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Columbia Optical Co, Pecto 1. Quarter plate camera. Photograph gallery.

Boldre Church

Well, despite the somewhat disparaging remarks I have made regarding the construction of the Pecto 1, it did behave itself with two test plates, well almost. At right on 12/02/11 is Boldre Church in The New Forest, Hampshire. UK. Parts of the building date back to Norman times, though only a few arches from this period can be seen inside. Photographically, this was as far back as I could get with the Pecto, which was tripod mounted and exposed on the instant setting and mid stop. You can see from the long shadows that the sun wasn't at it's strongest. The reflective nature of the white stone has made the negative a little dense in that area, but it's an encouraging start.

Bosham Mud

Bosham mud, 6th Feb. 2011. Tripod mounted and exposed for 2 seconds at f/38. This image had to be cropped as light crept in and fogged the left edge, originally the sun was off centre. Given the limited shutter speeds and general low quality, the Pecto performs reasonably well.
Bursledon Steampunk

The Pecto was given another try on 10/7/22 with these two scintillating ladies in their steampunk guises as my subject, who gave their permission for me to use the image, should it come out. The Pecto was used handheld for this image, with only reference to the waist level finder for composition, focus was set using the very badly calibrated focus scale. Sadly they were sat in front of a brick wall, which while it suits the industrial steampunk ideal, is visually distracting in photographs. The only way I'd have been able to avoid this would have been to go in tighter on them individually in portrait format where the background would have been minimized and what was remaining would have been blurred by the shorter depth of field at that distance. But I only have one serviceable double plate carrier for this camera, and this was my one remaining shot. In fact it's a minor miracle I got anything at all, after the exposure I could feel that all was not well. When I attempted to insert the dark slide it jammed quarter of an inch open. I hastily put the camera into the bag and zipped it away from the light. When I got home the bag went into the darkroom and the camera removed in the dark, then the plate carrier removed. Somehow the dark slide had hooked the sheet out of the carrier and gone down behind it, flexing it into the bellows, where it got crushed as I closed the camera. My prompt action of hiding it in the bag and taking it to the darkroom prevented any fogging fortunately. Despite this there's not a scratch on the image. The subject lighting was tricky for the Pecto with it's very limited exposure control, although quite ideal for a better camera with strong backlight and diffused lighting coming through the parasols to softly illuminate their faces. As it was I used the largest stop the Pecto would give me and the instant shutter setting. Focus is a little off being slightly short but the modelling into the shadows and bright parasol undersides is pleasant. The dress on the right was created from a pattern published in 1898, exactly the same year as the Pecto 1 and is a delightful coincidence. What you can't appreciate here is the fabulous colours used though.

Bursledon Steampunk

Taken at Burseldon Brickworks in Hampshire, UK is this steam driven road roller exposed in the other side of the double plate carrier as the image above. Given the bright foreground I hoped that some light would be reflected into the dark workings of the roller and this seems to have worked out. Despite the Pecto's primitive construction, careful handling has resulted in two light streak free plates for a change. The challenge was to use the camera hand held as it was likely to have been used in its day and it produced two clear, evenly illuminated and tolerably sharp images 124 years after it was made. This is the full image area, middle stop at instant. The light seals in the Pecto's plate carriers are next to useless, accordingly I don't withdraw the dark slides fully to prevent light entering the slots.

It's thanks to such cheaply made and wildly available cameras from this time that we have so many clear images from this era, so thank you Pecto and your ilk, we owe you all our gratitude.

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