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Thornton Pickard Reflex Special, results gallery
Titchfield Abbey 2018

After allowing the rebuilt shutter curtain a chance to decay for a year, it was checked and found to be okay, still soft and pliable and light tight. Unfortunately, I only have two serviceable plate carriers - so taking pictures is a bit limited. During Autumn 2018 I took the camera out for a few hurried outings to see how it would perform.

For this image of Titchfield Abbey the camera was tripod mounted and image exposed well stopped down. The rudimentary lens rise was employed to keep the verticals parallel. The lighting was rather too flat to be that inspiring, but I just wanted to get some sort of image from the camera. Shutter speed 1/25th. Negative cropped top and bottom.

Titchfield Abbey 2018

A few minutes after the first image but a slight variation of exposure. So this first test confirms that the shutter is working, the slit remains parallel and the speed must be about right. A small light leak results from one of the plate carriers being a little slack. Negative cropped top and bottom.

Royal Victoria Country park

Royal Victoria Coutry Park 2018

The next two images were made with the camera tripod mounted again. The lighting was a little more harsh this time as the sun was fairly low on the horizon directly opposite. These images in portrait format test the speed of the shutter for its entire travel and it seems to remain sufficiently constant to prove this method of shutter rebuild as viable. Shutter speed was 1/75th. The sheet worked it's way out in the second exposure and jammed the dark slide half closed, this meant the camera had to be returned home with a half closed carrier in place. Amazingly, no fogging resulted, but there were a few scratches.

I subsequently realized that cut film was releasing from the top, and I have changed my loading technique for these carriers. Full area of negatives.

The building is all that survives of the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley in Hampshire.

Photo into sun at Calshot across the water

Bursledon Winmill

The next outing was to use the camera hand held using faster shutter speeds. I really wanted something moving, but failed to find something suitable, so elected to snap the sunset. I chose 1/200th for the shutter speed and a yellow/green filter. A bit awkward as the filter doesn't fit this camera and had to be held in place by hand. The result confirms that the slit is remaining constant and speed stable during its travel. In fairness to Thornton Pickard, the shutter is expressly designed to keep the two curtains locked together so the gap cannot vary.

The image was taken near the old Schneider racing hanger at the Calshot base. Full area of negative.

The right hand image is Bursledon Windmill, Hampshire UK, in May 2019. A dark yellow/green filter was fitted, open up the greens and enhance the clouds. The windmill itself is painted matt black and is mostly in shadow, a tricky subject.

Netley Abbey

Netley Abbey, handheld at 1/75th. Marred by leaky plate carrier. The low sun was shining directly down the dark slide slot which may have been the cause, the result is the unsightly milkiness in the shadows.

Netley Abbey Sun

Another full plate image taken at Netley Abbey, I just can't seem to bring back an unexposed plate carrier.

The Solent

Across the Solent towards Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It looked more impressive in real life than I have managed to convey here. What it needs is a sailing ship in full sail.

Close up of shell from Phu Quoc

This image was made to try out the close focus, it wasn't really capable of getting in this close, so a close up supplementary lens was used too. The shell is one I picked from a beach in Phu Quoc, Vietnam back in 2002. For some reason the ancient metal developing tank I use for quarter plates deposited some rust onto the negative, resulting in the white marks you see here.

Pickard Selfie

The Thornton Pickard has a built in selfie function or remote release, a piece of string is routed through a skewer in the ground and up to a hoop fitted to the shutter release, you can see the string in my hand.

This also confirms the longevity of the shutter cloth made for this camera and detailed in Project 6, this image exposed in July 2019, two years after the cloth was created, is showing no signs of deterioration.

The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne

The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne, is a canal museum located next to the Grand Union Canal just south of the Blisworth Tunnel, near the village of Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire.

This scene is little changed from the days when this was an industrial waterway, these days it's only pleasure boats and narrow boats that use it.

Pickard Selfie

Avro Lancaster B2, at East Lirkby in Lincolnshire, October 2019. Full frame image, I resisted the temptation to remove the scratches from the dark slide visible in the sky, it's just one of those things you need to accept when using old cameras, occasionally... well usually in fact, they have to have a say in the finished article.

I scanned the negative, retaining all the defects of the original, but removed items that were objectionably modern. Security lights on the hanger, modern signs, two picnic tables a Ford Focus, safety rope and three guys in modern clothing!

I took the same image using a modern digital camera too. That image is better in every technical aspect, more detail in the shadows, crisper, no grain, and it took little time to compose and shoot. But the result is cold, lifeless almost callous in its perfection. If I lost it, I wouldn't care a jot.

In spite of its shortcomings, the plate is lovingly stored in a wax proof envelope, indexed and preserved. It's existence a triumph of hope and expectation over ancient mechanics and my own abysmal lack of skill. It's a precious thing.

