My Mammoth Camera Project

February 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I started to conceptualize the construction for a large camera about a year or so ago.

The initial thought was to build a straight-up 20x24 field camera and work with adaptor backs for the smaller formats.  At the time I came across bellows from a 20" x 24" repro-camera and that was as I would call it, "the lucky coincidence".

About a week later I was on my way to Sedona to pick up a trailer that was used to shoot wet plate images.  Serendipity.  I always wanted to learn the process and make it my own.  Timing was maybe a bit of as I still have to go through a lot of expired Polaroid.  Buy hey, I have the camera, I should use it.

Funds are not unlimited and the trailer project was shelved for about 9 months.  I needed to find or build a 1200 to 1800 mm lens anyway for proper coverage of the plate and I know that was going to take a while.  These lenses are not common.

I found a Goerz RDA 47.5", f15 2 pretty quickly on the Large Format Photography Forum and decided to dedicate this one for my 20"x24" field camera.

It took me 9 months to find and afford the 70", f16  Goerz Artar APO lens, suitable for the plate coverage I was looking for.

The next thing I need is more money to make the trailer road worthy and put a fully equipped dark room in there.  And of course an event deadline to drive the full timeline and effort.  This is how I roll.

I know have decided on the opportunity.  

At the 2014 Burning Man event, I developed a vision for a large field camera at Deep Playa to take sunrise and sunset images.  And some other fun images in between as time, funds and experience permits.

With that idea in mind, I submitted a letter-of-intent to the Black Rock City Art department and the response was I should submit a full art grant proposal to see if my project would qualify for funding.

I've done so in the mean time and I'm awaiting word from the Art Grant department.  I hope they can at least sponsor the consumables for this project.  I won't be writing much about this at the current time,  keeping a few exciting aspects of this project under wraps.

My timeline for construction starts February 15, 2015 and I plan on updating the progress on this blog.

Update for this week though is that I was able to secure the bellows for this project.  One more hurdle out of the way.  These bellows were recovered from a 30" x 40" Robertson Photo Mechanix camera.  I know I could have bought new bellows from any of the existing outfits that still make them, but for me this project is also about repurposing and recycling older equipment and give them a new life.

The images below are from Brock, the previous owner of the trailer adjusting the Bell and Howell 36", f8 aerial photography lens that came with the trailerfor baselining this project.  I actually intend on using this lens also for 1:2 to 1:4 enlargements.

Cheers,

Rudi

 


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