Chris McCaw’s Crazy DIY Large-Format Cameras

Posted by on Friday October 22, 2010 | Fine Art, Fun

Ever want to build your own camera? Photographer Chris McCaw did just that and he went big, creating a 30×40-inch bellows camera mounted in a garden wagon and one with a 125-pound aerial lens attached to a wheelchair. McCaw uses the cameras to shoot heavily solarized images that are part of his “Sunburn” series.

Instead of film, McCaw places silver gelatin paper into the film holders of his DIY cameras and leaves them open for long periods of time. The sun burns the paper in the process — sometimes creating holes — and inverts the image from a negative to a positive.

McCaw seems to have as much fun creating the cameras as he does creating the images. Here’s what he told the photo-eye:

“Building my own camera was a really liberating process as a photographer. Sometimes you get into that rut of having big dreams of owning high-end camera gear. The reality is that if you use your imagination and a practical sense of what you want to accomplish, you can do most anything. I feel confident that I can pretty much make any camera I need (I’m currently up to 30×40” mounted on a garden wagon). I also just made one on the base of a wheelchair to hold a 125 lb aerial camera lens!

The wheelchair camera (my friends call it ‘the sad robot’) was just built last month. So far it is only an 8×10″ camera, but it has a 600mm f/3.5 lens that projects an image about 16×20″. I was told the lens came off a U2 spy plane — it is a beast. I use a car jack to raise and lower the lens. I even needed to get a handicap ramp to get it into the van!”

Read more at the photo-eye blog.

(From The Stupid Photographer via Colin Pantall’s blog.)




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