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Folmer and Schwing, Graflex 1A, folding roll film SLR camera, image gallery.

As mentioned on the Graflex 1A's main page, there were two addresses written in pencil inside the Graflex, along with a name. Although very faint these were conserved when the camera was put through the workshop in 2013. In May 2018 I was looking at the camera again and decided to see if both addresses could be deciphered. One had been erased and the second written over the top. But a harder pencil had been used for the first address and the paint had been slightly damaged, this enabled both addresses to be isolated with photography and selective lighting. There then followed a quick search of the internet to look at the streets and the actual houses, both still exist. Clearly miners houses, it caught my curiosity and I felt I needed to investigate further. My neighbour's brother, a skilled researcher of the census, revealed the dates that these addresses were occupied by someone matching the name in the camera, suggesting that the camera had probably been acquired secondhand. This in turn lead to a name of a surviving relative. In May 2018 I wrote a letter to that address, in the hope I might find a picture known to have been taken with the Graflex. A case of hope over expectation. In late June 2018 I received a fabulous e-mail with the image at left, on the back the image had written "Weston, 1938. Graflex Camera."

The image shows the man named on the back hatch of the Graflex, Trevor Edmund Thomas, his wife Olive and two of their children, Dorothy and Arthur. The lady I wrote to was Dorothy, and it was her daughter who discovered the image.

Since we know the location is Weston-Super-Mare and year, and the sun is at 54 degrees elevation with the azimuth beyond south (calculated from the shadows), the image had to be taken in the afternoon between mid May and mid July 1938, which means this image is reunited with the camera that took it almost 80 years to the day. Thank you, all concerned.

As for the photograph, the depth of field is short, which suggests a wide aperture and given the bright but very hazy seaside conditions, probably a fairly quick exposure - this is born out by the chap leaving the frame on the left, as there is little movement blur, despite being mid stride. Here we see a vertical brighter strip, probably caused by the shutter curtain hesitating, or possibly frame overlap. But given that this camera used the red window method to advance the film, the latter cause seems unlikely. In 1938 this Graflex would have been between 21 - 23 years old and almost certainly would had been in the ownership of a professional for the first part of its life, so was likely to have been very well used by this time. A shutter fault seems likely, particularly in view of the number of patches and repairs found when it was being conserved. The point of focus is set on the group of people as you'd expect, but the edge to edge definition is low. The horizon is also slightly askew, as these cameras were difficult to use, the viewfinder being quite dull. The exposure is good, recording detail in both Trevor's dark jacket and the white shirt of the little boy, whilst the sky has not washed out to white. Trevor was a keen photographer, but as he's in the picture, he'd clearly roped someone else in to take this image, I suspect the individual from the empty deck chair and lady's hat.


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