I can’t get enough of using masks, so I decided to build a dedicated camera. It should allow me to change mask without opening the camera, bringing unlimited possibilities to compositions, colors, multiple exposures, etc. I’m dreaming of it!
Since I started using masks, I feel like it multiplies the already unlimited possibilities of analog photography! But I still feel limited by the difficulty of changing masks during a roll and shoot multiple exposures with different masks.
So, I imagined a camera which would have a “mask strip” stamped or drawn on a transparent sheet, which could slide between the film and the lens to choose the mask I want. Combined with multiple exposures, it would allow dividing a shot like some kind of an “advanced splitzer” and make room for more experimentation!
My first idea was to modify an existing camera: this mask strip could pass vertically between the camera body and the back cover. I would have used special foam to avoid light leaks where the body is open to let the mask stripe pass through.
After a while I didn’t find the right camera. And the more I thought about it, the more a dedicated camera would make sense:
- The mask strip could be embedded inside the camera body to reduce light leaks problems, be more convenient and elegant, and protect the masks.
- The active mask could be seen inside the viewfinder to help composing the pictures.
- I like to invent and build stuff.
So, I started to sketch ideas about the camera architecture:
I decided to use medium format film spools to roll the mask stripe, which would run horizontally thanks to two knobs, similar to the ones used to wind and rewind the film of the sprocket rocket.
The mask stripe path allows it to be seen through the viewfinder, over the 35mm film spool. The lower part of the stripe will be used for the real masks, and it upper part for a preview of the mask through the viewfinder. This has multiple functions:
- Choosing the mask
- Aligning the mask with the picture frame
- Compose the picture
To simplify the design and building, I want to use a lens which includes all the mechanics (shutter, shutter speed and aperture). This kind of “all in one” lens is used in the Lubitel, or the Holga and Sprocket Rocket if I want to go simple.
Most of the work remains to do, so I found how to pass the long and dark winter!
Have you ever built a camera? Do you have any remarks, suggestions, ideas to improve, or problems to avoid?