The Old NPC ProBack Let You Shoot Polaroid Peel-Apart Films with a Nikon SLR

The NPC ProBack was a pretty nifty idea, if not a waste of film

Once in awhile, you come across a photography contraption whose purpose or use eludes you. Some of the ones that occasionally still pop up on eBay and photography forums is the NPC Polaroid ProBack, a camera back that was designed to take Polaroid peel-apart instant films for checking exposure, lighting, and composition on the spot. Back in the days, Polaroid films had a different purpose in photography than what most of us today use (and love) them for. They were very helpful for photographers who needed precise exposures for demanding projects. For those who wanted or needed to do this without an actual Polaroid camera (or wanted to get a preview of their camera setup), there was the bulky and unwieldy Speed Magny for those used Nikon F cameras. The cool factor of this was that the back essentially turned the 35 mm Nikon F camera into an instant or large format camera.

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Albert Watson Relates the Story of His Iconic Image of Steve Jobs

“That’s maybe the best picture ever taken of me” is what Steve Jobs told Albert Watson.

Photographer Albert Watson has photographed many celebrities and important people; but his image of Steve Jobs is one that really, truly stands out to lots of folks. Albert shot it with large format film and Steve was questioning why. With all honesty, Albert said that he didn’t believe that digital was there yet–and amazingly Steve agreed! But this was pretty difficult for Albert as Steve Jobs apparently hated photographers.

Of course, you can immediately see what kind of difficulty this must’ve been.

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Speed Magny Backs Turn Nikon F Cameras into Instant or Large Format Cameras

Screenshot image from the Speed Magny 45 video by Doug Bardwell

From the 1960s to the 1980s, photographers who wanted to check their lighting or churn out images for very quick reportage had a secret weapon: the Speed Magny. This interesting contraption allowed them to produce Polaroid prints with their Nikon F cameras. While the entire setup looks rather bulky and awkward, it was still marketed as the “Instant” Nikon.

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Ronald Herard: 9/11 Through the Eyes of a Photo Lab Technician

This photographer walks in, drops off his pictures and stands off to the side. I asked him “Are you okay?” He says he was standing there with the camera in hand and all of a sudden him and the firemen hear these sounds. THUNK! THUNK! He didn’t know what it was. When he turned around, he found out it was people hitting the ground and jumping out of the World Trade Center. He says to me “I couldn’t lift my camera.” He was covered in ash, and tears were coming down his eyes. They were flesh colored where the tears were streaming down and cutting through the ashes. That photographer cleaned himself up in the bathroom and he went back out there.

During 9/11, Ronald Herard was one of the people running the Time Life Photo Lab in NYC. He got into the art form through graphic design only to shuffle around while working in studios, retail stores, and then photo labs. Today, he’s both a member of Kamoinge and a camera salesperson at Foto Care in NYC; but on 9/11 he was a photo lab tech working the counter–and so he’s seen the work of so many photographers who shot during that day. We sat down in a pizzeria around the Flatiron neighborhood (as us New Yorkers do) where I mostly listened to Ron relate the experience of how he got into photography and how those experiences lead to him being in the lab. On September 11th 2001, photographers of all types poured in as the Time Life Photo Lab made themselves open 24/7 for a period of time.

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David Forrest: Documenting How 9/11 Affected The Brooklyn Waterfront

All images by ​​David Forrest. Used with permission.

If you were to think about all the things that happened during 9/11, you’d surely consider that there were probably photographers who wanted to get closer to the tragedy to document it but simply couldn’t–and that was the situation for David Forrest. When the planes crashed into the towers, police prevented people from getting into Manhattan from the other boroughs. But the towers are so large that they’re easily visible from every borough no matter where you are pretty much. So when the smoke and embers came over the city, it travelled quite far and was very visible. And while a lot was happening in Manhattan, the ash traveled to the other boroughs.

David’s story is one that is unlike many others–because while many stories concentrate on what happened in Manhattan, not many people talk about how Brooklyn was affected.

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Michel Leroy: A Photojournalist’s Perspective of 9/11 While Not on Assignment

All images shot during 9/11 by Michel Leroy. Used with permission. Contact Sheets created by the Phoblographer with permission.

When you look at the modern portfolio of Photographer Michel Leroy, you wouldn’t at all believe that 9/11 was a time that touched him personally. But not only was photography bred into Michel since high school, but so was journalism. On September 11th 2001, the World Trade Center fell here in NYC as the world and many New Yorkers looked on in horror. For this year’s remembrance, we wanted to interview a number of photographers who were around and on the scene during that time. Many of them have never looked back at their archives, and with Michel the experience was one that he felt really changed him. But as many photojournalists will tell you, the camera can be a shield of some sort from your own emotions.

Before you go on, I want to warn everyone that this post contains images that may shock or cause a stir amongst some readers. I personally saw the second plane hit the towers, and both putting this story together and looking through Michel’s images certainly was difficult to do.

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The Leica H: A Little Leica Camera That Never Got Made

All images “Photo (c) Lars Netopil Classic Cameras, Wetzlar“ Used with permission.

The story of the Leica H is a rather unfortunate one that in many ways, makes me question how it would have affected the camera manufacturing industry. Imagine being so committed to a creation of yours: treating it almost like a special part of you only to know that while the idea is pretty fantastic, it just won’t make it into the world because of problems that are completely out of your control. You’d be destroyed–and that’s exactly how Adam Wagner felt when he learned that Leica would essentially be crushing his dreams. Many photographers and resellers can speak with great detail about the history of the R series, the M series and even the company’s other cameras like their film point and shoots. But as I discovered in over two years of research, not much is really known about the Leica H.

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Sebastião Salgado and the Silent Drama of Photography

Many of the most iconic photographers have lived colorful and interesting lives, filled with events and encounters that have shaped their brilliant works. Such is what we can discern from the works of Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist known for his dramatic black and white photographs that explore man’s relationship with nature and with each other. If you’re discovering Sebastião Salgado’s works for the first time, prepare to be amazed and inspired. His timeless photographs remain relevant and captivating even for today’s budding photographers, so you’ll definitely enjoy this video primer on his life and work by Aidan Moneyhon. Here, you’ll hear Aidan briefly cover some important details about Salgado’s life, and get a glimpse of the imagery that earned him worldwide recognition.

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