Monthly Archives: May 2013


On a recent trip to Adelaide I took the camera for a quick walk around the CBD, (we were staying at Glenelg, a beach side area).  For years we lived in Adelaide and not once had I  visited the old wings of the State Library.  Well what a treasure they are.  If you are in Adelaide then I suggest that one take a visit to the Mortlock wing of the State Library, located on North Terrace.  It really is a lovely old building.  If you are lucky enough and the Geographical Society is open then go in and have a chat.  Perhaps if you show enough interest then the caretaker may take you to the top floor of the library, exclusive use by the Geographical Society to see their collection of works.  You may get to see the Library from this vantage point.




Two weeks in my kitchen

As part of my adventures with pinhole photography I set up a simple pinhole camera in my kitchen/dining area which overlooks the family TV room.  After two weeks the image is not so good and that probably has a lot to do with the amount of light available.  Certainly the window areas are better defined in the image.  However it still makes for an amusing photo,  simply because there are tantalising glimpses of furniture shifting over time.  It is very subtle changes for instance the table in the foreground has six chairs around it.  However as they get moved frequently the are mostly not visible when they could be as clear as the table if during the two weeks they were not moved.  It is possible to see the seat of one on the right hand side of the photo and the back of one near the middle. In fact if one looks closely one can imagine that the chair back shows up several times.

Of course there is no guarantee that the camera has not been moved as well.

I may well do another one of these from a different vantage point and for a much longer period.


Building a camera

Part three in the journey of building a camera,  to be exact a 4×5 full frame field camera.

Having abandoned the idea of an aluminium sandwich between wood as the base I decided to start on the camera back.  Perhaps the most complicated part of the whole build.  Complicated because there are several parts that must go together and also accommodate a film holder.  Moreover there is a part of this build that must be exactly 4.8mm but more on that later.

Having chosen Jarrah as the wood,  not something I would choose again as it tends to chip and the grain can be difficult to work when doing touch up planning, I started the build.

I built the main back frame using finger joints and then inserted a mitred frame inside.  The description I was following suggested plywood for this.  However buying a large sheet just for a small square of plywood seemed to be somewhat of a waste.  Next it was build the film holder back that goes into this.  It is made separately  so that one can change from landscape to portrait mode. Finally it was make the glass plane holder.  Again all three parts do need  to be reasonably accurate including a small groove in the film holder so that the film tray can lock in and also provide a light trap.  The last part of this build was to make some springs to hold the glass back in place but still allow for the film tray to be inserted.  I thought that when I had nearly finished it that I had made it too small and the part would just fall off.  However the spring mechanism, simple as it is works well and holds the glass frame in place as long as I am gentle.

Now why the 4.8mm measurement that I mentioned earlier.  Well the focus plane, ie the glass back has to be perfectly aligned to the film plane other wise all of the shots will be out of focus.  The film tray has a nominal depth of .197 inches which converts to 5mm, or very close to that.  After the film thickness if taken into consideration the depth becomes .192inches or 4.8mm.  The plan suggested getting some 4mm plywood and adding a .8mm brass shim.  However when I measured a sample of the plywood it was not 4mm it was 3.2.  All in all this made it too difficult.  So looking at the brass I had bought for making the hinges etc I realised that the brass had a nominal depth of 4.76mm with a tolerance.  As luck would have it the brass when measured on the vernier callipers was exactly 4.8mm.  So it then became a simple solution of mounting a thin wooden frame on two strips of brass.  Problem solved.

The final step was to shellac the wood a few times, rub it back with some very fine steel wool and then use beeswax to give it a soft lustre.

Here are two shots of the built back,  minus a few brass pieces that I have to make to hold the parts together.field1 field2

Is it perfect, no it is not.  Does that worry me, yes a little however I am realistic about my woodworking skills.  Some parts of woodworking require years of practise which I don’t have so I have to put up with little defects here and there. However in the end the camera will work, it will look ok and is something that will be a conversation piece when out using it.

The next steps are to make the lens board holder and then the base, followed by the brass bits to hold it all together.

Oh the glass panel is frosted.  Learnt how to make that today.  Had to but some very fine grit, #320 carborundum and #500 aluminium oxide.  Add a small amount of the 320 with a drop or two of water to make a watery paste and the rub the glass against another thicker piece of glass until it is frosted.  Wash it clean, turn the thicker glass piece over and add the aluminium oxide plus water to make a fine paste and rub some more.  After a short time viola, there is the ground glass.  Clean it up and draw a few lines with a pencil on the frosted side and insert into frame.  So easy.

Street Photography No 2

When time permits I love walking around the streets of Melbourne looking for an opportunity to capture a character, especially where that character has a persona about them that conveys a message.

In the following photograph the old woman is well known around Collins Street in Melbourne.  I watched her walking up and down stopping and asking for a donation from every passer by.  Rumour has it that she is quite rich,  however that is not central to the photograph.  What is central is the older style head-wear and the character that comes out in her face. In an unspoken way she evokes images of a time that has passed.

Hope you enjoy the image.


A series of photos

Sometimes it is difficult as a photographer to find a new genre or way of doing photography.  One of the things I am trying is landscape with a slight difference.  No doubt one has seen the many wispy water images of surf close up etc.  Well what I am trying is to take the same images but from further away.  Now and again one works or at least I think it works.  Doing this sort of photography has some difficulties.  Firstly it must be a long exposure usually more than 3 seconds.  Secondly because it is the middle of the day I need to use a ND400 filter so that I can get the speed to less than 3 seconds.  So far not so difficult.  However as it is on the coast and it is generally windy the first thing that happens is motion blur.  Much as I try to shield the camera many of the shots end up with considerable motion blur.

As I said early now and again one works and I think this is one of them.  Let me know what you think.


Old School

Old school, well not mine but an old school here in Melbourne called Scotch.  Scotch has many fine old buildings and when our boys are playing hockey there I often take the opportunity to try for a shot that will do the buildings justice.  Below is a longer view of the old hall.


Building a camera part 2

Well after trying the aluminium plate with wood veneer and not liking how it looked or felt as well as difficulties in mounting other parts on it I have abandoned that idea.  The last few days have been all about finding parts etc for the focus mechanism.  I have settled on two linear bearings with steel tracks.  The tracks I will mount on a wooden sled with a brass end plate with a threaded hole for the focus mechanism.

Progress:  I have cut a thread in a length of brass rod and cut out a 3mm thick brass plate and threaded a hole in the middle.  All works beautifully and this will be the main drive for focus.  I am modifying a methodology seen on several different cameras. Instead of rack and pinion focus control each side of the camera I will have a central screw with bearings either side of the plate.  This should make for a very smooth movement and simplify construction.

Dimensions are still a bit rubbery at the moment.  However the bellows and lens boards have arrived and from those I can now make the wooden ends to suit.  I also have to get some film holders as their dimensions are also required for the back of the camera.  As they are readily available I will go get those tomorrow.

Fingers crossed all will work out.