I jumped at the chance to attend The Asheville Darkroom's Primitive/Junk Camera Class with Bill Daniel because I am super nerdy and love learning.
I walked into class with a box filled with a random 50mm lens, a busted SX-70 Polaroid, and my Holga camera. My excitement over being back in school doubled when I saw the instructor, Bill, putting the lesson on the wall with ripped paper and masking tape. I thought, "Yes! I've just entered punk rock photo heaven!"
My favorite takeaway from the "lecture" portion of the class was incredibly simple, and something that I already knew but never thought about much:
PHOTOGRAPHY IS ROUND
Lenses are round. They create round images. And then we crop the image with film and sensors. We're throwing away the weird, fun, chancy edges of the image. So I was excited to construct a camera that would allow me to print a round(ish) image.
- My random 50mm 1.7 Minolta lens
- Matte board
- Black tape
- Silver tape
- Black plastic bags (yes, for real)
- Hot glue
- A 4"x5" film holder
- Photo Paper
- Rubber bands
With Bill's guidance (although he did mostly encourage us to experiment and do what we wanted, which I love), I made a box around my lens so that the film holder would hold the paper the correct distance from the lens. Then I put photo paper in each side of the film holder in the darkroom, rubber banded it together, and went out to shoot.
After my first 2 shots, I got to do something I've been missing for a while now; develop photos in the darkroom! Being in the red safelight amongst the strange chemical smells with a group of other artsy people brought me back to college days. I really want to join The Asheville Darkroom now so that I can play in the darkroom all the time. Everyone was sharing ideas, getting excited about others' work, and creating great images!
I had to throw away my first few exposures because I had some bad light leaks from where I attached the lens. But once I taped that up, I was all set!
Photo paper is about an ISO of 6-8. I'm normally shooting around 400 ISO, so that's a big difference. You need a lot more light coming in to the camera. Which means you need to expose for a lot longer usually. Since there is no shutter button, it's good to have a long exposure to avoid the camera shake that occurs with hand-crafted shutters. Is this getting too technical? Here's more photos: