Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
1 edition: December 10, 2015
Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.3 x 10 inches
(20,3 x 0,7 x 25,4 cm)
On one hand, this book, Alternative Photographic Accessories, is intended for all enthusiasts of historical and alternative photography who cannot afford to purchase these photographic accessories which are sometimes quite expensive, and on the other hand, it has been written for those who want to create tools of their own dimensions, which are not available on the market.
As a consequence of this two-pronged purpose, plans for custom-designed devices with fixed dimensions are not used in this book, but rather their production is shown step-by-step, so that the size of the devices is easily adapted to the reader’s own needs.
Another reason for such an approach to the building of such devices is the wide circle of readers of the series of books entitled “Historical and alternative photography.” Readers come from all over the world, where, for example, the thickness of “standard” boards and the dimensions of wood strips and other materials used may vary considerably from one part of the world to another. Fixed dimensions would, therefore, likely cause many problems.
Readers of my books come from countries that use different measurement systems. Therefore, both measuring systems, i.e. international (metric) and the imperial system of measurement (inches, etc…) are used in the book.
All devices presented here are made with simple tools, which are most commonly found in every household. Building these devices is therefore simple, but we still have to have some manual skill. In case of any doubt about our abilities, it is best to turn to those who are skilled enough to undertake such tasks.
All of the accessories presented here have been tested in practice, and I have used them for 10 years or more. But the reader must also accept this simple fact: the accessories in this book have not been officially tested and don’t have certificates for safe operation. In short, these are home-made devices that are built and used at our own risk.
Given the limited scope of this book, as well as the unattractive market price in the case of a thicker volume, only the most commonly used photographic devices from the field of historical and alternative photography are shown here..
At first, we will present the basic tools for working with collodion glass plates. We start with descriptions of wet plate drying racks and special clamps for glass cleaning, and continue with a chapter on cutting glass and cutting collodion glass plates.
A chapter with a description for making glass rods follows; such rods allow extremely precise coating of photographic chemicals onto paper.
Every DIY project that we undertake at home will require a variety of tools and devices specific to that project, and the same is true for almost every alternative photographer, so we have included next a chapter on contact printing frames. Here, two basic frames are presented. The first is a so-called simple two-part printing frame, and the other is a modern version of the once very popular classic French-style contact printing frame.
Afterwards, we present a method for producing a simple pinhole camera.
And, at the end of the book, we describe a more complex project for building an UV exposure unit which is intended to expose photos in alternative photographic processes and is an indispensable tool in the darkroom of every alternative photographer. In our case, we have chosen so-called BLB fluorescent lights from the wide range of available UV lamps; these are somewhat less hazardous to our health, compared to others.
This book, Alternative Photographic Accessories, is, in addition, one of the so-called DIY manuals aimed at saving money. And I have also taken this fact into account when writing it.
Here we present a drying rack for glass plates. This is probably the cheapest and simplest tool that we will describe in this book. Despite its simplicity, it was among the first to be extremely popular with photographers as long ago as a century or two, and we can find it in almost every kitchen. This tool was, in fact, intended for drying kitchen plates.
To make this drying rack, we will need a rectangular basswood lath (A), preferably of standard dimensions, for example, 24 x 24 mm or 1” x 1”. The second part of the drying rack is made from a hardwood round dowel (B) with a diameter of about 9 mm or 3/8”. The length of the bars and the number of bars depend on how many glass plates we want to dry at the same time.
To produce the drying rack, we will need the following tools:
Building the device is quite simple. First, we decide how many glass plates we want to dry at the same time. In our case, we opted for simultaneous drying of six glass plates. For the production of such a device, we will thus cut off 16 bars from the round dowels (B). 7 bars will fit on each strip, and 2 bars will be needed to connect the two rectangular laths (A). The length of the round dowels in our case is about 12 cm (5”).
The drying rack shown here is also quite simple and at the same time very effective and above all cheap.
For the production of this device, the following items are required:
The selection of tools and other supplies that will be needed for building the drying rack depends on our desires, but we only need a few basic and readily available tools:
As can be seen in the picture which appears at the beginning of this section, we will simply glue some basswood sticks (A) on a board (B). Between the sticks, we will leave some empty space, so that we can put glass plates in the resulting gap. The length of the board (B) is not important, as it will be adapted to the number of sticks that we will glue onto it.
At a correct exposure of photos, they should be neither too dark nor too light. And this correct exposure depends on the following three basic factors (speaking in generalities and neglecting certain other values):
Most often, people sort and group data by intervals so that they are more accessible and comprehensible to us. So it is with these three factors that affect the correct exposure. The “standard” intervals of these factors (aperture, exposure time and ISO) which affect the correct exposure and are encountered in most modern cameras are the following:
The good news is that these values are so mutually attuned or standardized, that pairs of values can be changed. Let’s say we used a film with light sensitivity of ISO 100 and we get the correct exposure, or the aperture value of f8 and time of 1/60 seconds. If we move the above shown standard values or rows to the left or to the right so that the obtained value for our exposure are one under another in the same column, we obtain the following table.
And because the values are harmonized or standardized, we get the same correct exposure, even if at ISO 100 we select the pair of aperture value f2.8 and exposure time of 1/500. The hole in this case is bigger, but an appropriate shorter exposure time is assigned to this pair. The flow of light is the same and the exposure is again correct.
Similarly, we can choose a pair with a smaller aperture and appropriately longer exposure time. In our case, we can therefore also select a pair of f32 and exposure time of 1/4 seconds. The amount of light which penetrates in the camera in this case is the same as in previous example and the exposure is once again correct.
In 1974, ISO also standardized the measurement of a photographic film’s sensitivity to light. Of course, from this time on, even this value is consistent with the values of exposure time and aperture value.
In the case where we want keep a constant aperture of f8 the correct exposition determined above, we can change the pair of light sensitivity ISO and the exposure time. Exposure at the value of f8 is also therefore unchanged with the use of pair 1/250 and the more light-sensitive ISO value of 400. The same correct exposure is obtained even, if at the aperture f8, we select longer time of 1/8 seconds and the less light-sensitive ISO 12, etc…
For us, the above-mentioned parameters and their standardization is important because while we take a picture with a pinhole camera, we almost always move outside the standard areas shown above, which are encountered in normal photographic light meters. Thus, a light meter built into a camera will not find such low ISO values as is characteristic for photo paper or wet plate collodion plate, and we will also not find such as small a diameter of the pinhole or aperture value in the light meter as was found in the pinhole camera.
Therefore, when we shoot on the wet collodion plates using pinhole cameras or other slow photographic techniques, we most commonly read the correct exposure value with the use of a digital camera or light meter. Then these values are converted to the values that correspond to our simple camera.
And for conversion of these exposure values to values used in pinhole and other simple cameras, I have built a simple device for readers of this book, as shown below.
This consists of three disks that we print on thick paper and cut along the lines. Then we place the disks one on top of the other, and pierce them in the center, so that they can be moved around their axis (1).
ISO 100, f8 and 1/60 s = ISO 12, f180 and 1 min.
Here, at the end of this chapter, we have to warn our readers about the fact that the theory mentioned here about the correct exposure is quite general and intended for beginners. More detailed information, for example on the correct exposure time at very extended times, etc…, can be found in books or texts which are written precisely about these themes.