Welcome Exposure Guide

The is a sturdy, paper-based guide to exposing film correctly. The guide was published on 30 November 1945 and purchased by an unknown photographer on 29 July 1946. At this time, calculating exposure was made difficult as there was no standard way of measuring film speed. This guide makes no mention of either ASA or DIN, which we have come to think of as usual – and was well before ISO him speeds. The guide has several pages of “exposure factors” for each type of film likely to be found in 1945. Ilford films, as an example, were advertised with “speed groups” which were only used by Ilford as well as H&D and Scheiner speeds. Barnet films were given an H&D speed rating, Kodak films had º Kodak. Weston meters used Weston speeds which were not used by any film makers. It must have been a nightmare – even Sunny 16 would be difficult without ASA speeds!

Welcome exposure guide

Enter the Welcome Photographic Exposure Guide. This has twenty pages of information, four pages of example photographs and a handy exposure dial. This guide is rather complicated – very much so for those of us used to modern automatic exposure cameras.

First, you need to ascertain the current light value. There are tables to enable you to do this – one table for each month which is divided by time of day vertically and weather horizontally. So, I am typing this on 4th May on a cloudy day at 5.00 pm. The May table gives me row four (7 a.m. and 5 p.m.) and column three (Sun obscured by light cloud or slight mist). The light factor for this is 1 with a note that this number must be used with caution and might need to be increased by five or ten times.

Second, I need the exposure factor for the film I am using. If I am using Ilford FP2 (it is likely to be FP4+ in real life) I need to go to the list of films and plates starting on page ten and find my film – page 13, miniature films (=35mm) – where I find that my film has an exposure factor of 1/24 or 1/32. 1/24 is the shortest exposure that will give a fully-graded negative and 1/32 is the shortest exposure that will have any hope of success. I want a good negative so I go with 1/24.

Third, I need to decide if my subject is ‘normal’ or not. If not normal, there are several options: Distant landscape, open beach, snow perhaps or Heavy foreground or maybe Portraits, groups. Well, I like landscapes and so will go with that.

Fourth, I need to know what aperture I am going to use.  It will be ƒ/5.6, usually so I will go with that.

To use the dial on the inside of the back cover, I line the green 1/24 against the black 1. Next, I look at where the black pointer is pointing (1/4 in this case) and move the word ‘landscape etc’ against the 1/4. At the other end of the dial, I find ƒ/5.6 and read the red shutter speed off – 1/200 seconds.

If I wanted to decide the shutter speed rather than the aperture, I could decide to use 1/500 seconds, look at this in the red figures and read the aperture off – between ƒ/3.5 and ƒ/4

Actually, this is not so hard to do. If you habitually use the same film you would soon memorise the Exposure factor – 1/24 in my example as this will not change for the entire film and probably not for most films. Again, you will only need to check the light value every hour or so. Indeed, once you have got your exposure settings, you need change nothing for the entire sessions in most cases. At the time, this was probably useful for serious photographers but I much prefer my Zeiss Ikon Ikophot hand-held meter.

To help you decide on the classification of your subject, there are eight reference photographs to compare with your subject. These photographs, together with the other pages of the guide can be found below.

Welcome exposure guide 1
Welcome exposure guide 2
Welcome exposure guide 3
Welcome exposure guide 4
Welcome exposure guide 5
Welcome exposure guide 6
Welcome exposure guide 7
Welcome exposure guide 8
Welcome exposure guide 9
Welcome exposure guide 10
Welcome exposure guide 11
Welcome exposure guide 12
Welcome exposure guide 13
Welcome exposure guide 14
Welcome exposure guide

Gevaert Manual of Photography – 1958


I already have a copy of the Ilford Manual of Photography – 1958 edition. This Gevaert Manual of Photography is also from 1958 – the fourth edition. Note: “Gevaert’ is pronounced ‘Gave-art’ apparently. These manuals are interesting for a camera collector as they help to put old cameras into perspective. For this reason I also have the British Journal of Photography Almanacs for the years 1922, 1936, 1944, 1950, 1953 and 1957 and Wallace Heaton’s Blue Book catalogues from 1939, 1952 and 1971.

_1010655There are a total of 459 pages. This was originally published in Belgium, edited by A.H.S. Craeybeckx, and translated into English by C.J. Duncan of the University of Durham. The book was published jointly by Gevaert in Antwerp and the Fountain Press in London. The title page says that the book is “A practical guide for professionals and advanced amateurs”.

