Large Format Photography – Day 15 in the Netherlands

For this visit, I took the train on Sunday evening, found myself a spot to sit (after some hassle with a group of 5 men who had not reserved their seats, but were trying to ‘reserve’ them for each other in a crowded train) and set to work on the Monday morning. I had ordered blackout curtain fabric to stitch into a darktent cloth and set to sewing it. What should have taken 15-20 minutes turned into a full-on battle with the sewing machine that would either not stitch straight, not stitch fast or not stitch at all! My mum had to jump in to save the day – and we got it done in the end. It looked good – the white lines onto the black fabric made it’s appearance a bit tent-like and actually fairly professional-looking.

Attaching it to the dark box was a right pain with nails coming through the sides and when it came to attaching it to the top, the whole thing came down! The front lid broke off and it’s fair to say it was a disaster in general. The top may be too heavy due to the fabric, the box too narrow and too light-weight to hold it up. Leaving the mess to think it over, I decided to focus on my silverbox instead. I wouldn’t make time to do anything else to the darkbox until Thursday/ Friday, making some much-needed adjustments.

 

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In the time I spent in Dusseldorf, I had hand-cut and glued acrylic plates to make up a small tank to hold plates up to 12 x 16 cm. I decided to try the smallest size first to test my craftsmanship and hopefully not have too much silver nitrate leak all over the place – and to make it in clear acrylic as it was the cheapest I could find. And the first tests were good! The tank withstood holding water for several hours (that was possibly the least it could do!) and when testing with silver nitrate, everything went fine. Even the little lid I made with it fits like a glove! I had made a start on the dipper, when my mum pulled out some left-over silver wire from a jewellery making course she took years ago. The construction was simple, dripping 2 little holes and bending the wire to hold the plates. It works fantastically and feels very very balanced. The only concern I have at present is that the silver wire is not a pure silver as it seems to get eaten away by the silver bath, and thus contaminating it. I’ll need to have look into that!

I set to making a wooden box to hold the clear plastic acrylic tank and this is where I hit another snag. Making the bottom went fine – even though I could have made it a little bigger to easily slide in the acrylic tank, but it fits. The top, however, I couldn’t close. I failed to keep the additional height of the tank and the dipper into consideration and had to make a new lid. This one is much deeper and fits like a charm with room to spare.

 

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Later in the evening, I took the camera with the projector lens out for a little drive to test how far it would focus. Remember how last time I showed you the creation of the recessed lens plate? The plane of focus is still very shallow since it still has no f-stops, but it works! I can even focus on the clouds! Granted, it will never, ever be pinsharp, but I’m happy with it nontheless! Huzzah!!

 

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