Friday, September 30, 2016

Portra 160 in the Evil Cube.

Last Christmas, Sarah gave me 10 rolls of Portra 160, which I had never used before, in 120 format. I was already planning the Evil Cube and it's been in the freezer since. After I certified the camera for light-tightness and reliability of the film transport, I started exploring the new film.

So, I started down the garden path again, right after a brief, but intense thunder storm.


A classic bowl of fruit.


Fruit on the vine.


The door to Sarah's studio.  To get this image, the door needs to be closed, so I had to set up the shot, open the shutter, open the door and get out without whacking the tripod, close the door, and reverse the process a half hour later.


This isn't exactly the composition I was planning, but there's not a lot of room to get behind a fully extended tripod in a bathtub, and I kind of like the geometric composition that resulted.


The promised color retake of a piece from a previous post. You can see why color tells a much different story than the black and white version.


And, the corner of the bedroom. I think this image represents much of what I want to achieve with this camera.


All with the Evil Cube, .29mm pinhole, 6 cm from 6x6cm frame on Portra 160.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Down the garden path, again.

Honestly, I've been leading you down the garden path quite a bit lately. Let's go all the way to the end.


At the entrance, the habaneros are doing really well.


The anemone actually is blocking the path now and you have to go around the herb garden the other way.


The white rose bush is not quite back to it's glory prior to the polar vortex, but it's getting better.



Just beyond the arbor, the Black-eyed Susans have become lazy Susans after a particularly heavy rain.


The white half of the crabapple yields green apples.


and the pink side, red apples.


They're all over the place.


I noticed a bit of red out by the corner of the garage, and thought for a minute I had discovered privet berries, but it's a single nightshade vine wrapped up in the privet.


With a volunteer squash underneath, probably escaped from the compost barrel.


And a single phlox beginning a new colony under the privet.


All with the Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A new Evil Cube

The Glenmorangie Evil Cube was an interesting try, but because of limits on the size of the original box and limits I set myself to feature the design of the original whiskey packaging, it never lived up to my expectations.  The nail in the coffin was that the images it produced were only 6x5 cm. Just wasting that much film made it evil.

But I was still enamored of the format. Work I had done with the 120 Stereo Populist made me want to play with the 6x6cm square format more.  I liked the 6cm pinhole to film distance with that size film (vertically about the same as the Populist), and I'm enough of a metalhead to be attracted to 666 numerology. I intended to make this camera for a long time. I bought the cardstock about a year ago, did the template drawing on the computer last spring, printed the template about the beginning of July and finally made the camera Labor Day weekend.


It's all made from flat stock put together with Aleenes tacky glue and 3M#235 tape. I did one template for the top and bottom of the film holder and outer box, and one for the front and back. I taped the template to the cardstock and cut out the parts. The internal dividers and the outer sides I just measured and cut to fit after I had everything else put together.

The front and film holder are one part and the outside box another.



I used some cut off nails to insert into the film reels at the bottom to keep them parallel.  The winders are oak 3/8" dowels with the ends sculpted to insert in the slot on the 120 reel.  The film loads in the normal box camera up-and-around-the-sides style.

The collars on the winders are made out of several layers of 3M #235. That was easier to cut than anything else, and it's flexible and thin enough to slide between layers.

I extended the front a little around the sides and had to add some baffles and put some felt inside the channel where the back joins the front to eliminate light leaks after testing it in the sun with a strip of photographic paper. A second test was completely clear.

The flexible winder collars slip under the front of the box and the rubber bands keep them firmly down on top the camera and keep them from falling out and getting lost.


It requires a loosen-supply-then-advance-the-takeup method for winding the film. but it seems to go smoothly and fast enough for pinhole.

