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Alan7140

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Another neat innovation for the filter holder Alan.  It doesn't spoil the exterior look in any way of the camera or its lens and enables current day photographic materials to yield the vintage look. Nice.

 

Are there any tanneries in your part of the world that could shave sheet leather down to a suitable thickness for the bellows or are you looking for a synthetic material?

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1 hour ago, Hugh_3170 said:

Another neat innovation for the filter holder Alan.  It doesn't spoil the exterior look in any way of the camera or its lens and enables current day photographic materials to yield the vintage look. Nice.

 

Are there any tanneries in your part of the world that could shave sheet leather down to a suitable thickness for the bellows or are you looking for a synthetic material?

 

Thanks, Hugh.

 

I can get tanned goatskin, but it's Third Grade, and everything I've read stipulates First Grade as being necessary (anything less can apparently have small nicks and holes, which would be problematic). I can order first grade from the USA, but by the time the exchange rate, GST, postage and customs get through with it, it would cost hundreds of $$.

 

As a complete coincidence the old velvet curtains in my studio/gallery finally perished and I ebayed some ready-made "blockout" black curtains at $22 per 3 metre width/213cm drop, which on arrival proved to be an absolutely light tight and silky-smooth, soft polyester material, which is too soft for bellows as is but if I can concoct some stiffer framework it might well do for both inside and outside linings.

 

As two of the drops are too long for the windows they're on, I'll try to find someone adept with a sewing machine to re-seam the bottoms and have enough of the resulting cut-offs to make up several attempts at bellows. Anyhow that's my plan of action for the moment, I've spent more than enough money on these camera mods and repairs for the moment.

 

I think my ultimate goal is to buy a proper whole plate field camera with four film holders anyway, it's just justifying the expense as they're not easy to come by in good working order, and I have no interest in going to 8x10" - been there, done that in the 1970's and found that extra size to be a real chore, from handling to the expense of materials. 6½x8½ doesn't sound much smaller, but it is hugely easier to handle than I remember the fiddle of 8x10 being.

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If the polyester material is too floppy, then maybe experiment on a scrap piece by spraying it with model aeroplane dope (thinned with acetone), and elasticised with a few drops of castor oil.  Less is more, so don't over do it and allow for some shrinkage.  Such stuff will also help seal any pin holes, especially if it is coloured matt black.

 

Is 4" x 5" too small? 

 

4 hours ago, Alan7140 said:

Thanks, Hugh.

 

I can get tanned goatskin, but it's Third Grade, and everything I've read stipulates First Grade as being necessary (anything less can apparently have small nicks and holes, which would be problematic). I can order first grade from the USA, but by the time the exchange rate, GST, postage and customs get through with it, it would cost hundreds of $$.

 

As a complete coincidence the old velvet curtains in my studio/gallery finally perished and I ebayed some ready-made "blockout" black curtains at $22 per 3 metre width/213cm drop, which on arrival proved to be an absolutely light tight and silky-smooth, soft polyester material, which is too soft for bellows as is but if I can concoct some stiffer framework it might well do for both inside and outside linings.

 

As two of the drops are too long for the windows they're on, I'll try to find someone adept with a sewing machine to re-seam the bottoms and have enough of the resulting cut-offs to make up several attempts at bellows. Anyhow that's my plan of action for the moment, I've spent more than enough money on these camera mods and repairs for the moment.

 

I think my ultimate goal is to buy a proper whole plate field camera with four film holders anyway, it's just justifying the expense as they're not easy to come by in good working order, and I have no interest in going to 8x10" - been there, done that in the 1970's and found that extra size to be a real chore, from handling to the expense of materials. 6½x8½ doesn't sound much smaller, but it is hugely easier to handle than I remember the fiddle of 8x10 being.

 

 

 

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Handy suggestion, Hugh, I'll look into it tomorrow. Thanks.

 

4x5" isn't on my radar - I spent too many years using it and have thousands of 4x5 negs, and I never was really happy with that format - a rectangle trying to be a square but not being decisive either which way, and uninspiring to get a good composition with without cropping. It's why I like the old Imperial plate dimensions, they seems a natural proportion to compose into. Besides, I sold all my 4x5 gear in 2010 along with a beautiful array of Rodenstock lenses all bought new originally, and I'd be hard pressed to justify the shortfall expense of trying to replace all of that compared to what I sold it for. That alone would be enough of a deterrent as I'd forever be trying to justify it for the limited use it'd be likely to get in the time I have left. Besides, this old gear is a challenge in itself just to get working properly again, and I like the mental stimulation that provides.

