A New Book of Photography: The Smoking Fifties

Michael Philip Manheim has just released the second in a series of nostalgic photography, this time capturing the “Smoking” Fifties. The 1950s were a time of change and energy for Manheim, then a young photographer testing his eye and equipment to capture a moment in time.

This collection of black and white photos from the archives of Michael Philip Manheim presents small-town life in the 1950s. Manheim’s own lucid commentary on the era accompanies the images. With sympathetic but unsentimental attention, he documents the fascinating details of street scenes, dress and customs, faces and emotions of the era. These photographs allow the viewer to enter a different world, familiar to some and new to others.

 

Order The Smoking Fifties. How Once We Looked: Photographs of the Past on Amazon.com

The Cyclist

the-cyclist

Now I had an advanced twin-lens reflex, when I was fifteen years old and entranced with what I could do in photography. I was at our annual Halloween parade, and film was slow in those days. My Rollei’s lens was f3.5 and there was no way I could stop the action as the rider on an old-fashioned bicycle whizzed by. I did the only thing I could think of and panned with the action.

It was my first attempt at panning, and it added a new technique to my repertoire. It reinforced the learning process of practice and interpretation. And it early on taught me to get in there and react, not to overthink making an image “perfect.”

 

 

The past and the present are closer than we often realize, so I’m going back into the archives to see what I saw long ago. First up is this sampling of my documentary photography, a nostalgic collection of How Once We Looked. I’ve selected images that seem memorable, from the perspective of a life spent pursuing my passion. Here’s how the See-Saw collection now appears on Amazon:

http://a.co/4zsuZb2

Little Sister

little-sister

Little did I know, in creating this snapshot of my four-year-old sister, that photography would someday become my career. I was seven years old and using a twin-lens box camera that my older cousin Bill had given to me.

When I became enamored of photography as a teen, I had also become enamored of cameras. I soon learned, however, that it’s content that counts. Cameras are only tools to extend your vision.

“Little Sister” is proof of that, and became the cover for the book I produced as an adult professional, titled “See-Saw.” Its content comes from the editing that I did as that professional,seeing now what I saw back then.

 

The past and the present are closer than we often realize,so I’m going back into the archives to see what I saw long ago First up is this sampling of my documentary photography, a nostalgic collection of How Once We Looked. I’ve selected images that seem memorable, from the perspective of a life spent pursuing my passion. Here’s how the See-Saw collection now appears on Amazon:

http://a.co/4zsuZb2

Boys

boys in the street
In the Moment

When you’re seeking spontaneity in street photography, you want to keep moving and to keep alert.

My camera was preset for exposure, back in the days when color slide film demanded more precision than digital today. But that’s not the point. What I’m stressing is that this magic moment was just that—a moment—that would have gone by had I not been alert and responsive.

Point being: You can’t stand back and hope something will happen.

 

The past and the present are closer than we often realize,so I’m going back into the archives to see what I saw long ago First up is this sampling of my documentary photography, a nostalgic collection of How Once We Looked. I’ve selected images that seem memorable, from the perspective of a life spent pursuing my passion. Here’s how the See-Saw collection now appears on Amazon:

http://a.co/4zsuZb2

 

A Boy Lost in Play

boy on top of cannon

I call this Reverie, a boy lost in play at Artillery Park in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I was out strolling with camera, came upon him out with his grandfather, and moved in until this composition appeared just as his expression put him in another world.

 

The past and the present are closer than we often realize,so I’m going back into the archives to see what I saw long ago First up is this sampling of my documentary photography, a nostalgic collection of How Once We Looked. I’ve selected images that seem memorable, from the perspective of a life spent pursuing my passion. Here’s how the See-Saw collection now appears on Amazon:

http://a.co/4zsuZb2

Bringing Darkroom Awareness to the Digital Age

May 20, 1956 one month before my 16th birthday

One month from my 16th birthday, I created this 1956 version of a “selfie.” Easy to do when you’re photographing into a mirror.  The alternative was to use a self-timer. In either case, it was difficult to line up with a rangefinder camera that resisted getting two edges of the mirror’s frame straight. So what to do? Easy enough – just wait! In our era of Photoshop. I simply lined it up.

My point? Even then, the darkroom translated handily to the digital age.  I had long ago appreciated what you’ll see on a histogram: the range of tones from whitest white to blackest black.  Arranged properly, this gives you not only a range of tones but a happy medium, so you have readable mid-tones and a pleasing contrast as well. The effect then is snappy, what we used to try to achieve in creating a print. So now I have both vintage prints, the ones I created close to the time I developed my negatives, as well as pigmented ink jet contemporary prints.

These are just as archival but with today’s technology. It lets me tweak my images into a pinpointed perfection not possible in the early days.

Ah, it’s a great time to be digitizing my archives!

 

You can see this image and more, in my See-Saw book, previewing on Amazon

http://a.co/4TpEK1a

Delightful Instants

Capturing a Moment in Time

Delightful Instants

In an era of flashbulbs and press cameras, I was exploring what available light had to offer. It presented the world as we saw it, without the harsh effect of a single flash. Both techniques froze a moment that goes by in a blur.

Photographing peak action stopped the movement at its height.  It allowed slow shutter speeds in an era of slow films. And it preserved a feeling forever.

 

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