Tag Archives: #DIY

Going “large”

I have enjoyed learning to use my 1900s halfplate (5×7) camera and love the images it can produce. However, starting with a piece of paper negative that size means the mounted image is less than 5×7. This means I can’t enter it for camera club competitions. The 5×7 size is a little too small also for selling as wall art – unless arranged with other images.

Having tried 10×8 photography using my cardboard cameras and being satisfied with the results I decided that it was time to “go large”.

So I have purchased via eBay a 10×8 full plate camera of a similar vintage, ( I sold on one of my two 5×7 cameras first). With apparently good examples going for £800, I was pleased to get an offer accepted on one in OK condition for less than half that price.

This camera has bellows in great condition, but needed some light repairs to splits and breaks in the wooden structure and mounting points. I use “chair repair” runny PVA glue to get into the cracks and clamp overnight to effect these repairs.

The metal parts on this “New Countess” are aluminium rather than brass. Some of these parts needed straightening which was a tense but successful process.

With a good dousing of leather “reviver” on the bellows and a cautious sprinkling of graphite powder on the sliding surfaces much of the renovations have been done.

Some home-made PVA and sawdust filler were needed to fill a light-leaking crack in one of the two film slides.

The lens that came with the camera is an F11 10 inch focus length example with a rotating disc of aperture holes. F11 is a bit restrictive so I have made some additional lens boards to fit, using the original one as my pattern. I can now use any of my lenses with this camera, including the Thornton Pickard shutter for short exposures.

The last modification to the camera was to make a strong tripod mount from a disc of 12mm plywood and sunken bolt-screw arranging to take a standard tripod screw.

I taped strips of photographic paper to the slides in order to test the camera and was pleased to find no light leaks from the camera and only the cracked slide needing additional repair. Now happy with the camera I ran three test shots with some 10×8 sheets of photographic paper. I pre-flash the paper to reduce the contrast and for the first shot I over did this so the whole sheet was dark. The next two shots were much better. At this point I was having to guess the F stop as I hadn’t seen the indistinctly scratched numbers on the F-stop disc. Therefore the exposures are a little dark,

The glass focussing screen is not original and quite a thick and murky piece of glass – hard to use. So I have ordered a replacement to be made ( https://www.ebay.com/usr/virgisst ).

DIY Cardboard Camera Mk2

After some success with the first cardboard box camera, and wanting to produce some large format (10×8 inch) images, I set about designing and building a new camera which could focus the image without being moved. This has the great advantage of being able to adjust the size an object appears in the image and still be in focus.

To achieve the variable focus I produced a box in two parts so that one slid inside the the other and joined them together, in a light-tight fashion, with a piece of black polythene bin liner. This give a light-tight but flexible join. I used the same film holder from the first camera with some improvements to make it more light tight. I added a channel to the new camera within which the film carrier could slide, using a strip of black paper to provide a flexible, light tight seal between the carrier and the box camera. The carrier is inserted in the top of the box.

As usual here, I am using Ilford glossy photo paper – at ISO6 and pre-flashing it to decrease contrast.

Utilising a spare vintage lens I ran a few test strips because even though the lens has marked F-stops, the distance between the lens and the film also affects light intensity. After running the tests I made the first 10×8 image (F22 2s exposure). This was in intense bright sunlight – not the best for a good tonal range – but it did really test the light-tightness of the camera. Here is an iphone shot of the negative a digitally produced invert to create the positive image. Once the negative is dry, I’ll take a high resolution photograph of it.

This works! – I am getting the tonal range and soft-dreamy look I am after – for a lot less money than the £800 10×8 antique camera on Ebay I’ve been considering.

Next step is to wait for a softer light and make some more images.

DIY Cardboard Large Format Camera

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.

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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.