Apr 19, 2018
We took our mics to a basement laboratory on East 30 Street, in Manhattan, where legend tells of a scientist and his cohort who perform ungodly experiments, attempting to bring life to subjects long considered dead. What we found rattled the nerves of even our steely host Allan Weitz, and brought us to a new consideration of what can be done when modern Prometheans fuse technologies from diverse eras to create extraordinary tools for their photographic purposes.
On this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we speak with Geoffrey Berliner, Executive Director of the Penumbra Foundation, and Frank Rubio, the Camera Doctor, about the many “frankencameras” they have created together. In fact, they displayed six examples of their work for us. We talk about each one, most being antique view cameras modified with brass portrait lenses, modern flash systems, or for digital capture. We explain the provenance of the cameras and lenses, the process of “repurposing” them, and the practical applications for these modifications. Each of these cameras is put into regular use at Penumbra, primarily in their tintype studio, and we discuss Scovill, Graflex, and stereo carte de visite cameras; Cooke, Fox, and Hermagis lenses, and even Sony a7 cameras and Canon Selphy printers. For images of the cameras and lenses, go to our landing page.
We also speak with Berliner about his impressive lens collection, with Rubio about learning camera repair in the Army, and about their motivations and collaboration. Rubio, having worked in some of the best camera houses in New York, has established a reputation as a skilled and meticulous craftsman, trusted by artists, pros, and collectors alike, and Berliner is a walking encyclopedia of camera and photography history. Join us for this insightful conversation, which leaves only one question unanswered—which of the two is the true Dr. Frankencamera?
Guests: Frank Rubio and Geoffrey Berliner
Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Producer: Jason Tables