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HPL

World War I photo project with ancient camera

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HPL

Hello. I am working on a project to be published next November for the centenary that I wanted to share with you.

The project explores how we safeguard our memory of the Great War. I photographed battle reenactments using the Kodak Vest Pocket, also known as ‘The Soldier’s Kodak’, a camera largely used by combatants during WWI. The Vest Pocket produced a great deal of the amateur archival images of the conflict we have today.


http://www.hugopassarello.com/albums/nostalgie-boue-first-world-war-france-anniversary/

 

Hope you find it interesting. Hugo

Edited by HPL

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ajsmith

They certainly look like the real thing Hugo, well done. How did you produce the 'prints': chemically or digitally?

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JWK

They indeed look like the real thing!

Fritz Limbach, a German soldier, wrote home (in 1915) that his new camera was very light and would fit in a cigarbox.

Don't know the make unfortunately. Must have been the German equivalent of a Kodak Vest Pocket.

And his photos have the same "feel" as yours!

fritz2.jpg.5afdfc62ca116b342a0e84ab195fb396.jpg

 

What type of film did you use?

 

 

 

Edited by JWK

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WhiteStarLine

Nice work Hugo and very atmospheric.  They look just like my grandfather's photos, too.  Well done!

 

 

IMG_0100.JPG.491091249ec789f189b574e74e02d215.JPG

  1. 1262176093_TankMarkVstar9847B32.jpg.48fbe8b5ea3807f0bbf7ed5357a76c2a.jpg

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David Filsell

Excellent.

David

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2ndCMR

That is an interesting idea and I have sometimes thought it would be equally interesting to duplicate the larger views taken with a similar or preferably identical lens as the view cameras of that time used, mounted either on a plate camera of that time, or perhaps a more modern film view camera.

 

It is an odd fact and exception to the general rule of technological improvement that the quality of the large plate images taken from the 19th Century onwards is far superior to what our modern cameras produce.

 

Aerial photos using original lenses would also be interesting, particularly since IIRC the original photos often specify the lens used and such lenses are still to be found and are marked in such ways that they are easily identifable as aero lenses, whereas the lenses and cameras used for many terrestrial photos is a matter of guesswork.

Edited by 2ndCMR

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ajsmith

The manual makes interesting reading http://www.cameramanuals.org/kodak_pdf/kodak_vest_pocket-special.pdf and shows how advanced photography had become by the beginning of the 20th century, 

8 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

It is an odd fact and exception to the general rule of technological improvement that the quality of the large plate images taken from the 19th Century onwards is far superior to what our modern cameras produce.

Superior in what way? Using RAW files, a high end camera and professional post processing you can produce images that are at least as good as anything produced by a vintage plate camera.   

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Martin Feledziak

Great idea Hugo.

 

Here is a display from the Lens 1914 1918 museum featuring such a camera.

The yellow film pack expired 1917.

 

DSC_0770.JPG.8b072f5780cfdbd8f46c8bf099251ed5.JPG

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HPL
On 18/08/2018 at 17:48, ajsmith said:

They certainly look like the real thing Hugo, well done. How did you produce the 'prints': chemically or digitally?

 

Hello! Thanks for your message. I developed the film chemically (of course) and then move to digital for the first tests. Will see if costwise I can allow myself some chemical prints. 

On 19/08/2018 at 15:10, David Filsell said:

Excellent.

David

Thanks!

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HPL
On 19/08/2018 at 02:18, WhiteStarLine said:

Nice work Hugo and very atmospheric.  They look just like my grandfather's photos, too.  Well done!

 

 

IMG_0100.JPG.491091249ec789f189b574e74e02d215.JPG

  1. 1262176093_TankMarkVstar9847B32.jpg.48fbe8b5ea3807f0bbf7ed5357a76c2a.jpg

Thanks WhiteStarLine.

Glad to see it looks like your grandfathers photo. I was wondering if I was getting a completely different thing from back then or if I was managing to use the camera properly. Thanks for sharing the image. 

13 hours ago, Martin Feledziak said:

Great idea Hugo.

 

Here is a display from the Lens 1914 1918 museum featuring such a camera.