This manual covers pretty much the same subjects as the Ilford manual but seems to be written in a friendlier, less academic manner. This will suit some people and annoy others. I quite like the tone of the writing. There are copies photographs throughout the book – 96 of them. These are not there to illustrate anything in the text, they just seem to be there for the joy of it. Of course, there are illustrative pictures as well but these are in a minority.

_1010645The production of the manual is to a high standard – it is casement bound with hard covers and a very 1950s style dust jacket. The text is in six parts.

  1. Principles of Photography
  2. The Negative
  3. The Positive
  4. Colour Photography
  5. Photographic Chemicals
  6. Appendices

Each part consists of several chapters.I shall review this book part by part.


_1010646Part One – Principles of Photography

This part has three chapters covering Photographic Optics, the Sensitive Material and Processing.

_1010647The first chapter covers more than just lenses although these are covered in some detail. it also covers filters, focusing, viewfinders, shutters, exposure, light meters and more. This chapter is well worth reading, even for digital photographers.

The second chapter covers film and photographic paper. This includes how the light sensitive emulsion is made and the technical properties of the emulsion once it is made.

The third chapter deals with the processing of the film and paper after exposure (actually, they talk quite a bit about glass plates as well as this is quite an old book).

Part Two – The Negative

There are, again, three chapters: Taking the Picture, The Negative Material and Processing Negative Material.

This part is more practical. The first chapter deals with using a camera to capture an image on the film. Most of this chapter is still relevant in the digital age. Covered is: lighting, flash, exposure, composition, aesthetics.

The second chapter deals with the various types of film and plates made by Gevaert in 1958. This is meaningless today other than as historical interest. The third chapter in this part deals with the practical aspects of processing the film. It covers various development methods for differing types of film and plates and then goes on to discuss the faults that occur and how to deal with them.

Part Three – The Positive

There are seven chapters in this part and they deal with producing the final picture.

_1010648The first chapter covers the types of photographic papers and is followed by a chapter on using the papers. much of the second chapter is about enlargers and the rest is about exposing and developing the paper.

The third chapter is about the photographic papers made by Gevaert in 1958. Again, only of historical interest.

The fourth chapter of part three deals with finishing, presentation and mounting of the positive print. Not entirely irrelevant today.

Chapter five is about ‘Lantern Slides’ or what became known as ‘slides’ – transparent positives for projection.

The next chapter, six, is Document Photography. This is what was replaced by photocopiers. It all looks complicated, particularly Gevaert’s early photocopier which produced wet copies in ‘only’ one to two minutes.

Chapter seven explains the darkroom – construction, floor, walls, entrance and layout. A fairly detailed description.

Part Four – Colour Photography

_1010649Although colour photography had been around since 1904 with Autochrome plates and 1935 with roll film, in 1958 colour photography was still unusual. It would be another 20-odd years before monochrome was no longer seen as ‘proper’ photography.

The first chapter in this part is about colour theory and how it applies to image making. Still relevant today. Next is using Gevaert’s “Gevacolor” film. most of this chapter is quite out of date but some parts are still relevant.

The final chapter part four is an explanation of how images are formed on both negative and reversal (slide) colour film. I found this chapter to be very confusing and not up to the standard of the rest of the book.


Part Five – Photographic Chemicals

Analogue photography – or real photography – is first and foremost a chemical process. Part five is about Gevaert’s range of photographic chemicals available to buy retail plus some formulae to enable you to make your own developers and fixers, etc.

_1010651The first chapter of part five is about Gevaert’s ready made chemicals. None of these is available anymore and probably have not been for several decades. The second chapter is a range of formulae for making your own developers, fixers and other photographic chemicals. If you are that way inclined. you could still use these. Gevaert’s G206 developer is exactly the same as Ilford’s ID11.

The last chapter in part five is useful Hints and Recipes. These are interesting but very useful today.

Part Six – Appendices

This part has three sections (rather than chapters). The first section is a number of useful tables. Some of these are still potentially useful. There are a number of conversion tables for converting between various units. These are followed by solubility tables, atomic weights, meter settings for Gevaert films, and flash guide numbers.

The second section is Elementary Sensitometry. This is worth reading for any film user even if it is not relevant to the digital age. The third section is various Photographic Effects. These are always interesting and are of some use to modern film photographers.

