Tuesday, February 25, 2020

While bathing

One weekend it began snowing on Saturday evening and was still coming down Sunday morning.

It was rather dark and blustery. The internet said it was going to continue until late afternoon.

When asked how one deals with the long exposure times required for pinhole, I usually say that you just do something else while the shutter is open.

I decided it was a good time to soak in a hot bath.

There are a limited number of options if you want to be able to reach the camera to close the shutter.

The view from in the tub.

I forgot the shutter was still open when I got out and performed my après le bain toilette.  Maybe I should have marked this as not safe for work since there technically is a nude man in front of the camera.

The white tree remains undecorated in the bedroom because Stewart is devoted to sleeping under it.

Putting on a fresh change of clothes.

The snow stopped earlier than forecast so I did have to go out and shovel.

Does this indicate the beginning of a new episode of manic expression?

All with Neville.  .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame.  Lomography 100 film.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Cameras at an exhibition

The Oshkosh Public Museum’s Then and Now exhibit will include a selection of cameras from the Museum’s collection.

The collection is rather small and nothing is particularly valuable but it does include a few items of interest. Until recently they were generally uncatalogued. Since I spent most of last year working with them, I was asked to choose what would be included in the exhibit.

I went to retrieve them from storage with Neville and my new little Joby tripod.

Waiting for the elevator on the third floor.

Most of the artifacts are stored in the annex which was the carriage house of the Sawyer Mansion. To get to the storage area, you have to go through the well equipped museum shop.

All the photographic technology is stored in compact shelving.

Everything that will fit is stored in boxes, but some items, such as this wooden 8x10 studio camera and its massive stand, are too large and sit on the shelves by themselves.

Some of the boxes have quite a few items in them and the box has to be nearly emptied to get to the right item.

As I got them out I put them on the bottom shelf of the cart.

Back on the third floor, here they are all opened and ready to be cleaned and prepped for exhibition. (n. b. I made use of the magnetic feet on my new little Joby tripod to just attach the camera to the metal cabinet door)

They are, clockwise starting in upper left hand corner:

  • An 1895 Telephoto Cycle Poco 5x7 view camera which folded up so you could take it on your bicycle.
  • A 1931 Zeiss-Icon Orix 9x12cm plate camera which was owned by Lewis Hine, famous for his ground breaking work on child labor, who grew up in Oshkosh. I saw a picture of Ansel Adams with one of these this morning.
  • A 1937 Soho 4x5 SLR, very similar to a Graflex. It was used until the 1960’s by an Oshkosh commercial photographer who had studied with William Mortenson, who Ansel Adams hated. (I’m currently cataloging his extensive makeup kit.)
  • A mug shot camera custom made by the Wisconsin State Crime Lab which was used by the Oshkosh Police Department.
  • A 50th Anniversary Kodak box camera, half a million of which were given away to children who had their 12th birthday in 1930.
  • A bakelite 1932 Baby Brownie Special - pretty much a little box camera but with an Art Deco look.
  • A turquoise Vest Pocket Kodak Series III from the early 1930’s
  • A falling plate Adlake Magazine camera from about 1880 which could be pre-loaded with 12 glass plates.
  • A post-war Exacta 35mm SLR which was owned and used by the Museum.
  • And a “portable” Speed Graphic.
The Museum doesn’t have any pinhole cameras.

Neville has a .15mm pinhole 24mm from a 24x36mm frame.  Lomography 100 film.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Together for Yule

Andy and Kristin came to visit for Yule. Neville was up in the rotation to document the action.

Their flight arrived in the late afternoon. Jeremy got to stay at the doggy resort back in Massachusetts so we took advantage of being in Milwaukee. We had dinner reservations at a fancy French restaurant but not for a few hours, so we visited the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The view from across Lake Drive.

What looks like a pyramid is part of a giant set of wings that open and close three times a day.

The view of the Milwaukee skyline from the walkway over Lake Drive.

A serendipitous double exposure of the lobby beneath the wings and a sculpture in one of the galleries which consists of a cascade of rocks suspended from the ceiling.

A more conventional view of the galleries.

One afternoon we visited a local Oshkosh microbrewery.

We got two flights to sample all their brews. Interesting simulation of shallow depth of field.

A typical 21st century family hanging out.

I was given a new little Joby tripod with the magnetic feet for Yule so I tried it out on the chandelier in the kitchen during breakfast.

Breakfast back at MKE before the one decent restaurant in the terminal lobby opened.

Neville has a .15mm pinhole 24mm from a 24x36mm frame. Lomography 100 film.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Bimodal Stereo

A dozen of my stereo photographs are going to be included in the Oshkosh Public Museum’s Then and Now exhibit. I was reasonably happy with the first two rolls and the curator was kind of excited to have some sort of hands-on experience for the visitors. We’re going to put the Then image on one side of a stereo card, and the Now on the other.

The result of my hyperspace cha-cha experiments were intriguing enough to try again. This time I used Goldberry, with her 80mm “normal” angle of view.

It helps to flatter your host institution by including them in the show. They’re using a very similar image for the exhibit poster (not by me). Instead of my little string, I just used a crack in the sidewalk to keep the camera movement parallel.

As usual, set up for crossed eyes (click here for how to do it) and for red/blue anaglyph.

Algoma Methodist is a very recognizable structure just down the block from the Museum. The angle of view was a little too wide from across the street, and from the other side, was too narrow to fit the building in the frame. I was limited in where I could put the camera because of the necessity to have a big enough clear spot to move the camera between exposures while keeping it perfectly level. I chose to go with the bell tower for the tight crop.

Oshkosh High School burned in 1901 and was replaced by this Modern/Greek Revival mashup, now housing City Hall and missing its original monumental stairway.

