It’s that time of year when that marvelously inventive company, Sloop Lirpa, makes some of its most significant product announcements. Here, here, and here are some of the previous great ones. Today’s announcements give us our first glimpse of a whole line of products, not just one.
The genesis of most of Sloof Lirpa’s products takes place in the secret confines of the company’s research arm, Lirpa Labs. This product line is different. The idea came from the fertile mind of the company’s CEO, Joe Smedly. I’ve talked to the corporate communications people at SL, and they told me that Joe’s brilliant insight came to him last summer. Joe, his wife Bertha, and all the little Smedlys were vacationing at Lake Louise, in the mountains of Western Canada. There is a broad paved trail – actually, it’s more like a sidewalk – that goes from the parking lot well up the northern side of the lake. In the summer, that trail is often six-deep with tourists all struggling to get pictures of the beautiful scenery that either contain none of their fellow tourists, or, more often, feature members of their party.
Joe noticed that many of the photographers were using full size IPads to capture memories of their summer spent in the wilderness (or, at least, as close to the wilderness as they could get without stepping on actual dirt). The images on the backs of the iPads reminded Joe of those on the ground glass of an 8×10 view camera. In a flash, a host of new product ideas flooded his mind.
All of the products in today’s announcement have a common goal: to allow users of full-sized iPads to recreate the experience of the wilderness photographers of a hundred years ago.
The first product allows the iPad to be mounted to a tripod. Holding the device at arm’s length may be sufficient for casual snapshooting, but serious photography requires precise framing, and often long exposures. The iPad Frame completely surrounds Apple’s tablet, with ¼-20 and 3/8-16 threaded holes on one short and one long side, allowing for landscape and portrait orientation, as well as two sets of Arca Swiss dovetails for direct mounting to many tripod heads. There are Velcro strips on the sides opposite the tripod fixtures.
The next device enables a clear view of the screen, and it would be familiar to Adams, Weston, and Watkins. It’s a viewing cloth, white on the outside, and black on the inside. It has Velcro patches on all four edges, so it can be attached securely to the iPad Frame. It is available in two models: the light wind version with washers sewn into the corners to keep them down, and the heavy wind option with no washers to keep them from banging into the photographer.
I’m sure that those of you with view camera experience have seen a problem: the image is right side up. Joe thought of that, and there’s an app for that. The Sloof Lirpa Viewing Corrector App displays the image in proper orientation, with the left and right sides swapped properly. You can get it at the Apple app store.
In this world of instant gratification, some people would appreciate help in appropriate post-processing of their large-format iPad images. Sloof Lirpa provides a series of apps for silver and platinum print effects, as well as many lesser-known processes: gum bichromate, cyanotype, albumin, and many more.
That would be a blockbuster announcement all by itself. But the folks at Lirpa Labs, as they usually do, took things much farther than a normal company would.
You’ve noticed what’s still missing, right?
Yep, you got it: view camera movements and interchangeable lenses.
Today, Sloof Lirpa announces the iPad Snoot, an unlikely collection of mirrors, prisms, lenses, gears, pulleys, wheels, and funny-looking sliding gizmos, sporting a bright-red leather bellows and acting as an auxiliary lens for the iPad. The Snoot accepts normal 8×10 view camera lenses mounted on 100×100 mm Arca Swiss mounting boards, and provides a complete range of front and rear tilts and shifts. Such versatility doesn’t come cheap, though: prices are negotiated with each customer by SLoof Lirpa representatives; depending on your net worth and future earnings capacity, expect to pay at least six figures. Weight is also a concern; at press time the prototypes tipped the scales at roughly 40 kilograms. Still, the Snoot is a technological tour de force, the likes of which is rarely seen in the photographic world.
Hats off to Sloof Lirpa! April wouldn’t be the same without them.