Carson Mansion, JFC, circa 1957

The second sleeve out of Jessica Fong’s Collection of Dardis photography contains 4×5 B&W negatives. Thats a major departure from Joel’s use of press sized negatives (4.25″ x 3.25″, or 3×4 in short)

This implies that Joel bought himself a new camera to work with. Although upgrading from 3×4 to 4×5 doesn’t seem much, it’s the difference between medium format and large format. Large format (LF) covers 4×5 to 8×10″ and the next size up, 11×14″ becomes ultra large format (ULF).

Joel now plays in a different league, fine-art photography. He’s no longer content with simple portraits and photojournalism.

First 4×5 sleeve, Jan 15, 1957 with 4×5″ format negatives.

Although the writing on the sleeve promises us a match between UCLA and College of Pacific photographed on Kodak Panchro Pan X film stock, nothing of this (football) match could be found.

There are a total of 7 negatives in this sleeve, all from the same subject.

A little research shows that Joel photographed an Original Negative and then copied it on two different film stocks for research and experimentation. Basically, the red print describes the contents of this sleeve.

He also notes the lens focal length as 210mm, in addition he writes down the developer details at the bottom.

There’s a note also about “Caran House” (sic) and it took me a few moments to figure out that this was not a house in Stockton.

Original Negative, Carson Mansion, West Elevation, Old Town, Eureka, California

The first thing that jumped out at me was the sharpness of hte image. Crisp detail, and that can mostly be attributed to a better quality lens that Joel is using on his new camera.

It is equally clear that this camera has front and rear rise, tilt and swing. The perspective of this image is as good as it gets. The vertical lines are neatly parallel rather than converging to a point.

But first some historic background. The Carson Mansion is a large Victorian house located in Old Town, Eureka in Northern California. It is generally regarded as one of the premier examples of Queen Anne style architecture in the United States, while some consider it the most grand Victorian home in America.

Regardless, it is one of the most photographed houses in California and possibly the Nation.

This house became a private club in 1950 (The Ingomar Club, note the “I”), and there’s a sign on the porch and in one of the windows stating as much. Private Club, No Visitors.

The structure on the left of the building was added by the Ingomar Club and enlarged around 1964. So, this might bracket the date of this image between 1957 and 1964. Respectively Joel getting a new camera as a New-Year present and the later 1964 date is determined on a different clubhouse addition and overall restoration.

As for the experiments with duplication on other film stock, see below few samples. Joel just can’t stop learning and tinkering with possibilities.

The Carson Mansion, original negative duplicated on Kodalith Film.
The Carson Mansion, original negative duplicated on Kodalith Film.
The Carson Mansion, original negative duplicated on Kodalith Film.

There are differences in exposure and development in all these Kodalith film samples, hence the different looks.

The Carson Mansion, original negative duplicated on Positive (Reversal) Film.
The Carson Mansion, original negative duplicated on Positive (Reversal) Film.

The lithography film samples create almost a technical drawing feel.

The reversal film, to make a positive image, resembles almost a paper print. One might say, no a good one at that.

The copies of the original negatives are no longer as sharp as the original, but it is clear Joel is in a learning and testing mode with his new camera.


Closer bracketing of this image should be possible by comparing this negative with all the other historic images out there of the Carson Mansion. Since it is one of the most photographed buildings in CA and US, there must be a good amount of 1950-1964 material out there.

We’ll share similar camera experiments in the near future.

Cheers !

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