The last section in part six is a bibliography. There are six pages of useful books – some are available second hand today but I doubt you would find many of them.

The book ends, as it should, with an index. This is divided into two parts: Subjects and Photographers. All in all, this book is very interesting, quite useful and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in film photography.

Ilford Manual of Photography

The Ilford manual of Photography was the bible for analogue photographers for many years. Here is a review of the book.

This excellent book was long the photographer’s bible. A number of editions were produced. My copy, the edition this review is based on, is the fifth edition published in 1958 – a mere 62 years ago. Obviously, in 1958 all photography was what we now call analogue photography – based on exposing light sensitive chemicals to light, usually silver bromide although other systems did exist. Even so, 30% of this book is still relevant in our digital age.

_1010609There are 31 chapters over 604 pages followed by a further 90 pages of appendices. The first 200 pages, 11 chapters, deal with light and optics and various camera designs. The first 10 chapters are thoroughly relevant to modern digital photography and most of chapter 11 is also relevant as it covers types of shutters and their actions.

Chapters 12 to 17 cover the chemistry and physics of film in more detail than most people can use. This is followed by two chapters on colour theory and the effects of colour on black and white film.

Chapters 19 and 20 deal with the mechanics of actually using a camera to produce a picture. These two chapters are still relevant to digital photography.

Chapters 21 to 31 are about developing and using negatives. Nothing here is even slightly relevant to digital photography but is still interesting to read. Of course, for those of us still using film these chapters are quite useful.

At the back of the book are 20 appendices. These are concerned with tables of technical information and useful formulae. Even for film photographers these appendices are too out of date to be of much use to anyone – but are still interesting to read.

I am not going to review each chapter but I am going to précis the main contents. This book makes some assumptions about the reader. It assumes a good level of literacy and uses longer sentences than are usual today. A second assumption is the the reader has  good intelligence and is reasonably well educated. There is plenty of maths and chemistry with the assumption that the reader will follow the discussion with little explanation.


Chapter 1.

This chapter gives very brief details of what photography is. It occupies six pages so is clearly rather scant.

Chapter 2.

Here we have a similarly scant exposition on what light is. This is worth reading for any photographer – it also is only six pages long.

Chapter 3.

Where does light come from? What are the differences in the light from differing sources? All is made clear.

Chapter 4.

This is the first chapter on optics. Refraction is introduced and the basis of complex lens design explained – this involves algebra! A very useful chapter for any photographer. Only eighteen pages long so no reason not to read it.

Chapter 5.

This chapter of 22 pages is about the speed of a lens. That is mostly (but not entirely) about apertures. There is a good and mathematically rich explanation  of an ƒ/number and the ƒ/number series.

Chapter 6.

Twenty eight pages here with the heading “Image Size, Angle of View, Perspective and Depth”. This chapter basically describes the functions and usages of different focal lengths of lenses. Every photographer would benefit from reading this chapter.

Chapter 7.

This chapter deals with the various aberrations all lenses are prone to.  Modern lenses are designed by computers which allows the lens maker much finer control over the details of lens design – these modern lenses are still subject to all these aberrations but to such a low degree that they are usually not visible. The thirteen pages here are less mathematical than some previous chapters and are well worth reading.

Chapter 8.

The seventeen pages here are about the types of lenses used in photography. This chapter is fairly technical and probably rather outdated. It is still interesting to read, mind.

Chapter 9.

This chapter describes thick and compound lenses and how to calculate the two nodal positions. This is mostly academic for practical photography but does help the photographer to calculate the image nodal point which is essential for taking multi-image panoramas.

Chapter 10.

Here we learn how to choose a lens and, having chosen it, how to test the lens. For practical pictorial photography (i.e. what we amateurs do) this does not really matter at all but for those involved in technical photography it is rather more important.

Chapter 11.

What camera do we buy? There is much less choice today than there used to be. Today, the choice is between a DSLR, a ‘mirrorless’, a digital rangefinder or a compact camera. The main choice we have is sensor size and lens mount. It used to be much more complex. 35mm or roll film or sheet film? Leaf shutter or focal plane shutter? Fixed lens or changeable lens? Reflex or viewfinder? Type of flash synch? Hand held or tripod based? Price?

The rest of this book is entirely film (aka analogue) based but still very interesting.

Chapter 12.

