cameras

The cameras, ranging from early exposure to photography, to prototypes inspired from the Afghan Box Camera Project and the Brasillian “Lambe-lambe”, rebuilding box-cameras and large format for field use, to creating a unique camera-build, inspired from rural and indigenous methods & materials.

|  2000–2009  |  2014–2015  |  2016–2017  |  2018–2019  |  2020–current  |





2020– New ideology, materials, print techniques 5th generation returns to earlier box designs, taking inspiration from rural and indigenous methods of building with found materials. The new Tong camera concepts will replace the primary box camera #1interchange. Using plastics HDPE containers that are numerously found in rural communities, reused and upcycled. As a material, it's durability addresses the corrosive photographic chemicals.

#10 Tong camera
Box cameras
pinhole cameras

mobile dark case
Contact printing holder
#10– Tong (working title) 20 litre container in various colours, depending on type of content and use are easily found in rural plantations, mostly as pesticides and weed killers. They are usually discarded, and upcycled by rural communities in their daily use. Mostly made from HDPE, it is a durable plastics that have beneficial properties as a rebuilding material. The nest generation of box cameras will primarily research into the use plastics in the building of the camera. Simplifying the design further. Various types of containers (new and found) were sourced to develop the new prototypes.

early 20th century box cameras– assorted sizes and makes. The simple box cameras are being rebuilt and refitted to be used in a workshop setting. It further simplifies the image-making process and enables an exposure to be made easily. 

pinhole cans– assorted sizes, exploration into a durable, reusable pinhole camera. They were uniquely designed with found materials and built to be used in a workshop setting. This would be the most basic kit.

contact printing– reusing plate holders, refitting them to be used as contact printing. Looking into other types of printing techniques, solargraphy, pictograms, to be used in combination with BW printing.

mobile dark case–portable compact processing set. Discarded briefcases to be refitted as a fold up darkroom briefcase to be used in combination with small box cameras, in a workshop setting.




2018–2019 Making prints, field-use and mobility 4th generation is a development the concept of #5 Element Camera. The camera project was ready for art research and social engagement. Acquiring manufactured cameras, rebuilding and modifying them for field use because of weight restrictions for flights, mobility and ease-of-use, setup time. This next generation of cameras were used in combination with camera #1interchange and mobile darkbox. Other electronic recording devices were used for field work.

#8 Intrepid
#9 Field Graphic

Sony Rx100iv
Zoom HN1
Durst M305 enlarger

#8 Intrepid
 (acquired camera 2018, modified) Modified with removable bellows, secured screw mounts, reinforced tripod mount. Faster setup time and field work, printing at 8 x 10". With film holders, it was used without the need to process on-site. With full front movement, it enabled the print to focus it's shallow depth-of-field on the subject better. The plywood material reacts and warps to different climate change and environment causing mis-alignment, leaks and breakage. Still the lightest and cheapest camera of this size, easy to transport, modify and repair in the field. First print image

#9 Field Graphic (acquired camera 1963, rebuilt & modified) Modified to vertical format, full front movement (XYZ axis), side and bottom 3/8" mounting. This camera is rebuilt to be mobile and handheld during bright days at 4 x 5". Robust, ease of use and with full front movement, it enabled the print to focus it's shallow depth-of-field on the subject better. Susceptible to weather changes, it is the most durable and compact for field work and fast setup. First print image

Enlarger Durst M305, Durst CLS450, Meopta Axomat 5 (repair and recommissioned) To be used in paper negative reproduction work in combination with multigrade filters, dodging and burning techniques, it has brought new life to the darkroom.

Zoom H1N audio recorder (newly acquired for field recording) For recording interviews and meetings, ambience sounds of the environments. The recorder has proved invaluable in the efficiency to document smaller file sizes and quality audio. For reference and use for archival and artwork making.

Sony RX100iv digital camera (field documentation camera) Replacement digital camera, higher resolution and quality images. With LCD viewfinder and full manual control. Documentation and portfolio pictures. Complex and non-intuitive menu, not built for robust field use, but it is still working.

Olympus TG860 digital camera (field documentation camera, screen stopped working) Primary digital camera for field work, but LCD screen stopped working after a 40 kmh drop from bike. Resolution too low for portfolio pictures, but the IP68 rating made it the best digital camera for field work.

Garmin GPSmap 60CSx (GPS geolocation device) Logging tracks, paths and geolocations for future references without the need for network connection.





2016–2017 Beyond box cameras, new concepts & technique 3rd generation of cameras. Moving beyond the confines of the darkroom box concept, larger format, pushing the concept of a camera, and design process to larger scale and reproduction techniques (enlargement and reduction) and mobile darkroom. Concentrating on getting better portraits and prints, interaction with subjects, upgrading the usability and workings of focusing the camera.

