8×10 view camera

September 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

I inherited an old 8×10 view camera from my grandfather in 1971. It was a beautiful mahogany Kodak with red leather bellows and brass hardware. I couldn’t afford good film for it, but once I saw an advertisement for a package of very inexpensive black-and-white film. When it came, I quickly learned why it was so cheap. It was obviously a specialty film that was paper thin and probably designed to be used in a camera with a vacuum back that would keep it flat. But in my ancient, wooden, ca. 1890 film holders, it would slip out of the guide rails and collapse into the body of the camera. That was very frustrating, considering how heavy the camera was and how long it took to set it up, frame the shot (ducking under an enormous dark cloth), and shoot. Many times, I pulled the protective dark slide out of the film holder only to hear the whisper of the film buckling inside the camera. But I did get one shot, and here it is. It was taken in the dairy department of the University of New Hampshire. I’m not sure what it says that my one 8×10 photograph is of a manure pile! I eventually sold the camera and used the money toward a Leica M3, which was also beautiful to look at and which was much easier to use.

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