large format video camera

well, long time no post but I have a cool one this time!  I just completed designing and building an 8×10 large format digital video camera, the first in the world that I know of. LargeSense has some interesting tests with x-ray sensors (I think?) but this camera can be made for orders of magnitude less cost, and I don’t think they have yet made a fully working camera.  I get into how it works in the video below, but essentially its off-axis reimaging of a projected image.  you lose some light, but with advances in large aperture wide angle lenses (I am using an Irix 15mm f2.4 Firefly) and sensitive cameras (a Sony a7s in my case) this sort of camera is now a practical possibility.  it is a bit like IMAX, but waaaaay bigger 🙂

I used C4d virtual cameras to model the fields of view of the various lenses and ensure that the slider didn’t appear in the bottom of the shot, even at infinite focus.

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if you have any questions or want to build your own, let me know! I am happy to share everything I learned along the building process.  expect to see lots more from this camera and ones like it from me.  light field version next, eh?


a day in the woods

aliza here. zev, our mother, and I went to a woodland reserve near our house today. despite getting epically lost on the way there, it was a beautiful trek along trails full of dogwalkers.

when we got to a pond, I started getting zev set up in a sheet we’d brought along in case we needed an emergency cloak. the water was bone-achingly cold, so we had to huddle together on a slippery rock as we got set up. some folks having a picnic on the other bank got a nice show. (credit to mama for the behind the scenes photos)


as we were shooting, it began to rain. zev slopped his way up the bank, dried his feet on the soggy sheet, and we headed off.

in the gathering gloom, as the rain began to give way to a silvery fog, we came across a grove of downy young pine saplings. in a bout of sudden inspiration, zev had me wrap my jacket up in my scarf and tie it to a stick before throwing the sheet/foottowel over me as a cloak and trying to look attractive.


a lady walking her dog by told us that we were “seriously freaking [her] out”. and joggers were liberal in their odd looks.Image

then we headed home and dried off and edited up our respective day’s works.

my photo before and after (with a whole lot of fudging in between):




zev’s before and after (humongo-extension extraordinaire):




an afternoon well spent!

new video project — production blog I

this is Aliza here. if you’ve been following Zev’s hints on Flickr, you may know that there’s a very exciting littlefolk video project in the works. the idea has been germinating for a few months now, and just a few days ago we finally had our first evening of shooting! without giving too much away, here are some behind the scenes production shots. that’s our most excellent uncle Orest with the mustache. he’ll be one of the stars of the film.

here you can see something of our set-up. Zev was shooting from atop his bed.


we covered half the room with black fabric. this was taken while Zev was still figuring out the lighting for the shot.


Zev giving notes in between takes.


for a from-above shot, Zev and the tripod teetered atop desks and stools.


a little preview of how one of the shots might look.


the (rather ingenious) follow focus that Zev improvised using pliers, a pencil, and a rubber band.


well, this is what we’ve been up to. pretty exciting stuff. :] stay tuned for more!

traveler BTS

here is a quick behind the scenes on my latest picture ‘traveler’. just a simple littlefolk, but here is a bit of what went into making it.

here is the picture I started with:


I then took a bunch of extension pictures of the surrounding area:

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merged them all together:

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then I cropped and fuzzed the edges of all the pictures, and here is the background done!:

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now here is the picture of aliza I used:

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I cut out the background, and placed her into the composition, here is a close-up of with and without shadows:

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then I added the color correction:

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and thats it! the final picture (bigger on flickr):

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as I sad above, just a simple shot, but think it came out pretty well mainly owing the the incredible light and colors this time of year.

a lot more to come, but probably not very soon as what aliza and I are working on at the moment is by far our most ambitious and exciting project to date.  stay tuned!


behind the firebreakers photoshoot

for the teleidescope theme  “freeze/warmth” nellie (aliza) and I (bobo/zev) have been talking for a while of doing a picture with fire and water. at long last, and rather on the proverbial spur of the moment, we piled into the car with our good friend eunice (or couth), brothers, mothers, torches and towels and headed to Nantasket beach just in time for sunset.

arriving at the beach, as the last glimmer of sun disappears (by couth):

once dipped in oil, we light the torches (by couth):

then set out in to the water (by couth):

and I start shooting, and shouting directions (by couth):

here are some outtakes that I shoot (by zev (me!)):

and the finale picture (by me):

after shooting, we sit on the beach and eat Indian food we picked up on the way there (by nellie):

and then we watch a amazing unexpected fireworks show (by nellie):

what a day.  here is a stop motion animation by couth of the whole evening:

how to get your uncle to clean your grandfather’s pocketwatch

since a few people have asked us what goes in to making our photos, we’ve decided to give you a little demonstration of the basic process. enjoy!
  • first step (not shown): concept development

agonize for roughly seven days on how to interpret the theme (‘memory’). this step should include (but not be limited to) finding several things that you want to photograph but are either 1) not permitted by the weather of the week, 2) would require a tremendous amount of legal maneuvering, or 3) risk life and/or limb. after all this, you should come back to the first idea that you had when you heard the theme and decide that it’s not that bad after all.


  • second step: subject hunt/capture 

locate and photograph your grandfather’s pocketwatch (pre-expansion photo shown below).


  • third step: subject hunt/capture (cont.)
invite your uncle over for some soup and get him to stand in your living room in funny positions while you shine lights on him from strange angles. a sister to hold a piece of fabric in the background is highly recommended for masking purposes. the soup is the most important part of this step, so don’t skimp on it.


  • fourth step (not shown): hours of toil

bittersweet chocolate, toasted bagel with avocado, and herbal tea highly recommended for best results.


congratulations, you may now humbly consider yourself a genius.



  • sixth step (optional): blog

get your sister to write an overly pretentious blog post about her skewed perception of the photo-making process.