I never seem to learn…

Had an idea for a non-portrait today: Shoot one of my benches with a single shop light above. Seemed like a good idea, really. I’m still learning the Ektascan, and there’s scant info about reciprocity failure. What started as a 12 second exposure (metered) ended up as a 10 minute exposure in order to get the shadows under the bench near zone III.

Ektascan reciprocity failure...

Clearly pushing the limits of the film. Pulled the developing about 30% to bring the contrast down to something reasonable. Still, lots of flare, the and contrast is poor.

So, after spending several hours running through half a dozen sheets of Ektascan, changing developing times and exposures, I set up the 70D and shot this in about 30 seconds. Desaturate, upload, done. Some things are better suited to digital, a lesson I never seem to learn…

No reciprocity failure...


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.

Ahhh – 8×10!



Okay, I’m starting to remember what shooting large format is about. 4×5 is not large format. 8×10 is. There’s a completely different set of operations, and concentration, and focus. For me, anyway. YMMV. But for me, there’s a world of difference when I step up in format, and it surprises me how quickly I lost that.

Anyway, far from art, but I sat Maddie in front of the Eastman today. Trying out a Voigtlander lens I got with the camera. She’s far too giggly for large format – always has been – but I like how this turned out.

Uh, oh…


Uh, oh...

…it’s happened again!

Today’s mail brought a new toy, one that I’ve been wringing my hands nervously for for what seems like an eternity (thanks to UPS’ holiday snafu…): An Eastman View #2 8×10. In remarkable condition, the only real work to be dome is to loosen up the action of the pinions on the gear racks. And patch some holes in the bellows. But really, shootable as-is. And complete with a Voigtlaender 9-7/8″/7.7 Series III #5 Collinear lens (of which I know NOTHING). I’m down to my last four sheets of 8×10, and now need to sell something to buy more. Anyone needs a Series I Canon 5D (full frame!), drop me a line!

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.

Seneca View 8×10 – Work begins

Several weeks ago, I received in the mail a Seneca View 8×10.



This is an early model, pre-dating the Improved View.  According to Mathew Brady, the Seneca View was made between 1901 and 1905. I have noted, though, an inaccuracy in his description, though: He states that the Improved provided corner brackets which served to reinforce the joints; my Seneca View also has such brackets. Minor nit-pick, but, aside from missing hardware on my Improved, this camera is mechanically identical.

Aesthetically, though, this camera is aces. The mahogany woodwork is beautiful and elegant, rather than just functional and utilitarian. The brass, though tarnished by the years, has an attention to detail unlike any other cameras I’ve seen:



There’s plenty to do on this camera: First, it’s missing the bellows and the front bellows frame. The frame is no problem – 3/8″ mahogany half-lapped at the corners. For the bellows, I’ll again be leaning on Sandeha Lynch. We’re discussing color options – red and black are classic, but I’m thinking a deep shade of green on this one.

Next, the finish of the wood and brass needs some work. The wood will need little more than careful renewal with lacquer thinner; the brass is due to be completely polished with Flitz on a buffing wheel and then relacquered. Then, the extension rail is missing. This will require some parts from McMaster-Carr and dimensions from the rail I have for the Improved View, which fits this cameras. Finally, the ground glass is in pitiful shape. It appears to be a replacement, made with glass sprayed with frosting medium:


You can see the unevenness of the coverage, with light peeking though:


Now, I’ve piddled with this camera here and there for a while. Polished a little brass, spent a lot of time looking at it. I’m fairly sure it will replace the Improved when it’s done, as they have identical movements available (geared rise/fall, geared rear swings and tilt). I just find the overall look and feel of the camera much more elegant.

First thing’s first: I think, today, I’m going to try regrinding the glass to remove the sprayed-on frosting and produce a true ground glass. Stay tuned.

Lensboards, joinery and glue-up – Seneca Improved View 8×10

After a wonderful morning fishing with Braedan, I got down to joinery on the lensboards.  But let me back up a little.

The lensboards (four of ’em) started out as a single 4/4 piece of poplar that’s been sitting in the scrap pile for years.


I’d already made a pattern out of 1/8″ veneer stock, so I measured up the board and figured there was enough material for four three-piece boards, with 3/4″ wide breadboard ends. Poplar’s a good wood for this, not too heavy, easy to mill, and takes a finish well. Also, one of my lenses will be threading into the wood directly; poplar is just right for that.

I planed the wood down to about 3/8″ and cut the pieces. Four center boards, and two long strips for the ends:


Time for joinery. I don’t get hung up on dimensions here; I default to somewhere around 1/4″ long for the tenon, and I just run a groove down the centers of the long strips. I set the blade height, adjust the fence on the tablesaw, and run the groove. Turn it around, lay the opposite face against the fence, and run the groove again. You end up with a perfectly centered groove this way:


The tenons are cut on a horizontal router table with a two-flute straight bit. I like the horizontal table for this, because you keep the faces flat to the table when you cut, making for a more stable, better controlled cut. I set the bit height for something less than the should depth required, test cut on a scrap of planed wood, then ease the cutter up slightly over and over until the tenon just fits the groove.

Some glue on the tenons, and here’s the assembly clamped up:


A few hours in the clamps (though only about 45 minutes is necessary), and I’ll cut the individual boards apart, size them, and layout the rabbets in the back.