Camera builds are some of our most favorite topics here in the Magazine. The idea that people build their own cameras and modify the gear they already have to make something that's entirely new just astounds us. With that said, you can just imagine how excited we were when we saw what photographer Ursula Ferrara did to her Lomo'Instant Wide. Instead of churning our wide instant film snaps, her modified camera takes old-world tintype images that can fit in your pockets. In this short interview, Ursula walks us through the process that led to the birth of this one-of-a-kind camera.
This isn't Ursula's first time to try out advanced analogue projects. She actually has quite a few ambitious projects under her belt and she documents all of them on her website. So if you're a fan of camera builds like us, we suggest you head over there to learn more about her creations!
How did your tintype camera project start?
I am a photographer and animation film director who has always dabbled in painting and was also passionate about analogue photography. I'm somewhat fond of ancient techniques. I think wet plate is quite similar to painting due to the unpredictable results so I learned this technique by myself. Normally, I take wet plate pictures on black plexiglass with an 8x10 Eastman Commercial of 1944. You can see some work on cameravan.it or on Flickr.
What inspired you to do it?
The idea of the Lomo’Instant tintype camera came from the association of the old Cabinet Cards to the modern business cards. So after some experiments with a hotel key card that I had at home, I brought black plain plastic cards that are the identical size of the ‘800 carte de visite.
What was the most challenging part of the build?
The most challenging part of the build was finding an instant camera with a bulb function. Fortunately, Lomo did this with the Lomo'Instant Wide! Also, one of the important things to remember is to have the remote shutter on the cap so you don’t touch the camera during the shooting.
What's your favorite thing about this particular project?
My favorite thing is the day that when I have taken my first mini wet plate on a black hotel key at home. It was definitely a "eureka" moment for me!
Why choose the Lomo'Instant Wide ?
I chose The Lomo'Instant Wide because it fit my plans perfectly. And most importantly, it has a bulb function that is necessary for long exposures (especially for tintype shots).
How do people react when they see your unique camera?
The general reaction is surprise and happiness! I'm also quite pleased and so thrilled with it that I spoke about it for days about - fleshing out my ideas and more. My family and friends were also happy for me when I got the final results!
Are there other projects you wish to work on in the future?
Last year, I transformed an old French camper to a giant camera by putting a 24-inch Aero Tessar Bausch & Lomb military lens on the back to take b&w photos around. For that project, I used direct positive Harman 16 x 20 inches photo paper for the images. After this one, I'm still not sure about what next project will be! I guess we'll all have to find out later on. :)
We would like to thank Ursula for letting us feature her build on the Magazine. If you're interested in her work, you may visit her website to see more.