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1941 Los Angeles Civic Center

1941 Los Angeles Civic Center

This 1941 aerial photo of the Los Angeles Civic Center was taken by W. Ralph Briery of Temple City. The Los Angeles Times building is in the lower left corner. Across the street from The Times is the State Building, then the Hall of Records — both buildings since demolished. The third building in the block — the Hall of Justice — is currently being refurbished. To the right of City Hall is the federal courthouse.

For this photo, Briery used an Eastman postcard camera that took 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch negatives. He exposed XX pan black and white film at 1/200th a second at F/11.

This photo was published in the Aug. 17, 1941, Los Angeles Times Home Magazine on the The Camera Corner page– a weekly photography column by William Mortensen.

For his Aug. 17, 1941, column, “Carelessness Is Sin of Most Photographers,” Mortensen wrote:

Anyone who attempts to drive an automobile without knowing where all the gadgets are that control the car, how they work and what they do, is likely to end up in the ditch.

And so it is with the photographer and his camera. If he doesn’t know how to manipulate it, he usually ends up in the photographic ditch, and his pictures in the wastebasket.

In any phase of picture making, it is essential that the photographer know how to manipulate his camera. And especially is this true when photographing the outdoor portrait.

Strange to say, many amateur photographers will employ the greatest care and attention to detail when shooting pictures within the studio, yet click away in every sort of haphazard fashion when working out-of-doors. The wide open spaces, it so often seems, have the tendency to bring out the devil-may-care attitude in the photographer and a defiant carelessness toward proper observance of many of the camera-manipulating details so necessary to the taking of a good picture.

On the same Camera Corner page were these Camera Tips:

PIN HOLES: Tiny clear spots in a negative (they appear as black flecks in a print) caused by dust settling on the film in the camera. To prevent them, keep the inside of the camera clean by occasional dusting-out.

HALATION: A type of blurring or fuzzing around the highlights of a picture, caused by light passing through a film and then reflecting to the emulsion. It is rare now, because most modern films and plates are made with an anti-halation back coating or base tint.

F-RATIO: The ratio of lens-opening diameter to the focal length of the lens (this being the lens-to-film distance when the focus is set for infinity.) The F-numbers, such as F/8 or F/22, express this ratio. On a lens of four-inch focal length, for example, F/8 is simply a lens opening 1/2 inch wide–this being 1/8 of 4 inches.

William Mortensen was a well known Southern California art photographer. In 1941 he wrote 33 columns on photography for the Los Angeles Times.

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