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Made On Earth — Colossal Camera

Craft & Design


Darren Samuelson takes amazing, ultra-large-format photographs with a gigantic, handmade bellows camera.

After years of teaching himself how to shoot and process photographs using traditional film cameras, his desire to produce larger prints in his limited work space led him to create the massive piece of kit. With digital photography edging out film, prices for large-format sheet film continue to rise as inventories shrink. Learning that some folks use X-ray film as a cheap alternative to black and white photographic film, Samuelson discovered he could get X-ray film as large as 14″×36″.

After contemplating how cool it would be to have a camera big enough to take a picture with film that large, Samuelson spent a year researching the materials and techniques he would need to construct such a mammoth camera. It took another six months and hundreds of hours spent using a Dremel tool, power drill, circular saw, and numerous hand tools to assemble his creation.

Its red oak and bamboo frame houses a handmade ground-glass back that accepts handcrafted film holders made from foamcore and illustration board. At 70lbs, with an extended bellows length of over 6 feet, the camera produces full-frame 14″×36″ negatives that render extremely detailed contact prints.

Samuelson recently took the camera on a cross-country road trip, capturing national landmarks from the French Quarter in New Orleans to the geysers of Yellowstone National Park.

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