IN YOUR BAG NO: 1654 Brian Scott Peterson
Brian was on the site many moons ago, and now he is back with a bag of sorts, well more of a case with a trolley, but you get the picture.
I distinctly remember the first time I ever looked onto a piece of frosted matte ground glass in a medium format camera to see the streets of Tokyo suddenly revealed inside out, upside down, left side right, and right side, well… right, as is correct, or at least the way Tokyo had always felt to be.
Like a spinning top set into motion with its initial chaotic unpredictability before settling into humming gyroscopic oscillation, so too did it took a moment for the complete disorder I was seeing if the focusing screen to sync up with my hands that panned the camera upon the tripod. But how remarkably quick the brain’s ability is to adapt – it was no time before it all felt familiar.
It was in that moment that a fleeting thought passed my mind, that I would never really need to make another actual photo so long long as I could just burn compositions to my mind’s eye with only this amazing upside-down magical ground glass. But alas, actual photographs of this beautiful view just made the experience all the more enriching and I was forever hooked.
Until then, 35mm had been my analogue photography drug of choice, and quickly did 120 take its place, followed shortly there after by 3×4, and then to 4×5 where I have spent a good a decade or more with heaps of exposures with which I can feel satisfied.
And as most who have dabbled in the medium and larger formats will know, there is an inverse ratio established that basically states that the larger a camera one wields, the slower the processes of photography becomes. The slower and more cumbersome the process becomes, the more selective the photographer becomes in deciding which images to make.
The fewer images that made, the more deliberate and calculated creative choices can become. The more deliberate and critical (and arguably convoluted) the process becomes, the closer one might come to reaching an essence of something, perhaps, and not always, some deeper artistic fulfillment gained, which leads us to that old chestnut: Less is more.
(Thinks to self: “If less is more, the why the hell do I need all this goddamn equipment… sssh, you’ll disprove your point.”)
Ahem, where was I?
Ah yes! So where is one to go when 4×5 no longer fills the fix (no pun intended), when one can setup and teardown a Linhof Master Technika with their eyes closed, when all the FP-500b45 is dried up? (Forget 5×7 – who has time or space for darkrooms, especially with grade school kids…)
Lo! 8×10… EIGHT by TEN! Those glorious proportions, that timeless ratio, that glossy print! Those obnoxiously huge accordion cameras that only scrupulous photographers stuck in a time-warp still use! The only large format you can still get instant film for! All hail the 8×10! (Oh brother, It’s just a box with with hole. Get over yourself, Brian!)
So here is the deal. Quite some time ago I acquired this gorgeous Sinar P2 which was actually a Sinar E (for “electronic”, I think) which had these crazy servo motors on it (that were removed before I got it) that apparently you could program from a computer to either move the standards themselves or give you some calculation so you accurately move them yourself and keep the focal plane where it should be.
Anyway, it apparently never worked that well, so with the moved removed, the Sinar E it was basically demoted back to a P2, except for the slightly longer back standard which could accommodate an 8×10 back, and which long story short, I acquired on ebay via this somewhat ridiculous scheme that renders it’s ownership communal (get in touch if you wanna use it.) That was, like, 3 years ago, but I’ve just been busy to really lean into – no time/ space for film processing – though I’m very familiar with the process and have the equipment.
With my kids getting a bit more independent each passing year, and now that I have a car in Tokyo, and with Polaroid Original still producing stock, and really being a instant filmster at heart, this would be the way forward. After all, it was never really about fidelity in the first place. For me, it has always been about process. And, again, no pun intended, but thats exactly what I needed for this to all come together, an actually Polaroid 8×10 processor.
I asked an acquaintance of mine steeped in 8×10 world, Mr. Yuji Tani if he had one. He did and he told me I could have it but that I would need to pick it up at (last year’s) “Tokyo 8×10 Exhibition 2018” which I did, way the hell out on the east side of Tokyo at Koto-Ku Cultural Center.
When I got there to meet Tani-san, and pick up his Calumet 8×10 Polaroid Processor, I was totally floored by what the photos hanging in the exhibition, from amateurs and pros alike, all members of the 8×10 Tokyo community. Here is an excerpt from something I wrote about it at the time:
“Caught an amazing group photo exhibition last night at the Koto-Ku Culture Center that really deserved to be shown in a museum. It was photos by members of Tokyo 8×10, a collective of photographers all still using super large format cameras. It had pros and amateurs, old and young, women and men alike.
It also had silver gelatin, platinum, wet plate collodion, tin types, tea-toned cyanotypes, hand colored prints, as well as still lifes, landscapes, portraits, photograms and “snaps”, but what tied it together so obviously was overwhelming deliberate intention, in every last piece. Knowing personally the commitment, the reserve, the patience it takes to wield such beasts, I felt a profound respect and appreciation for the work purely on technicality alone, but that’s not to say I wasn’t deeply moved and touched by the work which shined above all else. It IS a thing, that the process is as much as, if not more than, the work, and this show really exemplified that.”
It was hands down the best collections of work I had all year and I thought I it totally was worthy of being shown in museum. The work spoke for itself and in my opinion, it was a real photographer’s show.
At the time, Mr. Tani invited me to participate is this year’s (2019’s) exhibition. Despite my initial wishy-washy commitment, my name has been printed on the flyer, and there is a page being saved for me in the book. This is happening. I haven’t really exhibited anything personal since the Earthquake and since starting Photohoku, so in a way it feels like a big stepping out.
To be perfectly honest, I actually haven’t produced the work yet, in fact I haven’t even made one single 8×10 instant photo (haha). But I have the idea (it’s kinda crazy) and I’m very excited and grateful for the chance to produce it (and in typical Brian style I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants.)
So if you are in Tokyo, please mark your calendars now and make the haul out to Koto-Ku Cultural Center July 29th to August 4th and support this amazing 8×10 Tokyo community. There will be a party on July 31st from 6pm. Come and join! Feel free to follow me @zebrio or @brianscottpeterson for more info.
Thank you to Japan Camera Hunter for letting me share this long-winded post. Have a great summer (or winter to those south of the equator), all the photography-loving people!
Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Japancamerahunter.com
Send me a high resolution image of the bag. Optimum size is 1500px across. Please ensure there is a bag in the shot, unless you don’t use one. The more you can write about yourself the better, make it appealing and tell us a story. Snapshots of your gear with a camera phone and no words will not be featured.
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