Old Photography Magazines!
Last night, one of the guys in the camera club I belong to gave me a stack of about 15 old photo magazines, and 5 or so magazines called "The Agfa Diamond".
The Agfa magazines are dated 1937 thru 1941, and the non-Agfa magazines are in the 1933 thru 1937 range. The non-Agfa magazines are "Photographic Digest," "American Photography,"Better Photography," and "The Pocket Photo Monthly."
I've been having a grand time looking through these! Cripes, the ads alone are great!
I love looking at these types of magazines. Sometimes they show up at library sales as well. People drop them off there and the library doesn't need them so they get sold. Looking at the ads is the best part!
I find the articles are often more helpful than articles in current mags, Roger and Frances excepted, of course. They are more likely to talk about technique and improvising than what tool to buy next.
Good point. There is a definite focus on technique over gear in the older photo journals.
Originally Posted by DBP
Many of those old mags contain relevant information on technique in one issue than can be found in a typical contemporary book. I've learned a lot from them.
Quite useful for us folks who like the old stuff...
These old magazines can provide the necessary know-how (including the needed spells, incantations, and potions!) to resurrect the long dead (methods of photography, that is!)
And surprisingly, I've picked up a few which have would apply to the newer processes (d***t*l included) which often are far simpler and more elegant.
For instance, the chromogenic BW negatives as we know them today aren't exactly new. One article from a 1949 "American Photogapher" described a method for tamer highlights in 35mm film: pyro development followed by silver bleach to leave a brownish dyestain image without bulletproof densitities in the emulsion. That's one of the touted features of a typical chromogenic!
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I find that the old Photographic Annuals have a lot of value as well. The images are very different than those produced today, so they provide some interesting insight into the changes in photography over the years.
Also handy to have some of the older issues around when shopping for equipment. I bought my LF enlarger based on an article in a 1940s magazine. The auction description didn't give the format, just the name.
Aesthetically, I actually prefer many of the 40s-50s photos over what is published today. So much of today's work seems to be trying to show the dirt and pain of life.
I have bought a few of the "Camera Annuals" from the late 50s and early 60s at used book stores and I have a set of 1890s publications called "Sights and Scenes of the World" which contain full or 1/2 plate reproductions. Sort of a competitor to National Geographic a suppose.
Of course before to much longer my collections of 1980s American Photographer and Camera and Darkroom will be antiques.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I must have hundreds of original photo magazines from the early 20th century onwards, and books from the 1880s onward. I agree without hesitation that there is much in them that is still extremely valuable today.
Not all, however. I also have the Taschen's 'Camera Work -- The Complete Illustrations 1903-1917' and I have to say that it's an awful lot of very bad pictures and pretentious drivel -- but then, I was underwhelmed by the Steiglitz exhibition in Cologne a few years back. A clear illustration of Sturgeon's Law, I'd say ('90 per cent of anything is rubbish').
I thank DBP from the bottom of my heart for the kind words and would use this as a heaven-sent opportunity to plug The Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com where we try to maintain the old tradition of taking the best pictures we can without being beholden to advertisers and plugging expensive kit. Sure I plug Leica but I've been using them since I borrowed my girlfriend's Leica II. It cost her twenty pounds (call it $30) in about 1970; I bought my IIIa a few weeks later when she wanted it back; and I just love Leicas. But I also use about 20 other cameras, from a Retina IIa that cost me 15 euros (a tenner, twenty bucks) three years ago to a 10x8 inch De Vere. I haven't yet shot a single pic with the 12x15 Gandolfi but I'm working on it. I just bought some new lens panels (plywood, not echt Gandolfi) today.
We freely admit that some of the illustrations to the Photo School articles ('modules') aren't brilliant but this is because we need to say 'this is how you do this'. If you read the modules; say, "I can do better"; and then do so, we account this a success. Besides, the Galleries should be better.
Much of www.rogerandfrances.com is free, so you can see what you're getting, but if you want to subscribe we'd be pififully grateful. Why not take a look?
Last edited by Roger Hicks; 06-07-2006 at 03:44 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I would argue that you plug rangefinders, not Leicas. Or did I miss a bunch of articles about the virtues of the R-series?