Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Classic 4x5 Speed Graphic

A good friend gave me an exceptional gift, a slick coffee table -size copy of "MOMENTS - The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs," by Hal Buell.

WOW..what a picture-rich treasure trove to give to a photographer!

Not only visually exciting, but it is also filled with background on how the winning photos were taken and with the type of camera. 

The camera I carried for my high school Annual in the fifties, the one issued to me as a USMC photographer and even when I started as a staff photographer at the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper in the sixties, was a 4x5 Speed Graphic!

That camera was introduced in 1912 and so pervasive was the camera among newspaper photographers of the 1930s and 1940s - even into the 1950s - that simply carrying one was, in and of itself, a Press Pass!

Early Pulitzer Prize-winning photos between 1942 and 1954 - and several after that - were made with the sturdy workhorse press camera, the Speed Graphic.

To "snap" a picture (they hated that word), meant changing the 2-sided film holder, remove the slide covering the film, replace the flashbulb, cock the shutter, sight the picture, focus the camera, set the proper lens aperture, and, at the right moment, press the shutter release button. 

If you mistimed it, it took about 6 to 8 seconds to repeat the process and try again., hence the common call-out "One more, please!"

In Korea, in the 1950s, American photographers started using smaller  21/4 x 21/4 format twin-lens cameras like Rolleiflex and Rolleicord that took 12-exposure film rolls instead of the single sheet film holder on the classic Graphic.

By the mid-sixties, most news photographers were using 35mm cameras. 

At the paper in San Diego, we first begrudgingly set aside our Speed Graphics and started carrying a twin-lens roll film Mamiyaflex for a few years then went even smaller camera crazy, switching to 35mm Nikon cameras and lenses.

A year ago I found a bargain and bought me a classic reminder of my earlier photography years and now have a well-preserved Speed Graphic sitting on my shelf at home!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

I Ran Outta Bridges...

Once the 2-lane 1929 bridge was closed and the 1960s newer 3-lane bridge was deemed out-moded, construction began on the newest 8-lane bridge to replace both of the oldies. 

 I was still running/walking the 3-lane bridge and we would pass the new one under construction that finally opened in 2005. That was my last annual run/walk over the Cooper River. I decided I would do my next bridge crossing when there was an even newer one! Haha. 

 A while later, the dismantling of the two older, unused bridges began. We have a VERY active port so ships come and go at all hours so that boat traffic had to be considered as the demolition and removal began in earnest. Two huge red cranes arrived on the scene to handle the heavy loads as large pieces were removed and barged away. 

It so happened one of the crane operators was the husband of the caregiver for my Mom as we tried to keep my mother at home as long as we could. Jenny was a sweet, caring lady who came 3-4 days a week and others filled in the rest of the week so Mom was assisted and stayed in her home for many months with great care. 

 One day Jenny asked me if I would like to have a piece of the 1929 bridge as she knew our family history with it and she had seen the photo of my grandmother actually ON the bridge while it was being built a year before it opened. I expected maybe a few rivets from the steel bridge I had driven over as a teenage driver. 

I am sure her husband, the crane operator, was a major part of how I received a LARGE and heavy piece of history! AND 2 rivets and 2 covers. WOW! 

 Later I saw for sale ads for pieces of the bridge and one similar to mine was priced at $1500. Yikes!

Labels: , , ,