January 2013

January 17, 2013

The Roots of TPHS and its Most Mesmerizing Meetings

The January meeting will feature Jack Bloemendaal, co-founder of The Photographic Historical Society, the oldest such group in the world.

He will recount its beginnings more than 47 years ago and some of the highlights of its history. He and Sharon will share recollections, as they both have held all offices in the group. Audience participation is encouraged.

It will be held  Thursday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 3344 Monroe Ave. in Pittsford Plaza.

Bring items for “Show & Tell” and freebies for the “Free Table.”

February  21  meeting:
Dr. Bruce Barnes, new Director of George Eastman House, will speak.

Future meetings will be held March 21, April 18 and May 16.
Save Oct. 10-12, 2014 for PhotoHistory XVI—a great symposium!

Mark Osterman has asked if any of our members can help him out. He is looking for donations of laboratory glass, particularly Pyrex beakers in various sizes to use in his workshops at the museum. Another thing he is seeking are 4×5″ dry plate holders. They are now teaching gelatin emulsion making and they need these holders for a workshop coming up in March.


A special “Thank you ” to Mark and France Osterman for a tour of their home and skylight studio. Our November meeting was well-attended.

The Scully & Osterman Skylight Studio is a recreation of an authentic 19th-century photographic studio complete with a  northlight they had had installed. Mark noted that the installation of the northlight really confused the workers–they wanted to do skylights on the SOUTH side. However, France prevailed and the attic studio of Mark and France Osterman now looks right out of the 1800s. Cleverly aligned skylight shades can be manipulated with counterweighted cords to hold them in place or at an angle.

Among many other things in the studio Mark made the posing chair, complete with fringe (He is a master instrument maker–having constructed 200 banjos).

They painted the walls a deep blue green, based on exposure tests of paint color samples. White walls would reflect too much, black would have absorbed too much. The studio accessories included three kinds of antique enlargers including an 1860 solar enlarger that requires  adjustments every minute and a half to accommodate the movement of the earth.

We were shown an “eye rest”  a metal ball (about three inches in diameter) on a stand–to keep the eye focused.

Lining the shelves were many props, from books to a real human skull.
The adjacent darkroom was glazed with red glass “safe” windows. Earlier red Plexiglas windows had failed after seven years of exposure to the sun.

The rest of the house was like a museum, including an 1851 collodion albumen print by F. Scott Archer (inventor of the collodion process) and a 500+ pound tower clock.
Mark also showed examples of his and France’s photography. They are represented by the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City and Tilt Gallery, Scottsdale AZ.

Mark and France conduct workshops around the world on processes from daguerreotypes to gelatin emulsion.

He showed several 1914 two-color autochromes by Capstaff, demonstrating how the two pieces of glass, that looked red and green, produce a passable color photographic transparency.

The Osterman’s 1919 house just north of Highland Park was a perfect setting for the tour. We enjoyed refreshments in the dining room near the tower clock. We welcomed two visitors. Kodak retiree, Louis Nagy, was originally from Budapest.

Bob Lansdale from Toronto had come to Rochester to interview member Frank Mehlenbacher for an article for the Photographic Historical Society of Canada (www.phsc.ca). See note.*

As our meeting was held on November 15, which was Martin Scott’s birthday, Nick Graver brought timely balloons; we sang “Happy Birthday” accompanied beautifully by Mark Osterman on his banjo. Martin was also given a 1937 book by CEK Mees, a book for which he had been searching. One TPHS member had brought it for him, knowing of his interest in Mees–but unaware of his birthday!

*Note: Bob Lansdale photographed our last symposium very well. Also see the December issue of  the Canadian group’s newsletter for an article on page 6: “A Complete Set of Wooden Boxes for the First Seven Kodak String-Set Cameras” by Charlie Kamerman.

–Sharon Bloemendaal, program chairman 585-288-6359, jbloem@rochester.rr.com

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