End-of-Season (and rediscovering 8×10)…

I’d resigned myself to selling my 8×10 Eastman #2 recently. Hadn’t been shooting it: I couldn’t quite dial in the Ektascan BR/A in Adanol, the camera was unweildy, the Ries heavy. Got discouraged, annoyed, and checked out mentally. Went so far as to put the 14″ f/6 Petzval I’d bought for it on the block.

Gratefully, it seems to be a buyer’s market right now. Got no bites. As I was mowing this weekend, I figured I’d shoot something outdoors with the 8×10 and the 14″-er and maybe that would help it move. Decided I’d put the boy in front of the lacrosse goal for an end-of-season picture. I’d had a moment of developing success with the Ektascan in HC-110; I had just enough syrup left for a couple sheets.

I set the camera up, pre-focused and waited for some clouds. Stood my son in front of the net with his stick, and fired off the shutter.

End of Season...

Now, I’ve been shooting the same ol’ portraits for a long time. Bored with them. Wasn’t expecting much out of this shot, but was nice to shoot something a little difference. I was not ready for the rendering this lens would give, though. I’m in love. Have some ND filters on order so I can slow things down enough to shoot my local waterfall with this lens, too. I’m reinvigorated, and the rig is off the market.


Sick day…


Sick day...

…for Dad. So, I pointed the Asanuma at the boy. Bought some Arista.edu Ultra 100 online recently; this was from an open box. Film seems fine. Also bought 3 new boxes of 50 sheets – enough to last me a while.

Shot with the Sironar-N 210/5.6 at f/5.6. HC-110 dil H. I’ve mostly sworn off of portraits, but my son’s a captive audience, and sometimes it’s just fun to shoot him.

Rajah 8×10 – Happy coincidence…

I’ve been reading about the Rajah lately. Largely negative comments, though the few people I’ve found who are actively using them seem to love them. I still like the camera, and plan on rehabbing and using it, but I’m holding off on new bellows until the camera proves itself. In the meantime, I’m going to try to engineer some fixes to what seem to be common complaints. More on that to come.

In the mean time, and on a whim, I slapped one of the 10×12 lensboards onto the Rajah tonight. Must be clean living – it fit like a glove. So all of my 10×12 lenses are now serving double duty as 8×10 lenses, and I don’t even have to make any boards. I’m happy with that coincidental commonality.

Rajah 8×10 project camera – baby steps…

After a bit of research, I identified the camera as an Indian-made Rajah 8×10. Basically a Deardorff clone, the camera may have been made as recently as the mid-80s, though I suspect, given the condition, it’s a somewhat earlier.

I took some before pictures of the camera and started in to polishing. I’m thinking now that the camera will be completely parted-out, all the hardware (which is solid brass) will be polished, and I’ll darken the finish. My thought is that I’ll level the existing finish by scrubbing with solvent (alcohol or lacquer thinner, depending on what’s on it), then build up color coats with tinted finish. I’m going for a more traditional dark red. I’ve contacted Joe at Snakebite Leather to make a new strap; we’re discussing tooling options now. And the gearing will need to be sorted, but I’m thinking some shimming will do the trick.

A little progress. Polished the latch:
First polishing

Started polishing the lensboard retainer:

And I replaced the weird little wingnut on the front panel slide with a brass knurled nut:
Before pictures...


Baby steps, but progress nonetheless.

New toy! Indian self-casing 8×10…

On somewhat of a whim, I traded off the Grubb this week. I’d developed a strong desire for a new project, and me and the Grubb haven’t been getting along. Quite by chance, I happened into a fellow LF enthusiast who had a treasure trove of project 8×10 cameras. After some hemming and hawing, I decided on a presumably Indian-made 8×10, self-casing, and triple extension:

New toy!

New toy!

Even picked up some holders that, like the camera, need a little work, but will prove to be nice.

The camera seems solid enough, no featherweight, but nothing like the 10×12. The bellows may pass the flash test (have to try that yet), which would be a bonus. The gearing, front and rear, slips a bit on starting, but works fine otherwise (need to ponder on that). A little tightening here and there and it will be ready to shoot!

The only thing I have to decide is whether I want to refinish this one. I’m kind of thinking of stripping it down to bare wood, buying some mahogany TransTint, and hitting it with lacquer. Have to think on that, too…

Goodbye, Seneca…

Seneca Competitor 5x7

Last week I did something I swore I would never do – I shipped off the 5×7 Seneca Competitor, the very camera that started me on my large format journey, the first camera I did a full restoration to, to a new owner. And it was surprisingly easy.

You see, I bought the camera six years ago next month. It was a basket case, and I learned a lot restoring it. I was a stay-at-home dad at the time, and used the camera constantly. I built a 4×5 reducing back for it. I had new bellows made. And I burned film. Lots of film. I grew very attached to the camera, and became very sentimental about it.

But I started working about 18 months ago. I bought into 10×12. I rebuilt the Asanuma 4×5 and started shooting it extensively. In about 2 years, I shot one sheet of 5×7. All my lenses have been been remounted on 4×5 lensboards, making shooting the 5×7 even less convenient. And I just kind of lost my feel for the format. I still like it, but the expense (5×7 film has gone up in price incredibly in the last few years) and effort required to shoot it didn’t seem justified anymore.

A few weeks ago, someone on largeformatphotography.info posted that they would cut down 20×30″ Portra 160VC to whatever format you wanted. I started thinking how neat shooting 10×12″ color would be. The 5×7 had to go. I mentioned this to the seller, who (turns out) was looking for a 5×7 camera. A deal was made; the camera arrived at it’s new home in Alaska yesterday. The buyer is happy, and I have to admit, I feel a large amount of satisfaction knowing that an old friend is going to be used again by someone who appreciates the thing.

It’s been a good run. Goodbye, Seneca.

Throttling the Grubb…

In a fit of experimentation, I decided today to see what stopping down the Grubb a bit would do. I made a single stop, about f/7, from some 1/8″ ply and mounted it to the back of the lens:

Throttling the Grubb...

Yeah, I know. Ugly, but it works. Stood the boy in front of the 10×12″ camera and gave it a try:


Not sure how I feel about this one. I want to tame the rendering a bit, but at what point do you stop? Too much, and it’s just another lens.

More experimentation is definitely required.