I am piecing together a full, WW2 era set of gear from camera to darkroom for my birthday. I like a creative challenge, and I like the craft and history in general.

With as few concessions as possible I want to take pictures of areas and things from the 1940s with appropriate gear and then develop them using yet more period gear and techniques. Locations will be easy on the west coast here, with auto and plane museums, the SS Lane Victory is here in San Pedro, even a tank museum out in the desert, historical markers and so on. Plus the air show if it comes around.

Fortunately for me, chemistry and technique haven't changed much so all I have to worry about is finding the right pieces and reconditioning what I can. This all started with a Combat Graphic and now I've got enameled trays, timer, chemistry sources, even a vintage Kodak printing frame for the enlarger.

Now my only sticking point is finding an enlarger that wasn't scrapped long ago. Saw a Federal 450 recently but the price was too high for a hobby budget and it needed repairs. Worse comes to worse I will make 4x5 contact prints, I've done that before and with the right subject the presentation can work very well I think.

Then later I'll do something similar with my grandfather's Leica M3 and late 50's and 60's era locations and subjects (but not so purist on the gear, just the subject matter). This all should give me a year's worth of fun from a simple birthday present.

Now I'm off to try and find someone who can recondition shutters in a combat speed graphic that looks like it was swallowed whole by a turtle The one shop I knew of in Culver City isn't taking any new large format cameras and is backlogged for several months.