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View Full Version : How did press photographers use their Graflexes, Pressmans, etc.?



BerndR
22-Apr-2015, 23:59
Hi,

I am wondering how the "old guys" actually used their cameras, especially how they tripped the shutter when hand holding the camera.

One fairly obvious way is the button on the flash that activated a solenoid that pulled the shutter. But without flash, how did they do it?

Looking forward to some war stories :)

IanG
23-Apr-2015, 00:28
Same way I and many others still do when hand held either with a cable release to the leaf shutter or with a Speed Graphic the shutter button on the body which can be set to release either the FP shutter or the leaf shutter (built in cable link).

Ian

BerndR
23-Apr-2015, 01:56
Same way I and many others still do when hand held either with a cable release to the leaf shutter or with a Speed Graphic the shutter button on the body which can be set to release either the FP shutter or the leaf shutter (built in cable link).Thanks for the quick answer, Ian. Sounds slightly acrobatic ... or do you have three hands? :confused:

Bernd

IanG
23-Apr-2015, 02:02
Thanks for the quick answer, Ian. Sounds slightly acrobatic ... or do you have three hands? :confused:

Bernd

It's very easy especially if you use the release on the body, but it's not at all difficult to use a cable release it's harder to talk about than it is to do :D I can work very quickly with my speed/Crown or Super Graphics hand-held. I prefer to focus on the GG and sometimes use a bit of front tilt.

Ian

Patrick13
23-Apr-2015, 15:20
Well, they did it like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vp2DmA3MA8

Randy Moe
23-Apr-2015, 19:54
Cool film. And I learned how to hold the camera!

Jac@stafford.net
23-Apr-2015, 20:12
You can still trigger the shutter solenoid without a flashbulb in the unit. It is a useful handle.

Bill_1856
23-Apr-2015, 20:34
One interesting (if Apocryphal) story is that the Speed Graphic was invented after the Graflex was banned from many sports venues, especially races, because the photographers were looking down into the hoods and paying no attention to the competitors, who occasionally ran into/over them.

Harold_4074
23-Apr-2015, 20:41
If you were Dudley Campbell, chief photographer for the Huntsville (Alabama) Times as late as 1967, you would have had a Stroboflash IV on your Speed Graphic, and pretty much always fired it, day or night. (At least, that was how he taught me, although I had to make do with a used Yashica-Mat and a hammerhead Honeywell Strobonar.) Dudley carried about 25 film holders in a bag, and could manipulate them with amazing speed and precision.

When I told my father about this, he said that in his Army Signal Corps photography course (in the late 1930s) the three rules were:

1) Always use a flashbulb;
2) The correct aperture is f/8; and
3) Never, ever, touch the focal plane shutter controls!

HMG
23-Apr-2015, 20:53
If you were Dudley Campbell, chief photographer for the Huntsville (Alabama) Times as late as 1967, you would have had a Stroboflash IV on your Speed Graphic, and pretty much always fired it, day or night. (At least, that was how he taught me, although I had to make do with a used Yashica-Mat and a hammerhead Honeywell Strobonar.) Dudley carried about 25 film holders in a bag, and could manipulate them with amazing speed and precision.

When I told my father about this, he said that in his Army Signal Corps photography course (in the late 1930s) the three rules were:

1) Always use a flashbulb;
2) The correct aperture is f/8; and
3) Never, ever, touch the focal plane shutter controls!

AKA F8 and be there.

Larry Kellogg
1-May-2015, 17:45
They swung the camera to the left, taking out the guy on their left, then swung right to take out the guy on their right, then they took the picture.

Randy Moe
1-May-2015, 18:12
They swung the camera to the left, taking out the guy on their left, then swung right to take out the guy on their right, then they took the picture.

Good technique!

Kuzano
1-May-2015, 19:18
Very poorly indeed! Have you looked at old newspapers?

Old-N-Feeble
1-May-2015, 21:39
TRUE STORY: I met a local photographer when I still lived in my home town. He was a darkroom technician for the local newspaper in the 1950's. One day a photographer brought him two Grafmatic holders full of exposed film. When he processed them he saw they were all out of focus. The photographer flipped out when they saw the negatives and accused the technician of somehow blurring the images during processing. The technician tried to explain that was impossible and most likely the wrong infinity stop was used or the cam wasn't matched to the lens. The photographer refused to accept this explanation and stormed off to ask other photographers for advice. They all agreed with the technician but their advice was summarily rejected. Finally, one frustrated coworker jokingly said the technician must have dropped the film holders and knocked the images out of focus. The next day the photographer screamed at the technician accusing him of that very thing.

That's how at least ONE press photographer used their Graflex.:D

Randy Moe
1-May-2015, 21:41
Lol

Drew Bedo
2-May-2015, 05:03
The press photographers of days past (the good ones anyway) were an invwbtive and adaptable lot. In the competitive world of pre-WW-II news paper reporting, the only thing that matered was an affirmative answer to. "Did you get the shot?" The follow-up question might have been, "How DID you gdet that shot?" the classic answer (from Weegee?) was, "F-8, and BE THERE!"

With all that said; The process of using a press camera and the gear carried around with it is one reason that the SLR cameras swept through press photography in the 60s and 70s of the previous century.

Jac@stafford.net
2-May-2015, 09:06
With all that said; The process of using a press camera and the gear carried around with it is one reason that the SLR cameras swept through press photography in the 60s and 70s of the previous century.

In my modest experience, the medium format rangefinder, along with the acceptance of enlarged photos took down the 4x5 Press camera. The Koni Omega Rapid-M was a killer for quick, lightweight photography. There was even a revolving bulb-flash unit. It cracked me up to see an old guy pumping that camera and popping bulbs faster than I could fire a Leica - before I got a Leicavit.

The Nikon F was the 35mm outfit that did in the larger cameras, in part because Nikon had a powerful Ad and PR effort, including almost giving them away to press photographers to be seen using them. And the F was modular. When we broke a body, we parted it down to the frame and replaced just that part. (Oh, and some wiseguys were taping over the Nikon front logo, really frustrating the company, "We practically give you cameras and you obliterate the logo!???"