Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wisconsin Amber Ultra Wide Angle


One of the fun things about the Populist design is that the angle of view can be easily changed by just making the sides of the camera a different length. For 120 film, I’ve only provided templates for 45mm and 60mm distances to the pinhole for 6x6cm and at just 60mm for 6x9cm, but it’s easy to modify them to any length.

The minimum distance is the diameter of a reel of 120 film, 24mm. The widest angle Populist I’ve ever made was Thin Lizzie at 30mm. Since ultra wide angle is something else I’ve been exploring lately, to continue my work with self-adhesive labels and double-faced adhesive sheets, I thought I’d take the next camera to the limit.

On the bottom of the camera the template can be just sliced off to the distance you want. The location of the tripod mount has to be adjusted. For the top of the camera, since the winders have to be in the back, you have to remove the space from between them and the front of the camera.

Then when you attach the template to the cardboard, you line them up again.  If you were making a longer camera, you would just leave extra room in theses places.

You also have to cut the side tabs to the correct length.

Otherwise it’s made exactly the same.

If you are doing any other length you also have to either shorten or lengthen the film spacers.

One problem I encountered that’s unique to this distance is that I made the front box just slightly too short, a bit less than the reel’s diameter. That makes for a pretty tight wind when the rubber bands are around the camera. With a longer camera you could just pry out the film spacers and trim off a millimeter or so. There are no film spacers in this camera. The film did advance but it took a little muscle.

The WinderMinder extends the entire width of the camera so I put the viewfinder on top of it. Since it’s so wide angle, to make sure the shutter didn’t get in the picture, I made it with only two layers, as in the Pinhole Lab Camera with the camera front acting as the back of the shutter. It was really easy to do with the double faced adhesive by taping the slider in place in it’s channel from the outside to keep it lined up. With glue there’s always a danger you’re going to glue it shut. The advantage of three layers is you have a finished working shutter before you stick it on the camera.

For lightproofing, I just used one layer of card on the back of the camera, but two layers of the template. With the opaque backing paper of the film, that seems to have worked. I didn’t see any imprint of the map of Wisconsin on the negatives.

It was an extraordinarily still day when I got it finished.

A cabbage head just developing.

Vignetting is always an issue at this wide an angle so a white pumpkin among the dark green leaves wasn’t the best choice.

Down the garden path again.

I’m still having trouble pre-visualizing what I’m getting a lot of the time. I was concentrating on the arrangement these trees made behind the rocks, but the expansion of depth changes the composition. It also seems the difficult winding leads to some curvy film occasionally.

A concrete table in dappled light in the courtyard behind the Beech Building.

The drive through pickup at Planet Perk. I had to do this from the curb. There was a barista watching me or I probably would have gotten closer.

The back of a clearly labeled pub. The camera pretty level and square to the wall for this one. The tripod legs were closed as much as they could be without it falling over in order to get it a few more inches off the ground. When I was collapsing the tripod and putting it on the bike, a heavily tattooed couple on motorcycles pulled up and went in but didn’t seem to notice me. Andy's band use to play in this place.

Extreme wide angle combined with over exposure and a warped piece of film can give a psychedelic effect, if you know what I mean. 

With a  hand-drilled .22mm Pinhole 24mm from a 6x6cm frame. The film is T-Max 100 semi-stand developed in Rodinal 1:100.