Beautiful Vintage Box Camera

I was strolling through a used camera shop over the holidays not looking for anything in particular and what to my wondering eyes did appear – an antique box camera sitting on the floor in a corner for god knows how long, as I picked up. I dusted it off and asked the friendly man at the counter WTH is this? He was only too happy to tell me it was a box camera. I was probably the first person to pick it up in 100 years much less inquire about what it was. As he explained to me what it was and how it worked, you simply aim and shoot, he was surprised it was in great condition. In fact, it was in such great condition, he wanted it for himself. Without thinking much about it, I paid the asking price of $20, bought some 120 B/W film and took it home.

The question was, now what am I going to do with this? Play with it of course!

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This was the first photo I took with my box camera. One thing I discovered – you have to remember to roll the film forward otherwise you end up with a double image, or in this case, 3 images. It does not advance for you – Oops

BC FENCEIf the subject is too close (less than 10ft away) it will appear blurry.

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This is the result if you don’t hold it steady. 

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The camera I have is a bit fancy for it’s day. It has a little metal tab that is you pull it out it has a yellow filter resulting in stronger contrast. This is something I need to experiment more with.

BC_FENCE SHADOW.jpegSimilar image without the yellow filter.

A Little History about the Brownie
First introduced by Kodak back in 1888, the box camera is one of the simplest forms of camera out there. Popular until halfway through the 20th century, they started to disappear as 35mm SLRs and rangefinders started to take over. The box was marketed by Eastman Kodak Co as the “Brownie”.

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Basic Operation
The Brownie operates under the simple idea of aim and shoot:

1: A shutter in the front of the camera is opened allowing light to pass through the lens. This light is reflected from the object being photographed.

2: As the light passes through the lens it forms an image of the object being photographed. As it continues through the lens, this image is inverted (turned upside-down).

3: The lens projects the inverted image onto light-sensitive film at the back of the box.

In order to keep the consumer’s cost low, the Brownies did not have the best lenses, shutters, internal mechanisms, or outer coverings. They were, however, of comparatively high quality for their day. A Brownie that was made in the 1940s, for example, if it was attended to under relatively good conditions and kept clean and in working order, may be relied upon to take reasonably sharp, clear pictures even today.

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Lenses
Most Brownies came with a fixed-focus lens, either meniscus (concave on one side/convex on the other, with light entering from the concave side) or doublet (two lenses of similar construction with the shutter mounted between them). The doublet lens provides a magnifying effect, however slight, that the meniscus cannot duplicate. The term fixed focus refers to a factory setting, on the Brownies usually from eight feet to infinity, at which sharp pictures could be taken.

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Shutters
In most cases, since simplicity was its greatest feature, the rotary shutter on a Brownie was either a single speed only. Early Brownies employed a shutter release lever on the lower right-hand-side of the box, whereas later models might have had a push-button. Shutter speeds for the Brownie could be pre-set anywhere from 1/25th to 1/50th of a second.

Apertures
Since the Brownie was by its very nature a camera that anyone could use, lens apertures were also pre-determined. Some, however, came with a feature that allowed a smaller lens opening to be used, on days with brighter sunshine and so forth. This was engaged by yet another lever located at the top center of the camera’s front panel which could be pulled up or pushed down for smaller or larger aperture, respectively.

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Viewfinders
Most Brownies had viewfinders with a reflex mirror assembly. Simply put, the camera had a window in front, a window at the top, and an angled mirror inside that connected the two. In order to compose the picture, it was necessary to hold the camera at about waist-level and look down into the finder. Once the subject was composed in the approximate center of the viewfinder, the shutter lever could then be depressed. There were no framing marks in the viewfinder. If the Brownie took square pictures (6 cm x 6 cm), it would have only one center viewfinder; if it took rectangular pictures (6 cm x 9 cm), it would have two finders, one on top and one on the side. In the case of the latter, the top finder was for portrait and the side finder for landscape pictures.

It is interesting to note here that many Kodak instruction manuals of the period advised the photographer to hold his breath when shooting a picture. This provided a simple method of making sure the camera stayed still during exposure.

