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50th Anniversary:JOP
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A Brief History of Time with the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography

by Richard Hackel, April, 2019

Every great professional organization has a journal, and the OPS has the JOP. In 1978, less than 10 years after the founding of the OPS, Don Wong produced the inaugural edition of the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography. Together with his first editorial board of Ken Fong, John Goeller, Mahmoud Ibrahim, Norma Roman, Albert Aan DeKerk, Sadao Kanagami, Earl Chormokos, John Johnson, Johnny Justice, Jr, Ron Kacziak, Terry Tomer and Tom Van Cader, they realized his essential vision of a peer-reviewed journal. The JOP would be a forum for members to share knowledge, techniques, and provide a showcase for this rapidly growing profession of ophthalmic photography.

I was honored to be managing editor from 1992-1996. My predecessor, Marlene Fishman, had for many years helped to bring the JOP to new heights of professional standards. With the urging of then OPS president Mark Maio, we began by making the JOP one of the first medical/scientific/ancillary journals to use the just-emerging desktop publishing technology. In prior days, manuscripts were typed on a typewriter and photographs were made into 5x7" glossy prints, and were submitted in triplicate (one for each reviewer), and mailed in a large envelope with a postage stamp on it. Chosen works were sent to the publisher (who also did the printing), who made the layouts and sent mockups back to the editor on blue-lined paper with a lot of glue and tape and guestimates on how the image would look (hopefully not upside down, or in reversed stereo!)

With Mark's idea to have the OPS contract with a graphic/layout designer, the OPS hired Donna Rae Sutherland to manage this new working method of desktop publishing. As the new managing editor, I thought it was a great arrangement.  Since digital files and email were not quite up to speed, initially we had the typed manuscripts transcribed to text files and photographic prints scanned professionally, from which Donna Rae produced a digital layout. We could now actually see how the real journal would look, and reverse stereo was a lot less likely to happen! Not only did we no longer have to pay the publisher to do the layout, but we could choose from a wider number of printing companies. Even with Donna Rae's expenses, we saved a lot of money right from the start.

My favorite part of journal editing was working on the cover concepts. For the April, 1993 issue that featured stereo imaging (v.15n.1), I was able to negotiate with a vendor, LenTec, Inc., that sold stereo lenticular prints printed onto a semi-rigid plastic substrate for the ophthalmic community. In exchange for an ad in the JOP, LenTec provided a 4x5" lenticular stereo print of an optic nerve that was glued on to each cover of the journal.


Some time later I put out a general call for members to submit their stunning images for the cover. Alan Frohlichstein submitted a cut-and-paste composite of 94 photographs he had taken with a Zeiss 30-degree fundus camera of a young patient with retinopathy of prematurity. Marshall Tyler, my colleague at Wake Forest University, and I had been discussing whether Adobe Photoshop could be used to assemble composite photographs together. I looked at Alan's printed copy of the composite and decided I would try to digitally scan the original 94 slides and assemble them into a seamless montage. Fortunately, Adobe's latest version of Photoshop 3.0 had just been released with a new “layers” feature that helped make this possible. Alan sent me the 94 slides and I had them scanned. Then I took a week off from work and had a working stay-cation at home in front of my new Mac Quadra 700 computer with 20mb (not gb) of RAM. At least 40 hours later, by the end of that week, I had fabricated what turned out to be the first ever digitally composited seamless pan-retinal photograph. We put it on the cover of the October 1995 issue (v.17n.2), released just in time for the 1995 Academy, and the response from the ophthalmic community was pretty great.

Since my time as editor, subsequent editors Pat Saine, Chris Barry, and Beth Ann Benetz, along with assistant-editor Paula Morris, have taken the JOP into the stratosphere with great organization and content. Jennifer Manning is now the production designer and desktop publishing is the primary way to produce any journal. Editing and other communications between authors and editors is instantaneous with email, texting and file services like Dropbox. Even the elimination of long-distance phone charges (some of you may remember that fun part of your phone bill) has helped improve communication.

As the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society celebrates its 50th year, and the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography celebrates its 41st year, the JOP remains an essential part of the OPS. Over the years it has helped to define the OPS as a highly-regarded professional organization within the medical community. Even today with on-line reading of practically everything, the JOP survives as a printed as well as an online electronic journal. As someone who believes there is still great value in appreciating the printed image, I hope the JOP lives on in the ink and paper format.

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