Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Large Format

Over the years I have shot photos with cameras all the way from half-frame 35mm to 8"x10". This is one of those 8"x10" photos. The subject is LeRay Mansion on what was then 'Camp' Drum, now Fort Drum. I believe the year was 1966. While rummaging around in the storeroom I found an old wooden 8x10 camera. One of the routines we did in the Army labs was to 'exercise' the shutters of stored equipment to keep the springs from getting weak. I decided to exercise this camera by photographing some scenes around the post.
The mansion was the home of the LeRay family, early settlers to the area, long before the army built the camp (initially named Pine Camp) to train troops for WWII. In the '60s the mansion was guest housing for visiting brass and dignitaries. There was a dammed stream in the yard that was stocked with brook trout and the post commander held an annual fishing derby with barbless hooks and catch/release for the children of officers.
Judging by the photo, I think it must have been orthochromatic film because of the blank white sky. Orthochromatic film was not sensitive to blue, so skies photographed with it were almost always white. As I recall the shutter had limited speeds, T, B, 1/4th, 1/10th, 1/25th, and 1/50th second. The lens was a monster but gorgeous glass that produced contrasty crisp images. I have done no digital sharpening to this scanned copy of my contact print. Needless to say, grain is not an issue in that print. Exposure was by rule of thumb. We had no light meters. I wish I had that camera and lens today. I don't recall what happened to the others I shot with that camera. There weren't many and they probably stayed at Camp Drum but I made a print of this one for my personal files.

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