Press Format Negatives, 1942


The Press format is a 3 1/4″ x 4 1.4″ format, sometimes referred to as “3×4”. This format is a size smaller than 4″ x 5″, the latter being considered the entry size to “large format film”.

It’s called “Press” format as it was a very popular format for bread and butter press photographers at the time. There were a significant amount of camera manufacturers supporting this size segment in the market, Graflex being the best known one. Shooting press format is a less expensive than shooting 4×5 and it comes with a smaller camera, smaller lenses, and less weight to carry around.

Possibly somewhere in late 1941, Joel acquires a camera that is a press format camera and decides to shoot larger negatives to have a larger surface to work with. (Results in higher resolution and larger, sharper prints.)

Graflex Super D Press Format camera, ca 1941. Image courtesy Eloy Flores.

From the March 2022 estate sale, we know there was a complete Graflex Super D camera output present (With original box !!!) as seen in the above photo, courtesy Eloy Flores. I’ll write a post on this type of camera in the future, to gain a perspective on what state-of-the-art in the 1930’s and 1940’s looked like.

I found eight press format negative boxes with expiration dates in second half 1942. This would imply that most likely the contents were shot that year or earlier. Few boxes in this series carry a pencil date of Jan-June 1942 and belong in the ART category.

Four ART press format negative boxes, Jan-June 1942.

The typical press negative box is supposed to hold 12 negatives. In the first box, I counted 17 negatives, in line with Joel’s practice. He needed empty boxes to submit negatives to media departments.

Negative images below are from the top box in above image and represented as-found in the box.

Untitled, Opal Greenfield, SJC 1942
Untitled, Opal Greenfield, SJC, 1942

Opal Greenfield is a new name in this mix, she was the class of 1943. One observation in these first press negatives, Joel doesn’t pull out the dark slide far enough. The lip is visible at the left hand side of the majority of the negatives in landscape orientation. (We’ve all done it !)

Untitled, Moberly, SJC, 1942
Untitled, Moberly, SJC, 1942

Moberly is not a new name, we’ve seen work from him in previous posts.

Untitled, George Akimoto, SJC, 1942

George Akimoto is no longer a stranger to this blog reader, George would go on to have an illustrious and prolific career, more on this in a future article.

It equally appears that in the above image, all three artist made their rendition of the same structure. Unidentified artists below, same structure in one of the images.

Untitled, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
Untitled, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942

The remaining negatives, except one, are untitled representations of 3D artwork from unidentified artists. There is actually quite a good variety of 3D work.

3D Artwork, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
3D Artwork, Group, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
3D Artwork, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
3D Artwork, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
3D Artwork, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942

I particularly like how the shadows at right add dimension to the above abstract 3D architectural construction.

The Lighthouse, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
Tray, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
Tray, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942
3D Artwork, unidentified artist, SJC, 1942

The last negative is an outlier in this series. It’s an image of a stained glass window that reads “In Memoriam John H Smith.” This might very well be the John Harley Smith (+1916) from Smith & Lang Co, 124 E. Main Street, Stockton.

As of this writing, it is not clear to me where this stained glass window is located in Stockton, to be investigated. (There are few options.)

Next post we’ll examine the contents of the second box of ART Jan-June 1942 Press Negatives, three more ART boxes to go through for 1942 !

Cheers !


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