It was a very wet Monday morning – too wet to go out with the camera, so I thought I’d have a go at making my own large format camera to take 10×8 negatives. I have been looking to upgrade my 7×5 half plate bellows camera and so this would be an interesting step along the way. Using a spare lens that came with the bellows camera I bought last year I decided to make a fixed focus camera to do some close-up still life images. The lens seems to have a 9 to 10 inch focus length and stops from 8 to 64.
The biggest challenge was making a dark slide to hold the negative (Ilford photographic paper – running at ISO 6). But eventually I have a design that is pretty light tight – but benefits from having the focussing cloth draped over it when in use.
I used a “documents” box as my starting point, cutting a hole for the screen and dark slide. The screen is made from translucent stage lighting paper I had – but tracing paper would be as good.
Then a hole for the lens which was already mounted on a board, so some double sided tape fixed that to the box.
My first image was fogged and it was soon clear that the inside of the box needed blackening and the tiny holes at the corners and where the tabs fold in to make the lid all needed sealing up with black tape.
Once that was done – I made my first successful image. I have used it today with some more successful images – loving the image quality from the lens.
My still life work I have discovered is similar to that produced by the Czech photographer Josef Sudek who explored the play of light on ordinary objects and through his studio window in different weather conditions.