Could you qualify for a 1948 Boy Scout Photography Merit Badge?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jdm_von_weinberg, May 20, 2011.

  1. Here are the requirements for a merit badge in Photography from the 1948 (Fifth Ed., First Printing) Handbook for Boys [the main manual for the scouts, JDM], pp. 503-4:
    1. Show that he is thoroughly familiar with the essential parts of a camera and explain the purpose of each of the following: finder, lens, shutter, diaphragm opening, bellows, focusing scale.
    2. Understand the basic principles of composition, selection of background and handling of light and shade.
    3. Name the chemicals found in one standard developing solution and one fixing solution, and explain their purpose.
    4. Submit six good quality pictures taken, developed and printed by himself, putting into practice his knowledge of the principles in Requirement No. 2. (Not more than two pictures may be submitted from any one of the following groups, and the collection must include one from each group.)
    • GROUP A.. Landscape or water pictures.
      GROUP B: Groups of persons or street scenes.
      GROUP C: Person, domestic animal or bird; wild animal or bird.
      GROUP D.. Architectural subjects.
    Can you do all these things?
    BTW, there was also a merit badge for Stalking, but unlike Photography, it was only available to First-Class Scouts and upper ranks.
  2. Oh, I just remembered. This is one of the six pictures I submitted when I got my own merit badge.
    True enough, we don't need no stinkin' baadges, but be prepared. ;)
  3. jtk


    JDM, nice! My merit badges were cooking, photo, and art. Knot tying and the like..bleah. The art advisor, Great Falls Montana, had a wonderful collection of brain-tanned, nearly paper-white Indian buckskin clothes, not to mention bead ancient old coot, he had been a student of Charlie Russell, whose story all my friends knew... that was enough for me!
    The cooking badge was a natural because I camped out, cooked out, and ate.
    I don't remember much about the photo badge, except that it involved my sister's Brownie, diopter lens taped-on, used to photograph my lead soldiers close up, focus distance guessed badly...I processed and printed.
  4. Wow! With a little boning up from my Ansel Adams books to prepare for number 3, I might just be able to earn mine--although I might have to persuade the judges about the "quality" of my photos.
    So did scouts who earned both the Photography and Stalking badges grow up to become the first paparazzi?
  5. Actually, the comment about paparazzi may not have been so far off, and the requirements for the Stalking merit badge are fairly intensive:

    1. Demonstrate by means of a stalking game or otherwise, ability to stalk skillfully in shelter and wind, etc., showing how to proceed noiselessly and "freeze" when occasion demands.
    2. Know and recognize the tracks of ten different kinds of animals or birds in his vicinity, three of which may be domestic.
    3. Submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed two different kinds of wild animals or birds on ordinary ground far enough to determine the direction in which they were going, and their gait or speed. Give names of animals or birds trailed, their direction of travel, and describe gait or speed; or submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed six different kinds of wild animals or birds in snow, sand, dust, or mud, far enough to determine the direction they were going and their gait or speed. Give names of animals or birds, their direction of travel, and describe gait or speed.
    4. Submit satisfactory evidence that he has tracked a human being and deduced from the trail whether it was man or woman, young or old, the gait or speed, and also give any other information deduced.
    5. Submit evidence that he has scored at least 30 points from the following groups: [Group (f) and 4 of the 5 groups (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) must be represented in the score of 30 and at least 7 points must be scored from (a), (b), or (c) ].

    Make clear recognizable photographs of:
    (a) Live bird away from nest.......4 points each
    (b) Live woodchuck or smaller wild animal.......3 points each
    (c) Live wild animal larger than woodchuck .......4 points each
    (d) Live bird on nest.......3 points each
    (e) Tracks of live wild animal or bird.......2 points each
    (f) Make satisfactory plaster cast of wild animal or bird tracks with identification imprint on back of cast.......2 points each
    The picture of the merit badge itself is below, but somehow it remains an optical "delusion" for me.
    Is it a branch of a tree with a "gray alien" hanging on it, or what? ?
  6. I never got this one, so have no boy photos of a live wild animal larger than a woodchuck. In Kansas, this would have been difficult unless you could count an Angus.
  7. I'm pretty sure I could pass both the photography test and the stalking test, and possibly all of them on the same day ... but I would fail the religious qualifications, and they'd throw me to the wolves. I don't know if there's a fending-off-wolves merit badge, but I might qualify. Except for the religious issue. Damn! A fella just can't get a stinkin' badge around here! Not even for traditional campfire songs.

    Happily, Steve Martin has now addressed this issue.

