vrijdag 1 augustus 2014

SLR - life size prototype

components of my new back for "modern" sheet film holders

Time has come to construct a first model in life size. One of the things I don't make myself are the holders for the 4x5 inch sheet films. As this part, with its specific measurement is a given fact I have to deal with, I decided to start the 1:1 version with it's back, which I made for usage in horizontal and vertical position. 

almost ready for use

This was not the first back I constructed and I already knew some of the issues that will need special attention, like: the film holder has to go in and out easily and in the same time it has to get enough pressure to hold it firmly against the opening where the image will appear. And it don't have to move while handling the camera or pulling out the dark-slide etc. In a former project I bent for instance an old spring of an alarm clock to give the right tension.

it fits like a custom made jacket: easy and smooth

My new design is even more practical, minimalistic and easy to use. Two rubber bands are strong enough to secure the holder on its position, pulling the holder in and out goes smoothly and of course without damaging the holder. At the end I will give the inside a lick of black paint.

a simple but effective design
My next step is to construct something like a box, where the back can connect to. This will be continued soon.

all images © Norman Beierle

donderdag 24 juli 2014

SLR follow up


This and last week I worked on the improvement of the shutter mechanism. I made several sketches with sophisticated solutions, but most of them where quite time consuming to make and allow only precision parts for a supple movement. The best way to keep this operation simple - in terms of a minimalistic, but functional design - was to make a model with a single rotating disk. 

shutter mechanism - before and after pulling the trigger
I have chosen for an oversized wooden model, which could easily placed in front of a future 8x10 inch or ultra large format (ULF) SLR. Another advantage of enlarging the shutter was that I could adjust all parts quickly and tight with just some screws. The tension of the (closing mechanism of the) shutter is regulated with an elastic band.

maandag 14 juli 2014

second project - a twin lens reflex camera

cardboard sketch of the TLR camera

Simultaneous with the start of my Single Lens Reflex camera project, I began to develop a foldable Twin Lens Reflex camera, also for large format photography. My aim is to use this camera for architecture photography, therefore it has at least to shift a wide angle lens. The other requirements were that the camera should fold up to a reasonable small package and is that it would be usable for (relatively) quick handheld photography.

folding TLR open - and with lens board

The construction of the body is light and simple and will be made from wooden multiplex plate material. By the way, the mirror is not yet attached to the body. One of the more delicate works is the design of the wide angle bellows, which have to move in different directions without blocking parts of the image area and without conflicting with the second bellows.

two different bellows designs during tests

For a quick test I made two different bag bellows. One of the bellows was an extended version of a normal wide angle bellows. The second one was a doubled bag bellows, which required some extra stabilizers. 

a more or less 'classic' bag bellows

The classic version wasn't successful enough, as the single bag stretches too much, which deforms the side and pushes cloth to the inside. The double bag bellows worked a lot better. I knew on forehand that this design will need some inner construction that it will not sag down in the middle and it will need some tension to pull each bag to its board.

double bag bellows with elastic rubber bands

The next step is a wooden model with two double bellows to have a better idea of its efficiency.

all images © Norman Beierle

zondag 13 juli 2014

Large format SLR camera

cardboard model of a simple SLR camera - front view

It is still more a rudimentary sketch rather than an advanced camera to steal the show, but its simplicity is promising for me. I found a simple mechanism to cover the lens while the mirror is moving up and release the shutter immediately afterwards. For the precise position and movement of the rotating shutter I have to develop some more tests and prototypes and I also will have a closer look for the optical devices and the focussing mechanism.

cardboard model of a simple SLR camera - back view

In the end I want to make a (very) limited series of cameras in wood for 4x5" holders and maybe some larger formats on special request. In the next couple of weeks you will see (hopefully) the expected progress in usability and another camera models, I am developing right now. Together with Alex I made a short video to attract future investors for this project.


all images © Norman Beierle

donderdag 26 juni 2014


jump into the habor
It's almost a daily ritual to celebrate the nice weather with a jump into the water. This one was captured on an old Kodak T-Max 400 film, that was shot at 100 ISO and developed in Amaloco AM 74. The image was taken with a Contaflex SLR and a shutter speed of 1/300 second together with an aperture between 8 and 11. The Zeiss Ikon Contaflex - I have the Beta version with the Pantar lens without a light meter - is one of the few leaf shutter SLR's that was build for 36 mm film. Medium format SLR's with leaf shutter are more common, like the last analogue series from Hasselblad, Mamiya and Bronica. The main advantage to curtain shutters was that leaf shutters were easier to synchronize with flash light and fast shutter speeds.

PS.: the image is just a quick scan and has Newton rings as I scanned the negative through its acetate holder.

image © Norman Beierle, 2014

donderdag 5 juni 2014

multiple exposures

multiple exposure photograph of at least 25 frames
Something you can't do easily with a digital camera: multiple exposures. Of course you can bring layers together in photoshop, but most cameras lack the function of bringing 25 images in one frame during a nice weekend trip. Also most camera's can't simulate a 14 years old Kodak T-max 400 film, that was stored all the time in an attic.

Honestly I didn't expect just one single frame from the whole weekend myself. Last week I repaired an old Pentacon F camera, which I got as a rescue project from my brother once. One of the last parts that were missing was the rewind crank and I came across a leftover crank from a Praktica, that didn't needed too much work to function as a replacement. The only thing I forgot was that the winder spool was an older model, that wouldn't hold the film tight enough to transport it immediately and as the film was pretty old the sprocket holes were broken quickly. 

same multi-shot, vertical direction
I was wondering what kind of image I could get out of that almost black frame, as I could still see some structures with my magnifying glass. After adjusting the scanner and careful adjustment in the tonal curves I got a nice, almost surrealistic image with unexplainable structures. It reminds me of El Lissitsky's Studio portrait, he made in 1923 and of course Mario Bellusi's Modern Traffic from 1930.

all images © Norman Beierle

zaterdag 17 mei 2014

Leporellos and photo maps

examples of souvenir maps with photos
Another source of inspiration form my latest publication City Souvenirs is stored in a little shoe box, which is filled with small photo souvenirs and leporellos, which are harmonica-folded strips with images.

images from the map City of Hamburg
The small souvenir maps and leporellos have been largely available between 1910 and 1980. Normally they have dimensions of about 6,5 x 9 centimeters, contains ten to twenty "real photographs" in an cardboard envelop. The first one I have bought (back in 1978), was probably a small leporello with images of a stalactite cave that I visited during a school trip in the Swabian Alb area.

Over time I have collected some more souvenir maps, found on flee-markets or thrift shops and it seems that they are a European phenomenon. American leporellos I have seen were always twice as large and very colorful.

photos of The beautiful Bad Ems

Some souvenir maps have photos from a whole region, like the black forest, but most are form specific spot. A lot of castles and religious places have their own leporellos or maps, but the main topic are cities. The nice thing is, that not only the metropoles have their souvenirs, but also the smaller cities and small places with a touristic attraction. In fact from everything that attracts people on a regular basis could have been made a leporello or photo map, because people want to have a little memorizer of their trip.

leporello of a glider plane airport
More information about the publication City Souvenirs you can find on my portfolio site. A preview you can see here and I also made a post of another source of inspiration.