. The Vokar lens/shutter unit was manufactured in a plant in Celina Ohio-apparently with little quality control. The shutter was a source of failure of as many as half of the cameras produced- a flood of returns bankrupted the company about 1950. One Vokar I have owned had a non working shutter-seemed to be of acceptable design but needed cleaning from a sticky lubricant. Another had an acceptable shutter but the lens image was terrible. They both looked nice sitting on my shelf- with their smug enclosed film knobs. The Vokar A and B series were priced at $15 to about $35 depending on the lens while the Vokar was advertized at about $75.
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June Program

Local amateur photographer, Kaye Treese, will make a presentation on June 4th from his collection of over two hundred 4” x 5” glass negatives he rescued in 1948 from a third floor attic of a house in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Kaye grew up knowing the photographer and his family well. Kaye will show samples of the negatives to illustrate the various aspects of his presentation.

Kaye lived in the area depicted in many of the shots that were taken circa 1910. He will describe the technology of glass negatives and how he acquired this group.

Kaye will give a brief history of the photographer, Charles Rhodes, and describe some of the techniques and equipment he used. Mr. Rhodes seemed to enjoy taking two shots and splicing them together into one interesting picture. The collection also has historical content and depicts life in the 1900s in small town Pennsylvania showing clothes, parades, political rallies, home interiors, funeral wreaths, parks and hunting parties.

Since moving back to Tucson in 1997, Kaye has spent many hours in darkrooms over a period of five years using various processes and media in an attempt to preserve the negatives and the images on them. He will describe the materials and processes he has used in these tasks that included contact printing, 8 x 10 printing, Kodak duplicating film making and now digitizing of the negatives.
Click Here to Read More!

Where The Money Goes

Liz Whitaker visits with Scholarship recipients Jessica Livengood (left) and Beatirz Duran (right)
By Ria Ryne

As everyone familiar with the Western Photographic Historical Society knows, each year we solicit scholarship applications from full-time college students majoring in photography. At $5,000 each, these scholarships enable our organization to have a significant impact on the lives of the students who receive them.
At the May meeting WPHS members and guests were given an opportunity to see where the money goes, when two scholarship recipients, Beatriz Duran and Jessica Livengood presented a program showing us how they spent the scholarship money awarded them and giving us a glimpse into their photography.
In the current economic climate, belt-tightening is going on everywhere, many organizations are forced to cut back on the assistance that they are able to provide to students and for many the much-needed help simply isn't there. At times such as these, it is important for us to reflect upon the difference we can make to an individual and by extension to the community at large. It is important for us to consider that a $5,000 scholarship may very well make the difference between realizing a dream and having to give up its pursuit. It is important for each one of us, as members of the Western Photographic Historical Society and therefore presumably in agreement with our mission of education to do whatever it is within our power to do to ensure that the WPHS is able to continue that mission.
So volunteer your time at the sale or auction, write an article for the newsletter, donate equipment you are no longer using. Remember, we're all in this together.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring 2009 Show Highlights

By Paul Garrett, Show Chairman
Our Spring 2009 show is behind us and was successful in attendance of public, show exhibitors, WPHS volunteer show committee participants and was within budget in all categories. All in attendance were very complimentary about all aspects and many indicated it was the best show we have fielded. All tables we had ended up selling and a couple of them twice. If you noticed, we used less space than the Fall 08 show but actually sold more tables, had more traffic and experienced a more vibrant and exciting show all day long!
Our Exhibitor count was up with some new faces from national dealers, international dealers from Canada & Germany as well as some additions from out of state. Our favorite out of town and in-state regular exhibitors also returned to complete a wide range of local, professional and WPHS member show participants.
We are very fortunate to have such a willing show committee with so many selfless individuals, many who have been with us for every show since they have joined.
Two shows annually, plus an auction, that are all successful, is not an accident but all because of the planning, preparation & follow through of all members of the committee. Had WPHS not been innovative, with so many involved members over the past 15 years, we would not be in such an enviable position and able to offer so many programs for photography students at all educational levels.
The show committee can always use more help and we invite you to join our ranks to help spread the load. Any questions or comments are always welcome. You can call me at 520-299-9117 or the WPHS phone 520-529-5072 or
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo Auction

Huge Auction
Hundreds of items: still cameras, cinema and over 150 large-format lenses. Auction date: Saturday, April 4, 2009 starts 12:00 noon, 38016 Euclid Ave. in Willoughby, Ohio, (outside Cleveland). Presented by Paul Fusco Auctions. 440-975-0163, or check
Bid on-line from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Click Here to Read More!

A Survey of the Photographic History of Arizona

Dr. Jeremy Rowe has collected, researched, and written about 19th and early 20th century photographs for twenty-five years. He has written Arizona Photographers 1850 – 1920: A History and Directory and Arizona Real Photo Postcards: A History and Portfolio, and curated exhibitions with many regional museums. He worked with the Library of Congress American Memory project, a digital historic photographic collection, and manages He is the Director of Research Opportunity Identification for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs at ASU.