Film is a complex material. This was even true in 1958 when this book was written, before the advent of cheap colour film and T-grain Black and White film. This chapter describes the manufacture of film and photographic paper. Obviously, as major makers of film and paper, Ilford have kept this chapter to generalities – they give away no trade secrets.

Chapter 13.

There are only seven pages to this chapter which deals with the structure of a film image after development.

Chapter 14.

The study of the response of photographic materials to light is termed ‘sensitometry’ which is what this chapter is about. There are fifty six pages here – sensitometry is fundamental to photography including digital photography but this chapter is pretty much dedicated to film.

Chapter 15.

This chapter is about measuring the speed of film. This is an interesting chapter for those of us with a mathematical mind and a technical bent. Even for those of us still using film, this chapter is basically irrelevant as ISO speed measurements have a different technical base to the older ASA speeds even though the speed numbers are the same. Digital speeds are completely different again.

Chapter 16.

This chapter is still relevant even though it is based on black and white film. This is of use to us film users as film has changed little since 1958 but still has information useful to digital photographers.

Chapter 17.

This is about recording colours with black and white film. Again, more interesting than useful.

Chapter 18.

This extends the topic in chapter 17. The parts relating to our visual response to colour is technically incorrect – human biological stady has progressed massively since 1958.

Chapter 19.

Twenty three pages on the use of filters. An interesting read – filters used to be very important in photography.

Chapter 20.

This chapter is basically a very brief introduction to the techniques of composition and lighting. It is worth reading for a complete beginner but is rather basic. There are some example photos to illustrate various lighting techniques which are worth studying.


Chapters 21 to 28.

These deal with processing film and printing the positives.

Chapter 21.

This is about developing the film and goes into quite a bit of theoretical detail over 38 pages. There are brief details of the ingredients of developers followed by a discussion of the various developer types in use in 1958. This is followed by the techniques of actually developing the film and some of the image defects encountered.

Chapter 22.

This deals with fixing and washing the film. This is not as involved as developing and it only occupies eighteen pages.

Chapter 23.

The title of this chapter is ‘Intensification and Reduction’ and is mostly about improving poorly exposed negatives.

Chapter 24.

This is the analogue version of Photoshop! Hand-work on Negatives is about removing small defects from the image before printing. This was always specialist work.

Chapter 25.

Entitled The Darkroom, this chapter is about the design and layout of a darkroom with thoughts on the equipment required.

Chapter 26.

Papers. There are as many types of photographic paper as there are types of film. As well as discussing types of paper, this chapter also mentions development  and – more importantly – washing of the print.

Chapter 27.

This is about printing on the paper. There is discussion on enlargers and light sources together with determining exposure time. When I started out with photography in 1973, I found this chapter very useful.

Chapter 28.

Eight pages on toning prints. This is the act of converting a black and white image to a single coloured image, usually brown and white  – called sepia – but other colours were used as well.

Chapter 29.

Here we learn about presenting the print once we have produced it. Strange to say, in this age of smartphones, pictures used to be framed and hung on walls or placed on mantlepieces. This chapter spends some 24 pages explaining how to do this well, together with pictures of some examples.


Chapter 30.

This is about the faults that are commonly seen in photographs. While much of this chapter is about analogue photography I found it very interesting to read.


Chapter 31.

This chapter was already archaic when this book was written in 1958 – making lantern slides. By 1958 it had become normal to use slide film which came back from Kodak mounted in frames ready for projection.


There are twenty appendices over 79 pages. The information in these pages would have been very useful back in the day but 62 years later it is all horribly outdated and irrelevant.

  1. Recommended meter settings for Ilford films and plates
  2. Ilford films and plates suggested for different subjects
  3. Daylight exposure guide for Ilford films
  4. Ilford world-wide daylight exposure tables
  5. Exposure table for interior photography by daylight
  6. Flash exposure guide numbers for Ilford films
  7. Photoflood exposure guide for Ilford films
  8. Exposure tables for artificial light
  9. Exposure tables for copying
  10. Filter factors for Ilford films and plates
  11. Recommended development times for Ilford films and plates
  12. Useful formulae
  13. Reversal processing of Ilford roll and 35 mm films
  14. Physical development for fine grain
  15. Weights and measures
  16. Logarithms
  17. Trigonometrical ratios
  18. The pH scale
  19. Some outstanding dates and names in the early history of photography
  20. British Standards on photography.

