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  • Frustrating couple of days – light leaks

    Saturday – A trip to Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot museum with the 10×8 and 4 negatives to shoot – sadly 3 big shadows on the images. I ran a test on another fresh negative at home on Sunday morning and then went to Clevedon Pier as the day was grey and overcast – low contrast lighting which I was waiting for and 3 out of four shots here too with dark shadows. I put a battery LED lamp inside the camera in the darkroom and went through the motions of adding the slide carrier, exposing the negative and replacing the dark slide to see if any light leaked out. On the second attempt yes – a light leak from the top of the camera as I was moving the dark slide. This was because one of the flimsy catches holding the camera back in place had slipped undone – something I noticed had happened at the pier, so I am pretty sure that is the source of the leak. I have added a strip of black felt along the top of the back of the camera body to help make a tighter seal and hopefully make the catches engaged more firmly. – So we try again tomorrow. Here is the one more successful image of Lacock and Fox Talbot’s window. #analogphotography #antiquelens #largeformatphotography #10x8 #studiothreegaller #largeformat #papernegative #blackandwhite #diydeveloping #vintagecamera #darkroomprint #StudiothreeGallerybrass #tenbyeight

  • Artists to exhibit work Wrington arts fair | Things to do in Weston | Weston Mercury

    Paintings, sketches, ceramics and photography will be on display at an arts fair in Wrington later this month. — Read on The latest images made with my Antique Camera will be on display and for sale – next Saturday & Sunday at this event.

  • DIY large format enlarger

    Successful experiment to to use 100 yr old field camera as the enlarger for the 5×7 negatives taken with it. Key breakthrough was using a kindle then an ipad as the uniform light source. Now I can make 10×8 prints instead of just contact prints from these negatives (x-ray film). Initial horizontal test to establish distance needed (40cm) then tripod mounted. Just the light leaks to seal and we are good to go. #analogphotography #largeformatphotography #10x8 #studiothreegaller #largeformat #papernegative #blackandwhite #diydeveloping #vintagecamera #darkroomprint #tenbyeight

  • Some Success with Waterfalls

    Today I took the 100 year old large format (10×8) camera to Wales – waterfall country. Recent heavy rains meant a good flow of water over the falls. I took 4 pieces of pre-flashed photo paper in the two dark slides plus some spare paper and my black-out changing bag. Today I would see if it was feasible to change the sheets “in the field”, having practiced at home in the darkroom – it did work , so I’ll definitely use the method again. 4 reasonably successful images of the first set of falls – I was exposing for mid grey – but the brightness of the water is blown out – so next time I’ll try underexposing and then leave the paper in the developer longer to bring out detail in the shadows – I think that’s how it works!? Exposure times of 4 -13s at F11-22 ISO 6. All images here are scans of the original paper negatives which have been made positive in Lightroom. #analogphotography #antiquelens #largeformatphotography #10x8 #studiothreegaller #largeformat #wales #Waterfall #papernegative #blackandwhite #diydeveloping #vintagecamera #darkroomprint #StudiothreeGallerybrass #tenbyeight

  • Still life successes

    Using my antique (1900s) large format (10×8) bellows field camera I have been making some successful still life images. I decided to move away from the uncontrolled variable light of the kitchen window to the fixed lights in my studio (dining room). This removed one variable from the exposure equation allowing me to make reliable test exposures on strips of the photo paper negative I am using. This saves the expense of wasting large sheets of photo paper on improperly exposed shots. Whilst I am pretty happy that I can measure the light needed with my iphone app based on iso 6 for the paper negative, there are three other variables that come in to play. 1. At larger f stop values (smaller holes in the diaphragm) a small variance in position of the lever or ring setting the aperture has a disproportionately greater effect on the actual aperture used – at f64 on one lens a small tweak can make it effectively nearer f128 – doubling the required exposure time! 2. The bellows effect. Stretching the bellows past the focus length of the lens for close objects decreases the light intensity falling on the negative by an inverse square proportion. Doubling the distance decreases light intensity to a quarter. So 4x the exposure time is needed. 3. At longer exposure times, the longer the exposure the longer you need to achieve a set increase in darkening of the negative. So for a 2 minute calculated exposure I would expose for 2.3 minutes. With these variables in play it pays to take a test exposure on strip of photo paper before committing to exposing a whole sheet. For many of the still life images I am using a shorter (8″) focus length lens as this gives the greatest magnification. However it only stops down to f22,rather than the f64 of my other lenses, thus limiting the depth of field achievable. Accepting this limitation I have chosen subjects which do not demand a great depth of field – and am very pleased with the results. I also added a graduated neutral density filter for the fennel photo to darken the bright base to get a more evenly exposed picture which seemed to work (see bottom photo). #analogphotography #largeformatphotography #10x8 #studiothreegaller #largeformat #papernegative #blackandwhite #diydeveloping #lens #vintagecamera #darkroomprint #StudiothreeGallerybrass #tenbyeight

