Super-size camera exposes unique view

Posted on Wednesday 28th October 2015

University of Bolton lecturer Ian Beesley has been working with a giant amongst cameras.

Standing five feet high and four feet wide, this monster-sized piece of photographic equipment is part of the Gallery Oldham collection, where Ian has been artist in residence for the past two years.

‘When I spotted the camera it really caught my eye – and not just because it’s huge. This large industrial process camera had been used in the manufacture of wallpaper at Rome Mill in Springhead for many years,’ said Ian, who is course leader on the University’s MA in Photography course.

‘I made it my mission to get this camera working again!’

BBC1

Giving new life to this 100 year-old piece of photography history involved specialist restoration of the lens as well as a good deal of cleaning.

Most importantly Ian had to meet the challenge of using a camera that was designed for huge negatives – 24 inches square.

His solution was to create a grid which could take smaller negatives resulting in images made up of 20 separate prints.

‘The next step was to take the camera out on the road,’ said Ian.

‘A transit van was required to transport it and with a little modification this could also double as a darkroom enabling the slides to be reloaded out in the field.’

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‘I’m pretty pleased with results,’ said Ian. ‘The images have a fantastic quality not found with modern cameras, partly because of the size but also because of the design  the lens.. Certainly a unique vision of the world.’

Ian said: ‘Wherever we took this camera people were fascinated by its scale and by the effort involved in making just one image. It has been great fun and a real challenge getting this far and I’m hoping to produce a full scale exhibition with this camera eventually.’ 

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