4x5 view

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On and off over the past 7 months I have been working on building a 4x5 monorail camera using 3d printed parts and hardware from Lowes/Home Depot. Last night I finished building the first working version. Today, I present to you the first (as far as I know - if not show me) 3d printed large format camera. This is a prototype, and I will continue to make improvements as I go forward. Be on the lookout for updates. I will post them here.

Specs:

  • With a lens it weighs ~2.75 pounds (~2.2 pounds without)
  • Front standard movements are only limited by the bellows/lens(swing/tilt).
  • Rear standard currently has no movements.
  • It can extend from ~75mm to ~320mm (the limitation on the long end is the rail, which could be made longer)

I will post updates and pictures I take with it as I go forward!

Intersection of County Roads 50 and 51, Collin County, Celina, Texas.  Winter, 2017. 

If you travel far enough up the Dallas North Tollway into Collin County, you will reach the end.  It reverts back into Dallas Parkway, and stops at a “T” intersection at FM428 in Celina, Texas.  It seems an abrupt end to the tollroad that began in the late 60′s. In various phases since, it has carved its way south, nearly to downtown Dallas, and north through the suburbs of Collin County.  Malls, shopping centers, corporate headquarters, and entertainment centers dot the real estate along its edges wherever the roadway expands.  But at its northern-most end, for now, there are still fields with rows of crops, cattle, hay bales, and some gravel county roads that criss-cross it at stop sign intersections.    

I’d driven up this far north for work a few times and hadn’t noticed the muddy, gravel paths that these county roads really are until this day when the crops had been trimmed down to ground level.  I could see clearly to the horizon, and curiosity had me turning off Dallas Parkway to check out this lonely street sign sprouting up from the edge of a ditch.  I raised my tripod as high as it would go, composed the shot while standing on the rear bumper of my car and got this portrait.

The kit I brought with me to Germany; Toyo VX125, Fujinon 65mm SWD, Fujinon 90mm SWD, Nikkor 135mm W, Feisol Tournament tripod, and accessories. Overall it worked pretty well and was actually lighter than my Rollei setup, but I noticed that my lenses didn’t always have as much image circle as I would really like. Since coming home I actually sold those and switched to using these; Nikkor 75mm SW, Fujinon 105mm SWD, Fujinon 150mm CM-W. 

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2419-2413 Greenmount Avenue, 2017.

These were last two shots I took before I ran out of film. I’ll have to go back to finish the block at some point. 

I see that beautiful spirit
Floating there with the darkness

Unique in all the Universe

Not appeared accidentally
Not created deliberately
It… simply… just… happened


I made this picture in 1994 as a student at OIP&T (The Ohio Institute of Photography & Technology) in Dayton, OH. It was my first attempt at using a view camera, 4x5. This was before the digital revolution really took hold. I was 18 years old, full of ambition, optimism and eager to learn photography very well. Finally getting my hands on a view camera really did fill me with joy. I sort of knew what I was doing but not from experience, only from reading about large format photography on my own and ruminating on the principles. This image wasn’t even the product of an assignment. The moment I was granted lab privileges, I marched my little ass into that studio and made this image.

I still love this picture so much. I didn’t consider myself an animist at the time, that word hadn’t even entered my purview. But I was an animist. I still am. Seeing light. Working with darkness. Photographing Spirit. I didn’t know it in 1994 but this image would become my own personal emblem for my worldview.