cespurgeon.com

Charles Spurgeon's Photos

These photos were taken when I was photography editor for the Wesleyan University student newspaper, the Wesleyan Argus, although some were taken for personal use. The photos date from 1968 to 1970 or so.

These photos were originally processed for immediate use in the newspaper and were considered to be disposable. The surviving negatives are over 40 years old and are scratched and dirty. They were stored for decades in paper sleeves and envelopes that were stuffed in a box that somehow managed to avoid getting lost in repeated moves. That the negatives exist at all is a minor miracle, and I am surprised at the quality and clarity of many of the images.

Most of the negatives I saved were photos taken by me, but some of these shots were made by other photographers. There was no formal identification system for Argus negatives, and thus no way to provide attribution from the information at hand. If you want to add comments to any of the photos, you can register on this site by clicking on "Register" at the bottom of the left hand column. The only requirement is to provide a username, password and email account.

The negatives were cut into lengths of four or six images and those fragments have been scrambled together over the years, with the result that there is no coherent ordering. The images have been sorted into rough categories and I've done some sorting after the fact, but I make no promise of chronological order (or any other order).

The negatives were scanned with an Epson V700 flatbed scanner, whose ability to scan up to 24 images in a single run was instrumental in making these images available. Most exposures are direct from the negatives, although a few of the darker shots have been lightened. Some sharpening was applied to all of the images to compensate for the softening caused by the scanning process.

For Argus photos we used Tri-X film which we bulk loaded from 100 foot rolls into 35mm canisters to save money. The film was developed in Acufine, resulting in a film speed of ISO 1600 -- four times faster than the rated ISO 400 speed of the film. This made it possible to take pictures without a flash in a wide range of lighting conditions, which was handy and avoided drawing attention to the photographer. And besides, the Argus camera, a Nikkormat FT that had seen a lot of use, didn't have a flash. After taking the pictures the negatives were developed in the Argus darkroom, a re-purposed janitor's closet in the basement of one of the Lawn Avenue dorms. I would rapid-dry the negatives with an alcohol solution and make contact sheets. The writers and editors would mark the pictures of interest on the contact sheets, and then I would make enlargements of the likely photos.

Any prints that made it into the final layout of the Argus had to be turned into photo-engravings for the letterpress printing shop that printed the Argus. The engravings were made on a stiff sheet of blue nitrate plastic with a Fairchild Scan-a-Graver photo-electric engraving machine. That temperamental machine lurked in the back corner of another basement room, and it required careful adjustment and tuning (and cleaning and futzing and cursing) to get a decent photo engraving.