Wallace Heaton Blue Book 1939

The formal name of this book is “Minitography and Cinetography” and it relates to miniature (i.e. 35 mm) and cine photography, although there are some adverts for medium format (120 film) cameras. It is the second edition of what became known as The Blue Book. About 1/3 of the book is articles on various aspects of photography (110 pages out of 338 total pages). The rest of the book consists of a catalogue of Wallace Heaton’s product line and services. It measures 11 cm by 15 cm (4¼ by 6 inches in old money) and is 1½ cm thick in its well-read condition. It is now beginning to disintegrate, the front cover being almost detached. It cost the princely sum of 1/- (one shilling) new (that is 5p in modern money.
Wallace Heaton Blue Book 1939 © John Margetts


The date of publication is the main reason I bought this – 1939. Camera technology advanced tremendously during the 1930s and then in 1939 everything stopped. German camera manufactures, along with the rest of German industry, was moved over to manufacturing war materiel. So, this book has both details and prices of German cameras immediately before the hiatus of 1939-1945 (other nationalities of cameras are also represented). Interestingly, there is a typed, pasted addendum on the fly-leaf stating: “Since the outbreak of war we regret that many of the prices in this handbook have been increased in price byabout (sic) 15-20%  We welcome your enquiries when full information will be given” This addendum has itself been addended by hand to read “15-50%”.
The introduction to the handbook makes the interesting comment that “Due to the magnificent efforts of our Prime Minister, war was avoided . . . ”  Was this level of unfounded optimism in our Prime Minister (one Neville Chamberlain) normal in Britain in 1939? Had no one understood this Adolf Hitler chap?
Within the camera descriptions are some peculiar anomalies. For instance, for each camera there is a box giving details of the options available. In these boxes, focal lengths are given in cm or mm but in the written descriptions the focal lengths are given in inches. For instance, the Zeiss Orthometar lens is given in the box as having a focal length of 27 mm and as 1 1/32 inches in the text. The Tessar lens is either 4 cm or 1 9/16 inches. It is enough to make me glad we moved over to the metric system and abandoned the old Imperial system. Somewhat strange is the seemingly indiscriminate use of cm and mm for focal length. Before 1939, cm was usual, particularly in Europe, and after 1945 mm became usual. Here, in 1939, we are on the cusp of the change and I suspect the usage depends on the individual writer – the younger or more fashionable writers having already moved to mm and the older hands still using cm.

The makes of camera advertised is telling – and must have caused problems once anti-German sentiment settled in in late 1939 and early 1940. Leica, Zeiss Ikon, Certo, Welta, Agfa, Balda, Robot, Rollei, Exakta, Pilot, Voigtlander, Altiflex, Korelle, Primarflex, Zeca, Foth, Plaubal – all German while non-German cameras are represented by Kodak, Ensign, Newman and Guardia, Purma, Minca (USA), Thorton Pickard and Soho. Even then, the best Kodaks (Retina) were German designed and made. All the non-German cameras offered Carl Zeiss lenses and Compur shutters, again German and soon to be in short supply.

As well as cameras, the book lists darkroom supplies – hardware and chemicals – slide and cine projectors, epidiascopes and cine cameras. There are also cine films for hire – much like Netflix  but not quite the same range on offer. Services offered include developing film, printing and contract photography.

The articles are on various technical aspects of photography. The article titles are:

  • The Amateur Press Photographer
  • Animals and the Cine camera
  • Animal photography
  • Cine – Kodak Special
  • “Colmax” (Regd) Prints
  • Colour Films. What to do with your
  • Dufaycolour
  • Fill the Picture Space
  • Fireside Photography with a Miniature
  • How it is done
  • Insurance
  • “Lens-hoods”
  • Managing Director’s Message, The
  • Miniature film processing
  • New Ideas
  • Personal film, The
  • Pola Screen, the use of the
  • Rangefinder or Reflex
  • Rolleiflex, Why I like my
  • Small Object Photography in Colour
  • Speed v. Grain
  • Stereo Photography, What About
  • Studio Lighting for Portraits in Colour
  • Super Ikonta, The, as a Universal Camera
  • Treat Them gently
  • Warm-Tone Enlargements, Why not try

There is quite a lot about colour photography as colour film was only just becoming generally available and affordable.

