Dec 142010

How Its Done


This is not Apple’s newest

plan to incite riots before

Christmas.  I, Pencil is an

essay, written over fifty years

ago, on the limitations of

a single person and our

dependence on communal


-With A Little Help From My Friends

Purist love to do everything themselves.  Taking pride in their hand wound film, analog cameras, and lifetimes spent in the dark room, there is a delight to spending hours perfecting a single craft.  But how far back in the chain of production can one person go?  We can print the negative, but do we harvest the chemicals, do we fell the trees which become the paper, or can we mine for the metals used in all the camera equipment?

At a certain point, we realize that photography as a co-dependent practice that requires millions of people to arrive at a final image.  In order to transform raw earth into the products needed by photographers, we would need to be chemists, ship captains, miners, refinery managers, technicians, and a slew of technical and creative geniuses to produce even one photograph.

I, Pencil by Leonard Read

In the essay I, Pencil, Leonard Read examines the absurdity of Maximilien Robespierre proclaiming that in order to make an omelet one must break a few eggs.  His rebuttal, to the Frenchman who soon lost his head, was, “How can we plan on re-making society if we cannot even make a single pencil?”  Sifting through videos on YouTube, I found this short video showing how lenses are made from blocks of glass to finished product.  While I wish this was a video out of the Solms factory, I image this is pretty close.  It gave me a new appreciation for the “Out Of Stock” listing for Leica Lenses.

Click on the image below to view video:

Click on the lens above to watch the video "How Are Lenses Made"

How Camera Lenses Are Made

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