Vintage and Classic Cameras
Sanderson Regular hand & stand 5 x 4" plate camera c1902. Photograph gallery.

This delightfully gnarly old tree is to be found round the back of St. Cross, Winchester in the UK. The sun was fading away rapidly as I walking back from an otherwise fruitless trip. But here was this tree, bathed in the evening light, like an actor in the follow spot. Getting a shot off with the Sanderson isn't the speediest of events, .... the old tripod needs care as it's prone to unlocking and collapsing in a heap. This was also taken with the Super Angulon. This was a one shot effort... the sun faded rapidly. Apart from being extremely tight, I like to expose as few frames as possible. This pretty much represents the negative, just a tiny burning in the foreground, and the top edge to give some edge was needed to make this usable. But then.... my standards are realistically low!

The Sanderson was taken to Northern Ireland in August 2013, just four plates were loaded. I specifically thought I'd use it at the Giant's Causeway, or the slip where the RMS Titanic was built. In the end I chose the Causeway to make the four exposures. This image was made with the Unicum shutter and original period lens, I deliberately chose to focus on the foreground rocks as the blocks were nicely lit in the late afternoon sun. This very nearly didn't happen.. having walked all the way from the car park to the Causeway, set the Sanderson up and reached into the bag for a plate carrier..... it transpired that I had rather stupidly left the plates in the car. For several moments I mulled over the situation... but I had inadvertently drawn a small crowd with my antics, and the disappointment was palpable! So I left the camera set up where it was with a responsible person and ran the one and a quarter miles back to the car.... picked up the plates then ran back. It took me twenty minutes, which wasn't too bad for someone who doesn't know what jogging is.

So I made this exposure whilst gathering my breath again.

The second image from the Giant's Causeway, two exposure of this scene were made, the other one was stopped slightly smaller than this one, but was badly effected by dust. Fortunately, this was the better exposure.

For some time I've had a Schneider Kreuznach Super Angulon lens from a scrapped MPP monorail in my box of curious bits. I had always hoped I'd be able to make it fit the Sanderson. Unfortunately the rear element housing of this lovely 90mm lens was too big... but I finally discovered a convenient way of fitting it quickly. Though made in the early 1960s and mounted in a Synchro Compur, so hardly contemporary with the Sanderson, I couldn't just let it sit in the box indefinitely. So it was used for this image, more or less directly into sun, this has produced a noticeable flare in the bottom centre of the image. The field of view is wide enough to have to use the back focus rack and drop the lensboard.

The negative looked okay, was was a nightmare to print, areas of the sky having four times the exposure of the foreground. Ideally I'd have arranged for a fully rigged sailing trip to sit in that patch of light sky on the horizon....

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Sanderson was taken to Tuscany in April 2008, but the plates were stored undeveloped until Jan 2009. Lugging such a bulky camera around proved to be an interesting exercise.... and one that nearly killed the old Sanderson completely. In use I found that the lens wasn't quite wide angle enough for most of the sites I chose. One plate carrier turned out to have a leak. However it was an interesting trip with just fourteen exposures being made. This is, of course, the bell tower in Pisa - otherwise known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Choosing this angle earlier in the day avoided the vast crowds that develop and illustrates the lean quite well, even though it is partially leaning away here.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

This is actually my favourite image from the trip taken the day after the first one, above. I'm always keen to avoid too many modern encumbrances, trying to achieve an un-datable image if possible. This close up image appealed and, by using a wide aperture , I kept the depth of field shallow to keep the background people out of focus. This image also shows the lean well, as it can be compared to the vertical lines of the cathedral beyond. The lean started developing as soon as the tower was started and construction was halted twice. Such that the builders corrected for the lean on restarting, giving the tower a slight banana shape. The lean has been reduced in modern times to ensure the longevity of this famous structure. Knowing full well that I would be looking at the architecture, as befits the Sanderson's origins, I was using the lens movements on every shot - so please note that the verticals are all parallel in these images, and it was with delightful irony that the movements were used in this shot too.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Oh poo!!! The delights of using cameras over a century old. Light has streaked down the dark slide slot during withdrawal. It appears to only happen with one plate carrier, but I have yet to find out which one..... Should have kept a note at the time.

<span class="centred">vaulted ceiling of the Pisa Baptistry</span>

The vaulted ceiling of the Pisa Baptistery, seemed like a good idea at the time, although the final result was disappointing. The shot was hand held for a quarter second exposure, it was impossible to use the tripod

Torre del Mangia which dominates Piazza del Campo in         Sienna

Torre del Mangia which dominates Piazza del Campo in Sienna. I was struggling to get the tower in and was backing up an alleyway, whilst trying not to block the thoroughfare with the tripod legs. Despite the apparent light leak (again) I quite like this image with the strong black band up the side, echoing the tower itself. The parallel verticals are very apparent here.

Sienna side street

It would have been so much better had the car not been there.... The same tower viewed from a side street. Sienna is quite hilly and carting a Sanderson 5x4 plate camera plus period tripod , hood and plates ... not to mention the ubiquitous Pentaxes, was getting quite tiring...

Sienna street view

The motor car.... the scourge of urban scenery. How much better it would have have been had these all been horse drawn carts....

Torre del Mangia which dominates Piazza del Campo in         Sienna

One last look along a Sienna side street, shortly after this the Sanderson conspired to unscrew it self from the tripod as I was walking back down the hill. The impact with Sienna's cobbled street, ended the Sanderson's photographic outings until it could be rebuilt.

<span class="centred">Eagle atop a fountain in a Sienna</span>

Eagle atop a fountain in a Sienna .

Torre del Mangia from the outskirts of Sienna

Looking up towards Torre del Mangia from the outskirts of Sienna.

Old Itchen Navigation Canal

A box of very time expired Agfa 5 x 4" sheet film was donated... so a chance to give the Sanderson a treat, as a test. Two double plate carriers were deemed sufficiently light tight for the fairly long walk along the Old Itchen Navigation Canal. The lock in the picture was abandonned around 1869 when the Railway passing through the new town of Eastleigh rendered the canal obsolete. Few signs remain that there was once a canal here, but this isolated lock, picturesquely overgrown and largely dried up was photographed in May 2010. By the time the canal was disused, photography was still in its infancy and by the time this Sanderson was made, the canal would have already been decayed and dilapidated. Since we have a whole box of film.... it's probably worth persevering with a few more colour images.


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