Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Glenmorangie Evil Cube

6 x 6cm, 6cm from the pinhole.

This is the other camera I built for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day this spring.

It's evil, not just because of the dimensions, but because of the plethora of little issues. There's a stereotype of the pinhole camera maker that says they view every container they encounter as a potential camera, and I've obviously yielded to that periodically, but I have to say, it's a lot easier and more reliable to make your camera from scratch so you can design purely for function and not be limited by the measurements and other characteristics of a ready made box.

Wayne, captured with the
Glenmorangie Evil Cube
This particular box came my way after I had done a favor for a guy I worked with (Hi, Wayne!), and he responded with a very generous gift.  (I took over a couple work assignments so he could go see his first grandchild on the east coast.) Sometime in the past he had googled pinhole cameras and my name and come across an image of the Glenlivet Vertical Populist.  When he was picking a token of appreciation, he said he thought this black box looked the most like a camera. The two previous Scotch box cameras I had made,  Sarah gave me with a similar sentiment.  Well, I hate to disappoint anybody.

I had been meaning to build a Hasselblad sized 6x6x6 cubical camera for a while anyway, so this was a good excuse, and I like to do something special for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

The shutters are identical to the Chanel No. 5. Three layer sliders with the actual moving shutter cut out of brass (with a Dremel tool in case you were wondering) so it would match the gold lettering and again mounted inside with the slider coming out through a slot in the box so as to not have to glue a shutter over the box design.

The tripod mount is a square 1/4" x 20 nut inset into a piece of foamcore that's glued to the bottom.

A piece of foam core is glued into all four sides. Note how the shutters are under the foam core so it blocks any light coming through that slot.

The pinhole is mounted in between the foam core and the front shutter.  I wanted to get it as far forward as I could so I could cut the smallest hole possible in the front and I could make the hole in the foam core layer as big as I wanted, but I also wanted to put it behind the shutter.

The pinhole is .32mm and hand drilled, by the way, the first time in a long time I've done that.

The shutter in the back is only as tall as necessary and when the foam core was glued in front of it, that leaves a gap for the flap of the top of the box to insert into.

I built a film carrier out of foam core and card stock, with a box camera style film path with the film reels in front of the camera, wrapping around dividers which make the 6x6cm image plane at the back.

One problem is that between the width of the box and the angles necessary for the 6x6 frame and the film reels in the front, that leaves a very narrow slot for the image to go through, and since the pinhole was permanently mounted between the shutter and the foam core, I couldn't make sure it was perfectly aligned with this narrow slot.  So I cut an opening in the dividers.  Originally it was an oval but in the first role of negatives it blocked part of the image, so for the second role, I squared it off. In what has to be my top duh! moment in camera building, It didn't occur to me that now the image could get behind the dividers and expose the film as it wrapped up and back the sides of the camera, so I got an overlap of an image on each side of every frame.  This was not some sort of creative multi image process like a Blender. It was just awful.

So I added these curving baffles that wrap around the film reels and block any light sneaking up the side of the camera but still allow me as big a slot for the image as possible.

I also inserted these cut off nail heads (from a collection left by the former owner of my house over thirty years ago) through the bottom of the film carrier to keep the reels parallel.

The film carrier is then inserted in the box.  The top of the carrier sits on those four pieces of foam core lining the front, back and sides and seals the exposure chamber.

The winders are 3/8" dowels with the end whittled to insert into a 120 reel with a collar from beverage can aluminum to light proof the holes and with the top of the box closed over them they keep the winders from falling out.

Film advance is a two step affair – first loosening the supply reel a little and then tightening the take-up reel. It takes about four of those cycles to advance a frame.

Viewfinding is with some beaded pins to define the angle secured with superglue.

It is a pleasure to use in the field.  Those beads make it really easy to determine the limits of the image pretty accurately and the film advance, though a little tedious, is smooth and reliable, but then pinhole is a slow process in any event.

On Pinhole day, I really took a lot of shots that were either close ups fatally blurred by the wind, or just plain boring.  Here's the image I submitted to the WPPD gallery.

And a test shot of a sunbeam in the living room from the last roll.

The rest of the roll turned out to be kind of a nice themed series so I'll post that separately.

You may have noticed that these images aren't exactly square. It looks like that slot between the film reels isn't wide enough and the image only ends up to be about 49mm wide. I really hate to waste that 11mm per frame, and I already have a 6cm camera with a 6x4.5cm format.  Kinda disappointing. I'm not really sure anything can be done about it.

It also still has a light leak.  In most of the images it's faint and easily burned through.  I think it only happens when sitting in the west kitchen window for long periods, but I'm not sure.   This scan is rotated to appear as though you were looking through the pinhole toward the back of the camera, so it's probably related to that slot the film counter shutter goes through, but with all that foam core, I'm not sure how.

On Monster Garage, Jesse used to theatrically destroy the creations that didn't work out.  I don't think I'll go that far, but I think I might be making an evil cube from scratch so I don't have to be constrained by the dimensions or preserving the design printed on the outside.

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting build. I agree with you that cameras designed from scratch are usually better. Or maybe cut the decorative sides off a whiskey box and glue them to the outside of a scratch-built camera.