I normally steer away from posting much about the technical aspects or gear involved in my work for several reasons. Firstly I’ve always felt that the final product was the most important aspect of a photographic work and secondly the gear has the least amount of affect on the final work.
Having said that, recently I have been doing a great deal of experimental photography in an effort to find the best way to express some ideas I have for new work. The exploration portation of the creative process I find very enjoyable. One of these explorative experiments has been to shoot a variety of large and medium format Polaroid using expired Polaroid film, New Fuji instant film and the 8×10 Impossible Project film. Once I began shooting the 8×10 large format I became sidetracked by a strong sense of nostalgia for the old bellows view cameras and more specifically the old Deardorff V8. This was one of the most popular cameras of the type manufactured by L. F. Deardorff & Sons Inc. The Dearforff field view cameras have such an impeccable build quality the company became the longest running manufacture of this type of camera. Founded in 1916 the L. F. Deardorff & Sons Company was family run until the late 1980’s and still exists today.
Not very long after the nostalgia hit, I found myself on eBay looking for a good deal on an old Deardorff V8. Just after finding a good deal on a nice V8 made in the 1970’s I found a much older pre-WWII Deardorff V8 in the 1923 style without the front standard swing. The older camera had obviously seen a lot of action over the years, but seemed to be in working order.
Once I received my old V8, I found that it was in usable condition with only a few little light leaks that were easily overcome. This is the point where I really became side tracked. I decided to restore the camera to its original glory. I started by completely disassembling the camera. Once disassembled I identified the only structural issue was with a small crack and botched earlier repair to the front extension rail. To my surprise I was able to order a new-from-old-stock replacement rail. When the part came in it matched perfectly. Since the bellows did have a few light leaks and were not original anyway, I decided to replace them and the rear view glass as well. I found that all parts were easily found on eBay. I spent a day striping down the old mahogany wood, then the following four days applying four coats of Tung Oil. I left the wood to dry for a couple more days then applied a few coats of furniture wax. While the wood was drying I did some light cleaning of the hardware then slowly started reassembling the camera. A week and half later not only did the camera look great, it’s operating smoothly. In the end, I lost a couple of weeks shooting, but found that this project was indeed very inspirational. I am now taking this camera out of production again and will be displaying it in my gallery.