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Photos taken with box camera around 1890s

Camera Body
Early camera bodies were constructed of either metal or leatherette-covered cardboard and were priced to match the construction. Later, with the development of Bakelite and other plastics, construction of the cameras was almost entirely given over to this “new” material, both inside and out, exception being given to lenses and internal shutter mechanisms.

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FILM
When the Brownies were first marketed, they came in all possible sizes and took all manner of roll films available at the time. Today, they take 120 roll film in black/white or color. When in the 1930s Eastman Kodak created 616 and 620 film (essentially the same size film as 116 and 120 but on a modified spool) to ensure that Kodak users used only Kodak film, the Brownie designs were altered to take these rolls. Eastman Kodak and all other film manufacturers had discontinued 616 and 620 film by the 1980s. Since 120 film is still in use as a “professional” film it is widely available, but in order for it to be used easily in a 620-roll film Brownie it must first be re-rolled onto a 620 spool.

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Women at a market stall about 1890

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Children paddling in the sea about 1890

Final thought – The camera I am holding so carefully in my hands was once cradled in the same way by another living person before I was born. I thought about this the first time I used it and will probably continue to think about each time I take a photo. With millions of instant photos taken every day, and posted to social media sites often without a thought, the Brownie has changed the way I look at picture making.

Photos – National Media Museum

 

Beautiful Photography by Lewis Hine

Child Labor Exposed: The Legacy of Photographer Lewis Hine

A camera was an improbable weapon against the growing evil of child labor in the early years of the 20th century. Then, children as young as five years old were working long hours in dirty, dangerous canneries and mills in New England.

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Lewis Wickes Hine, a former schoolteacher, cleverly faked his way into places where he wasn’t welcome and took photos of scenes that weren’t meant to be seen. He traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, exposing himself to great danger.  His exertions were ultimately rewarded with a law banning child labor in 1938. He was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Sept. 26, 1874, and came late to photography.

Lewis Hine was educated as a sociologist at the University of Chicago, during the years when John Dewey and Thorstein Veblen were on its faculty. He continued his education at New York and Columbia Universities, and taught at the School of Ethical Culture. (Among his students there was Paul Strand, whom Hine introduced to photography.) Hine was past thirty when he seriously took up photography; by instinct and by training he conceived of the medium as a means of studying and describing the social conditions around him. As a 30-year-old prep school teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City when he got a bright idea: He would bring his students to Ellis Island to photograph the thousands of immigrants who arrived every day. Over five years he took more than 200 plates; but more importantly, he realized he could use photography to try to end child labor.

CHILD LABOR COMMITTEE – In 1908, Hine got a job for the National Child Labor Committee, reformers who fought the growing practice of child labor. Between 1880 and 1900, the number of children between 5 and 10 working for wages had increased by 50 percent. One in six small children were then mining coal, running spinning machines, selling newspapers on the street or otherwise gainfully employed. They were robbed of an education and a childhood, trapped in a downward spiral of poverty.

Newsies – telegraph messengers and young mill workers were exposed to vice and abused by their employers, their customers and even their parents.

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Hartford newsboy Tony Casale, 11, in 1909. He had been selling newspapers for four years, and sometimes until 10 p.m. His boss said his father bit him on the arm for not selling more papers. Said Tony, “Drunken men say bad words to us.”

Graflax – Over the years, Hine photographed children working in gritty industrial settings that inspired a wave of moral outrage. With a new camera called the Graflex he took photos of child labor throughout New England. Hine was one of the masters of the splendid new camera. For the first fifty-odd years of photography, the photographer had to compose and focus his picture upside-down on a ground glass in the back of his camera, then insert the holder that held the sensitive plate. Once the plate was in the camera, the photographer was shooting blind, unable to change either his framing or his focusing. With the Graflex on the other hand, he saw his picture just as the camera would record it until the very instant that he pushed the trigger. This meant that he could frame his subject boldly, to the very edges of the plate; he could change his angle of view at the last moment; he could focus selectively on the most important plane of his subject, allowing the nearer and farther planes to be recorded out of focus. His picture is characteristic of the new kind of graphic economy and forcefulness that Hine helped discover for photography.