#5 Element Camera– 10 x 12"
#6 Sphere Camera– 6 x 9"
#7 Bilik Obscura– 20 x 24"
Mobile Dark Box
Projector Camera
enlargement from projection camera

#5 Element Camera
 (completed end 2016, first print dec 2016) Shoots at 10x12", has a separate darkroom tent to process the prints. Building an element-based camera, utilising century old glass plate-holder as focus frame & negative holder. The built was inspired from the idea of lightening the load of the concept camera, while being able to make a larger format, life-sized, scale portrait. By collecting just the elements of the basic camera; Lens, Focus Frame & Mechanism, it is possible to construct a camera without the need of the enclosure. Bypassing the need to carry a large box around.

#6 Sphere Camera (completed & first print April 2017) With & without the external dark cloth. Making of a new build #6spherecam. Although nothing new, this concept camera is based on prototype #3Bulb, or the use of a Spherical Aqua Lens, one of the first patented lenses, and an interesting approach to using water in a bowl to refract light. The major component of this build was actually the initial trigger/ inspiration to the new range of large format build concept.

#7 Bilik Obscura (completed & first print June 2017) 20 x 24" room camera. My 7th build, featuring the 486mm projector lens and a painter's easel as the rear standard. It can print up to 20 x 24" for now as that's the limitations of the photo paper that i can get hold of. The name was inspired from my old blog on darkroom http://www.bilikobscura.blogspot.com.

Mobile dark box setup (completed March 2017) Portable processing set. For use with Element Camera #5elecamm, the 10 x 12" plate holder camera. A foldable ‘tent’, which is made for diffusing light for product shoot. Comes in various sizes, chose 75 x 75 cm due to the format & tray size, quite sizable and spacious. Biggest challenge is to light-proof the tent. Using the same materials used for the bellows, garbage bags, double ply, as a very light and water-proof material. Inexpensive and readily available in-the-field.

Projector camera (31 May 2017) the apparatus (projector), in the early days of photography, cameras were used as projectors to make enlargements. it's like a reverse camera, rather than capturing, it projects light. Where the camera would be put up against a window, with a mirror reflecting the ambient sky light in-through the camera. Here is the project’s makeshift photo enlarger, combination of plate holder and projector lens about 700+mm for a 200% enlargement.





2014–2015 Box Kamra & Lambe–Lambe inspired, four prototypes 1st & 2nd generation builds. Three of them with similar box type; oil cans, and the fourth would be made from salvaged wood. Minimal structure to keep weight down, the wooden box would be approximately 6-8kg, where else the oil can kamras would hopefully be below 3kg. Read sub-chapters on build and theories. (grant period)

#1 Interchange Camera
#2 Fold Camera
#3 Bulb Camera
#4 Wooden Box

#1 Interchange Camera (completed & first print April 2015) with interchangeable lens boards, and an interesting focusing mechanism, this is the most versatile camera based on the principles of the kamra design. it will only feature a single door on the rear. Mounting of lens board via riveted local currency coins. First print image

#2 Fold Camera (completed end 2014, first print December 2014) attaching a fold camera as the lens and focusing element. this was the first prototype built, as it had more framing to hold the fold camera. much was learnt from this build as it solved issues for other similar prototypes; e.g the internal framing screw mounts to the shell (oil can), the height/calculation for the film plane (paper holder, clearance space needed to place paper), the boards for front and rear. First of the prototypes to be completed, the easiest to operate. First print image

#3 Bulb Camera (completed end 2014, first print July 2015) this version is made entirely from reused, repurposed, salvaged and upcycled materials. every aspect of the build, even the lens. this would be a challenging build. there are still issues with the elements and the build, and in need of refinement. not the most ideal lens, but it's possible to make an image, the trickiest kamra to handle. First print image

#4 Wooden Box (completed end 2014, first print) made from unwanted wood, this kamra would be the most complex build as it need to be put together form irregular wood planks. the internal framing would need to be strong enough to keep the plank walls in place and also keep the structure of the box intact. approximately 11 x 14 x 20". Structurally the most challenging, working with thrown-away wooden panels, has the best lense. First print image





2000–2009 Precursor and art school The first exposure to photography were from my father. He inherited a Kodak Brownie (perhaps a junior model) from his parent’s employers, the Kemp family. He used it to make some exposures of the family in front of their first own home in Malaya. Inheriting the family’s heirloom of Black & White photographs from the colonial period and later with his own exploration in finding family throughout the Peninsular.

The first camera I operated was our family’s simple point & shoot which was eventually stolen, (a rangefinder Yashica was lost too). After I started my own exploration in art school, building my first own camera obscura to darkroom printing, film cameras to digital SLR. But my love has always been in the darkroom and the want to continue creating heirloom prints and portraits of family.

point & shoot (not actual camera)
self-built obscura with viewfinder
range of cameras, film to digital