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 as 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 my standards are realistically
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 but 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, but was was a nightmare to print, areas of the
sky having four times the exposure of the foreground.
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.
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 undatable
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.
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. I should have kept a note at the time. 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. 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. 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.
Back streets of Sienna.
Eagle atop a fountain in a Sienna. Looking up towards Torre del Mangia from the outskirts
When this Sanderson first joined the collection four glass plates were found in the carriers and the camera was fitted with a Zeiss Tessar in Compur dial set shutter, which is still available, although camera has since been fitted with a more appropriate Unicum shutter and lens.
These images, most likely made with the Tessar, depict costumes and sets of at least two theatrical productions. The characters and persons are unknown to me, but I'd be delighted if any could be identified. It's impossible to put a date on any of them. The plates were very dense with high contrast, it was hard to get any shape in the white shirt in the middle image. I particularly like the halos around the candles in the right hand image and the velvet dress in the left most image.
The last of the four plates discovered in the camera, a more contemporary piece maybe.
As these four images were clearly made with the Sanderson in one of it's guises, most probably with the Tessar, it seemed a shame to leave them in obscurity, particularly as they are such nice images.