He will provide a survey of the photographic history of Arizona, stepping through by process, using images from the cartes-de-visite, stereo, cabinet and boudoir eras, emergence of amateur photography in the 1890s and into the post card era. He will be using examples from his extensive collection in an interactive presentation..
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

48th Semi-Annual WPHS Camera & Photographic Show

Our 48th Camera Show is coming up on March 22 at the Inn Suites. Dust off your excess equipment and bring your checkbook. The WPHS will be offering “Digital Photography Demonstrations” during the show beginning at 11:00 AM and is free to all show participants. These sessions will cover ‘Introduction to Digital Photography’ and other subjects of interest to aspiring or prospective Digital photographers.
And here is the rest of it. We are continuing the streamlined approach of the offerings at the WPHS Consignment Table Area to afford more convenient access to our widely ranging types of photographica collectables, user equipment and other interesting material to our members, show exhibitors, local students and other interested “photo bargain hunters”. It’s a continual improvement attempt to make shopping friendlier & easing the pressure on our limited volunteer member helpers. Need a table? Call Paul Garrett at 520-529-5072 or e-mail
Click Here to Read More!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Get The Hell Out Of The Way!

From time to time when we’re working to get that perfect shot something, or in this case, someone gets in the shot at the critical moment. Notice the guy at the bottom of the frame? Good Grief! Is that our own Norwood Hazard? Sorry, Norwood. I just couldn’t resist taking the shot.
Ria Ryne and I arrived at 4:00 p.m. to get a prime parking spot to photograph the newly unveiled Mission San Xavier del Bac as they turned on the lights for a one night only event. After Ria set up her Deardorff 8x10 as well as her 12x20 banquet camera we attracted a lot of attention. In fact we were featured on the front page of The Northwest Explorer. There were an estimated 200 photographers present for the event, including Norwood Hazard.
More photos coming soon. Sorry girls, this is the only shot of Norwood.
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

WPHS 2009 Scholarships

The WPHS is offering two (2) scholarships in the amount of $5000 each for qualified juniors and seniors who are enrolled full time in a four-year college or university in Arizona and are pursuing degrees in photography or related fields.

The deadline for applying is April 15, 2009. The students selected will be notified by May 15, 2009.
Additional information can be obtained from the WPHS web site Click Here to Read More!

Consign Your Old Photo Equipment

The Western Photographic Historical Society is now accepting consignments for its March 22 Camera Show and Sale to be held at the Inn Suites Hotel. Let the WPHS (a non-profit organization) handle the details of pricing and selling your excess photo gear. The WPHS supports higher education for students interested in a career in photography. Call 520-529-5072 for details. Click Here to Read More!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kodak: The 20th century in Cameras and Advertising

With Liz and Buster
(Keaton, That Is)
by Ria Ryne

Kodaks everywhere. Big Kodaks, little Kodaks, your first Kodak, your Grandfather's first Kodak--they were all there, in spirit if not in fact, as Liz Whitaker was our tour guide on a trip down Kodak's Memory Lane. As impressive as the wide variety of cameras was, equally intriguing was the broad array of advertising materials on display.
Looking at the history of Kodak allows not only a look at the history of photography in this country, but also glimpses at fashion as well as significant events in world history. As an example of the latter, in 1892 a Kodak camera accompanied Peary to the North Pole.

The early Kodaks for the amateur photographer took advantage of George Eastman's pioneering work in developing a flexible film base, which eliminated the necessity of using cumbersome glass plates. Photography became accessible to non-photographers, to people who just wanted to take some photos on a picnic or a vacation.
Folding cameras, an even more convenient form, began appearing around 1890, the Brownie made its debut in 1900. As in indication of how popular these Kodak cameras were: around 1,750,000 Vest Pocket Autographic were sold.
The first 35mm cameras, (or as they were referred to then- "miniatures"), developed to utilize the film that was being produced for motion pictures, came on the scene in the 1930's.
The Kodak Retina series, still popular with shooters and collectors alike, was launched in 1934-35 with the original Retina (Type 117) and continued until 1960's when the Model S2 was the last of the line.
The Medalist, a photographic handful is ever there was one, the myriad 127 roll film Brownie cameras that were the first cameras for legions of budding photographers. (My first was a Brownie Starmite II, Christmas 1963. I still have it. I still shoot with it.) Who could forget the ubiquitous Instamatics? The ill-fated foray into the instant photo domain staked out by Polaroid?
So many cameras, so little time.

The presentation wound up with a film featuring Buster Keaton, the Great Stone Face himself, struggling through the ages to take a photo of his beloved, and stay out of the way of his beloved's Mother. I am sure that most in the audience could empathize with his photographic problems as well as his difficulties with his incipient mother-in-law.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Tandy Leather Factory Opens Retail Store in Tucson

Tandy Leather Factory, Inc. announced today that it is opening a new retail store in Tucson. Tandy Leather has possibly the largest array of leather available for camera repair and restoration in an accessible retail location. The new store is located at 6061 East Broadway Boulevard, Suite 118, between Craycroft and Wilmot and is open for business as of today.
Chief Executive Officer, Ron Morgan, commented, “We are excited to be opening a Tandy Leather retail store in Tucson. It should be a nice compliment to our Leather Factory wholesale store located approximately six miles away. We have a solid retail customer base in the Tucson area and believe we can expand that base with a local store. Krystal Wright will be managing the new store. She has been training in our Austin store for six months under one of our best training managers and has several years of customer service experience in the retail industry. I have no doubt that she will do well managing her own store.”
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