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Butcher's Cameo. Photograph gallery.

Cameo, sample image

Ealing Tide Mill door

After messing around attempting to coat glass plates I switched to sheet film in 1983, this being the first successful effort. The film used was Ilford FP4 sheet film, with the plate carrier packed out with thin modelers plywood to prevent the plate carrier springs from bending the sheet film. This was the final choice having experimented with making glass plates to no avail, the sheet film is an easy route in the end. Unfortunately no contemporary pictures have been found that can be definitely attributed to this camera. Finally in 2022, I switched to aluminium sheet instead of plywood.

This technique is how all plate cameras in the collection are used now. The addition of the stiffener plate doesn't require any modification to the camera or plate carrier, so is entirely reversible

Left, taken late in the evening May 2001 , this picture was exposed with the lens at the widest aperture, the depth of field is consequently very short. Edge to edge definition is pretty bad at these settings, but if anything - when used for this type of picture it enhances the result. The Cameo is still capable of producing pleasing results, aided here with the subject suitably attired in period clothes (well not quite, the dress is c1935) and the resulting picture sepia toned.

Old Saw Mill image taken with Cameo camera

After a long period of rest the Butcher's Cameo was given an outing in Late September 2016. The light was fading when I came across this old saw mill. The exposure was about one second at f.8

The image was taken at the Weald and Downland Museum and illustrates the recently restored and installed wooden framed crane. Entirely powered by hand the crane isn't merely an exhibit but a useful addition to their sawmill used to produce parts for the growing collection of buildings preserved on site.

Mum and Daughter in law 2001

Cameo is the name given to small engraved elliptical portraits, popular as necklaces in their day, and carried over into these black and white photographs, giving this Butcher's camera it's name. This Cameo camera was still producing family cameo images some ninety years after it was made.

Bignor Roman Villa

Bignor Roman Villa museum complex, Bignor, Pulborough in West Sussex, UK.

My favourite Roman antiquity site in the UK, it was discovered way back in 1811 and opened as a tourist attraction a few years later in 1814, way before the invention of photography. These thatched roof buildings were built on top of the remains of the existing Roman walls in some cases, to preserve the floors. Being some of the earliest purpose built museum buildings in the UK, they are now listed in their own right.

The Butcher's Cameo came a century later, and recorded the museum well over a century after it was made, in August 2021.

Bignor Roman Villa

Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire. UK. Summer 1984.

One of the first plates I exposed with the Cameo back in 1984. At this time the only means of processing I had was in an open tray, insufficient agitation has produced the various marks in this image, but it did prove the camera was capable, even if I wasn't. As it had served its purpose the negative was never printed and sat in store, but I elected to add it to the gallery in January 2022, 38 years later! These days I either use an original tin tank, or an adapted Paterson tank to process plates for this format.

De havilland Fox Moth at Middle Wallop

Two De Havilland Moth types at Middle Wallop around 1983, considerably younger than the Cameo. In the foreground is DH Fox Moth G-AOJH, whilst in the background is a Cirrus Moth. The image betrays one of this Cameo's fundemental drawbacks, the bellows strain the lens board back resulting in inconsistent focus over the length of the plate. This image was added to the gallery after a session of negative gazing in 2023. Strange now looking back at it, I could only dream of flying when I took this image. In the time that's elapsed since taking it, I learnt to fly, flew for thirty years and retired from flying. I can but dream again.


The camera was getting on for eighty years old when it created this lovely image back in 1984, although only added to the gallery in 2023.

Short Sandringham passenger cabin

My grandfather was an upholsterer and for a time worked on the flying boats of Imperial Airways at Hythe on Southampton water. Although this isn't one of those, it's a the passenger cabin on a Short Sandringham flying boat, captured on his behalf just before the aircraft was dismantled in the 1980s.

Sandigham flight deck

The flight deck of the same aircraft with the distinctive glazing inherited from the Short Sunderland from which it was converted.

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