Moggerhanger Park

Moggerhanger Park House in Bedfordshire, dating from the 1700s. This wonderfully quirky building is now a B&B, and I visited in October 2019 taking this image in the morning as I was leaving, but still tripod mounted as I have yet to get the hang of this thing hand held.

Old Kodak Cameras

I was curious to know what the Ruby would do under "Product Shot" conditions. I couldn't use flash of course and allowed only period equipment, including the tin developing tank again. Here we have two Kodaks, a No.3 Autographic Model G on the right and it's earlier sibling the No. 3 Folding Pocket Kodak model E-2. The Model G is also showing off a Kodak self timer.

The exposure was 2.5 seconds at f/22 in diffused daylight. I ought to have reflected more light onto the front of the subject but was rushing somewhat as it was taken outside and threatening to rain.

Macro Image keel worms

I picked up this sea shell, whilst walking along the beach at Netley during December 2021. After the original occupier had shrugged off this mortal coil, the shell became home to these Keel Worms (Pomatoceros triqueter) who in turn died leaving behind their calcium cases. I thought it would be worth a little macro photography. There are several cameras in the collection that are ideal for this sort of thing, so naturally I ignored them and used the Reflex Special.

So, for this image I used and old Agfa 105mm lens from my spares bin, made a massive extension tube with a sawn down cardboard liner used to transport carpet and several beefy elastic bands to hold it on to the Thornton Pickard... professional stuff eh?

Using my fingers I estimated that the tube brought the lens out to triple extension giving me 9X the exposure to compensate, then my usual look and guess what the unadjusted exposure would be, I reckoned on 1/100th at f/8, but then stopped down to f/64 as that was the smallest stop that lens had. This gave me a full second, but then I added a bit for reciprocity failure, giving me 1.5 sec. at f/64.

To avoid vibrations, I put the dark slide in front of the lens, opened the shutter on B setting and locked it open, then took the slide away and put it back whilst exposing with a stopwatch. I made one plate! This is the full area.

Wilton Windmill

When the Thornton Pickard Reflex was acquired it was fitted with an Aldis Butcher Anastigmat, not appropriate for the camera. In June 2022 a 6 inch focal length Ross Tessar Patent lens of the correct period was fitted. It's a good clean well looked after lens completely clear of scratches. It needed some dust removing between elements and the aperture overhauling, but was otherwise in great shape. The lensboard needed adapting a little to accept the mounting ring, but judging by the numerous holes hidden by the flange this camera has had more than handful of lens changes throughout its career. First plate through the camera is shown here. I only have two vaguely serviceable plate carriers for the TP and this is supposed to be the best one, but a streak of light snuck in here. Thornton Pickard plate carriers are quite a bit slimmer than most, the clearance between the plate emulsion and dark slide is very tight, any ballooning of the plate leads to scratching and sadly this plate has a nasty group of them right through the windmill's sails. That aside, the Ross lens is way brighter than the Aldis. As you can see this is the whole plate, exposed at 1/100th at f11 and a quarter, no filter employed. This had to be exposed through a gap in a hedge whilst teetering atop a pile of horse manure, with the tripod legs gradually sinking into the depths. Owing to the location, the rear focus screen had to be used, rather than the reflex screen, as the shot was about to be taken, one leg broke through the crust and sank into the dung. As the shot it had to be set up again, this meant the dark slide had to be reinserted and the plate carrier removed to recompose, this has added to the scratching on the plate. The joys of using old cameras. Currently I use thin plywood in the back to prevent the plate springs bending the sheet film, but am now making up aluminium plates to see if I can prevent this from happening again. If anyone has any spare metal Thornton Pickard quarter plate carriers, I'd love to have four more.

The windmill is Wilton Windmill, near Marlborough, Wiltshire UK.

Wilton Windmill


I've had a 12" focal length Agfa lens in the box of bits for a number of years and thought I'd create a telephoto for the TP. The initial attempt was a failure as the parallel tube I used caused reflections and flattened the image horribly. This is the second attempt with light baffles added. It's an improvement, but the image isn't as I wanted. The wheat was still green and dark. I wanted to convey the windmill looking over a field of wheat, it will ultimately grind to flour. The awkwardly positioned tree is way too dominant in the view. I may go back to see if there's another viewpoint without trespassing. Ideally I'd be stood in the middle of this field out to the right. As you can see this is the full plate, sometimes I like to include the edges with the camera's focal plane shadows, fluff tufts and what not. A streak of light has entered the plate carrier on what would have been the top right corner when in the camera, the sun was shining right onto this corner and likely entered as the dark slide was withdrawn.

Bristol Scout


After making some repairs to the plate carriers and changing over to aluminium plate spacers the carriers are much improved. This Bristol Scout was hurriedly captured at Old Warden in July 2022, using the camera handheld at 1/50th sec and f/5.6. The Ross lens is quite an improvement over the previous Aldis and the rigid aluminium plate spacers suit these rigorously sprung thin Thornton Pickard plate carriers way better than the previous plywood effort.

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