  • Lens problems with The New Countess

    Today was time to take the New Countess full plate camera to Clevedon and try some images of the wonderful Victorian Pier. Shame it was so breezy – not ideal for longish exposures with a huge camera like this one! With two slides I had 4 exposures to make. It was a good opportunity to try the (supposedly) F384 lens too as it was a good focus length (12 inches – 300mm ) for the job. Bringing the exposed paper negatives home for developing, I found that the lens I was using – Rapid Aplanat No.3 Ser.D.F.8 (R.O.J.A. vorm. Emil Busch, Rathenow) – was not operating at the indicated F stops – see the title image! I had tested it in the garden on the pear tree using the widest aperture with no problem – but at the indicated f90 it way over-exposed the image (Paper negative). I tried a couple of other lenses at the same time successfully so thought I’d make some measurements of the diaphragm aperture with digital callipers and calculate the theoretical f-stop (dividing the focal length by the aperture diameter) As the F stop numbers increase the variance between the indicated F stop and the calculated one increases greatly. Column headings are Focul length, Diameter (of aperture) in 100ths of an inch, The F stop indicated and the F stop calculated. Using a more familiar lens at F45 for a 2 second exposure I achieved a reasonable if (wind) shaken exposure. #analogphotography #largeformatphotography #10x8 #studiothreegaller #largeformat #papernegative #blackandwhite #diydeveloping #lens #vintagecamera #clevedon #darkroomprint #StudiothreeGallerybrass #tenbyeight

  • Large Format Portrait – Artificial Light

    With its custom replacement glass screen fitted ( ) I have made some further tests of the recently acquired full plate (10×8 inch) camera (The New Countess). I wanted to test how well the camera could be used with artificial lights since the paper negative responds differently to film. My first shot was with a short focus length f6.3 lens and an exposure time of 2 seconds. With two large fluorescent bulb lamps, this produced a well-exposed image but the depth of field was very short. To gain depth of field I changed to a lens that went to F64, with a much longer focus length. However the sliding control moves past the “64” and my first images were way under exposed as the aperture was much less than for F64. Further test strips gave me an exposure time of 35 minutes. Below are two images; F22 on the left, F64 (+) on the right. The difference in depth of field is evident. Clearly a 35 minute exposure isn’t appropriate for portraiture. So extra illumination is needed to keep depth of field as great as possible. There is no real substitute for daylight! #analogphotographydiydevelopingpapernegativevintagecameralargeformat10x8tenbyeightlargeformatphotographydarkroomprintblackandwhitestudiothreegallerStudiothreeGallery

  • Progress with the New Countess

    A windless, bright day meant I could take the Countess into the garden and learn more about how it performs. Successful experiments with low light and hight contrast situations have been encouraging. Focal lengths from 4 to 10 inches were tried with F stops from F6.3 to F45. Exposure times ranged from 2 to 10 seconds. However focussing is still difficult – I was waiting for a replacement screen that arrived a day later. Here are pictures to show the difference in screen thickness.

  • Progress with The New Countess – 10×8 Camera

    With some decent weather I have been able to take the “New Countess” into the garden and make some more trial images, testing out the lens and the exposure time variation with extending the bellows. I am pleased to find that the combination of light metering with the I-phone app “Light & Exposure Meter” and adjusting for the bellows extension using measurements from “QuickDisc” ( was pretty successful with the images I made today. As always I like to push to the extremes – so after the pears image, some extreme contrasts with bright white table and chairs and then deep shadow for the surround of the bust. I clearly have some work to do on managing the higher contrasts. I think I might have to expose for less and develop for more time. Anyway I am so pleases with the look and feel of these images from this camera. The Pears were shot at f11 and the table & chairs at f22. The bust was also f22 as I wanted to have a greater depth of field, but this wasn’t as deep as I had hoped – so will try again with f64. NB – The images displayed here were made as paper negatives then digitised and made positives in Photoshop. The glossy Ilford paper was treated ISO6 and pre-flashed with an enlarger to reduce contrast. #fullplate #10x8 #largeformat #analoguephotography #papernegative #diydeveloping

  • Going “large”

    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 ( ). #DIY #camera #Photography #ThorntonPickard

  • 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. #cardboard #DIY

  • 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. #gallery-812-5 { margin: auto; } #gallery-812-5 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-812-5 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-812-5 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ 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. #gallery-812-6 { margin: auto; } #gallery-812-6 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-812-6 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-812-6 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ 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. #gallery-812-7 { margin: auto; } #gallery-812-7 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-812-7 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-812-7 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ 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. #cardboard #DIY #largeformat

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