A German pioneer.
Paul Wolff probably did more to gain acceptance of 35mm film photography than anyone. His interest was sparked by the award of a Leica in 1926, a prize in a photography exhibition.
His tireless work to advance 35mm photography, through the teaching of proper black and white film processing techniques, did wonders for the acceptance of the medium. Whereas photographers using larger formats were used to exposing for the shadows, cooking the film in the developer, Wolff taught that exposing for the highlights was the way to go and that a thin, lightly developed negative was consonant with the best image quality. Not insignificantly, this also resulted in finer grain, no mean requirement when film was grainy and the contrast range was short.
While Kodachrome was being developed in America, Europe got Agfa slide film and it was this which propelled Wolf into early 35mm color work, ably profiled in this relatively rare book:
If he had a specialty it was in industrial photography, and several of his images are included among the 54 color plates – produced using the Kodak Kodalith process and stable to this day – which illustrate this splendid book. Unlike long-lived Kodachrome, you can bet that Wolff’s Agfa originals will have faded long ago. The colors are warm, rich and saturated, reminiscent of Technicolor. My favorite is this bit of Americana, snapped using the modest 5cm Elmar on a Leica, as are most of the images here. The plates do not include photographer credits, the featured artists include Wolff, the great Alfred Tritschler and Rudolf Hermann who, I fancy, took this charming advertising image:
I found mine in a used bookshop for $15; prices are all over the place, generally in the range $10-50.
A charming period piece. Wolff died in 1951 and this book was probably published around that date.