April Blue Cyanotype Exhibition

April Blue Cyanotype Exhibition at 仲夏夜 / Midsummer Night by travelling HK Textile Artist @laigarling. love the #cyaness deep blue hues photographic print. 交流 "exchange knowledge"


Art Market; Kg. Attap, KL

"it's just a thing" small art market at Kg. Attap organised by chitoo. 29 & 30 April weekend. debuting a working prototype of the latest build. #6 Sphere Camera #spherecam a.k.a Gantua, pushing the concept of a camera, using a landscape lighting ball filled with water as a lens. A scaled up concept Spherical Aqua Lens after prototype #3 Bulb.

Fundraising for the next phase of project, traveling to East Malaysia #KantaBorneo #KantaBoxKamra at "It's Just a Thing" art gather/ market, come 29 & 30 April weekend

Prototype #1 Interchange, featuring interchange-able lens, smallest & most versatile, box kamra built. This mobile camera has been into the far jungles of Northern Belum, Central Pahang, Southern Endau Rompin, overseas to river mangroves of Sabah, to halfway round the world São Paulo, on land (car, bus, bicycle), on boat and in the air. (need to change the outer shell steel can and make some upgrades, but still going strong). 

Prototype #4 Woodie, the biggest Kamra Box built featuring dual format; horizontal/ vertical, limited changeable lens, easiest to operate, a stationary 'plaza-camera' (not the most mobile), also built to be reverse-able as an image projector. 

Prototype #5 Element Camera #elecamm the biggest camera format I've built. still going through it's trial run. Featuring a thrash bag as it's bellows, this build still holds true to the philosophy of using found and used materials & parts as it's make up while trying to be versatile and adaptive (although more specialised parts are used). It features some camera parts that are over a century old and using only the basic elements to projecting an image. It takes at a 10x12" format, vertical/ horizontal, a different build concept from the box series, this is the new range of cameras that #instudio25/build will be exploring with. Still processing instantly on-site, via a darktent, this camera will probably be making its trip to East Malaysia as a Mobile Studio Setup. (although not as mobile).

Debuting Prototype #6 Sphere Camera #spherecamm/ Gantua. The entire series of the new builds were based on this camera concept, utilising a Spherical Aqua Lens (much like prototype #3 Bulb). Made possible with the kind donation of the surveyor's tripod, aptly called 'Julia Stand' after the 'patron Nurzuliana Abd Aziz' and a few more edition and assistance, Magic Arm on loan from Helios Loo, making of the rear element frame with tools & guidance from Gan Siong King, "buy/token" of rear element window from Kb Wong/ @hsien from @Arcadia, and gift of wooden plate holder from K Azril Ismail. this 'camera' features a 6.5x8.5" format, which is a strange size, vertical only. Will be attempting portraits selectively through demonstrations only.

#5 Element Camera
#1 interchange

#4 Woodie
#6 Sphere Camera/ Gantua


Nic Emma night

#KantaBoxKamra Nic & Emma's last do in KL, had to take their portraits with the camera. always supportive of the project. was unable to ever get an exhibition up when they were here. Thanks for a great night ;) (pic from @d.t6n #pinjampic)

setting up reproduction, red & the inside of kamra
mini exhibit


Master Chan visit

Portrait of my Master Chan, with #elecamm, thrash bag camera. Slowly sinking in, the idea of my build, for my master. He has warmed up to it and my quirkiness. #ChanSifu a camera rebuilder, photography guru, and a close friend #kantaboxkamra #instudio25 #adaptreuse #instudio25build

Visiting Master Chan, from south pole straight to camera master, Mahen Bala prodigal son returns! 

Mahen acquiring a 4x5
setting up elecamm, portrait of my master


BUILD #6 Gantua, a conceptual prototype

Making of a new build #6 Gantua. Although nothing new, this concept camera is based on prototype #3 Bulb, 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. More updates soon


Art For Grabs; Kanta Instant Portraits DEBUTING #Elecamm

Come 25 & 26 March, will be opening a Instant Portrait booth at this art market to raise fund for the next phase of this project. Debuting the big 10 x 12" camera too, with test shots


KANTA Borneo; first trip to East Malaysia

followed a film crew into rural Sabah, Eloi River Village, Pitas, Northern Sabah. Estuary country with the Tambanoa Tribe, River people "Orang Asal / Original People" Natives.

more update soon


BUILD; Mobile Darkbox

010317– For use with Element Camera #elecamm, the 10x12" plate holder camera. A foldable 'tent', which is made for diffusing light for product shoot. Comes in various sizes, chose 75x75cm 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.

