View Full Version : A Pinkham Tale.

Jim Galli
13-Dec-2015, 00:20
http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/Pinkham-Smith/Bi-Quality/Sixteen/16Bi-Quality_01ss.jpg (http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/Pinkham-Smith/Bi-Quality/Sixteen/Prototype16Bi-Quality.html)
la puta negra deuce

It's been a slow year for me and I haven't done a page of soft focus pics in quite some time. So it's time to break the silence I hope.

The image at the top links to a page I've created at my web pages with images done by a one off Pinkham lens. The only one in existence as far as anyone knows. It is a pre-production prototype Pinkham Bi-Quality lens, 16" f5. The story about it is at my page.


13-Dec-2015, 00:39
Thank you Jim! I love stories like this. I do believe some of the tools we use have a soul. This lens definitely does.


13-Dec-2015, 00:43
A nice historic story.

Mark Sawyer
13-Dec-2015, 01:25

13-Dec-2015, 04:33
Hello, Jim,
this is a fantastic tale !
I love this kind of bringing back the history, and looking at your pictures and knowing about your experience, for me you are the right man to do this prototype-finishing job..


13-Dec-2015, 05:54
Those photos are rich in mood and quality.

13-Dec-2015, 08:19
Wonderful Jim, I'm so glad you wrote down this history of these pieces of glass! And you did one thing even better, you produced iconic, graceful photographs with this lens, of subjects that would have been recognizable by Pinkham and all his relations and colleagues. I am always in awe of the generations of inventors, manufacturers, photographers, models, movie stars, motion pictures, and all the background film and chemistry involved in the great photography era of the 20th century. Soft focus came, went, then did it 2 more times, before being pretty much gone today. That doesn't mean it will stay that way. I'm sure all those predecessors are smiling at your work, too.

Imagine, the glass was made what, in the late 1940ss? Then the widow kept it for 40 years. Then the guy bought it, and kept it for 20 years. Then you bought it, and after only 4 years, you get it back doing what it was meant for.

Jim Fitzgerald
13-Dec-2015, 08:33
Wow, Jim great story and what is most amazing is the e-bay find. The images are stunning. The Pinkham is one of the lenses missing from my collection.

13-Dec-2015, 08:47
Good work, Jim! The lens is at last in its proper place.

What does Bi-Quality mean?

Jim Galli
13-Dec-2015, 09:06
Good work, Jim! The lens is at last in its proper place.

What does Bi-Quality mean?

Thanks to all who responded. As to Bi-Quality, someone may know the back story better than I do, but I believe I read some place that the family learned they could not use the old Pinkham and Smith moniker on the lenses in the 1954 run, but being their name was Pinkham it was OK to use that name and Bi-Quality was somehow supposed to be equal to or lending itself to the old name for the series, Visual Quality. The 1954 lenses were identical to the "Visual Quality" series IV lenses. Wish I knew more, and that more of the history was concrete for us.

13-Dec-2015, 09:29
Great story, fine images!

William Whitaker
13-Dec-2015, 11:09
A good read. Thanks Jim!

Tin Can
13-Dec-2015, 11:26
Rings true and the only way to improve the story is if the eBay seller was in Tonopah.

I call that type story, a Bar Story, which are usually true and told quickly, before teller loses his audience.

Good one!

Mark Sawyer
13-Dec-2015, 12:28
Was there any hint in that lot of odds-n-ends of who actually manufactured the Bi-Quality lenses? One of the great mysteries of large format photography!

Jim Galli
13-Dec-2015, 16:19
Was there any hint in that lot of odds-n-ends of who actually manufactured the Bi-Quality lenses? One of the great mysteries of large format photography!

Thanks all. And, no hint. The barrel is obviously Wollensak. Did they do the glass to customer design and order?? We'll likely never know.

Peter De Smidt
13-Dec-2015, 18:09
If I remember rightly, Frank Pechman (1911-2004) was a well-known portrait photographer. From what I read he organized a later production run of Bi-Quality lenses, but that's purely from memory.

Jim Galli
14-Dec-2015, 13:18
Thanks for all the comments. Does anyone remember which book references Edward Weston calling his Guggenheim $$$ 1938 Ford that he and Charis drove all over the west La Puta Negra. (The Black Whore). Mostly Charis calls it Heimy after Henry Ford. I was trying to find the reference in California and the West but didn't stumble onto it. Maybe it was in Charis' book Through Another Lens.

Mark Sampson
14-Dec-2015, 19:46
As I recall, the Ford was called 'Heimy' after the Guggenheim grant. They bought the least expensive two-door sedan, in black to save a few dollars, and later regretted that decision while traveling in the desert. I can't remember which book that's from, but I do admire your '38 coupe.

13-Jan-2016, 18:19
A bit late to the party but thanks for sharing Jim ... great images and clearly a one-of-a-kind lens !

Rudi A.

13-Jan-2016, 18:37
Like DAGOR77's listings, the stories are often even better than the objects. Thanks for posting it.

13-Jan-2016, 19:50
great story Jim and awesome images

Jim Galli
13-Jan-2016, 20:04
Thanks! Does have sort of a Dagor 77 ring to it, doesn't it. Come up with some Bavarian names and roll back the dates a bit.

The truth is, this little corner of the community is smaller than we think. Most of these lenses have a story to tell. Wish we knew more of them!

Jim Galli
23-Jul-2018, 09:06
Had this lens in action on Friday the 13th this year. You can plainly see it brought me good luck!

The scene is at a high school friend of 50 years. He is an artist and his yard is his on-going living artistic creation. Most people walk in his house or his yard and their first thought is; "you're not married, are you?"

Drew Wiley
23-Jul-2018, 10:47
Nice shots, Jim. Hate to tell you this, but leaded gas is illegal. Don't know how it got delivered in Nevada; but I do know that the gas pump in Bodie, suspiciously right across the state line here in Calif, also still apparently sells leaded gas. Have you been smuggling gas again?

Mark Sawyer
23-Jul-2018, 12:07
Maybe we could start a rumor that the Pinkhams were made with leaded glass...

Drew Wiley
23-Jul-2018, 13:28
... or it could be the Ethyl.

Jim Galli
23-Jul-2018, 18:02
Maybe Ethyl made the Pinkhams!

Mark Sampson
23-Jul-2018, 19:05
Ethyl may have made the Pinkhams, but Jim, you should make some more pictures with yours. I'd like to see them, at any rate.

Drew Wiley
23-Jul-2018, 19:08
Hmm, Ethyl Pinkham ... Was she a bromoil printer?

23-Jul-2018, 19:46
Great Pics Jim and wonderful tale, and you didn't have to send your little green men out to source them.

Jim Galli
23-Jul-2018, 19:55
The little green men are looking for a 210mm f2.8 Xenotar. I told them don't come back til they find one.