    On the badge illustration, I think that's supposed to be a lion/ess on the hunt. Here's the best I could quickly find:
  8. JDM von Weinberg [​IMG][​IMG], May 20, 2011; 01:58 p.m.
    Can you do all these things?​
    I'm pretty sure I have the requisite prints in my files.
    I would have to refresh my memory on the academic side of composition and developer chemistry to pass 2. and 3.
    So, with a few minutes of prep, I think I could pass.
    Now, the religion part...
  9. We never had photography as boy scouts in Taiwan, but I do fondly remember learning how to tie all those fancy knots. I still remember them too.
  10. c 1963, age 9. I had my Cub Scout, "little gold arrowhead" in photography. This was sewn on my blue shirt. A para military looking thing that resembled the hitler youths.
  11. Sure, now I could do that. (The photography, not the stalking. I'm a lousy stalker.) But did you have to describe how to
    make home brew Rodinal or something? I'd just be memorizing that for the test, I don't think I'd be likely to apply the
    knowledge or anything. I wonder what a photography merit badge would look like now? Take 6 snapshots, remove the
    red eye and get them printed at Walmart?
  12. Matt, thanks. NOW I can see that's what it is.
    Although the Alien "Gray" had a certain attractiveness to it.....
    As for religious qualification, I think that in my day they just assumed that no one could possibly be other than Baptist. Sort of a religious "don't ask, don't tell".
  13. A bit of Googling finds the current badge from the UK:
    You can still submit 6 shots 'where you have undertaken some part of the processing', otherwise 12 'taken by yourself'. Looks like you only have to know about 'shutter speed, aperture, ...depth of field and lens focusing' if you have a film camera, otherwise it's 'resolution, digital compression and...knowledge of the types of removable memory available.' Diagnosing faults sounds like a good test, though. We actually did make home brew developer & fix in our school - the chemistry teacher had a recipe book and stocks of metol, hydroquinone and hypo, etc.
  14. I'd have a better chance at the Stalking badge than the Photographer badge!
    I remember being in the Boy Scouts for a short period of time in Lewistown Montana, but we soon moved and I never got to get involved again, nor did I earn any badges.
    Unlike JDM, . . . although I'm still in Kansas, on the Eastern side we do have bigger wild animals these days than the woodchuck or groundhog.
    BTW JDM, that's a nice shot of Mesa Verde!
  15. Nowadays, even in western and central Kansas, there are bison (on some fairly open range around Kanopolis) and deer (in the riverside 'forests'), but darn few back in the late 40s and early 50s. I believe the phrase was "extirpated," although there were some coyote, and they are bigger than a woodchuck at least in dimensions.
    That Mesa Verde shot was developed and contact printed by me at night in the kitchen. I think it was an Ansco beginner's photography kit with the metal box with a hinged top and a bulb inside, trays, etc. Developing was by dipping, not in a tank, so the film was probably orthochromatic.
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I didn't do boy scouts because there were no merit badges in Girls.
  17. Interesting. My oldest son became an Eagle Scout as of June 2010, but surprisingly he never went for the photography merit badge.
  18. I was a Cub Scout...for one day. We met at the den mother's home on a cold, cloudy winter day, and I don't know what I expected we'd be doing...but it wasn't making cabins out of popsicle sticks and Elmer's Glue. I launched out the door without a word to anyone, climbed a thirty foot tall birdhouse pole and refused to come down until my mother arrived. I don't know what I thought climbing the pole would accomplish. Perhaps it was the initial launch of my days as a non-violent protester. A dozen years down the road, when the war in Vietnam started I was satisfied with carrying signs, flashing peace signs, and chanting slogans. No pole climbing. So getting kicked out of the Cub Scouts kinda blew my chances of becoming a Boy Scout. Come to think of it...I got kicked out of kindergarten as well, but fortunately they allowed me to attend public school ;)
  19. The first set of criteria are not that very different from those for some of the Royal Photographic Society's LRPS distinction, except I think RPS want 10-12 shots and they have to be mounted.
  20. I don't remember if there was a photography badge in Girl Scouts when I was one, but I did the Shutterbug week at Girl Scout Camp in about 1979 or so - that's when I first saw a print come up in the developer and got hooked forever.
    I'd have to look up specifics for #3, but could probably do the Boy Scout version.
  21. I believe that flash memory is developed from raw silicon using hydrofluroric acid. I don't recall that in my B&W formulary. I do recall using hydroquinone and sodium sulfite, among other things. Apart from the media available in 1948, nothing else has changed.
  22. I could qualify, but then I spent over 30 years as a photographic engineer. My biggest challenge would be the composition. After 50 years as an amateur photographer, I'm still working on that.
    I think it is interesting that the bellows is considered one of the essential parts of a camera. Even some 35 mm cameras in 1948 had bellows.
  23. I ran across a mob of scouts in Boston this weekend. What do you suppose the requirements for a photography merit badge is for these guys?
  24. The most recent requirements were written in 2006 and still reflect a film vs. digital debate:
    1. Explain how the following elements and terms affect the quality of a picture:
      1. Light-natural light/ambient, flash
      2. Exposure-aperture (f-stops), shutter speed, depth of field
      3. Composition-rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, depth
      4. Angle of view
      5. Stopping action
    2. Explain the basic parts and operation of a film camera or digital camera. Explain how an exposure is made when you take a picture.
    3. Discuss with your counselor the differences between a film camera and a digital camera. List at least five advantages and five disadvantages of using a digital camera versus using a film camera.
    4. Do ONE of the following:
      1. Produce a picture story using the photojournalistic technique of documenting an event. Share your plan with your counselor and get your counselor's input and approval before you proceed. Then, using either a film camera or a digital camera, produce your approved picture story. Process your images and select eight to 12 images that best tell your story. Arrange your images in order, then mount the prints on a poster board. If you are using digital images, you may create a slide show on your computer or produce printouts for your poster board. Share your picture story with your counselor.
      2. Choose a topic that interests you to photograph for an exhibit or display. Get your counselor's approval, then photograph (digital or film) your topic. Process your images. Choose 20 of your favorite images and mount them on poster board. Share your display with your counselor. If you are using digital images, you may create a slide show on your computer or produce printouts for your poster board.
    5. Discuss with your counselor the career opportunities in photography. Pick one that interests you and explain how to prepare for such a career. Discuss with your counselor the education and training such a career would require.
  25. Thanks, Ron.
    What does the patch for the badge look like now? Surely not the old view camera on a tripod?
  26. The current merit badge could use some updating. Is that an Argus C3?
  27. Thanks!
  28. There needs to be a PhotoShop requirement.
    Is there a movie badge with a B&H Super8 camera?

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