• Andy Brown

Recording the past with my 4x5 Intrepid Film Camera


Cast Iron geared shell rusting away
Rusting winch at Pentewan Harbour

Record Shot... is a dismissive term, usually issued by Camera Club judges (often male, white and elderly) that means poorly composed or uninteresting. It is usually followed by a low mark and some 'advice' on how to 'Improve' But hold on a minute, record shots are the things we treasure most. Those family snaps of childhood holidays with your now-deceased parents are golden memories that are most precious to us. Similarly, grainy black and white images of Industry, war, or famine mean more than some glossy portrait or sumptuous landscape. So, let's hear it for the humble 'Record Shot' and celebrate the mundane in all it's glory.

weathered  granite milestone, whitewashed with crudely painted letters
Cornish Milestone

Because when done with care, the 'record Shot' can aspire to be an artistic statement. I present as evidence for that the two images to the left. They were taken on a bright, windy spring day near my hometown of St Austell. They reflect both an industrial and rural past. One tells the story of when Cornwall exported mining goods to the rest of the world via numerous ports along its coast. The other is a waypoint, probably hundreds of years old for travellers around the county. It's lettering is crude and the information given vague, but it represents a time when getting to places was far less time-driven than it is now. I hope that these images encapsulate that.



I also hope that my method of making these images is sympathetic to the subject. The camera I used was my Intrepid MkIV, a modern-day recreation of those that would have been in use at the time the Winch and the Milestone were first made. It uses 4x5inch sheets of film which can capture vast amounts of information. It is also slow to use and error prone, so it requires concentration and patience to use. I still use the age-old techniques to develop the images into a form that can be looked at. Then to bring them into the digital world, I scan the images in a process that is akin to J.K Rowling's Dark Arts . The files though still have dust spots which have to be removed, just as they would have 100s of years ago, but now this is accomplished digitally. The final results are images that can be printed at sizes up to 30 inches wide, or near to life size, yet still look good on modern social media. For for more background on this , please scoot on over to my YouTube Channel for a short video on this shoot:


YouTube: Recording Cornwall's History on 4x5 Film


Technical Details for the Camera Geeks among you:-

Winch: Intrepid 4x5 MkIV, f32, 8seconds, Fujinon 125mm f5.6, HP5+ rated at ISO320, Rodinal @1+25 for 8:00 in a Stearman Press SP445, Scanned at 2400dpi on an Epson V850 flatbed scanner & edited in Lightroom & Photoshop.

Milestone: Intrepid 4x5 MkIV, f32, 1/2second, Fujinon 125mm f5.6, HP5+ rated at ISO320, Rodinal @1+25 for 8:00 in a Stearman Press SP445, Scanned at 2400dpi on an Epson V850 flatbed scanner & edited in Lightroom & Photoshop.

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