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Addie Card, a 10-year-old spinner in the North Pownal, Vermont Cotton Mill, 1910. Hine described her as ‘Anaemic little spinner.’ Her image appeared on a postage stamp and in a Reebok ad, and she inspired the novel ‘Counting on Grace.’

Hine traveled far beyond the giant textile mills of Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. He went to silk and paper mills in Holyoke, Mass., textile and upholstering plants in Manchester, New Hampshire, a cotton mill in North Pownall, Vermont, and cotton mills in Scituate, Rhode Island.

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Phoebe Thomas, an 8-year-old Syrian girl, at 6 a.m. She was on her way to work cutting sardines at the Seacoast Canning Co., in Eastport, Maine. Later that day she nearly cut her thumb off.

He went to the canneries in Eastport, Maine, where he saw children as young as seven cutting fish with butcher knives.  Accidents happened — a lot. “The salt water gets into the cuts and they ache,” said one boy.

RELUCTANT EMPLOYERS
Employers didn’t want their practices exposed. Photo historian Daile Kaplan described how Hine operated: Nattily dressed in a suit, tie, and hat, Hine the gentleman actor and mimic assumed a variety of personas — including Bible salesman, postcard salesman, and industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery — to gain entrance to the workplace. Hine might tell a plant manager he was an industrial photographer taking pictures of machines. At the last minute he would ask if a child laborer could stand near the machine to show its size. He also interviewed mill owners, parents and local officials, pioneering tactics still used by 60 Minutes.

hine-cigarmakersThe Factory: Young cigar makers in Engelhardt & Co. Three boys under 14. Labor leaders in busy times employed many small boys and girls. Youngsters all smoke. Tampa, Florida.

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Three boys, 13 and 14 years old, picking shade-grown tobacco on Hackett Farm. The “first picking” necessitates a sitting posture. Buckland, Connecticut.

Hine confronted public officials with evidence and asked for a response. He asked the children about their lives. He told one heartbreaking story about a child laborer who worked in a cannery, so young and beaten down she couldn’t tell him her name.

Russell Freedman, in his book, Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor, wrote,  “At times, he was in real danger, risking physical attack when factory managers realized what he was up to…he put his life on the line in order to record a truthful picture of working children in early twentieth-century America.”

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Miners: A young driver in the Brown Mine. Works 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Brown, West Virginia.

Years of political battles followed, until finally in 1938 Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law prohibits any interstate commerce of goods produced by children under the age of 16. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law on June 25, 1938.

By then, the public had lost interest in Lewis Hine’s work. He died two years later, broke, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. His son offered to donate his photographs to the Museum of Modern Art, but MOMA rebuffed him. Today, Hine’s photographs of child labor belong to collections at the Library of Congress and the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y.

The National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives.

And today there is a Lewis Hine award for people who have done outstanding work in helping young people.

 

Beautiful Photography

Mr Peter Lindbergh (1944) is the epitome of a rebellious spirit. He single-handedly changed the face of fashion photography, pushing boundaries and setting new standards along the way. The world-renowned German pioneer received his education in the early 1960’s at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts, where he nurtured his admiration for Vincent van Gogh. Relocating to the French village of Arles for a year, he literally walked in the Dutch painters’ footsteps. A move that reveals not just mild affection but true passion.

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After moving to Düsseldorf in 1971, Mr Lindbergh switched his focus from painting to photography. He quickly made a name for himself, joining news magazine Stern along with fellow photography rebels Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Hans Feurer. It was around this time Mr Lindbergh developed an unusual sense of individuality, revolutionizing fashion photography with his timeless, cinematic images.

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In the glamorous universe of VOGUE, Vanity Fair and W, he became known for his humanist approach and the idealization of women. It is the responsibility of photographers, he said, “to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.” I assume that includes pink birds with bowler hats…

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Mr Lindbergh launched the careers of supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford, all beaming with youthful joy on his famous January 1990 VOGUE UK cover. To this very day, he continues to be a force of nature redefining the standards of beauty in the fashion world and beyond. A rebellious spirit with an unusual character, indeed.

Beautiful Seattle on a Grey Day?

…maybe not so much. You know it’s a grey day when your photo doesn’t need a filter to convert from color to black and white. Here’s to more rainbows and, hopefully sooner than later, sunny days. The rain has to stop eventually, right?

