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  • Legotron update

    I cannot believe the response the Lego 4x5 has gotten! I'm so happy to see so many people around the world as excited as I am about something so silly. I can't thank everyone enough for the comments here on the blog and tumblr and blogs all over the place. I am so excited that other people are excited about creating and photography.

    I spent last week shooting and developing and generally getting to know the Legotron a little better and it's even more fun that I'd realized. The thing is predictably unpredictable and it made for some interesting shooting.

    Before I get into everything, I thought I'd take a minute to reply to a few of the comments, blogs, and forums I've seen that have been talking about the camera.

    The biggest thing is that almost everyone gets it! It's for fun! I didn't build it to feel some grand sense of achievement, nor to create something technically outstanding or in any way superior to other 4x5s. I built it to see if I could! I made no measurements, other than seeing how many blocks/units wide the film holder was. I didn't figure out how long the main chambers should be to work with the 127mm lens I had. No effort was made to accomodate tilt/shift, although I thought about it briefly—I was mostly concerned with getting something made, instead of the perfect thing made. It was a whim (that got super side tracked).

    That said, here are a few points, for clarity.

    I realize I can throw another lens on it to get to infinity (pointed out by Tony), but I rather like the wide angle look for this, for now. The lack of infinity focus is just another casualty of arbitrary design.

    And when I say design, I mean I just messed around for a bit until the basic idea was in place. I did try the lego builder application, but that lasted maybe 20 minutes. My preference is do build hands on, not on screen.

    The camera that came out in the end was the fruit of tinkering, not extensive planning. I don't currently have plans to matte-black the inside, nor to tape off the major light leaks (and there are some great ones!), nor building them with all black bricks inside. I'm sure these would help the technical process of making a photo, but I love not knowing what I'm going to get. It's like multiplying the mysterious celebration of seeing a new roll of film for the first time and also not knowing what the camera is going to do!

    The total days really working on it probably come out to something like 6 or 7, tinkering at night. It took ages to finish because it sat idle for over a year.

    Other feedback I've seen has been a lot to the point of not being able to take it seriously or that I'm not a true Lego fan, or that, if I ever experienced a real large format camera with all the movements, I'd "give the toys back to the children." To which I say this:

    It's not meant to be taken seriously. It's meant to have fun and to experiment and actually have fun with my profession and to be part of a larger conversation about making photographs and what is art and personal challenges. And I may not be an avid Lego nut, but man did I have fun! And I have plenty of experience with proper large format. But I didn't have experience with doing it myself with kids toys. And now I do.

    There were plenty of questions asked, and I'll try to answer as many of them as I can with an upcoming video I'm going to try to shoot this week.

    So, some photos. At the top were two sheets of another local photographer, Kelly Cummings.

    Below is another shot of Kelly with a shot of photographer Bryan Johnson, husband of Ashley, from the first post.

    I wanted to test it in a studio environment and in a long exposure shot. For all I know popping strobes at it would totally freak it out. Or in a long exposure just what the hell would happen.

    That's Jason Hamric, yet another local photographer, on the left. Between three lights, there is about 1200 w/s of light happening in the camera's general area, a lot of which is coming in as wrap from the background. I was so excited to see image...it looks like he was shot on the corner of a wall instead of on a seamless. That would be a happy accident from having super reflective, shiny Lego bricks for walls.

    Then the other dude is me, during a 4ish second exposure (it was on T, who knows how long it was really. I just guessed). Notice the massive, nebulous blob on my face. More reflections, I am guessing. Really couldn't tell you for sure.

    And for a couple more shots as means of saying, yes, this camera can actually take a photo thats sort of normal, here is Josh and Winslow of the mental_floss art department.

    If you made it this far, wow...way to go. I did some rambling.

    I'm working on getting some of the questions answered...feel free to keep asking though!

    Oh, ps, I made a Lego tripod mount. Haven't gotten to use it yet.

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