The Bass-Ackward Slide Copy Stand

The Bass-Ackward Slide Copy Stand

Most film photographers remember the amount of attention paid to photographic copying techniques in the decades leading up to the invention of the photo-copier and then to the digital era. From the most complex Linhof and Leica apparatus to the simplest Kodak Instamatic, there was some form of copying stand, frame, or lens combination. Chapters in all photographic books – and many specific texts – were devoted to copying. Some of it was accurate and some of it was approximate.

We were also presented with such delicious ideas as the silver chain that dangled from the Minox B and C cameras. It had metal nubbins at intervals to let the copyist know how far the camera was from the material to be photographed. These were ex-Latvian spy cameras adapted for the civilian gadget market. I know plenty of people who owned one but very few ever actually took pictures with them. Not even the Latvian spies…

Every catalog of an SLR system featured two items that were ” essential ” goods; copy stands and bellows units. These were also bought by gadgeteers, but unlike the Minoxes, these sometimes got used. The copy stands are probably still made – I remember selling them in the 2008-2016 period to firms and institutions for book copying. They were essentially enlarger stands minus the enlarger heads and just racked the cameras up and down with some precision while holding lights either side of the target area.

Well, the Bass-Ackward is not available commercially, but that shouldn’t stop a handy photographer from making their own from a few Bunnings and kitchen shop ingredients. It will be a particularly useful device for those trying cheap slide copying.

The B-A essentially reverses the classic copy stand geometry. It places the camera below the object to be photographed for good purpose – by doing so it can eliminate the need for a light box or flash source. It assumes that you have put a lens on the camera that can see the slide closely enough to yield 1:1 reproduction. See the previous postings on this subject. The B-A is constructed of plywood or MDF board of suitable thickness and the essential part – the slide stage – is most carefully constructed to allow the slide to be in the same place each time.

This is the place and the plane at which you focus the lens. The slide sits atop the stage looking downwards. The camera looks up. The slide is covered by a simple hemispherical salad bowl that acts like a diffuser and as soon as the assembly is placed in clear sunlight a custom white balance will set the camera. Indeed, even AWB will work here.

There is no preview of the slide, of course, but you carefully examine results during the set-up to ensure you’re in focus. Then it is simply a matter of plopping a slide on the stage, replacing the salad bowl, and pressing the shutter release. Extremely lazy photographers will set their cameras to interval release and just change slides…

The cost of the average B-A is about $ 10 or less if you pinch the salad bowl from the kitchen. If you’re caught pinching the salad bowl the cost will be astronomical…

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