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Saturday, 25 April 2009


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Man, did this remind me of Freud or what? :-)

Hey, that's my camera! :P

So what they're saying is, it won't take Compact Flash cards or SD cards. What is the rectangular light sensitive material they're talking about?

Probably sheet film, but could be glass plates, I don't know. We could ask Oren....


"A bit of portable darkness"

I really like that phrase. I think my next run of business cards will say Wielder of portable darkness instead of photographer on them.

Re: "portable darkness":

I liked it, too, so much so that I googled it*, only to discover Mike is either a follower of Aleister Crowley or a stage magician (or both). Who knew?

And the concept of "portable" has changed a bit over the years too, hasn't it?

People still use these cameras. I used my 5x7 Kodak 2A (which looks pretty much like the camera you show, and is mentioned on the site to which you link) to make this image: http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/tech/still2.html

Cool indeed. But nowadays they still keep making cool new-old ones, at least in ancient France. Check this: http://www.stenoflex.com/
Sorry it's in French, but the little thingie is more than cute. I got one for myself yesterday, the man (Mr. Marais) is fully reliable, less than 5-day delivery from France to Spain, and only for 36 Euro.

I don't see how one can fit Lord Lucas between the lens and the light sensitive material,:-); maybe he was just the producer of "portable darkness", extraordinaire.

As someone who still owns an automobile empowered by the Prince of Darkness, I've researched "portable darkness". I like to think of it as anti-luminance.

I have an Improved Seneca Whole Plate camera (I think, I was infected by Oren - Actually, I am sure of that) of approximately the same vintage. In addition to what David says, you can build your own accessories for these old cameras. I wanted to use the same lensboard that I use on my 4x5, so I built an extension out of materials purchased at Home Depot and the local hobby shop. Then I decided that I needed some more extension to allow me to use a lens I really like, so I built an adapter that extends the "portable darkness" a few inches and allows me to pop the lens onto the end. Works great.

Try to do that with your latest computer with a lens on it! (I have one of those too - So no controversy intended, but I have to admit that like my view cameras more.)

Mike, I was joking about the "rectangular light sensitive material" I have 3 of these types of cameras--and there all close to like new original condition. There all beautiful to behold and I may have to get rid of them. It will be a sad day.
Thanks for the link to that site. It will help identify what I have.
I had and probably still have sheet film and glass plate holders for the 2 5X7's I have--so depending on how advanced the photographer was --it was glass or film..
In damp or cold conditions I probably would have gone with glass plates, giving you sharper photos at slow shutter speeds--big sheets of film were sort of useless in humid conditions--just buckled to much as it absorbed moisture.
You also didn't need a lot of equipment to make prints, just drop the glass plate on the paper and turn on the lights. Yes they broke and were heavy but still superior to film at those slow shutter speeds and ASA of 3 to 10.
Now we have digital and ISO 25,000 can things get any better. I don't know, but there's just something about the old wooden cameras that speaks to us about the mystery of photography--something that probably will never happen with the plethora of black digital box's.

That Stenoflex animation is beautiful. Reminds me of running around with a Speed Graphic and some holders loaded with Varigam back when I was a child and Dupont was a photo supply company.

I have M8 and D300 plus a Tachihara 4x5, but I found that 8x10 (first a Kodak 2D and later a Deardroff) is much easy to use as there is no enlargement - sort of what you see is what you get. Enlargement (even if you are digital and up to 4x5) somehow change the picture. Also, if you are in focus in the camera (ground glass), it may not be in focus after enlargement; not true if no enlargement is involved. It is only after Leica that enlargement is in and contact print becomes niche.

BTW, for the material on the back, I sometimes try put an Iiford photo paper (ISO 6) on it. It got quite a different effect.

Those beautiful wooden cameras are still made new. And they are much more fun to use. And in a way, they are simpler to use than the new breed of digital ones.

Very true. Plus, lens sharpness and film grain, those paired bugaboos of hobbyist photographers at least since the 1950s, both came to the fore because of enlargements. You never see film grain with 8x10 contact prints, and most functioning lenses seem sharp enough. It's enlargement that brings out the morphology of grain and that emphasizes the aberrations of lenses.

Further: it's simple. All you need is a few trays, a contract printing frame (or just a sheet of glass) and a light bulb. People don't realize that Edward Weston didn't use an enlarger...just a small light bulb with a few pieces of paper taped over it to cut down the light output.



"All you need is..."

You forgot the Spotone and a 5/0 camel-hair brush, or is there some newfangled way to deal with those miniscule dust spots?

'Spotting' in the digital darkroom is a god-send!

By the way, I once made 5x7 and 8x10 handheld cameras but they weren't very practical and I switched to a Cambo-Wide 4x5.


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