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Old Dec 26, 2010, 9:52 AM   #1
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Default My Father's Crown Graphic Camera

I learned photography on my father's Crown Graphic. Dad was in advertizing for the Ford Motor Company's tractor division during the 1950s, and would use this camera in his work. He flew all over the country and would take photos of the tractors in the fields for inclusion in Ford Farming, for which he also wrote the articles. He set up a temporary darkroom in the motel bathroom to make sure that he got the shots he wanted before returning. The Crown Graphic was a wonderful (though heavy) camera for that use -- it even could be turned into a very nice enlarger! There are basically two things needed for a good enlarger – even illumination and a good lens. The CG had a very nice lens, and the fluorescent Graphex light source was as uniform as any enlarger’s light source that I ever used. I created a slide show explaining the equipment here: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/63...FD40DD67FC0E95

I mostly used the CG for studio portraits. It was wonderful for that, and dad had a complete set of those hot studio lights that at least used to be how one did such things. I used to earn some pocket money when I was in high school by taking portraits, and got to where I was reasonably good at taking individual or couple photographs, although people were pretty much out of patience by the time I had finished getting the lighting the way that I wanted it. For families, I never did get to where I could do any more than get everyone lit adequately. Any hope of creating a mood with more than two people was way beyond my skill level. Here’s a sample slide from my gallery:

The CG has lots of viewfinders. 1. is a rangefinder that can be used for focusing; 2. is a traditional viewfinder; 3. is a pop-up frame that photojournalists used for quick framing. 4. shows the lever on top of the lens that would cock the shutter. The tab at the side of the lens could then be slid down to open the shutter for using the ground glass to frame and focus portrait-style shots. 5. is the solenoid that would fire the flash when the shutter was released; 6. shows the stops on the tracks that brought the bellows to the right extension for normal photographic use. If you folded the tabs down, you could "double-extend" the bellows for 1:1 macro shots.

My dad has been in my thoughts lately, and I just wanted to float a piece of him out onto the web. He was a very special man. The world is the poorer for his passing.

Last edited by tclune; Dec 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old Dec 27, 2010, 6:33 AM   #2
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Nice pick, great story.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 3:50 PM   #3
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I still have my grandfather's Voigtlander Bessa 6x9 (pre-war I think) and think of him whenever I shoot with it. I know (and hope) someday that my grandkids will think of me when handling my old Nikon's and Minolta's.

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Old Jan 13, 2011, 8:47 AM   #4
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Ah, the first real camera that I owned was a Voigtlander -- the Vito CLR. It was a wonderful 35mm, with a 50mm lens and an excellent built-in exposure meter and very easy-to-use split-screen focusing. I used that camera for years, but I seem to have misplaced it somewhere over the years. One of the good things about the Crown Graphic is that it's just too big to misplace!
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 9:20 PM   #5
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What a great story about your father, his career and one of the primary tools he used while working.

I've always been a fan of the Speed Graphic and the picture and description of how it works of your Dad's Crown Graphic wonderful.

They were the camera of the professional newspaper photographer, etc...for many years.

I very much enjoyed reading about it. If you have any more stories of your Dad's work for the FoMoCo, I would love to read about it.

I also enjoyed the link...seeing the various components of the Crown , the flash unit and the old Weston Light meter.

Last edited by lesmore49; Jan 13, 2011 at 9:26 PM.
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