“Lightcatcher” Kurt Moser tells about his “crazy love story” with a 111-year-old camera in this Al Jazeera short film
A few months back, we had the spotlight on Italy-based photographer Kurt Moser and his mind-blowing project – transforming a URAL 375 truck into one of the biggest mobile cameras in the world to take massive ambrotypes of the breath-taking Dolomites. Today, we learn about how his love affair with wet plate photography started with the discovery of a massive 111-year-old camera.
In the Al Jazeera short film Catching Light in Italy, we discover that Kurt’s fascination with the Dolomites stems from spending his childhood near the famed peaks. “I was born not very far away from here, really in the middle of the mountains at 1900m sea level,” he shared. “If you grew up in these mountains, then of course you have a kind of relationship with these mountains.”
It is this very connection with the Dolomites that led Kurt to change his direction as a photographer from being a war photographer. He eventually traded his 30-year career as a cameraman to devote his life to “catching light” with a 111-year-old large format camera he discovered in a studio in Milan three years ago.
It may be difficult for many of today’s photographers to understand what drives artists like Kurt to revert to antiquated photographic techniques like ambrotype, and even more difficult to understand trading a reputable career as an experienced cameraman for a life of photographing the mountains. But for him, it’s as simple as living the life he’s always wanted as a creative photographer, with all its risks and complexities. As he explains too, he needed something different. Kurt relates to how the image is tangible and will last hundreds of years too.
The film definitely has many highlights for anyone who harbors interest in old photographic processes. Those interested are treated to seeing the massive large format camera that Kurt has restored and now works with, as well as the almost alchemy-like process of preparing the collodion chemicals and plates. We’re sure many eyes also widened at the sight of the gorgeous Apo-NIKKOR 1210mm lens equipped on his large format camera (he also has a rare Apo-Nikkor 1780mm lens).
Screenshot image from the video