Some Assembly Required: Ed Low

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

Martin , wet plate collidion, made with gazebo camera

Martin, wet plate collidion, made with gazebo camera

Ed Low, Bath, England

Enchanted by large, room-sized obscuras, Ed Low wanted to add portability to his original room obscura, and be able to fix permanent images. Using a garden gazebo frame for its collapsibility, Low began to construct a room obscura-sized wet plate collodion camera. The walls are formed by hydroponic grow tent plastic sheeting, a material that is commonly used to grow tropical plants and is lightproof. Using a strong polymer tape, Low attached several panels of the sheeting to the gazebo frame.

Darkroom inside of the camera.

Darkroom inside of the camera.

The lens is a 480mm Apo Nikkor, mounted onto a tripod and taped into the tent itself. When wide open, the lens allows for an image size over six feet tall through at present, 20 x 24” ambrotypes are the largest plates that Low has successfully made. The entire exposure process takes place inside the camera. Low has sewn in a zipper with a light-trap to move in and out of the camera without disrupting the exposures. Darkroom trays are used to sensitize the plates while still inside of the camera, and the plates are exposed while resting on a modified artist’s easel.

Recently, Low has used the camera to photograph portraits of the Brothers at a British Monastery.

Gazebo tent camera on location.

Gazebo tent camera on location.

View more of Low’s work on his website.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at