Tag Archives: studio space

Working with the Voigtlander

The set up

I got the mounted flange back from the machinists shop this week, so yesterday I got a chance to put the big Voigtlander on my 8×10 and shoot it. I set up my little outdoor studio with some quick still lifes using Coke bottles. I like my lighting simple and dramatic so I used a single 1000w fresnel. I wanted that longer duration from the light because the Voigtlander, being from 1863, has no shutter. I would need exposures long enough that I could use a spare dark slide as a manual shutter.

The Voigtlander on the camera

Here’s the lens mounted on the camera- it uses Waterhouse stops for apertures. I have one with it currently, that’s probably the equivalent of f/8.

What the lens sees

One of the cool things about working in a studio setting like this is that the ambient light is so low that you don’t even need a dark cloth to focus and compose! I will be developing my film from last night’s shoot today, but it was nice that I could give a preview of my results right off the ground glass.

Confirmation – Brady’s Studio on Pennsylvania Avenue still stands!

I found while browsing CDVs on Ebay another Brady CDV with yet another studio address in Washington DC. It was the one I’d been looking for for ages. I had heard a rumor that the studio, which you can still see from the outside of the building, was Brady’s, and I’d heard it was Alexander Gardner’s. But now, I can definitively say you can still see Mathew Brady’s Washington DC studio that was located at 625 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest. Today the building is occupied by the National Council of Negro Women, but if you go around back into the alley, you can still see the north light slanted studio window on the top two floors of the building. From what I’ve been told, the room is now storage space for the association, and there’s not much to see. But it’s really cool that this piece of photographic history still exists, and aside from the paint color, you can get a feel for the streetscape in the day when it was a working studio.

The new and improved studio

Well, after much hemming and hawing and consternation, the new storage locker for the studio is done! All my stuff is now safely stowed, and the studio looks a thousand times neater and more professional. Here are photos of the locker under construction:

One of the big challenges was the fact that the floor is far from level. The building was once a taxi/livery dispatch and maintenance facility. The floor has multi-directional slopes to it to allow for cleaning of spilled coolant/transmission fluid/oil. In one corner (opposite where the locker is) there’s even a covered-over maintenance trench for greasemonkeys to get under the cabs to change the oil.

The studio stand, in the studio!


after trekking up to Philadelphia and back driving a big GMC Sierra pickup truck, the INKA studio stand is in its new home. We’re having a meeting with a contractor this week to discuss the storage lockers (they’ll be going up behind where I’m standing in this shot, to the right of the door).

The INKA studio stand, and me, in the studio
The INKA studio stand, and me, in the studio

Busy weekend at the studio

Today I’m driving up to Philadelphia to pick up a studio stand – I found a great deal on an INKA stand that can handle any camera I’ve got, including the 14×17. The challenge will be getting it in the truck. Tomorrow I’ll have no problem unloading it as we’ll have several guys at the studio who can help. We’re meeting to discuss and hopefully even start building the storage units at the studio. The momentum is building and I’m getting excited about actually being able to use the space! Pictures of the storage unit and the cleaned-up studio to follow when we have something to show.

Settling in to the new studio

I was out to my parents’ house for lunch yesterday, and on a whim, as we were discussing possible family vacation plans, I decided that it was time to bring the studio camera from their basement down to the studio (a much more logical place for it to live). So with a bit of clever maneuverings, we drove their Toyota Highlander across the snow-filled yard (they still have a good 6 inches on their grass) and pulled it up at the basement door. Mom had this fear that the Toyota (with a good 8 inch ground clearance) would get stuck in the snow, so she got on the John Deere lawn tractor with the snow-blower and blew a path from the driveway to the basement door. Completely un-needed, and she probably did more harm to the lawn with the John Deere (which had chains on the tires) than the Toyota would have.

Dad and I got the camera stand out of the basement, which was a minor miracle, as my dad is 72, with a bad back, and the stand is made of solid oak and cast iron. It fit, barely, in the back of the Highlander with the rear seats folded forward. On the way home I rounded up a couple friends and we unloaded everything down at the studio much easier than getting the stand into the back of the car (it helps that the studio is at street level and we only had to take the stand up one single step to get it in the back door. While I have the Highlander, I’m going to do another run over to the studio today with a bunch of accessories, and try to get the space a bit more organized.

New studio space!!!!

I have a copy of the lease in hand now, so it’s official. I will be moving in to my new (shared) studio space January 15. I’ll be shooting and teaching classes out of 443 I (Eye) Street, NW. It’s walking distance from Chinatown and Mount Vernon Square Metro stations, a short bus ride from Union Station, and there is on-street and off-street parking available nearby. Watch this blog for an announcement about a studio open house, and a schedule of classes. I expect to have my first class in March.