May 19, 2012

1870's photographers daylight studio

In 1988 I started preparing a photohistory exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography in 1989. I had a large room in a local museum to my disposal and I started to design the exhibition. Among other things I wanted to show the evolution of cameras and the impact of inventions on the kind of photos that were made. With the help of some fellow collectors I managed to fill a 20 yard glass wall with all sorts of cameras and photos from the first hundred years of photography.

In 1988 I had also researched the 19th century photographic history of the city of Roermond, close to where I live, and was able to show all the interesting products from the local photographers, from tiny lockets with portraits to a large panoramic photo of the building of a bridge over the river Meuse in the early 1860's.

What I did not have was a photographers daylight studio. So I set to work to build one. I decided to make it on a 1 : 6 scale, simply because I had two Barbie dolls that I "borrowed" from my eldest sister, and they measured about 28 centimeter. Maybe a bit tall for 19th century people, but it would do. I had a nice library on the history of photography, so I had enough information to put together a studio like it would have been around 1870. During more than one year I worked on it, making two studio cameras (one is a four lens cdv camera), props, head rests, the glass roof and curtains, a table and tiny albums and photos on the walls of the studio. A friend made the clothes for the dolls.

During the past 23 years the studio was stored at the home of my parents. Now my mother is moving to a home for the elderly and I had to decide what to do with the studio. It is a bit too large for my museum and I prepared to sell it. This weekend I took a number of photos that I was going to show on eBay. While I was taking the pics my wife suggested that I should consider again if I really wanted to sell the studio. Well... you probably know how it ended. Although it is too large for my museum I decided to keep it a little longer. I just have to move the glass cabinet a bit to the left and the chair a bit to the right and I will also have to find a new place for a little table, but then the studio will fit into the room.
Here's a video showing my scale model of a 1870's daylight studio.

May 13, 2012

Two new videos

Between the clouds of today I was able to shoot two videos of my newest additions. First there is the No. 5 Eastman Plate Camera, Series D, that I have described before. In the video you can see it with the full extension of the bellows. It is an impressive instrument of good quality. In its day it cost US$ 97.00. In 1902-1903 that was quite a bit of money if you consider that the average year income of a public school teacher in 1900 was $ 328.

In the second video you see a wooden version of the Boston Bull's-Eye camera of 1892-1895.

May 6, 2012

No. 5 Eastman Plate camera & No. 3 Eastman Plate camera

Today I finished working on the No. 5 Eastman Plate camera and I can say that I am satisfied with the result. Here's the result of all the TLC, Venetian Cream, metal polish, furniture touch up pen, Tana colorless cream, glue and spit. Yes, spit is very good for cleaning wood and ivory. The only part that is missing, is a little key on the side, like the one you can see in the pic below. Maybe you have one left over....

In the photo the camera is extended to two-third of the maximum extension. I would have liked to extend it to its maximum, but the tripod is too flimsy to safely hold the instrument when it is extended to a total of over 50 cm. The double extension on the Eastman Plate Series D models is necessary when only the front or back element of the combination lens is used, and this is done for wide angle or tele photography.

Today I did not only finish the "restoration" of the No. 5, but I also bought a No. 3 Eastman Plate Series D camera on eBay. As far as I can judge the instrument looks nice and only needs some minor amount of TLC. It is a small and neat camera and will make a fine trio with the large No. 5 and not so large No. 4. Here's a pic of it.