040317– Still needs more development, figuring out for internal stack system for trays, squeegee, wet bench and a dry bench to store and reload the plate holders. Ventilation is gonna be big issue.

060317– little branding to keep the cover right side up and front. i'm starting to like this blockie typeface

080317– bought a usb powered fan for ventilation, spray painted the blades flat-black


DEMO; Refugee School

Part of the 2nd phase of the journey; #edgesofmalaysia

01 Camera Strapped 26/01
02 Demonstrating 26/01
03 First Magic 26/01
04 The Image 15/02
05 Making Portraits 15/02
06 Image in the box 15/02
07 Next Batch 01/03
01– Camera strapped on and ready to go, #bikepacking with Kamra #1 to visit a refugee school for show & demonstration, introduction to the community. it’s an underground network and an unwritten system for refugees and migrant. I got asked some hard questions by the kids, I'm learning about them as much as they are from me. 26/01

02– Demonstrating the process, while being their special guest for English language class. “photography is magic”, my best scientific explanation of the process haha :) this has been my most rewarding experience so far. Most of these students are from the North West State of Myanmar, refugee status perhaps still in limbo. 26/01

03– the first magic of photography, the ‘moulding’ of light to produce a likeness image. 26/01

04– the image, moulding light with just found items. Demonstration, portraits Students of age 9-10. 15/02

05– Making portraits of the class, one at a time. Students of age 9-10. 15/02

06– “image” in the box, most fulfilling experience, when these kids started showing the same experiment to the other classes. 15/02

07– next batch of class from refugee school, ‘science & english class’ plus making portraits. 01/03


BUILD; Enlargement Attempt

Success! we have image. first rule of (this kind of) photography, have image, will print.

now all i need to do is a bunch of calculations with formulas and a whole load of tweaking to the build to get it working well. (haven't even done any exposure yet). back to the drawing board.


BUILD; Element Camera 10x12

Building an element-based camera, (working title ele-cam) 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. Building the darkbox (enclosure) from found materials in the field, and the bellows from industrial garbage bags which can double as packing/ waterproofing solution.

items needed
- lens
- lens board mounted
- magic arm with super-clamp
- monorail with ball head
- rear element cum focus frame
- plate/ paper holder
- industrial bags
- surveyors tripod

But before building this, will attempt it with the globe lens concept, utilising only half of the elements, raise funds to purchase some of them. a separate dark box with stacking trays needed for processing & reloading. use of wet contact print with sunlight for repro.

early 2016 Found landscape lighting ball (aqua lens)

12 Jul Acquired antique plate holders & rear elements from Arcadia (thanks for the support!) RM 100

19 Sep Ej Motiwalla tripod surveyor's tripod, new 'old' stock. from a century old surveyor equipment company, est. 1885! acquired the aluminium one based on weight. the wooden one (yellow) was stronger, but it weighed about 6-8kg. Got the display-unit Japanese-made surveyor's Alloy tripod at RM 371 (US$ 90)

5 Oct Acquired two lenses 300 & 486mm RM 2,000

6 Oct Acquire Tee nut 1/4" metric threading

8 Oct Test Aqua Lens on tripod (globe filled with tap water weighs in at 14+ kg)

20 Oct Acquired Acrylic sheet & plywood board RM 94

25 Oct Cut to size ground Acrylic sheet & restoration of focus frame for project Life-Scale Camera (working title Element Camera). made ground glass from acrylic sheets, 3mm frosted. although not as cheap, it's bright and durable (not breakable). had to do some restoration work on the viewing frame, needs a new felt sealant. but both formats now have a viewing glass. sizes 6.5 x 8.5" and 10 x 12". these will be the biggest camera ever assembled. here is a reference to how i got hold of these century old plate holders & rear elements.  http://kantaboxkamra.blogspot.my/2016/07/purchase.html they are gems, but a waste if let to rot. am aiming to prepare a simpler build for demonstration by early next year, if my resources & time allow.

