Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Not To Take A Picture


A young man is receiving some sort of prize.  That prize obscures the bottom half of his face.  The presenter has his face turned away from the camera.  The announcer's face is blocked by the microphone.  At least we can see the trombone players.  Stamped on the back, "FOTO-DOMES EICHSTATT."  Eichstatt is a town in Bavaria, Germany.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fence Sitter


I'm more impressed that he got up there in bare feet.  It's real hard to date something like this.  The overalls, the hat, the wooden fence post and fence wire could be from the late nineteenth century to the mid fifties.  Quite a range.  Just going by the printing paper, I'm going to make a very uneducated guess that it's from the twenties to  thirties.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Bizarro Family



I'm sorry, but there's something a bit off about this family.  Look at the top photo; the lady holding the teddy bear in an iron grip, the child strangling the cat.  Just a bizarre, American Gothic assemblage.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nude Dancers




It's not every day that you run across something like this.  If the photographer was going for porn, he clearly missed the mark.  These three 4x5 transparencies have to be photos of some sort of performance.  But what kind?  Nude ballet, modern dance, Oh! Calcutta?  I once worked with the brother of a woman who was in Oh! Calcutta.  I won't mention her name.  Things that seem reasonable at twenty can be embarrassing at fifty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Alvin


He dreamed of going fast.  Written on the back, "1929, My Alvin, Courts 54TH St. & Hooper."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cine Kodak Eight Model 20


I love photographs of people holding cameras, especially when it's a camera in my collection.  The Cine Kodak Eight Model 20 (Mine still works.) is one of the most important mass market movie cameras ever made.  Introduced in 1932, as the great depression took it's toll on Kodak's bottom line, the Model 20 was the first double 8 camera ever made.  (Also know as regular 8 or straight 8.)  Some unknown Kodak engineer came up with a very simple idea.  Take a roll of 16mm movie film, the standard for home movies, double the number of perforations, expose only one half the width of film per pass through the camera, flip the reel over, run it through the camera a second time, exposing the other half of the film.  Four frames where there had been one.  A 25 foot reel of double 8 would have the same run time as a 100 foot reel of 16mm.  After processing, the film had to be slit in half, and the two lengths spliced together, but the greater processing costs were small compared to the savings in film stock.  At a time when the vast majority of Kodak's customers were short of money, the Cine Model 20 kept Kodak in the home movie business.

So, what difference does it make if a double 8 camera still works when the film is no longer made?  Actually, in a way, it still is.  While no surviving film company still manufactures the film, some do make 16mm.  There are companies that still have working 8mm perforating machines.  They buy 16mm, run it through the perforating machines, and new double 8 is made.  In the United States, Dwayne's Photography in Parsons, Kansas.  If interested, go to their website, and place an order.  They'll process it too.  All part of the service.  It's not cheap, but it does keep those of us who love film happy.  And while I haven't bothered to do the research, I'd be surprised if there aren't small operations like Dwayne's still operating in Europe, Asia or South America.

Just looking at this picture, I'm betting that it was taken sometime in the early to mid fifties.  The cars are older than that, but our budding John Ford is pretty young, and he and his friends were probably driving older cars.  Too, take a look at the bottom of the print.  Short shorts, plus the hair cut, and the expanding metal watchband...well, I could be wrong, but taken together, I'm not getting a feel for an earlier time period.

And finally...The serial number on my camera is AK 6181.  That has to be pretty early in the manufacturing run.  Perhaps, 1932.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Is it summer yet?



Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles does have seasons.  Or at least we used to.  Today's temps may only be in the seventies, but it's gotten to the point where we hit the nineties  every month of the year.  I know  climate change deniers will point out that there are record highs approaching 100 for mid December, and every other month, but those past days were anomalies.  Now, high temps and rainless winters are becoming the new norm.  Good for those of us who like to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  That is until we run out of water from ongoing drought.

As far as the location of these two photos.  There aren't many cities in the United States where the hotels go right down to the beach.  The two that came to mind were Miami and Honolulu.  I went on line and searched images of Miami and Honolulu in the 1950s, but couldn't find a match for the hotel in the background, that I was sure of, from either city.   I did notice that Honolulu had more palm trees, wider beaches, and hotels with fewer floors.  So, unless corrected, I'm going with Hawaii.  That's going on the assumption that these pictures were taken in the United States.  Could be Mexico or the French Riviera for all I know.