I'm in Elmwood, NY for tomorrow's workshop and will be spending Friday night at a hotel in Danbury, CT. I'll go to the Danbury Public Llibrary at 10 and go for as long as possible. They close at 5 pm. They are open on Sunday from 1 to 5 so if need be I can go back. Saturday night I'll be starting a visit with my brother who lives in North Branford, CT.
In the past, microfilm readers printed an entire newspaper page, Today I think it's printing about 20 to 25 percent of an average newspaper page at a cost of 10 to 35 cents per photocopy. Although the reproduction quality might be a bit better you still have to spend four or five times the money for a complete page, especially if you need the entire intact page.
Some of the photography that I'm most proud of was reproduced on "picture pages." In fact, that was one of the draws for me to leave the New Haven Register and join the revamped Danbury News-Times.
Entire newspaper pages containing photos and story by the photographer were unheard of at the Register and most other papers being printed in those days. I still think it's pretty rare for a newspaper to hand over a full page to a photographer for his own "enterprise" work.
Yup, that's what they called it -- enterprise shots. We were supposed to keep a lookout for any type of interesting or unusual sights that might make for a good feature photo to fill space when needed. The economics of it for the newspaper's owners most likely drove that cost-saving decision rather than a desire to publish photographic "art."
The New Haven Register set type for its pages using the Linotype hot-lead process. The News-Times used the much newer photo-offset printing process.
At the News-Times a written article took a reporter's time to create, an editor's time to edit, a proof-readers time to proof and another person's time to key it into a primitive (by today's standards) computer driven optical photo-typesetting system. That system would print strips of type on photosensitive paper that would developed in chemicals. Then it would be carefully pasted onto a page that was used to make a large negative of the paste-up. The negative was used to make an aluminum printing plate to fasten onto the printing press.
There were other economic reasons for the preferential treatment of photos but I won't bore you with the details of that. Suffice to say that cutting the reproduction time and cost down to less than a quarter of the time, talent and materials required to reproduce a written article and you see what I mean.
The gigantic web-offset printing presses printed a "signature" which included multiple pages. If the paper needed a single page to compensate for a last minute addition of advertising it could easily be done.
Pardon the long explanation but that's why it would be good to reproduce an entire page of microfilm image.
BUT WAIT -- THERE'S MORE!
In today's digital age we can easily set up a small camera to make a high-quality photograph of almost anything. If the library's microfilm system is modern there probably will be no hot-spots on the face of the viewing screen.
Solving a problem like getting a full page reproduction of the microfilm image (assuming I can view the entire page on the viewer) is just one of the many reasons why I always carry a small very durable and highly convenient shoulder bag that includes my trusty Nikon Coolpix 7000. Any good photojournalist nearly always carries a camera everywhere. Add a tripod, always stowed in my Prius's trunk and your good to go for high-quality reproduction of the newspaper page or portion thereof.
If you read up to this point in my rambling thanks for hanging in there to finish it. You will be rewarded in the not-too-distant future with much more detailed information about most of the photos we'll be uploading. Thanks again for visiting the site and finishing this article.