Specifically, cleaning up the Monster Camera.
The Beast (quoting slave2tehtink again, IT'S F*CKIN GINORMOUS) is made of mahogany and brass, not counting the shutter and lens assembly and the carry strap, which is leather. It's obvious the Beast has seen use, and while not in terrible condition does need a cleanup.
So with a damp rag, and nothing other than a damp rag and some elbow grease, I proceeded to clean off accumulated dust clinging to skin oils and other bits. Did use a vacuum cleaner briefly to vacuum out the inside of the bellows itself, otherwise all damp cloth and elbow grease. It could stand a bit more, and I think that will wait for a future date. Cleaned the ground glass as well, both sides. With a dry rag, buffed the brass a bit, not much though as just yet, I'm not sure I want to remove the patina of brass corrosion acquired over time and, one presumes, use.
Made some notes on numbers found in odd spots, since I was removing things at least partially to get at surfaces to clean. So I'm in a better position to do some research attempting to determine date of manufacture of the camera, lens, and shutter.
Then I took the tripod outside. See... or actually you haven't seen, as there aren't any photos yet of the tripod. slave2tehtink described this also as ginormous, with HYOOGE spiky things on the ends which look like they could be used as spears. Yes, probably they could be. She also expressed concern that they would do some serious damage to the floor in Studio 318.
Rest assured they will not damage the floor in Studio 318, for the simple reason that they will not be used, nor will the tripod, indoors. This is most definitely an Outdoor Tripod. Now, the good news is the tripod head being a Bogan / Manfrotto, it sports a quick-release mounting plate which fits my other heavy-duty tripod which is an Indoor Tripod. Well, OK, that one could be used outdoors too. It is mostly used indoors.
At any rate, one of the reason for the big spiky feet, which sport convenient foot-steps, is that setting up the tripod the photographer is supposed to step on the foot-steps to secure the spike in the ground, in order to level up the head of the tripod. Which, coincidentally, has a spirit level for this very purpose.
Once leveled, one mounts the camera. The camera also has small spirit levels. Other large-format photographers encourage me to disregard these wee spirit levels and use a small torpedo level instead. After today's practice session, I will do this.
If you've seen people using view cameras, particularly outdoors, you've seen them put a dark cloth over their head so they can focus. Bellows 'eat' light; the image on the ground glass can be very hard to see in bright light. The kit came with a cloth, red on one side, black velour on the other, and a product sold at Calumet Photo. I've shopped at Calumet before. I also think this particular cloth works very nicely to wrap and pad the lens, not so good to hid the ground glass from the light. So, will need another cloth eventually.
That, BTW, is Studio 318 in the background, and the numbers on the end there should explain the 318 part. Or at least mostly. That was the lot # when I met Herself and she lived in town in this mobile home. When we moved it out here to teh Ranch, we left the numbers on it because otherwise would need to plug the holes from the screws holding the numbers there. And there they remain.
There are five controls on the shutter: Aperture, Shutter Speed, Shutter Cock, Open Shutter, and Shutter Release. Open Shutter does exactly that, opens the shutter to let the light through so the photographer may focus the image on the ground glass. At that point the photographer needs to close the shutter, set the aperture and shutter speed, and then trip the shutter after loading the film. The shutter is open in this photo, hence the 'glowing eye' as it were, which is the light falling on the ground glass in the back shining through.
After playing with it a bit, I took it all down again and moved it back inside. We've got rain in the forecast for tonight, so I shouldn't like to leave it out overnight since there's no plan to photograph anything. It needs more work; Herself says I should wash it down with some very dilute Murphy's Oil Soap. Perhaps, perhaps not. This camera is designed with focus controls for both the front and the back plates, I expect to try to keep the weight on the tripod balanced. The front will not turn. Either the brass gearing is stripped, or the mahogany is a bit swollen in the tongue and groove joint which is the guide for the front plate slide. I'll need to take things apart a bit to check that out. On the one hand, that sounds, and is, a bit scary. On the other hand, this camera is so very basic, should be do-able.
After working on the camera, we sorted through some already mounted photos, things we put into Camera Club #1 competitions before they converted to digital projection. There's an art show next weekend or so, out at Haile Plantation. Too late for us to get into that show, but as that's one of the Farmers Markets that Herself sets up at, we will simply... add some photos to the other crafts at the booth that day. Yes.