28 Oct Visit Master Chan and purchase Monorail spares Had a impromptu visit to Master Chan, to inform him of visiting the photo lab the coming week. Also took the opportunity to lookup for monorail spares. Which of course he had! A couple of mid length monorail, Korean made. For the building of a life-scale camera a.k.a Element Camera. RM 200

29 Oct Mock up setup with tripod

30 Oct Made crude lens board for 300 & 486mm lens Modify rear element to fit focus frame

31 Oct Mount Rear Element to monorail on tripod. Loan magic arm from Helios. 

1 Nov Mount Front Element to magic arm. Use garbage bag bellows. First Visualising 300mm lens. need better mounting.

9 Nov Mount 486mm lens, mounting bracket not secure, lens too heavy. need better solution.

10 Nov Life-Scale Visualising, approximately double the focal length. possible, need measuring aid to zeroing the camera standards.

11 Nov Acquire Garbage Bag Kg Baru Pasar. too translucent. RM 5 for 10 pieces.

14 Nov Salvage mounting bunting frame, Ampang point, with adjustable mounts as front & rear standards stabilisers.

15 Nov Acquire Zippo Lighter fluid for polishing plastic, acrylic sheets. Polish Globe Lens, cut acrylic sheets 2mm for film back. RM 35

16 Nov Globe Lens setup. need to build mounting wooden base securely attached to tripod base mount.

18 Nov Acquire 0.4mm Garbage Bag. Still not totally opaque. RM 11

21 Nov Modify tripod for better grip with clamp. works well.

22 Nov Mobile kit layout. gunny sack on ground for tiled surfaces. 

23 Nov Acquire screw adapters & spirit levels. Acquire trekking poles (adjustable height) as front & rear standard stabiliser.

24 Nov weigh the components 12 kg lens version (excluding lens)

1 Dec Enquiry, order 20 x 24 RC paper, fomapan 

2 Dec Demo & Interview with Kenny Loh

23 Dec Setup 300mm test, focal length 

24 Dec Setup 486mm test, 300mm visual test

26 Dec cut photo paper to size, prep makeshift darkroom, purchase rubber shoes tripod (RM 8)

27 Dec setup strobe lights & stands

28 Dec purchase variable magic arm & hex stud (RM 565)

30 Dec first print, exposure, focusing & mechanism test

3 Jan magic arm & hex stud arrives

first print, expired paper, chems, exposure off


IN THE FIELD; Kampung Mengkapur, Pahang

Spontaneous trip into the interiors and home to Lily's extended family, hitching a ride with COAC truck up into central peninsular. So starts the next phase of the project, travelling to rural areas with the mobile kit, making instant portraits of Silver Gelatin Prints. Targeting to focus more on East Malaysia, but would base my travels throughout the Peninsular too and the region. It's little steps, I hope i'll cover some ground before 2017 is over ;)

interior road, central Pahang
camera backpacking
demonstrating how it works



ACQUIRED; screw bits from Digicolor

dropped by digicolor, getting some screw adapters, spigots and nicknacks


IN THE NEWS; mention in The Star

Star today (Starmetro section, p.12) artistic ventures

Fivearts Centre Article



IN THE FIELD; Fivearts Centre

Prints of the five members of the Fivearts Centre, another eight more to go.

a revisit to #fiveartscentre Five Arts Centre 3 years on since #krishenjitastrofund was awarded. Here to make portraits of the members of this collective to be included in the first batch of portraits, it is also the 11th year grant awarding ceremony for 2016. Good luck everyone. It's coming full circle this project, really glad to be part of this #kantaboxkamra #afghanboxcamera #kamraefaoree #cyclingkualalumpur also commute by bicycle #kantacycling ;) closest I could get to putting a Kamra on a bicycle. Thanks fivearts for the amazing continuos support & just being such patient sitters

mobile in KL, first field trip on bicycle with Kamra. Self-contained mobile field kit. in preparation for an expedition real soon. thanks June for the pic ;) 16 prints

kanta on a bike, first mobile expedition
fiveart members, 5 of 13 members taken, another 8 to go

backpack kanta, mounted for walking
first sitter, setup for portrait taking


IN THE FIELD; Sarina Yeh

Sarina was down from Taipei and I had to repay her kindness with a portrait, seksan too ;) great too see you again, hope we'll cross paths again soon #kantaboxkamra



Bringing Master Chan to meet Lau, Color dot com. first ever excursion out with masta, thanks to Mahen for making special arrangements


ARCHIVE; sorting out entire archive

sorting out 'kanta' entire archive, that's alot of prints & field trips since 2014