The yellow film pack expired 1917.

 

DSC_0770.JPG.8b072f5780cfdbd8f46c8bf099251ed5.JPG

Thanks Martin Feledziak! That is the same camera indeed.

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HPL
On 19/08/2018 at 17:16, 2ndCMR said:

That is an interesting idea and I have sometimes thought it would be equally interesting to duplicate the larger views taken with a similar or preferably identical lens as the view cameras of that time used, mounted either on a plate camera of that time, or perhaps a more modern film view camera.

 

It is an odd fact and exception to the general rule of technological improvement that the quality of the large plate images taken from the 19th Century onwards is far superior to what our modern cameras produce.

 

Aerial photos using original lenses would also be interesting, particularly since IIRC the original photos often specify the lens used and such lenses are still to be found and are marked in such ways that they are easily identifable as aero lenses, whereas the lenses and cameras used for many terrestrial photos is a matter of guesswork.

Thank you 2ndCMR

23 hours ago, ajsmith said:

The manual makes interesting reading http://www.cameramanuals.org/kodak_pdf/kodak_vest_pocket-special.pdf and shows how advanced photography had become by the beginning of the 20th century, 

Superior in what way? Using RAW files, a high end camera and professional post processing you can produce images that are at least as good as anything produced by a vintage plate camera.   

Yes the manuals are a great read! 

On 18/08/2018 at 21:18, JWK said:

They indeed look like the real thing!

Fritz Limbach, a German soldier, wrote home (in 1915) that his new camera was very light and would fit in a cigarbox.

Don't know the make unfortunately. Must have been the German equivalent of a Kodak Vest Pocket.

And his photos have the same "feel" as yours!

fritz2.jpg.5afdfc62ca116b342a0e84ab195fb396.jpg

 

What type of film did you use?

 

 

 

Hello I use the Rera Pan Film 100 ISO 127 format. 

 

Thanks for sharing that photo. It does look like what I am getting. Hope I can share some more soon.

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gmac101
On 19/08/2018 at 16:16, 2ndCMR said:

That is an interesting idea and I have sometimes thought it would be equally interesting to duplicate the larger views taken with a similar or preferably identical lens as the view cameras of that time used, mounted either on a plate camera of that time, or perhaps a more modern film view camera.

 

It is an odd fact and exception to the general rule of technological improvement that the quality of the large plate images taken from the 19th Century onwards is far superior to what our modern cameras produce.

 

Aerial photos using original lenses would also be interesting, particularly since IIRC the original photos often specify the lens used and such lenses are still to be found and are marked in such ways that they are easily identifable as aero lenses, whereas the lenses and cameras used for many terrestrial photos is a matter of guesswork.

The quality of the older photographs is down to the large size of the negatives used. Enlarging photos didn’t become common until the 20’s so most of the photos you see of WW1 would have been contact printed, ie the print is the same size as the negative.  As your negative gets smaller you need better and better lenses more accurately focused to resolve the detail. Those lenses on the Kodak vest pocket cameras would struggle enormously with the tiny sensors inside a modern digital camera.  Lenses are a lot better today especially in professional and enthusiast cameras it just that the quality is eroded by the small sensor size. 

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JWK

It also comes down to the quality of present-day photopaper.

 

Took the 1915 negative of the photo I posted earlier to the top photography-shop here in the Hague, and the best they could come up with was this:

 

2092861243_fritz33.jpg.8e5cd004c5be42ca5459db4859887427.jpg

 

Compare that to what Fritz's cousin back in Germany in 1915 managed to produce in his home-made prints:

470135191_fritz331.jpg.1c9e282f8d1e4d6ccf1b795c21f0247d.jpg
 

Same roll of film.

Top one: of the group at Auchy-les-Mines and their pet-dud,  is nr 11, taken 31 july 1915

Bottom one: part of a picture of probably Karl Romberg from Barmen. First picture on the roll, taken 26 july 1915.

 

 

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Martin Feledziak
1 hour ago, JWK said:

Bottom one

 

WOW

That is as sharp as lemon juice squeezed into a paper cut on anyones hand.

I have always been amazed at the clarity of achievements from this period.

