Having spent most of his life building things for other people, photographer Rene Smets of Lummen, Belgium now enjoys his retirement by designing and constructing unusual wooden cameras which he would then go on to use for wet plate collodion photography. On the 3rd of October René set himself a project for the winter; to build a camera lens made out of wood. He would then go on to spend an exorbitant amount of time over the next nine days bringing his idea to life.
Rene documented the process with photographs, but like all great makers, started with a self made design first of which he would follow throughout the process:
This is how the lens would start its life. Two different pieces of Belgian wood that have been dried over a twenty year period. On the left is Buxus wood, Continue reading →
Folks, we’ve officially come full circle. The gigantic advancements in technology that have been made since Daguerre first fixed an image, Fox-Talbot invented the reproducible image and Kirsch invented the pixel still has photographers like us grasping for our roots. “The Camera Obscura is Back.”
And like anything in this post-post-modern world, it needs a tacky sales schpiel to sell it (we’ll get to that later.)
Before there were photographs, we painted to make a record of people, places and ideas. Many of these artists would use a camera obscura to aid them in this process as they provided a still frame from which to copy from, trace over or interpret more easily than their own sight. Damn peripheral vision!
David Hockney pointed out that many masterpieces had to have been created using this ‘old camera technology’ much to the horror of many art historians.
Then came along 1800s and something called ‘fixing the image’. Scientists, chemists and hobbyists (there were no photographers back then obviously) started experimenting with different materials that would take the light exposed onto the back of the camera obscura and fix it in place. Niépce was the first to successfully do this in 1827, although modern photography is often attributed to Daguerre and Fox-Talbot over a decade later.
Excited? Well get ready to have your visions of grandeur dashed by an awful ’90s style infomercial that not only teaches you how to suck eggs, but at the same time devalues the premise of the idea it’s created. Continue reading →