Using a 130 year old camera to make a Tintype photograph.

One of my (many) side projects is another blog called The Vintage Camera Quest. There, I use my 52 weirdo vintage cameras and document the experience of each one. It’s a labor of love, with various success rates, but one thing is for sure; it’s never dull.

The last post is my favorite; using an 130 year old camera to make a tintype photograph. My father gave me a Rochester Optical Premo B, one of the very first consumer camera’s ever, and of course I had to see if I could make it work.

The camera was in relatively good shape for being older then dirt. I had to modify a few pieces and do some mild repairs, but for the most part I had confidence in the camera. After all it was made of materials from “forests of gigantic mahogany in Honduras, skins gathered from far-off Australia and Africa, combine with brass of finest manufacture and glass of the most accurate grinding to produce the camera.” per the catalogue, so why wouldn’t it stand the test of time.

Film however was another story. It’s hard enough to find 35mm film these days let alone glass or wet plate photography materials. Fortunately a company called Rockland makes a little Tintype Kit that would fit the bill, and with some help from my local Freestyle Photo shop in Hollywood, I would be able to make this ol’ girl work again.

I’ll keep you in suspense here so I wont ruin the short film I made about the process, but will say it was a really beautiful experience, made even more special that not only did my father give me this camera, the worlds first, but he gave me my first camera too, a Canon AE-1, that basically has defined me as a person. It’s come full circle and a milestone has been crossed for the Vintage Camera Quest.

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