There has been a lot happening in the last few weeks, and I've made some breakthroughs in adapting medical endoscopes to DSLR cameras, with beautiful results.
At the moment I'm practicing hard for an important photoshoot that's coming up in a couple of short weeks, where I'll be photographing some extremely rare, valuable and beautiful instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries. To rehearse I've been photographing my own cello, something I've never done, which seems extraordinary given the number of instruments I've photographed over the years!
Chinese Cello 2009 (Charles's own instrument, used in the Shenzhen, Guiyang, Valdivia, and Sao Paulo Symphony orchestras)
I've also been working on two violins: A early 20th century Hungarian violin (which I miss-attributed to being from Germany originally), and a wonderful 250-year-old Chappuy violin from France.
Hungarian Violin early 20th century
Chappuy Violin circa 1770
This Chappuy is particularly special - it's an exceptionally old instrument wth a long history of repairs. These can be clearly seen (all of those square cleats). It was brought here by Le Violin Rouge luthiers in Auckland, and will be carefully restored over the next year or two. Tune back then for some 'after' photos!
There have been a number of difficulties to overcome for these shots: By far the biggest was lighting. With the various adapters, enlargers and processes used, I'm working at about f/160. To those of you not flutent in "photography" that means the images are very very dark. Getting enough light through the narrow f-holes and into the belly of the instruments was a real challenge. Shaping that light into something beautiful is yet another hurdle!
At the moment I'm almost there, although I would like to push a little more light into the neck-block area at the back of the photos, but doing that without overheating the delicate varnish on old instruments is tricky.
It's also important to note that the image from the endoscope on my camera looks nothing like these finished works. I see only a faction of the photo at a time, both in terms of field of view and depth of field. To create the whole work takes around 160 photos for each instrument, which have to be precisely blended using a large suite of different softwares.
I'm excited to share these works-in-progress with you, and am tremendously excited to see what happens with the better instruments that I'm photographing in the new year. Until then I hope you all have an amazing holiday season.