Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Camera-Rochester Optical, Empire State View 1880's

A period image of my camera. Taken from "http://piercevaubel.com/cam/roc.htm"

The "Flea-Bay" stars finally aligned and I was able to get a antique view camera. For awhile, I have been researching alliterative photography processes and decided that I wanted to work with glass negatives. One reason is that I wanted to get away from the expense of film, especially large format film. And two I want to add a more creative look to my photos, adding a level of physicality. I thought about trying wet plate, but I was definitely turned off by the challenge. It looks like just to many steps and specialized chemistry for me to play with and learn. While I am a fan of "process", wet plate seems just to cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive for me now.
Looking at simpler methods of creating my own negatives, I found that Liquid Light makes a emulsion product that has a higher silver content than regular liquid light. It's called "Liquid Light Ag". I believe it is was developed for photographers to make tin types, but it can also be used for creating "ambrotypes" on glass. The product is simple to use and you use it dry. That way I can make up some plates ahead of time, expose them, and develop them later.  I think this would be an perfect way or me to go,  but the first thing I need is a camera to shoot with.
This is a before photo of the camera as I received it. It is over all in usable shape. The bellows, lens and rear focusing glass are all intact.
The camera I ended up with is a Rochester Optical, Empire State in "full plate" size. Meaning that it will take a 6 1/2 X 8 1/2 image. The camera came with a nice wide angle lens. I am really happy with the camera because it doesn't need a lot of work to restore. The bellows are nice and light tight. The rear ground glass looks original. The wood work is messed up in a couple of areas that I will have to address later. But aside from those areas the camera is good to go, after a good cleaning that is.
For that I broke down the camera totally and washed all the wood with hot water and scrubbed it with Murphy's Oil Soap. This took off 100+ years of dirt. The next step I did was polishing up all the brass hardware. I couldn't help myself, but I think the end results look spectacular.
A close up of the lens. Note the dile with different size holes. These are the F-stops. The holes are numbered 16, 32?, 64, 128, 256, and 512. There is no shutter. I will have to make a lens cap for it and use it as my shutter.
The lens was made in Boston, Mass. by Andrew J. Lloyd & Co. It's also labeled as "Lloyd Special". I hope this lens will work out perficly for shooting landscapes.