note: the watermark in the lower right does not appear in the final print.
Moody blur close up of the lens of an old press camera.
This camera represents one of my very first purchases "online". It was before the Web and graphical browsers. In the days of dial up modems when you would actually have different phone numbers to call. I could dial up the library at Boston University and check out the inventory of books.
Back then it was bulletin boards and then AOL (American Online). One of the exciting new features of this new online world was people buying and selling items. Years before Craigslist and Ebay. But actually a lot closer to Craigslist but without photos.
For camera buffs there would be lists and lists of old cameras and lens with all of their features. You took it on faith that your check would go our and your prized find would return. I bought a few things this way and it really gave me hope that mankind's normal state is good. Its only a few bad apples that ruin the trust.
I bought this old press camera in the days when I thought I wanted to be Ansel Adams and trek through the landscape with my huge heavy camera and matching heavy wooden tripod. I did this for a few years, lugging around a huge backpack of equipment and about enough film to take five or six shots.
In the days before digital cameras you had to think long and hard before taking a shot. Carefully considering your f-stop or aperature and other setting because each shot cost money in film, developer and time in the darkroom. And you might not see how it came out until weeks later.
These old press cameras represented an inexpensive way to experiment with large format photography, in this case 4 x 5 inch film. I eventually got a Polaroid back for it so I could shoot some really expensive Polaroids at about $40 for a pack of 10. I did Polaroid transfers with this which involved destroying the color Polaroids and making the image adhere to watercolor paper. I made a few really cool images but you can achieve the same effects now with software.
I also started using a certain Polaroid film that produced both a black and white positive and a very good negative. It was kind of a messing development process that often involved touching the chemical goo but it sure beat time in the darkroom developing film. The biggest problem with this positive/negative package was that you had to seriously undevelope the positive in order to get a usable negative.
Press cameras were widely used from the 1900s through the early 1960s and commonly had the following features: collapsibility into strong, compact boxes,
easily interchangeable lenses, ability to accept sheet film, film packs, and rollfilm, through the use of interchangeable film backs and holders, often conforming to the "Graflock" standard set by Graflex
optical rangefinder focusing
ground glass focusing
flash-synchronized central shutter (many older cameras had focal-plane shutters)
reduced number or absence of movements, in contrast to field cameras
Some have both a focal-plane and a central shutter, allowing fast shutter speeds and the use of barrel lenses with the focal plane shutter and flash synchronization at any speed with the central shutter.
Press cameras most commonly employ the 4�5 inch film format.
October 25th, 2012
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