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Tag Archives: Darren Samuelson

If you want something done, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Take the case of Darren Samuelson, who is so into large-format photography he built his own huge camera. Photography has been around for quite some time and is defined as the “art or process of producing images on photosensitive surfaces”.

Before photographs could be taken, the camera had to be invented. The camera’s creation was not a onetime event. Camera innovations go back hundreds of years. It took many different inventions and many different types of cameras to arrive at the modern camera. With advancements in technology we now have the digital camera, which is itself being constantly improved.

A camera is “a lightproof enclosure having an aperture with a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate”. With this knowledge, Samuelson, who is not an engineer but a sushi chef by profession, built a camera. It took him seven months to build and cost $1,800.

To be able to focus, the lens must be moved back and forth until the desired image is achieved. Samuelson’s camera lens is mounted on rails and is made lightproof with an accordion-type cloth enclosure. The result? A camera that can stretch up to six feet long, is around five feet all, and weighs seventy pounds! It had to be this large to accommodate the fourteen-inch by thirty-six-inch film he wanted to use. Since photography film gets more expensive with size, he resorted to an existing technology: x-ray film, which is one-twelfth the price of traditional large-format film.

To handle (or manhandle) this camera, you first have to focus it by looking through its grounded glass back. When the right focus is achieved, the lens is shut with a cap and x-ray film is inserted. Then the lens is opened to allow light in, hitting and exposing the x-ray film, and closed again.

The resulting photo is very detailed and will remain sharp even if it is enlarged to half the size of a volleyball court. His unique camera has enabled him to exhibit his work at the Inclusions Gallery in San Francisco.

We now know Samuelson’s definition of large frame photography: it’s a HUGE success!