Thursday, August 31, 2006

Our Dining Room, Shot With Paul Dana's 8x10 View Camera


Eight by ten has such a different meaning when you're talking about a camera rather than a print. Our friend Paul Dana, recently retired from the airlines, Pan Am I think, in the early 1970's, had to have his toys. A Leica M4 and then an M5 when they hit the market, an assortment of Leitz lenses, a Hasselblad 500C, an assortment of Zeiss lenses. Then one day he went into Browne's Photo Center and spied a new arrival, an old 8x10 field camera, a folding flat bed, not a monorail, complete with half a dozen varnished cherry wood film holders and a 14 inch lens. He bought it.

I suppose the camera had been varnished mahogany when new, but it had been painted white by a previous owner, bellows and all. I guess it kept things cooler in the Florida sun. Well, one day Stephanie and I were visiting Paul and Louise and I was fooling around with the camera. He offered to lend it to me for a week and I took him up on it. Come Monday morning I was off to buy a 25 sheet box of Ektapan. I already had a massive tripod that I could use with the camera, actually an old wooden motion picture tripod with a silky smooth pan head by F. & B. Ceco. That night I photographed Stephanie sitting at the table in our dining room.

Ektapan was about ISO 100 film, and the lens needed to be stopped down a few stops, so exposures were on the long side. This negative was probably exposed for about 15 seconds. The film was developed in a tray in total darkness. I quickly discovered that schlepping a twenty pound camera on a thirty pound tripod, and being limited to six film holders each holding two sheets of film, wasn't my style. Plus every time you pushed the button it cost at least a dollar. I don't think that I even finished up the entire box of film before giving the camera back to Paul.

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