Friday, September 17, 2010

Cirkut Camera


Everyone probably knows the typical character of a photographer in comic books. Especially the ones in the USA in the old days. Dressed in a distinguished manner, and burdened with a very big, heavy camera. One of the cameras that fits this image perfectly is the Cirkut camera.

This special camera was developed in the early twentieth century. It was very big, heavy and had the intriguing capability of capturing large groups of people at once. The large panoramic shots are widely known, but I never asked myself how these were made.

Motorcycles, around 1915
The camera was mounted on a tripod and turned from left to right very slowly. With the same speed a light sensitive film was pulled behind the lens and automatically rolled up in a internal container. The people being photographed would be lined up in a half circle. This was to make sure the distance between the camera and subjects would be the same. If not, the people on the sides would be out of focus.

Asheville Fire Department - 1994 !!
Among collectors a special type of photo is popular. It is a so-called double-ender that features one of its subjects twice. How? If you were photographed on the left, ran around the camera while it was turning and took a pose on the right side of the picture, you would be visible twice in the same photo. Nice practical joke if you ask me. You can moon and look eminent on the same photo!

A very good collection is bound in the book America By The Yard: Cirkut Camera. We have a few copies in the shop. Come and have look..

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