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Found plates

The film that was inside the camera that you just bought holds images of days gone by.
Brazile
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Found plates

Postby Brazile » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:35 am

Stopped in at Photographica 83, the semi-annual PHSNE market in Wakefield, Mass. yesterday. I'd had a bad cold all week, so had neither the energy nor the inclination to do much, but Saturday morning I woke up starting to feel somewhat better and since I'd been looking forward to the show since I missed the last one in the autumn, I decided to go ahead and make the trip. I had faint hopes of seeing Les there, as he used to be very involved with PHSNE, but if he made the trip (unlikely, I'd guess) I missed him.

Regardless, I enjoyed walking the floor and doing my usual bottom-feeding. Since I have most things I actually need, I mostly am on the lookout for attractive oddities and bargains, a tendency I inherited from my father, who is a master of such. Last year I came home with a giant bag of expired film, which the dealer clearly thought I was an idiot for buying -- but was only too pleased to send it home with me. Doesn't bother me; I've enjoyed cranking through it to test cameras, etc.

I thought of you guys, especially Phil, given the sheer mass of Retina and Contaflex-class cameras I saw on sale for not much money. One table had close to a dozen Contaflexes laid out marked at $25 per. I strongly suspect they could be had for considerably less, especially if you went today when the show is closing down. But I picked one up and was reminded that I need to return to the gym more regularly. Besides, I have a couple cameras in that class now that need work and use, so can't really justify it.

In the end, I came home with three things that I found useful, or cheap, or both. A pair of stainless film tanks, sized to hold hangers for 8x10 or 4 ganged 4x5's. I already had the hangers, and wanted them for washing dry plates after development, so was glad to find them. Also picked up a set of beat-up 4x5 plate holders for $5. Need some work, but easier than making them from scratch. Lastly was a table dealing mostly in old photos and what appeared to be a range of colored Bakelite box cameras. In poking around in one moving box full of glass plates, some loose, some in other containers, I found a dilapidated 5x7 box containing about 12 or so of them. The first couple seemed interesting, so on a whim, I bought the smaller box and took it home.

I scanned the results and found that roughly half of the plates where somebody's family plates, probably from one of the small cities along the south shore of Lake Erie is my best guess. I really like them, and am pleased to have saved them from whatever fate they would eventually have met in that beat-up old box. The other half appear to be sloppy attempts at copy negatives from not-particularly-well-mounted prints of Great War scenes, probably American troops in France. Those images are tough to make out and weren't perhaps the best technically to begin with. I may work on the latter shots a bit and post them at some point.

But here are the family images, which I quite enjoy. I hope you enjoy them, too.

A day at the beach:

Image
FF-008, At the beach, early 20th century by rbrazile, on Flickr

With pride:

Image
FF-009 by rbrazile, on Flickr

Dressed for church:

Image
FF-010 by rbrazile, on Flickr

Stop by daddy's work on Sunday after church?

Image
FF-019 by rbrazile, on Flickr

An album cover from the 70s, I think;

Image
FF-018 by rbrazile, on Flickr

Robert
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PFMcFarland
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Re: Found plates

Postby PFMcFarland » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:10 pm

I'd have gladly paid you Tuesday, for a Contaflex today. The closest show I can get to around here is in the DC area, and they usually are asking a bit more than that.

Those are really neat photos, and I hope you can get some more information about them. The photographer seemed to know what they were doing.

PF
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Waiting for the light

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OpenWater
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Re: Found plates

Postby OpenWater » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:49 pm

Thanks for posting these, especially 1~3. They are very different from the stiff and formal photos often found in older photos. Great scans, I might add! Mike
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LarryD
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Re: Found plates

Postby LarryD » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:53 pm

Whoa.. Outstanding.
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If we all saw the world the same no one would need a camera.

Brazile
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Re: Found plates

Postby Brazile » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:28 pm

Thanks, all!

PF -- if I had known, I'd have gladly picked you up some. The show will be around again, and I'll try to keep it in mind in case that dealer didn't unload them all.

I agree that the scans came out pretty well, at least, once I did some leveling, spotting, and sharpening, of course.

I hope the women with the box of glass plates comes back again next time; you never know what I might find. I'll have to put up the WWI photos, too...
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Brazile
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Re: Found plates

Postby Brazile » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:45 am

Well, I never put up the WWI photos, because they were badly-done copy negatives, really not worth looking at except possibly for historical purposes. But I did attend the show again over the weekend. It's down to one day, once a year now (from two days, twice a year), but it's still a pretty good show. I picked up plates last year, and again this year. As before, they're very poorly-cared for, just tossed in a box stacked with no protection at all, and many are quite silvered-out at this point. But with some careful cleaning (Edwal film cleaner seems to do a nice, albeit stinky, job) they seem to come out pretty well. It will take me a while to get through the two boxes of plates I came home with. Also need to think harder about storage if I'm going to keep this up. So far I've tried 5x7 envelopes (works well, can't see them, not sure about longevity) and 5x7 PrintFile sleeves (not as secure as I'd like, but protects well enough, easy to see, should last otherwise).

Anyhow, of the first couple plates I cleaned and scanned, one was definitely a keeper:

Image
FF-084, Genteel life by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

Also, my family bought me some antique plates over Christmas, and there were a couple of interesting ones in that batch:

Image
FF-079, Family photo by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

Image
FF-055, Family portrait by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

And, because I didn't remember to update this last year, a couple from last year's show:

Image
FF-031, Old State House speech by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

Image
FF-030, Traffic cop, Quincy First Parish church by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do...

Robert
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Brazile
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Re: Found plates

Postby Brazile » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:51 am

Oh, and one bonus shot, mostly because I'm feeling proud of myself from finally having identified both the location (fairly quickly) and the subject (much more difficult):

Image
FF-033, Boston City Hall crowd by Robert Brazile, on Flickr

I figured out quickly that the building in the background was Boston's old City Hall (replaced in the 60s by a brutalist monstrosity, the building is now a restaurant...!) but struck out on the man in the foreground for the longest time.

I stared at shots of Boston politicians in the 20s and 30s for quite some time before I thought a little more about what was going on in the background. Recognizing the possibility that the event was some kind of demonstration by people looking for work, I did some Googling around that and discovered the activist "Mr. Zero" (Urbain Ledoux), who led demonstrations in support of working people in the early 20s. Found other photos of him, wearing what appeared to be the same suit, and I'm pretty confident I got the ID. Very satisfying.

Robert
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alexvaras
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Re: Found plates

Postby alexvaras » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:17 am

Amazing photos and stories they tell.
Thank you for sharing!
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LarryD
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Re: Found plates

Postby LarryD » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:08 pm

And again. Outstanding.
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If we all saw the world the same no one would need a camera.

Brazile
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Re: Found plates

Postby Brazile » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:19 pm

Thanks, Alex and Larry.

Robert
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