I've been using Gilder electron microscope apertures for the last ten years.  They're so perfectly round, on really thin metal and are terribly cheap compared to pinholes sold specifically to be used for pinhole photography, but lately I've been feeling a conflict of making a homemade camera, and then buying the pinhole.  Ever since I got a scanner where I could really accurately measure them, I've been hand drilling the pinholes in .003 inch brass. I hold the brass against the hard surface of a table and just pierce it with the tip of the needle. It was pretty easy to get it to be .29mm, which Mr. Pinhole says is ideal for 6cm from the film. It's not as perfect as the Gilder aperture, but it's not bad, and the pictures look pretty good.

The shutter and a shutter for the film counter are three layer sliding shutters.  That works out pretty well in the front since the pinhole is recessed enough that it makes a usable "lens" hood.

I stuck some beaded pins for viewfinding gun sights and covered it all over with 3M #235 for that leatherette feeling. After that long delay in getting started, I loaded it with role of Arista.edu 400, exposed it all and developed it in Microphen 1:1. in one day.


This was about ten o'clock in the morning,


For this picture, the tripod was leaning against the couch where, like a genius, I decided to sit to prevent the cats from bumping the tripod.  This image really screams for color so I'm planning to do it again (and go to another room during the exposure.)


I spent about a year once photographing nothing but this kitchen window.


I wasn't even in the house during most of this exposure.


This kind of strikes me as having kind of a Bruce Davidson or Diane Arbus feel to it, except there's no people in it.


Would you believe it was me if I didn't include a self-portrait?


I kinda like this camera so far. Put one of the rolls of Portra 160 that Sarah gave me for Christmas in it.

I was a bit surprised that it turned out to be so compact, so it's not only evil, but it's sneaky too.  This should be fun.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Road Trip: Western Wedding


Went to a family wedding in Hastings, Minnesota (you know you're out west when you have to cross both the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.)  Thought we'd make a weekend of it and stopped to see Laura and Gene.

We met at the Joynt for happy hour. Between 1972 and 1975, on the majority of evenings, for at least a little while, you'd find us at the Joynt on Water Street. Gene at least had the excuse that he worked there. If you've been following along, this is where I had the episode with the lens earlier this summer.




I'm surprised how dark this one is. The exposure was as long as the others. It's halfway to the back from the windows. They're not kidding about that inverse square law. Overexposed the part I really wanted to capture.  The neon sign says "No Light Beer."


Having coffee with Laura and Gene in the morning.


Gene's garden.  If this looks familiar, Sarah gave him a phlox from our yard about 25 years ago.


Stopped at the farm to make sure everything was OK, and got tarted up.


The event took place outside on the groom's family farm. It had been raining all day and was threatening during the wedding, but it broke just long enough for the ceremony and hugging the bride in the receiving line.


The reception was in a giant tent and it rained pretty constantly for rest of the evening. Made for a nice cool break after the recent heat.


On the way back we visited John, another one who would have been with us at the Joynt in the '70s. I was up first and took the opportunity to take pictures of John's nicely decorated (he has one of my photographs displayed on the wall) and extremely orderly home.






All with the Populist. .15mm pinhole, 24mm from 24x36mm frame.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Stereo variations

On Facebook, in relation to my post on Victorian Stereoscopy, Lena Kallberg commented that she had also enjoyed the on-line course and wished they had dealt a little bit more with the technical aspects. She asked if I knew any good references on things such as what is the optimal focal length for stereo? I didn't know but had done a bit of stereo with several different formats and focal lengths where it worked. I said I thought distance between the pinholes (or lenses if you're in to that kind of thing) might have more effect on the stereo imaging.  So I thought it might be fun to riff on that theme.

I think there's a relationship between focal length, baseline between pinholes, and distance to the subject.  Not sure how to express this mathematically, but you can get good pairs closer up with wide angles, but wider baselines are hard to integrate back into stereo, especially when you're close up. With longer pinhole to film distances, you can take advantage of longer baselines, but you can't be too close to your subject. Not very clear.

The images embedded in this blog are set up for the crossed eye method.  If you want to play along and you've got a lorgnette,  Brian May's Owl, Google Cardboard or an Oculus rift, here's a link to a PDF with them set up for stereo viewers, in the same order they're in the blog.

