September 2011: Finding my lens
There was one crucial starting point for making my walk-in camera: that was the lens. If I could find the right lens I knew I would be able to determine what the dimensions of the camera should be, and that the project could really begin.
I was so excited when I found the perfect lens in a photo on Flickr, but what a challenge it was to track it down! After sharing the image on a number of online forums, I eventually tracked it down to a used camera convention that takes place every year in a gym in Castel San Giovanni, Italy. When the time for the convention came, I didn’t hesitate to jump in my car and make the journey from Germany to Italy, where I slept in my car under some pine trees.
Armed with a printed photograph of the lens, I walked around the convention for some time before someone was able to lead me to the owner of the lens – his name was Giorgio Belli. The elation I felt when Giorgio said ‘it’s mine’ quickly turned to disappointment when he said that he didn’t have the lens with him at the convention. I therefore needed to make another trip to his home at Lake Como, back up towards the Swiss border. Before leaving Castel San Giovanni I wanted to have a quick walk around the Saturday morning fish and fruit market, but I wasn’t able to buy much - I was stopped by two police women for illegal parking and had to hand over the last of my cash!
At Lake Como, it turned out that Giorgio was a helicopter pilot with a passion for collecting photo equipment. He owns two apartments at his home – one is where he lives with his wife, and the other is absolutely crammed full of cameras and lenses! I’ve never seen such a treasure trove of camera equipment. Giorgio had bought the lens at a flea market in Paris in 2008 and was happy to pass it on to someone who was keen to put it to good use.
Despite all of my efforts to get hold of the lens, I realised that my work had only just begun!
More information on the ‘Castellano’ used camera convention: www.photo90.it
I found my lens on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/funadium/2412414267/