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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Good evening, HAL: 1970

Good evening, HAL: 1970

I'd seen 2001: A Space Odyssey only two years before, but staring into the eyeball of a sentient computer really wasn't on my mind when I took this shot in our living room; I was just fooling around with my newly-acquired Spiratone fisheye supplementary lens and some Tri-X film. Interesting optical phenomenon: the shape curving around the lower right is actually the edge of a small, perfectly round tabletop. In the background, Father's leather chair, minus Father, with piles of newspapers to each side. That little painting on the wall is now on my wall, and I now have an exact duplicate of the kidney-shaped tier table, thanks to my sister's antique foraging. My stereo system is in evidence by the speaker in the far corner, and my still-pitifully small record collection is on the rack behind Father's chair. I'm 23, still living at home, though employed and contributing to my upkeep. View full size.

re: Huge Television

The screen in the +41 shot is 7.75 feet wide. I went for the old-school TV screen shape since most of what I watch are old-school-shaped movies.

Huge television

I know that the image is somewhat distorted here. But exactly how large is that television screen. It looks positively huge.

You haven't changed all that much

Just the hair color. Your cranial shrubbery is much more abundant than mine. Though, in all honesty, mine is still closer to the original color!

I was heavily into my Canon FTb, purchased in the mid 1970s. Most of my spare money went to buying that equipment. I had a large case filled with my accessories,including a few wide angle and zoom lenses. Most of my spare money went to buying that equipment.

I was reasonably competent with all that heavyweight (really) stuff. I took the whole collection with me on my first European trip in 1977. I still recall fumbling with lenses, trying to get that elusive best shot.

From a convenience point of view, my little Olympus digital is a dream. Quality is OK; guess I'm less demanding these days.

Thanks again for your splendid contributions, knowledge and responses to my posts!

Dad's leather chair

Whatever became of it?

Looking like father

Looking a little like your father in the now pic. Wish I still had my hair.

All these pictures of your life are pictures of all of our lives, us boomers at least. I came of age in the same middle class home during the sixties; it was 3000 miles away in Brunswick, Georgia.

Re: +41

That's great. All those years and that little round table in the back looks almost the same. And some folks say the camera ages things...

+41

Using the same Spiratone fisheye, but this time on a Nikon D5000.

Wow.

Arnie from "Christine"?

Yay, Tri-X

I still use the latest Tri-X with my Leica equipment when I encounter a shooting location that requires its higher 400 speed, and its latest version is out of this world! It has less grain than the older versions, thankfully, and I am no fan of visible grain at all. When 100 speed film is appropriate, I use Ilford's wonderful Delta 100 which also amazes me in terms of its superb quality.

Thief!

I drew this back in 1935!

A well-rounded individual

Your great photograph, with reference to HAL, seemingly foreshadows the ubiquitous (but lower quality) webcam imagery of today.

Great shot

Fascinating pic of your old living room. My Yashika 120G didn't have that capability but I did manage to capture some 2&1/4" slides around that era.

Exakta? Spiratone? Duuude!

I got my first camera on my fifteenth birthday, November 24, 1963, which was not a happy birthday, for obvious reasons.

In any case, My mother bought me an Ansco 127 box camera, because she didn't want to spend more than fifteen dollars, and the salesman assured her than this camera would take color slides--as I had asked--IF you used Ektachrome-X in VERY bright full sunlight.

I began saving money and doing odd jobs, and by the following June I had fifty or sixty dollars (I forget how much) to buy a second-hand Exa with a manual Xenar f3.5 lens and a waist-level ground-glass finder. (The hood on the finder soon developed erectile dysfunction after my brother beaned it--and me--with a baseball while I was trying to focus on him throwing a screwball. I wanted to take his picture pitching a baseball.)

I scrounged a selenium exposure meter, but I soon found the Exa almost as frustrating as the Ansco, so by the time I entered college, I had saved enough to buy a real Exakta VXIIA or VXIIB, I forget which. It was cheap, East German, built like a tank, and you could hang an enormous variety of lenses, viewfinders, backs and motor drives on the danged thing. Four different directions, all ninety degrees apart.

Spiratone didn't make all of the available lenses and gadgets for the Exakta, but everything Spiratone sold always came in Exakta mount and Pentax screw mount, even if Nikon and Konica mounts weren't available.

I don't remember what became of the Exakta, much less the Exa and the Ansco. Spiratone went out of business some thirty years ago, when Fred Spira retired. I remember seeing a couple of Spiratone nostalgia websites a couple of years ago.

I miss all the old materials and equipment. I think I did better work then with the Exakta, the Carl Zeiss Jena lens, and High-Speed Ektachrome, as compared to the thousand dollar SLR I'm fighting all the time now. I think digital is inherently inferior to 35 mm film, especially for available light work.

And I have never found a salesperson in Best Buy or WalMart who had the slightest notion what an F-stop is. Recently I had one of them looking for an f-stop to prop open the battery access door on my Canon DSLR, and he searched high and low for a Canon f-stop before admitting they just didn't stock Canon f-stops, and I would likely have to special order it from Canon USA, and Lord knows how long it would take to come from Japan.

I have no shame.

Spiratone: home of cheap photo fun!

Takes me back. Your scan does full justice to the grainy world of 35mm Tri-X!

We didn't fool around with silly little earbuds in those days. Young persons with massively real speakers could easily annoy people for hundreds of feet in every direction.

Just ran across my Circo-Mirrotach a few weeks ago, has a 45 degree mirror that lets you surreptitiously take pictures at a 90 degree angle.

Those multi-page Spiratone ads in Modern Photo and Popular Photography were a wonder to behold! Cheap photo gear with an emphasis on stuff that was FUN! Went on for many decades.

Spiratone

I still have that lens; used it on my Exacta, which I also still have. Fun lens; neat shot.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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