I’ve been on the lookout for a back for a camera i bartered for years ago. the camera is a century 8 grande portrait outfit
(photograph courtesy of historic camera.com a great website if you like looking at “old stuff” or want to see what you have )
anyways when i received the camera it came on an ornate semi centenial stand ( without the film holder rack ) and the camera came with an 8×10 back. i eventually made a 11×14 back for the camera out of foam core and waxed paper, and a paper negative holder as well. it worked like a dream. i just had to load each sheet separately, no big deal unless i wanted to take more then one photograph.
eventually i purchased a 7×11 film back and holders which i mounted on what was the mount for the 8×10 back. and that worked beautifully too, but like the 8×10 is about 1/2 the 11×14 negative, the 7×11 REALLY is half the size. 11×14 is such a giant negative i have wanted to get back to shooting that format for a long long time.
recently i found an inexpensive back and a couple of film holders. if you have ever priced anything large format, you know inexpensive is a relative term. about a year ago i found a back, broken and in pieces that someone wanted to sell to me for a more money than i had to spend. i don’t have very much money so i passed and figured eventually i would find something a little more for someone with a shoestring budget. well, it happened a few weeks ago. i got a back and holders, and it came with a camera and a 8x1o back as well. couldn’t have been happier seeing it cost less than the amount for something broken !
the camera arrived in the belly of a greyhound bus. just don’t ship greyhound on holiday weeks where there is a lot of bus travel, people and their luggage get first priority. i brought the giant box home and unpacked it. about a day later i had the camera cleaned up. after 10 years in a box in someone’s basement it got kind of dusty, and dirty. i reglued parts of the film holders back together too. it didn’t have a ground glass ( focusing screen ) so i went to the local home goods store and had a piece of plexi glass cut down to 11×14, and i sanded it and sanded it, and sanded it until it was scuffed up enough to work as a cheap piece of ground glass. i figure if i sometimes use waxed paper scuffed plexiglass would work fine. it cost me less than 12$ and about 5 mins of time and saved me probably 4-5 times that. i clipped the corners and inserted the ground plexiglass.
first i made a retina image. i wanted to see if the film holders leaked or the bellows were a mess.
the image came out really nice, so i desaturated it, and added my own color since i like doing that sort of thing
the other day i decided to load up the other 11×14 film holder up with paper, and a a 8×10 too.
i made a few kitchen window photographs
with an assistant later in the day we made some portaits.
looking forward to taking the empire on the road, and using the back in-studio