Twenty Five year old 4×5

Niarbyl, Isle of Man, 1988

I took the images above almost 25 years ago, when I was 18. I borrowed a 4×5 inch camera off a man who I worked with at the time, I forget his name, but he was in his 60’s then, so he’s probably no longer with us. He loaded 10 double dark slides for me and gave me a quick crash-course in large format photography and off I went for the weekend. I remember sending the films off to be developed and it costing me a small fortune. The 20 transparencies came back in a yellow Kodak box, and that’s where they stayed. Cibachrome prints were horrendously expensive, so there was no way I was going to be able to afford to shoot 4×5 and so I went out and bought a 35mm instead.

I had no idea about the finer points of photography at the time, I certainly didn’t understand how a large format camera worked, but it felt good. Even 25 years ago I got a lot of strange looks when I put the cloth over my head to stare at the upside-down, back to front image in the camera.

That yellow box has sat, unopened, for nearly a quarter of a century, moving with me from house to house. I found it by accident a few days ago. When I looked at the images it was like I’d only taken them last week, they were so familiar.

It’s got me thinking about large format again though! I think I could make some really nice portraits on 4×5…

13 comments

  1. PK

    BRILLIANT! 4X5 is my favorite format. I have boxes and boxes of Ilford, Kodak and Fuji sheet film in my freezer to use but no camera….

  2. Graham Carr

    So, you have always been gifted. You are proof that some people were born with a natural talent…some might call it genius. I do.

  3. Good stuff! I say go for it if you can afford the development — or better yet develop them yourself! There is room for exploration, creativity, and growth in all aspects of photography!

  4. That’s amazing! It makes me want to dig out some of my older stuff and scan it, my younger sisters especially get so excited about my stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. I love seeing other people’s older work too, thanks for sharing.

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