Wallace Heaton Blue Book – 1952

A paperback illustrated catalogue of the main items that Wallace Heaton sold in 1952. They issued it every year and they were the largest photographic retailer in Britain for many years. So, these are quite common (I do not really understand why people kept them once they were out of date, but they clearly did) and therefore quite cheap to buy.

Wallace Heaton Blue Book - 1952
Wallace Heaton Blue Book 1952

For the camera collector, these Blue Books have two separate appeals. One is that they show us just what equipment was available in a given year.  This is particularly useful where minor changes were made to a camera model and you can see from the photographs in the catalogue how the outside (at least) looked in a particular year. Each item also has a brief description including available lenses and shutters. Secondly, each item is accompanied by a price – or a range of prices for each variation available in that year.

What you cannot do is use this book to see what manufacturers were producing. This particular Blue Book dates from 1952 (I have other editions from 1939 and 1971) and the UK had legal limits on the quantities of imports allowed from various places. As most of these cameras were made in Germany, import quotas could be quite small, or even non-existent.

Blog copyright by John Margetts, 2014

As a major photographic retailer, Wallace Heaton did not just sell cameras, they sold everything either a professional or amateur photographer could want. They even had a small range of OEM products – distinguished by the trade name ‘Zodal’ or variations on that.

The main headings in the catalogue are:

darkroom equipment
still projectors
cine projectors
tape recorders

There are a total of 144 pages and the books dimensions are 5 3/4 inches  by 4 inches (146mm by 100mm). An interesting little book.

Photographic Almanac

First, an apology. This is supposed to be an Old Camera blog, not a book blog but this book is about photography and dates from the same time as many of my cameras. In fact, since I originally wrote this article, I have purchased more of these Almanacs. I now have editions from 1922, 1936, 1944, 1950, 1953 (my birth year) and 1957. These all follow the same format as described here, with only minor variations, so I shall not describe each individually.

This book is a well-bound hard cover book – none of this Perfect Binding that falls apart after a few reads. The book has several sections, each of which is interesting in a different way. The book opens and closes with adverts from the main photographic businesses in Britain in 1957. There are 84 pages of adverts at the front and another 117 pages at the rear.
This is followed by five fairly long and intense articles on photography and  then a selection of abstracts from the British Journal of Photography (which, incidentally, is still published) who are the publishers of this almanac. After this are a number of photogravure plates of photographs. Next are a number of reviews of equipment and materials a couple of which are also articles in this blog (Bewi and Ikophot exposure meters).
After the reviews comes a brief chemistry primer for those chemicals a photographer is likely to come across. This is followed by a nine page glossary of technical terms in photography.
For the serious hobbyist photographer there follows a long section of formulae for developers, sensitizers, desensitizers, intensifiers, reducers, toners, silver recovery, stain removal, varnishes, mountants, and a few other things. The almanac also covers state of the art advances – there is a fairly long primer of the use of flash, both bulbs and electronic, and three-colour photography.
The rest of the book is more technical.  Forty pages of tables for all manner of things is followed by brief outlines of legal issues – copyright, Factory Acts, Shop Acts, registration of businesses, purchase tax, and a few others. (This book assumes a British audience and is also, of course, massively out of date.)

I am going to go through the Almanac section by section and outline what I find interesting in each part.

Blog copyright by John Margetts, 2014


These start with several pages of adverts from Kodak, which I suppose is fitting as the largest photographic company in the world in 1957 (I am guessing there but doubt I am far wrong). The ads start with colour film – still a new development in 1957 – and then equipment for colour photography, mostly cameras. Then on to black and white films and general cameras. My beef here is that Kodak do not include any pricing which would make the adverts more interesting although I do accept they were not thinking about a reader in sixty years time. The ads move on to chemicals, papers, cine equipment, darkroom equipment and industrial equipment.
The next few pages of ads (forty of them) are smaller ads aimed at professional photographers.  Then we come to Johnsons of Hendon who are more concerned with amateur enthusiasts. After Johnsons there are a few pages of Ilford ads – much the same array as Kodak but less of them.

