January 23, 2017: Skeletal Nikon F4 Body – the Story behind my PTSD Cauldron Image


Nikon F4 body for parts

A few months ago I ordered a “broken” F4 body for one specific component…the lens mount on the front of the body.  My goal was to make a custom Nikon F mount on a 4×5 view camera lens board to allow any of my Nikon F lens to be securely mounted on the 4X5 view camera without fear of it falling off. So, when the F4 body arrived I dutifully disassembled it down to is skeletal state.


All this was crammed in the F4 body

All this was crammed in the F4 body

By the time I had fully taken it apart I was absolutely astounded at the hundreds of parts that Nikon had somehow crammed into that F4 body.  It gave me a different perspective on the skills and engineering concepts needed to craft a precision camera.

F4 lens attaching ring mounted on 4X5 lens boardI cut the mounting mechanism out of the front to the body, attached it to a pre-drilled plywood mounting board, mounted the board onto the 4X5 view camera and attached a lens.  My concept worked perfectly – kinda of!   What I didn’t anticipate was bellows focal lens – which, when coupled with a 35mm lens, had an effective focusing range  (somewhat) less than 1/2 inch from the lens.  Not the most optimal focusing distance unless you want some crazy, not quite focused macro images.

Stripped down F4 body

Stripped down F4 body

I put the parts way for macro shots at a later date.  The body intrigued me so I kept it out, epoxied the camera base to the frame and then taped on the mirror on the back of the body and set the contraption on my desk – sort of a advent-garde desk ornament though I suspect it’s a bit of a stretch to call this art work.

As I pondered more about what to do with the stripped body, it slowly came to me that perhaps it would provide an interesting image for my PTSD posts with different types of lighting and back drops.

As night fell, I had everything in place, an old-fashioned bankers or library lamp, a porous black felt drop cloth and began shooting with the NikoBron (Df with 50mm Bronica lens).   Once the shoot was over, I began processing the images with Capture One Pro.  As I reviewed the images. I realized I’d captured what I was generally looking for…the green glow the lampshade visible though the various openings of the F4 body as well as the incandescent light falloff at the bottom corners, it wasn’t quite what I really wanted.

The Cauldron of My Mind concept

The Cauldron of My Mind concept – Not quite what I was looking for

My initial shot was hand-held at two seconds to see how far the lighting was off.  I knew it would be blurred and had no plans to keep it once I began post-processiomg.  My initial response when saw how blurred the image was as well as the harsh lighting, was  to immediately delete it.  However, the more I looked at the image, the more I realized it had possibilities.

Now curious, I began playing with the image  and all of a sudden, I realized it was the image I’d been wanting all along..the transformation from raw emotions, painful memories, and tortured conflicting thoughts too long harbored within  the crucible of my mind  allowing thoughts of peace, tranquility, and a sense of calm restored to my journey through life.

Fires within my mind

The Cauldron of  my mind



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