I wrote down the address “Main and High” and remembered the archive image as a line of buildings. When I got there, I assumed this block was it. I should have known since the street names change on the other side of Main, this view would have been “Main and Waugoo.”

Another mistaken address, the corner of Pearl and Osceola. What is now Pearl was Warren Road until they curved Pearl a block south to go around the University a few years ago. I remembered this about half way through the second exposure.

Then I decided to give the 45mm stereo camera another try as well.

I went back to Algoma Methodist to see if I could get a more dramatic image. I admit that I concentrated on the side entrance just for the extreme 3D. This was one of several places that a giant pile of snow was exactly where I needed to put the camera and I nearly fell over and bent one of the tripod legs setting up on top of it.

It was the first sunny day in weeks. When I rode around the building I noticed the shadows on the trees and the little turret in the corner for a foreground 3D object with a nice clean driveway to place the camera on.

I wasn’t thrilled with the view of Dempsey Hall from the first roll, and again taking advantage of the sun and shadows, thought this view would pop a little more in 3D.

This is where the corner of Pearl and Osceola was when the archival image was done.

And here the correct view from Main and High, now Opera Square. Again from atop a giant pile of snow except this time I had to get up on it right over the curb next to the busy left turn lane on one-way High Street. I’m surprised nobody called the police.


It turned out that I chose eight of the twelve which were done with hyper stereo cha-cha and four with the stereo camera. That may have had more to do with taking pictures with the stereo camera that didn’t have matches in the museum archive than any preference for one method over the other.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


In our last episode on stereo photography, I noted that 3D effects diminish in impact when you get too far away. With a 6cm baseline between pinholes (based on the dimensions of a human face) on a 45mm 6x6cm format camera, once you’re 15 meters or so away from something, it’s looks no nearer than an object on the horizon.

But what if you had a one meter separation? Now that would take a big stereo camera. Or two regular cameras. Or one camera that you just moved over a bit and made two exposures being careful to keep the camera level and pointing in exactly the same direction. The extension of the baseline beyond normal human dimensions is known as hyper stereo and the method of moving a single camera between two exposures is known as Cha-Cha. I’ve played with Cha-Cha before reducing the baseline to get close up, but only once to extend the baseline to add dimension to subjects farther away and that was only to about 25cm.

I took two film cans and filled them with brass square nuts (1/4 x 20 of course) and tied a piece of butcher’s twine between them so I could quickly define a straight line on the ground.  That line has to be parallel to the film plane. If you make sure the camera is pointing exactly between two tripod legs you can just extend the line those legs define. Take one picture and then, making sure the tripod legs stay completely extended, hence the camera stays level, move it on down the line to the other end and take your second exposure.

Anything moving isn’t going to get rendered in 3D if it’s recorded at all. It was dark and foggy when I did this so I didn’t think moving objects were going to be a problem and the light wasn’t likely to change very quickly.

The internet says that the closest thing your brain can handle is a 1:30 ratio between the baseline and distance to the subject.  The distance across an intersection is about 30 meters so the one meter baseline should work. I decided to use the slightly longer-than-normal 100mm front of the Variable Cuboid so I could fill the frame with the buildings at this distance.

These are set up for crossed eyes (click here for how to do it) and as anaglyphs for those with red/cyan glasses.

I’ve been doing this to possibly include some stereo work in the Oshkosh Public Museum’s “Then and Now” exhibit. Churches are very popular in the stereo views in the museum collection.  This is the First Presbyterian on the corner of Church and Division Streets.

Just down the block another church on Church Street is the former First Baptist Temple. The stereoview in the archive is of their second church on this site. This is the third. The congregation just recently moved to another location and put it up for sale.

One of the archival stereo views is of the Beckwith Hotel, now the New Moon Coffeehouse. You do need a nice flat spot wide enough for both positions of the tripod. It has been snowing for five days so most street corners are a little messy with piles of snow. On the corner of Algoma and Main, the spot I needed to get the picture from included several slushy piles and the camera was tilted both vertically and horizontally between exposures. The right side was composed the way I wanted, but the left was rotated about 5 degrees and tilted down. I rotated, moved and aligned it and then cropped them both to match. I think I got them to match fairly well. I don’t have any trouble getting this one together crosseyed, but it takes a little concentration to get the anaglyph to pop out. This was just across the street and not all the way across an intersection so it also might be a little closer than that 30:1 minimum. I think one issue might be that you have to slightly cross your eyes like you do trying to look at something very close up.

I thought the archive included a view of the opposite corner of Main and Washington, but before Woolworth's built this Art Deco store now occupied by the Exclusive Company. It turns out it was one block down at Main and High. This one only needed about a degree rotation, but it also had to be aligned up and down. It’s actually a few feet nearer than the previous picture but this one is pretty good. It pops into 3D easily and that awning nearly seems to stick out of the picture.

There is a stereoview of Main Street looking North in about 1871 that must have been taken from the roof of a building. Right next to the river, there is a skyway between the hotel and the conference center crossing over Main Street.  It was nice to be indoors with a nice flat floor to work on. Complicating this one were the reflections of structural elements of the skyway in the windows. The street lamp at the bottom is too close, only about 10m away, but if I concentrate on it, I can get it into 3D, but then the rest is out of alignment.

One of the stereo views is of the first Main Street bridge five years after the first permanent wooden bridge was built. The reflections with this one were less of a problem.  I just used the bottom of the skyway window to keep the camera level and parallel. I was close enough to the window so that standing behind the camera, the reflection, or lack thereof, of my black coat filled the frame and eliminated most of the unwanted reflections.

I don’t mean to cause anyone eyestrain.  I think I might set up a few of these pairs for a stereoviewer and make prints to see if I can subject the public to looking at these.