|Butchers "The Midg" Falling quarter plate camera. Photograph gallery.|
During 1917, two Yorkshire girls produced photographs
of fairies in their Cottingley garden.
Given this fact I decided that our Midg should mimic the act, and using the same illustration that had likely inspired the two girls (Illustration for Alfred Noyes' poem "A Spell for a Fairy" in Princess Mary's Gift Book by Claude Shepperson, Hodder and Stoughton, c. 1914) concocted three dancing nymphs and sat them in the garden to become "The Bishopstoke Fairies'. With the Midg using the closest focus lens at 4ft and wide open at f/11 and hand held at 1/25th sec. If nothing else, it proved that these two girls did very well, for their efforts are significantly better than mine.
|The picture above is the whole
plate, whilst at left is crop of the same plate. The fairies are quite small
in the frame as the closest the Midg can focus is 4ft, the same restriction
would have confronted the girls. The whole project filled me with respect
for the two girls, who managed to create their cutouts unseen, smuggle them
out of the house and photograph them without the benefit of a test run.
They clearly did a better job than me! Of course, there remains the possibility
that the fairies were real...
Despite the somewhat tired state of our Midg it proved to be lightproof and reliable. At a later date I will attempt a better mimic of the fairies picture.
The original Cottingley Fairies camera survives to this day in the National Museum of photography in Bradford and can be seen here, you will see that it differs in a number of details.
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