Last weekend Chris Gries joined us at The Latent Image offices to demonstrate his wonderful 'Afghan Camera'. It was so refreshing to see true photographic images produced right before our very eyes - and in broad daylight! No darkroom, no digital manipulation...
For black and white, the image is processed from start to finish in the camera itself; the photographic subject is composed and focussed on the camera's ground glass screen and then this screen is dropped away inside the camera to be replaced by a sheet of sensitised paper on which the image will be exposed. Once the exposure has been made (and with an iso of 6, our exposure times in the studio varied between 10-15 seconds!) the paper is dropped into a tray of developer and developed for about two minutes - to be followed by time in the tray of fixer; also in the camera. Once the process is complete, the wet print can be lifted out of the 'dark room' of the camera and into the light of day.
Shooting in colour involves a slightly extended process - after the colour paper has been developed and fixed in the camera, the paper is then exposed to light and then developed in colour developer to bring the image to its full potential. It feels like a strange process to the uninitiated - the closest we could think of was solarisation - but the results are truly beguiling.
Everything about using this camera is very much dependent for its success on the skill of the operator. Chris is devoted to getting the most of it - and he was an inspiration to us all.
Chris will returning for another session at The Latent Image with his Afghan Camera... Look out for our next date with this wonderful camera!