This takes as to:


These assume an educated readership – the first article is titled Physics and Metaphysics in Modern Photography – not something I would image would appeal to a mass readership.  This article even goes so far as to touch on quantum mechanics and expects its audience to understand.
Next is an article on replenishing developer – still relevant to analogue photographers today. This is not quite as technical as the previous article but does assume the reader is au fait with basic chemistry.
This is followed by an article of the aesthetics of wild flowers.  In 20013 this reads fairly strangely as it assumes the photographer will be using black and white film which rather loses most of the appeal of flowers. If we remember that the article is a product of its day, it still reads well enough.
After this comes some cutting-edge stuff – television. It can be difficult to remember that in 1957 most people did not have television and when they did it could only be used during the evening – 24 hour TV had to wait for a couple of decades.
The article of the use of filters is still applicable, even to digital photographers.

The next section is called

Epitome of Progress

This section consists of abstracts from articles in two other places – British journal of Photography and Camera World. I will just give a few topics to give a flavour of this section.
Analysis of P.Q. Developers
Diffusion Transfer in Colour
Electro-optical Colour Separations
Wide Screen Systems

Again, these are not in the slightest bit dumbed down and end with a reference to the full article that has been abstracted.

Pictorial Supplement

There follows 32 pages of photogravure prints from “leading exhibitors”. Photogravure is a technique for printing photographs with a printing press. This gives very good definition (the picture is not reduces to half-tone dots) and gives pictures that are very attractive.  The iconic photographic magazine Camera Work published by Alfred Stieglitz between 1903 and 1917 used photogravure as its reproduction technique and Stieglitz used the technique as his standard printing technique even if he was not wanting to produce the picture in quantity.  Done well, photogravure pictures compare well with normal silver bromide prints and modern giclee digital prints. In addition, photogravure uses different ink to the normal printing processes and these photographs are printed on thicker, slightly glossy paper. This gives the surface of the prints a certain tactile quality that I find very attractive.

What did surprise me, given the date of this almanac, is that four of the pictures come from the other side of the Iron Curtain – two from Poland and two from Hungary.  All are well worth your attention.

New Goods

This section consists of reviews of equipment and materials available in 1957. There are 112 pages of these. They are worth reading to someone who is interested in old cameras (which I must assume anyone reading my blog will be). Not only do they contain descriptions of the equipment  but also comments on how they fit the expectations of a photographic reviewer in 1957. A further delight is that they include price information  – base price and purchase tax as separate amounts. Some of the cameras that I describe in this blog were very expensive new. They were certainly out of the reach of a normal working-class man and would have represented a sizeable investment for a middle-class man. That will  help to explain why they are usually still in very good condition after nearly sixty years.


Now we have sixteen pages of information about chemicals. This is basically a glossary, giving two to three lines about the most common photographic chemicals.

After this we have


This section both gives formulae for photographic solutions that you can make yourself and information about proprietary chemicals. This goes a bit beyond just formulae but I suppose there is a limit on just how many heading they could divide the book into.
For the enthusiast who wants to take his analogue photography beyond the basics, this is well worth reading.

The next section is

Plan-copying and Recording

This is basically about blueprints and copying office records – this is before the days of photocopiers! Not much here for the photographer apart from adapting the methods to produce cyanoprints.

Flash Photography

Flash photography was still in its early days in the 1950s and you needed to match your flash to your film and set the camera accordingly.  There is much information here about methods of synchronisation and types of shutters. There is also an explanation on how to calculate the correct exposure, using flash with colour, bounce flash, infra-red flash, violet flash, electronic flash and developing film for flash. There then follows some tables of data on various makes of film used with models of electronic flashguns.

There are tables on Reciprocity Failure and how to adjust exposure for various films when using flash.


Here are five pages on amateur cine filming.

Three-colour photography

The next twenty eight pages are about colour films.  There explanations of how the various colour films available in 1957 worked – there were rather a lot of types of colour film that did not last long.

The second to last section is a collection of


These cover an amazing range of topics. For instance:

Daily variation in Light in different Latitudes.
Shutter Speeds for Moving Objects.
Colour materials for Still Photography.
Conversion tables Imperial to metric.
Optical Calculations (including how to calculate the focal length of a lens and hyperfocal distances).


Miscellaneous Information

This section has a number of useful (or would have been useful in 1957, it is rather out of date now) snippets of information for the budding professional photographer. Topics are:

Factories Act
Shop Act
Registration of Business Names
There is a list of photographic text books and hand books which runs to several pages. This section ends with a directory of camera repairers in Britain.

The Almanac ends where it started – with:


These adverts are more aimed at amateurs as opposed to the professional bent of the opening adverts. Many (but not all) of these include prices which makes them more interesting to the collector.
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