This Unusual Lens was Used at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s

Could this 1000mm Cyclotar lens have been used to document bomb experiments?

Today’s awesome vintage find on ebay is something for collectors with a taste for rarity and curiosity for military history. You definitely don’t see a 1000mm 40-inch f/8 Cyclotar lens spring up from the depths of ebay everyday! What exactly is this curious-looking item? Well, there’s not much info out there other than what ebay seller brcamera has provided. This rare Cyclotar lens was made by Alan Gordon Enterprises for the US government in the 1950s. It was used at the Nevada Test Site for documenting testing activities (we’re definitely itching to know what kind) from the 1950s to the 1970s. It was especially constructed around a 40-inch Bausch + Lomb f/8 Telestigmat lens and was equipped on a Crown Graphic 4×5.

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Gallery Review: Stephen Shore Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art

Stephen Shore’s Retrospective at the MoMA is worth exploring for every photographer

A tangerine sunset casts a Texaco station in an eerie light in a middle-of-nowhere highway. Flashbulbs on a Rollei 35mm capture a grotesquely delicious image of an omelet, white toast, and a stark white glass of milk in what could be any diner in the United States. For the past five decades, Stephen Shore has captured an unflinching and unapologetic perspective of America. His work justified the mundane and changed the way the world saw photography. After his work hit the mainstream, the world suddenly saw that photographs of parking lots and the average citizen were not a waste of film, and they followed suite.

Stephen Shore was born in New York City in 1947, and began his life as a photographer very early, receiving his first Darkroom kit from an uncle at age 6. By 1958, he was given the book American Photographs by Walker Evans, and his life was forever changed. By the age of 14, Edward Steichen had purchased a handful of Shore’s prints, launching his prolific career. From 1965 – 1967, he joined Andy Warhol’s inner circle and spent the majority of his time documenting the unique group of artists. At age 24, Shore exhibited his first solo body of work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which just so happened to be the first solo exhibition of a living American photographer in history. The rest of Shore’s career was just as prolific as his beginnings, and he went on to create many masterful bodies of work.  

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A Musing and History of the Pentax 67 SLR

All images and text by Zeb Andrews over at Blue Moon Camera. Used with permission.

Where to start with the Pentax 6×7? How about if we start with the fact that I love this camera; so this way you know exactly where I am coming from as you read this. I have been using this camera for over a decade now, and though I now carry other cameras with me more frequently, my Pentax has a special place in my camera lineup that no other camera can compete with.

The Pentax 6×7 is not that dissimilar to most 35mm SLR cameras –  if you gave those cameras steroids and pumped them up to twice their original size. The Pentax 6×7 is a pretty straight-forward camera. Exposure is done entirely manually, it uses its own line of bayonet mount lenses, can accept alternative prisms (including a meter prism and a waist level viewfinder) and is able to use either 120 or 220 film, creating either 10 or 21 6x7cm exposures per roll. The camera is a beastly tank, but such a good beastly tank. At the time of its introduction, it did exactly what a pro photographer needed it to: make 6x7cm medium format images while viewing through the camera’s main lens… and it did it well and surprisingly ergonomically for its size and weight.

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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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