It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride the past week or so prior to this post despite the pace being somewhat sluggish for the better part of a year (this is quite a long post so it’ll probably be full of errors, be warned).
I finally received my Intrepid Camera Co. 8×10 camera, sans film holders, late March 2018 (as backer 158) and it looked great but couldn’t shoot anything because I had no film holders; it was still great to finally have the camera.
After some frantic brain storming over a lens (and mucking about with a 500mm lens that was just too long) I forgot I had a Kodak Ektar ƒ7.7 203mm which I’ve had lying around gathering dust for years and had a circle of resolve (or whatever the correct term is) around 300+º which could cover in most instances 8×10 but primarily for 7×9 or something close; I was initially planning to sell this lens along with my Graphic View at one point – glad I didn’t.
The lens was already rammed into a cardboard lens board for the Graphic View so I glued that board onto a Sinar shaped board (I used epoxy resin) I had cut out and with some duct tape it looked great (enough). ƒ7.7 isn’t exactly fast but on an 8×10 it feels like it’s enough.
The Double D’s
As part of my Kickstarter package I chose an option that would include 2 double dark slides (film holders) but over the course of waiting for the camera updates on those were far and few between which made me a bit suspicious; it turned out to be well founded. They released a message early 2018 to say it wasn’t as doable as they first thought to build an affordable 8×10 DD; each DD required a lot of time to construct.
They offered a couple of options which boiled down to either a refund of £45 if you ordered 1 DD or £90 if you had ordered 2 DDs or wait for them to create. This was a down point because I was unfortunately relying on these DDs because 8×10 DDs aren’t cheap, roughly £170 new, so I did what anyone in this situation does and that’s go straight to eBay.
I bought a ‘on-deaths-door’ Kodak DD that had some missing screws and other problems for a total of £25 including P&P. You pay for what you get.
On receipt of the DD I epoxy resined the shit out of the plates that guided the slides across the film into the locks at the bottom, one of which had completely fallen off (the other fell off later), and redistributed what screws I had (3 screws, 8 holes). When I came to make the first negatives I just duct taped the film entry flaps into place and prayed.
Loading this Kodak DD with old slightly warped Ilford and Adox paper from 4-5 years ago wasn’t easy. I essentially rammed it into place leaving the paper quite uneven in the DD but as long as the slide closed without ripping the paper in half I didn’t care.
First Blood: Part One
First shot was out of my back room into the garden. About 1/10 in a bright sunny day at ƒ7.7 rating the paper at ISO3, then I pivoted the camera towards my Trampoline which had a large shadow of my house across half the frame; these were test shots so nothing precious and used same exposure.
Well, bugger me it worked. The paper wasn’t fogged from the most light-leaky loft darkroom ever but there was some leaky light on the trampoline shot from the top end of the DD and you can see some vignetting on the first shot as it was close to infinity.
First Blood: Part Deux
While caught up in the magic I reloaded a new 8×10 sheet on the side that didn’t have the massive light leak and managed to convince my daughter and her friend to sit outside for another frame before I wrapped things up. This frame looked pretty good to me (despite the uneven developing).
Fellow large format photographer and friend James Pearson messaged me about a job lot of DDs he found going for £99 on eBay so I leapt at the chance and cheekily offered the seller £90 (inc. P&P) which he accepted. The refund of £90 from Intrepid now got me 3 DDs instead of 2.
Waiting on the 3 DDs
A couple of days later I loaded up what was the last of my 8×10 paper and made 2 still life pics of the piled up dishes by the sink, they looked good although one sheet did look a little fogged and had a slight streak of light from the top of the holder.
Now out of 8×10 paper I taped up a couple of sheets of 7×9 Fomapan paper but I believe the holes in my roof and other poor loft light management (it was very bright outside) fogged the buggery out of these two sheets. I tried to make a super close portrait of my daughter and then a photo of some washing hanging in the garden but the portrait was completely fogged and the clothesline picture was very fogged. I gave up.
Take 1: FAIL
It’s the Mother F-ing Triple DDs
So on Monday 11th the 3 DDs I bought on eBay for £90 arrive and they look F*CKING AMAZING compared to the dilapidated Kodak DD.
I immediately set out to improve the light leak issues in the loft so I could safely cut down some Xray film from my extensive collection of unopened boxes I was given by radiologists when I helped make department film-less with a PACS.
I mostly have packs that are either smaller or larger than 8×10 so I trimmed down from what might’ve been 11″x14″ using one of my negatives as a template on a flattened cardboard box and a Stanley knife. Precise it was not.
The film slid beautifully into one of the new DDs and off I went to battle my flash trigger, which was dead, and ended up using a PC cord connected to a Coldshoe-Hotshoe converter. After some serious mucking about with a less than inspired model I managed to get 2 photos on Xray film.
One sheet had some artefacts as if the film had stuck to another sheet ripping off some of the silver but will have to look at the sheet to see if that was the case. The next day I made a couple of contact prints …
I love the Intrepid. It feels good to use, fairly robust but light and I’m seriously looking forward to experimenting with flash and making a mess which could be amplified by trying to build a project around it.