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Beautiful Photography

We all go through childhood, but no two experiences are alike. Whether it’s culture, class, and/or geography, it all shapes these formative years in a powerful way. But despite these differences, as young people, we each explore the world around us with the same sense of wonder and imagination. These varied snapshots highlight a universal truth about life—this juxtaposition of emotion starts when we’re young and never ends. We just grow older and wiser. Can you see yourself in any of these?

01.pic olga ageeva.jpgPlaying with light, by Olga Ageeva, Russia

02.pic oriano.jpgLooking Out, by Oriano Nicolau, Spain

03.pic anna.jpgThe Horse Whisperer, by Anna Ajtner, The Netherlands

04.pic olga.jpgSleeping, by Olga Ageeva, Russia

05.pic hutchins.jpgLooking For the Queen, By Hutchins, Poland/USA

06.pic zhou.jpgChildren of the Indian Ocean Seaboard, Guomiao Zhou, China

07. batman annaBatman, Anna Kuncewicz, Poland

08.chelseaClassic Couch Potato, Chelsea Sibereis, USA

09.boyhood.jpgBoyhood, Alicja Pietras, Poland

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Double, Karen Osdieck, USA

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Plums, Mariola Glajcar, Poland

Beautiful Poetry

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness.
 
Thomas Jefferson“The Declaration of Independence”

Swinging to me personifies the meaning of happiness.
It’s the everyday simple pleasures unencumbered with
fleeting moments of freedom that I treasure the most.

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Beautiful Photography

Photographer Timo Lieber uses his fine art photography to tell a story about the fragility of our planet. His latest project, THAW, conveys Greenland’s ice caps shooting the growing lakes from an aerial view. THAW will make its public debut from February 20 – 23, 2017 at Bonham‘s in London.

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The resulting images are simultaneously stunning and scary. From a fine art perspective, the balance of colors, as well as the visually stimulating composition, draws the spectator in. From an environmental view point, Lieber’s work is an eerie reminder about the effects of global warming.

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Year after year, Greenland’s lakes continue to increase in size, as the ice caps slowly melt. Since 2009, the Greenland ice sheet has been losing an estimated 419,000,000,000 tons of ice annually. This is three times more than the contribution from Antarctica. Thus, Lieber felt the urgency to shoot this transitional phase in order to raise awareness about climate change.

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THAW showcases the rapidly growing number of blue lakes and rivers that form on the Greenland ice cap —one of the most inaccessible areas on earth. Here, in the pristine landscape, stripped to the bare minimum of colors and shapes, the dramatic impact of climate change is more obvious than anywhere else in the world.”

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Images by Timo Lieber via My Modern Met

Beautiful Drone Photography

With an increasing number of drones in the sky, professional photographers and enthusiasts alike can now access perspectives that are typically seen from the seat of an airplane. Image-sharing site Dronestagram, a drone-specific social network with 600 million users, brings us some of the best aerial photography. Dronists continue to deliver unbelievably stunning shots, ensuring us that the future has definitely arrived—and that it’s worth celebrating. As the Dronestagram Team writes on their website, “On behalf of the whole team, we would like to thank you for showing the world the power of drones! …Now take a deep breath and enjoy.”

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Bogata Forest, Romania by Calin Stan

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Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy by Fcatutto

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Niagara Falls by Ryanjones

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Copacabana, Rio de janeiro, Brazil by Ulysses Padilha

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Cable Beach, Australia by Todd Kennedy

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Summer Camp, Amadores, Gran Canaria, Spain by Karolis Janulis

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Wedding in Huahine, French Polynesia by Helene Havard

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Swarm of sheep, Romania by Thedon

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Red Chili Farmer, Guntur, India by Aurobird

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Huia dam New Zealand by Brendon Dixon

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Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy by jcourtial

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Fields of Lavender in Valensole, Provence, France by jcourtial

Beautiful Photography Exhibit in NYC

Charting the course of photography over the past 150 years is just one of the joys of MoMA’s new exhibition.
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See works from photography’s 19th-century origins right up to more recent masterworks, by artists from Brassaï to Carrie Mae Weems. Learn more