Kurt Moser Transforms a Russian Military Truck Into a Camera and Darkroom

Ambrotype photographer Kurt Moser has big dreams for his craft. Literally and figuratively.

As if taking on a very challenging traditional photography method called ambrotype wasn’t already a big undertaking, Italy-based photographer Kurt Moser decided to go even bigger. He had the mind-blowing idea to transform a URAL 375 into one of the biggest mobile cameras in the world. The mission? To immortalize the majestic Dolomites in massive ambrotypes taken using the Russian military truck-turned-camera.

Let’s rewind a little and get into Kurt’s equally interesting backstory. In a new short film by Praemio, he reveals how his journey began, from discovering a large format camera and learning the discipline of Ambrotype. The centuries-old photography technique involves creating photographs as a positive image directly exposed on a black cathedral glass plate with pure silver emulsion, instead of a negative. Then, he found a URAL 375 while on assignment at the Berlin Airport, and the Lightcatcher Project was born.

Watch the video below:

Apart from taking portraits in this antiquated method, Kurt and his team thought of creating ambrotypes of the Dolomites, a majestic mountain range in northeastern Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lugging the massive large format camera out in the field, he thought of honoring the Dolomites with impressive ambrotypes of up to 150 cm (5 ft) in size. A project of such a grand scale required an equally ambitious photographic tool. This was where the Lightcatcher Project came into the picture, made possible through a successful Kickstarter campaign. It funded the transformation of the URAL 375 into an impressive and massive mobile camera and darkroom combined. The construction will also make room for the super rare APO NIKKOR 1780mm lens, of which only 10 are still in existence.

The animation below shows the amazing plan for the URAL’s transformation:

Kurt is set to return to the Dolomites in 2019 to immortalize it through the massive ambrotypes made with the transformed URAL truck. The resulting ambrotypes, as well as the metal plates attached to the giant mobile camera, will be put on display in the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography in Berlin.

Visit Lightcatcher Project website to learn more about the project, follow its progress, and show your support for Kurt and his team.

Image provided with permission via email.