If you want to learn cross eyed stereo viewing, check this PDF for instruction.

I had lots of 4x5 paper left over from my August workshop, and the paper developer I bought wasn't going to last forever.

I'm not going to get really organized and quantitative.  I just tried a bunch of different things to see if it made a viewable stereo pair, not whether one was best.

About the most outrageous arrangement I could think of was 14oz vegetable cans, which of course would have curved film planes and extemely wide angles. Oddly enough, I tried this before circa Y2K, and I vaguely remember that it worked.

My neighbors ripped out the hedge and part of a fence while we were out of town last weekend, and left it looking really ugly (They plan to put lawn there).

This pair is a little tricky to view, but it works.  (Work on getting the pipes at the top of the fences to align, By the way, this one doesn't work at all with a stereo viewer - see below)


With crossed-eye, the left image goes on the right and vice versa.  Looking at this pair, it seems like there's lot of wall in the right image, and a lot of trees and drive way in the left image.  If you look at the angle of the fence coming out from the house, you can see the left image is on the right and vice versa. I think the cans rotated a little bit without me noticing when I put rubber bands around them to hold to the tripod, so they're actually pointing in a little bit different directions. But where they do overlap, you get a stereo image. By the way, this doesn't work at all with a stereo viewer because you can't vary the placement of the objects in the image the way you can by crossing your eyes.

Tried it again with a little less angular subject matter, and was really careful that they were correctly aligned.


That goes together very easily.  I think it helps that I'm a little farther away as well.  This is the first picture I've done that I could probably pass off as a Victorian stereogram. It's also kind of interesting that without any straight lines in the middle, you could hardly tell this was a curved film plane.

Next up were the one pound Oaks Candy boxes, with the pinhole 2 inches from the paper, pretty darn wide angle. I started with the vertical format with the boxes right next to each other so the baseline was 4 inches. Started fairly close-up about four feet from the baker's rack.


Very 3D.

I went on to try them horizontal.  The boxes are wider than the paper so the baseline is now 8 inches.


I can still get it integrated.  I thought the longer baseline would give me a more prominent stereo effect, but I really don't see much difference and it does make you cross you're eyes harder to get it into 3D.

So now to the 5 inch workshop camera. First with the cameras side by side.


This is an example of an extremely messy compostion with very few cues to depth, but in 3D the pine branch at the top is noticeably closer with the herb garden, the plants along the path, the arbor and hedge at the back of the yard separated in their respective planes.

I'm doing this with a 15 inch piece of board attached to the tripod, and next I put the cameras at the opposite ends, so a baseline of 11 inches.



I think this one doesn't really work. I can get from the herb garden and back into 3D, but can't get the pine branch at the top to come together. When you increase the baseline, you definitely can't get as close as you can when the cameras are closer together.

I've always thought that stereo views of really grand vistas often suffer because distant objects don't have as much difference as those close-up.  Well, telephoto is the photographic solution to getting a closer look at something, and I thought would allow a wider baseline, and end up with better stereo separation.

I got out my 10 inch foamcore camera.  I only had one, so I had to use the cha-cha method, successive exposures with the camera moved between exposures. The house across the street isn't going anywhere, and on an overcast day, exposure and lighting would remain consisent.

First, with a 4 inch baseline as though I had two cameras side by side.



Still works in stereo.  Now out to the 11 inch baseline.


I think I can detect a little bit of an enhancement to the stereo effect with the longer baseline, especially for more distant objects.  I think I can see a little better separation between the house and the trees in the background.  One thing you might not have noticed is that giant rut in the lawn the neighbors made by driving a truck up to the hedge, and I think this closer object is more prominently 3D in the pair with the shorter baseline.

I'm afraid I don't have any succinct summary conclusions after all this. You can use a lot of variations of focal length, and you can use longer baselines with longer cameras, but it makes a difference how far away what you're trying to photograph is.

If anyone knows of mathematical rules that determines all this, or just a better explanation, I'd love to see the link.