A long awaited update is far overdue. Work has picked up over the past few months and I have neglected this blog among other things. Photo shoots, video shoots, AC’ing for TV shows, setting up for corporate events. Freelancing is great, something new for every job, but it can be stressful when there is no work to be had. And I am thankful that is not the case.
I wanted to share this project I have been working on for sometime now. I bought this lens earlier this year, a Bell and Howell 36” (914mm) f8. I did some research and it seems it was used in aerial reconnaissance in the 50’s and 60’s, some sources even say it was used in the U2 spy plane, more specifically in the Fairchild K-38 camera. I have seen a fair amount of these lenses since purchasing this one. You can find them on eBay occasionally. This is the only one I have seen made by Bell and Howell, all the others are make by Kodak.
What I want to do is allow this lens to once again capture images. You may ask why? Well, back in college I took a large format photography class and I fell in love. I bought a 4x5 monorail camera soon after but I wanted to try something more challenging. I wanted to build my own camera. I scoured the internet seeking out people who had make their own cameras. That was how I discovered ultra large format (ULF) photography. The transition point from large format to ULF is when you go beyond the 8x10 size negative, 11x14 being the first ULF size. From there you can go to almost any size you can think of, as long as you had a lens to work with that format.
This lens on paper will take a 9x18 image, that’s how it was used in the K-38 camera. It would take two 9x18 images and stack them together to make one large 18x18 inch image. Testing the image circle I found that it throws an image almost 24 inches in diameter at infinity! From there I figured I should make the negative size as big as possible and the closest size is the 16x20 format. From there I have begun to plan out the camera’s rear standard. (more to come on that)
I have figured that this camera will need to use two tripods, one for the lens and one for the rest of the camera. I purchased a surveyor’s tripod at a yard sale for the lens. I planned a cage for the lens made of 2x4’s and plywood which you can see in the pictures. It’s pretty basic but it works to support the 30lbs monster.
I’ll keep updating as regularly as I can.