 

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HPL

The quality, the sharpness is excellent. 

 

Some of the images made by the French Army service are also surprising. 

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JWK

My earlier posting wasn't quite clear as regards sizing, so here a scan of an actual print, made by Paul Bonert sometime in August 1915 at home in Barmen (Wuppertal), alongside an original negative from Fritz Limbach's camera (roll 1, nr 12 "destroyed ships at Auchy harbour", taken 31st July 1915)

 

The print is 5,5 x 7,5 cm

The negative is 5,5 x 7,8 cm

 

 

550250567_fritz1.jpg.abc04e9ef725fe26a49d37dd150a6918.jpg

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HPL

Hello JWK

 

So most of the photos you found were printed at roughly this size?

 

 

 

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JWK

@HPL

 

Yes, all 8 printes (from roll 2, 3 and 4) that I have are the same size.

I know of the existance of a few other prints (in Australia), and I assume they're the same size.

And the 9 negatives are all from roll 1.

 

Your negatives should be (roughly) the same size?

 

Found this little snippet in Fritz's letter from 28th July 1915, when he had just received his camera (He had a Ticka before, but due to the blockade that couldn't be repaired, so his parents sent him a new camera): Maybe it's of interest to you.
 

Quote

 

The camera isn’t that big at all. I have packed it in a cigar box, together with the cassette and the films, and can take it along very easily that way. I have already made some photographs with it.

When we get back to Douvrin again I’ll develop them there if possible. Can you please send me developer and fixer in powderform. And when they have it, a red lightbulb for my pocketlight and a spare battery. If you can’t find a red lightbulb please then send me – this is how it’s written in “the handbook of photography” that Uncle Otto once gave me - a piece of red celluloid which I can then put over the lightbulb. I’ll then send you the developed films and you can have prints made from it.

I can develop them here in the trenches if you can find me two very light bowls. We’ve got the perfect dark room here in the tunnel

 

 

Edited by JWK

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HPL

Hello again. 

 

I have a question about print sizes again. so most of the photos you people found from this time were printed on a 5x7cm? Almost like the negative size? Or size was diverse and not standard like we would find now, such as the 10x15cm?

 

Thanks!

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seaJane

In the photograph albums in the archive where I work there's a very wide range of sizes. Even in my parent's albums of the 50s/60s.

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loganshort

for large negatives on film or glass plates it was normal and quick to make a "contact print" in a blacked out room with or without red light, by placing the negative onto photographic paper (usually in a little wooden purpose made frame) exposing it to light for a few seconds and then developing it. I have done it myself many years ago. I am amazed he would do it in a trench! But then, the German trenches were far better than ours! Enlargers were bulky and required electricity to power the bulb to throw light  through the negative and a lense, projecting it as a larger image onto the paper.

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HPL

Hello. I have recenlty added over 20 new photos that I took of battle reenactments using the Kodak Vest Pocket. 

 

Please find the link below. I would be more than happy to hear your observations, criticism, suggestions etc. Thanks!

 

http://www.hugopassarello.com/albums/nostalgie-boue-first-world-war-france-anniversary/

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JWK
3 hours ago, HPL said:

Hello. I have recenlty added over 20 new photos that I took of battle reenactments using the Kodak Vest Pocket. 

 

Please find the link below. I would be more than happy to hear your observations, criticism, suggestions etc. Thanks!

 

http://www.hugopassarello.com/albums/nostalgie-boue-first-world-war-france-anniversary/ 

 

Beautiful! The photo of the soldier sitting on a wooden chest sure looks like it was made 100 years ago! As does the one of the Mont Renaud chapel.

 

A suggestion: they're quite dark. If you lighten them up they become more alive, and you see details that are now hidden in the shade.

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HPL
14 hours ago, JWK said:

 

Beautiful! The photo of the soldier sitting on a wooden chest sure looks like it was made 100 years ago! As does the one of the Mont Renaud chapel.

 

A suggestion: they're quite dark. If you lighten them up they become more alive, and you see details that are now hidden in the shade.

 

 

You are right. They are quite dark. I will try to lighen them up. Thanks!

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