Large format 8x10

Writing of this post will be stretched in time - a form of a short diary. 

I am starting on Saturday morning on the 11th of July, and I can’t wait until the next week to tell you what I feel today… And I am amazed. My visual perception of a negative has changed forever. But let’s start from the beginning. A couple of months ago, when I wrote two blog posts about contact printing using only a small desk lamp instead of the enlarger, I mentioned that it would be great to create bigger negatives. It would allow me to make larger contact prints. 4x5 is fine; however, is it enough? 

Having in mind how vital ‘portability’ is, the only alternative was 8x10 pinhole camera. No, I didn’t make a decision that day, but usually, if I allow getting some idea into my head it starts blooming… and you know the result ;)

Here’s what happened a few weeks later. I contacted Karl Richards in the UK who built for me previous 4x5 pinholes with perspective correction. After the short email exchange to set details and eventual camera specs, I made an order. 

Yesterday early morning I heard an intercom sound. 

- Hello?

- Hi, it’s a postman here. I have a package for Artur Sikora.

I was running downstairs, like crazy. My new 8x10 pinhole camera arrived. After quickly getting back, I start to fight with the box trying to open it as fast as possible. And here it is…

Wide 8x10 pinhole with perspective correction. Focal length equivalent - 120.  Beautiful piece of equipment.

Karl has unique skills, and all the cameras he makes are excellent.

That day I loaded paper to the holder which I borrowed from a friend of mine some time ago. Thank you, David!

Sunday morning - the sun is up and shining. I packed the camera and holder to backpack, light tripod (Manfrotto BeFree) to one of two panniers and cycled to my first location, just around the port. I set everything and made myself ready for the first photograph. One thing I realised just before going out - I will probably need a new tripod head or mounting plate, or I will need to use my heavier tripod (Manfrotto 055XPro) for this setup. The one I started with (which is perfect for my 4x5 pinholes or medium format) is way too fragile, and such a big camera have no proper support. It’s not the wight (only 2.5kg) but the size of it - 26x30x12cm. That will be next step along with buying film holders. 

Anyway, one holder, it’s two photographs, so time for the next location - the north part of Docklands. Here camera got a little shake suddenly due to very gentle gust of wind. It needs better support, no doubt. An hour later, I was back home. I instantly prepared trays, safe light and started processing.

The effect? I was blown away by the size and quality of these paper negatives. I know it may sound funny for someone who usually works with this size negs or even bigger but that was my first contact with 8x10, and the first impression was unforgettable. Negatives are drying now. Soon scanning…

Sunday - 1pm

Scans are ready, and they are huge. I will need, however, to repeat both shots. First one came up slightly overexposed and the second one, correctly exposed, but blurry due to mentioned shake.

On my bike again. This time only one location and two shots. I choose the first one - cement plant in the port. This place seems to be much more interesting for photography. This time all came out perfectly. I can’t stop looking at these negatives. They are almost like a work of art on their own. 

Next day I decided to try my heavy tripod, which I usually use for commercial work. And it worked perfectly, even on the wind. 

So the plate is fine once the camera is on the right tripod.

Now, more experiments on the way. It includes new contact print tests but this time much bigger than before.

Thank you!

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