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OK, I think I've nailed the bellows construction problem:

 

Step one -  Ignore/disregard/delete all Internet "tutorials", PDFs, You Tube waffle and work it out logically from scratch.

 

Step 2, disassemble camera yet again and work with the old bellows sitting in front of me.

 

I've glued two pieces of art cartridge board together to make the stiffeners between the bellows folds - it's now stiff enough to resist bending but still light enough to cut easily. I've then drawn up a plan (first photo) and decided that instead of just scoring the card and attempting to bend it on the folds after pasting on the covering and lining that I'll tediously cut each rib out and paste them with an appropriate gap to allow for folding onto a facsimile plan drawn onto ordinary Kraft paper, which I'll then paste onto the outer and inner material. I've shaped them as best as I can feel through all the coverings and tape I applied to try and fix the old bellows as the original stiffeners were shaped.

 

XeswRkA.jpg

 

This should then fold exactly as the original bellows were done with their 90º corner folds rather than the more common 45º/45º double corners that modern bellows seem to follow, and what I assume is where things went arse-over-tit with my three previous attempts to build a bellows for this camera by not following the aforementioned Step one and Step 2. :) (second photo, with corrections made to plan, and the first few ribs numbered and placed against the original bellows to confirm that this time things should work a lot better.

 

sCfBnIg.jpg

 

I suppose this should have been posted in the thread "Nothing quite like the original..." where this problem was first mentioned, but that thread is already long enough and this immediate problem was most recently discussed here.

 

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Alan7140 said:

OK, I think I've nailed the bellows construction problem:

 

Step one -  Ignore/disregard/delete all Internet "tutorials", PDFs, You Tube waffle and work it out logically from scratch.


I’m always amused when my kids tell me that their school teacher tells them not to rely on Wikipedia, but other internet stuff is ok.  🤔

 

I guess that is just the big problem with the internet - it is really hard to know who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t.
 

 

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4 hours ago, crowecg said:

I guess that is just the big problem with the internet - it is really hard to know who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t.

 

This is why long term membership of specialised forums is important, something you’re unlikely to get on social media.

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Done.

 

But not without several dramas. ;) 

 

Bellows now replaced and fitting properly, and most importantly, not leaking light.

oyare2t.jpg

 

pkjsFU6.jpg

 

Camera folds as it was designed to for transport, bellows completely enclosed and ground glass protected (well, after a fashion, anyway).

n4nRHC0.jpg

 

Bellows also extend to their original designed length.

SlWyOk2.jpg

 

I'm particularly pleased with the way the internal lining came through without crinkling or sagging, as after all that's really the business part of the whole thing.

twAlC0x.jpg

 

More to the point, this camera is now fully operational once again (and not just a collector's piece). A reminder of what it looked like when I received it:

ZeVtI5N.jpg

 

No lens fitted, no ground glass, completely rotten bellows that leaked light at all folds and corners, disassembled with many screws either stripped or missing.

 

 

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Kudos - a great reward for effort and thinking the problem through from first principles.

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Thanks, guys. It was a steep learning curve and many missteps in trying to find the right materials,  particularly the right adhesives, as well as sourcing such now almost impossible things to find in a country that went fully metric during the 1960's and '70's such as " 4g slot-head imperial thread brass screws.

 

However I'm very taken with the whole-plate format now, but the scarcity and costs of buying more common or complete cameras from overseas is prohibitive due to the trashed exchange rate of our dollar these days (which has gone from US$1.10 to US$0.69 over the past few years, plus the addition of 10% GST for imported goods worth under $1,000 which were previously duty free) make that out of contention for me these days.

 

Although it's as primitive as a camera design can get, there is something almost enjoyably primal about using this thing to actually take photographs as it's about as far away from the fully electronic modern thing that passes as "photography" these days as it's possible to get.

 

It may yet provide me with the means to producing an authentic Daguerreotype, which is something I've been toying with doing all through my career but never had the time or gumption to actually do, even though I have access all the chemistry necessary and only have to locally source some silver-plated copper 6½" x 8½" plates to complete the equation. Although this particular 1880's camera slightly post-dates the popular use of Daguerreotypes, its design is the same as makes no difference to actual Daguerreotype cameras of the 1840's-60's, the only difference being the use of those troublesome bellows as opposed to the common sliding box-within-a-box design of the originals.

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