It’s about time that we told you a bit about the camera that we use on both projects. It’s a large format camera, which uses 5″ x 4″ film. It’s based on the technology used by photographers 100 years ago, though it’s actually a new camera and has the same beautiful combination of wooden frame with metal hinges and bellows that photographers such as Robert French and R. J. Welch would have used in Ireland at the turn of the last century. The only difference is that we use film rather than glass plates that are difficult to source and process.
The reason that we use this camera is simply because it uses the same technology that French and Welch used. Re-photography is all about putting ourselves in exactly the same position as the original photographer. Understanding their process, what they were thinking when they clicked the shutter, what they wanted to include and what to leave out of their shot are all things we consider, just like with any camera. But using a large format camera involves a lengthy process of examining an image upside and back to front with a lupe, under a black cloth, and given that it can cost £10 every time you take a picture, we tend to do everything quite slowly! If we take 3 pictures in a morning, we’ve been very busy.
We’ll describe more about our actual process in later posts, but hopefully this gives you an idea of why we use such a beautiful piece of equipment. The couple of pictures that we’ve attached to this post show you the camera itself, as well as shot taken under the hood during our BBC project.