Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A moderately telephoto pinhole camera in a plain brown wrapper


I kind of liked the images from the moderately telephoto pinhole camera I made a few months back, but the look of the camera was kind of odd, and it was made by modifying a camera that didn't transport film as well as I'd like. So I edited the template, and made a classic 6x6cm 120 Populist 120mm long.

Link to directions    Link to templates

Because the inner box template is so big, even on tabloid paper, it's printed in two parts and you have to glue them aligned with each other on your cardstock. (It should just barely fit printed on B4 paper - make sure to print 100% and not fit to paper)

I had to go across folds of a 24 can beverage carton to get a piece of card big enough. I'm so over making cameras with random package printing on them, so I made this one with the plain side out.


In the classic Populist scheme, the front and rear boxes are the same depth, but when I got this together, it was almost impossible to get apart, even with the thumbgrips.

I realized I could get a much better grip if I could just grasp the whole box, and I didn't need that much overlap to make it light tight, so I cut it back to where one of those folds from the original carton made a slight ridge. It slides apart quite easily now.

I've edited the template to reflect that.

The viewfinders aren't complete triangles, although I had cut them out before making this decision and it had a neat Spaceman Spiff look, the pointy tips were a snagging risk and I went with William of Occam's recommedation since the shorter line segment defined the angle of view just fine.


You may recall some discussion of the size of the pinhole.  The old camera had a .3mm, much too small for the distance to the film, but with the new camera I drilled a .33mm, a little closer, but still smaller than the mathematical ideal of .462mm. Look at the pictures below and tell me it would be sharper with the bigger pinhole.

This pinhole looks a little ragged at first glance, but if you look the actual edge of the hole, it's pretty smooth and round.

Because the camera's so long and I can't get my hand down to the front, I made a little part to attach the pinhole to and then push to the front of the camera.  It also makes it easy to change the pinhole if I did want to experiment with Lord Rayleigh's equations.


I think it works pretty well. Here's a roll of Lomography 400.

An oak leaf which had attached itself to the side of our house.


Three pumpkins on the bakers rack. Technical note: It's often said that limited depth of field to isolate an object in the foreground is a technique not available to the pinhole photographer.  However if the foreground is still (inside or too heavy to blow around) and the background is "blurry," it's pretty much the same trick visually.  Is it still bokeh when it's caused by motion and not out of focus?


One big pumpkin. More mōshonburā there in the background. Bokeh is kind of a refractionist term.


A small pumpkin and a lemon on the kitchen table.


An enthusiastic potato.


Can you believe I've never photographed the garden at the Paine with a pinhole camera before?

A tree near the entrance to the woodland path.


A pair of chairs on the lawn.


A bench in the event area.


A sculpture fountain in the brand new formal garden.


and, one of the little water features.


I expect I'll be using this camera again.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Abroad: Tuileries and environs

I went out twice in Paris in the morning with my medium format cameras.

The first day, Sarah left for her strategically planned visit to the original Chanel store and sent me off on my own.

I crossed the gardens to get the required picture of the Seine with the Eiffel tower in the background, from the Pont de la Concorde.


Then I hustled up the quai to the Pont du Carrousel for a similar treatment with the Île de la Cité.


I should have gone a bridge up for both of these river views,  but I had limited time. However, this was one of several times I had the transcendent feeling of how cool it was to walk as fast and far as I felt like.

Crossed back into the courtyard of the Louvre. If you go between the two colossal lines (This was at 10:30 am) you can get fairly close to the pyramid for that famous transparent view and not get your tripod in anybody's way. I saw several people quizzically look over Supper Club Shorty on top of my Manfrotto, but no one ever said anything.


Right near the museum are an arrangement of palatial garden standard geometrically trimmed hedges. I was initially put off by the green n'entrez pas tape, but then thought it gave it a bit of distinction in a John Pfahl sort of way. I was approached by a young woman who asked me where I was from and told me she was from Crimea.  She was, she said, soliciting funds and petition signatures for a Deaf School in Paris. "I have a deaf nephew," I told her.  I wouldn't be surprised if this was a beggar's scam, but I gave her two Euro. She never said anything about the camera either.


I was really impressed about how much stuff was still blossoming in October that far north, but then, the personnel that it took to maintain these places were usually visible somewhere in the park. They do a really nice job. It was interesting to see the ancient wooden rolling scaffolds to trim those hedges with. Didn't hear one gasoline power tool, either.


  Speaking of the workers who keep the garden neatly trimmed.


I passed this variation of the Farnese Hercules. I felt a sense of inclusion that there was an old man among all the nude sculptures.


Isn't this color bizarre?  It looks to me like infra-red.  But that's what it really looked like.  Again, kudos to those folks working the gardens.  (I moved the chair in the middle of the path)  During the exposure Sarah texted me that she was done and I scurried back to the hotel to hear the story.


The next morning, before they opened, we went past 31 Rue Chambon just to take a picture.


It was an unusually still day (Pinholers always notice the wind). I'm amazed that they keep these giant palms alive this far north, but it's a milder climate than we have in Wisconsin.


A tree I just thought looked French impressionist.


I'll conclude the whole Abroad series with two from Wisconsin to finish the roll.

The cats didn't destroy the house. Spenser was particularly clingy for weeks after we got home.


Sarah's treasures - safely home in the uniquely 31 Rue Chambon boxes - not destined to become cameras anytime soon.


Some with Supper Club Shorty. .27mm pinhole 35mm from 6x6cm frame on Kodak Ektar 100.  The rest with The Evil Cube. .3mm pinhole 6cm from 6x6cm frame on Kodak Portra 400.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Abroad: La Petite France

I only took my medium format cameras and tripod out a couple times while we were abroad.  One of these was in Strasbourg.

Virtually every street on the little island of La Petite France is an iconic historical European city view.


I remember the first time we were in Europe in 1981 practically every vertical surface was plastered with layers of posters of one kind or another. I didn't notice this at all this time except for this closed little shop.


One of those little grocery stores with the produce out on the street.


Florists also have displays on the street.


A particularly quaint and charming shop entrance.


The first photo with Supper Club Shorty. .27mm pinhole 35mm from 6x6cm frame on Kodak Ektar 100.  The rest with The Evil Cube. .3mm pinhole 6cm from 6x6cm frame on Kodak Portra 400.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Abroad: A Room with a View

I took two medium format cameras with me to Europe: The Evil Cube, and Supper Club Shorty - supported by my Bogen/Manfrotto 76B.

I only took them out with me on three occasions, but I used them for photographs of or out the windows of most of the places we stayed.

In Prague, we booked an AirBnB that had been the studio of prominent Czech painter and sculptor Zdenek Sputa, dominated by this great northern skylight.


It was full of artist tools.  He was very multimedia. These scissors were hanging from nails in the window sill.


More art paraphenalia: a few chunks of architectural stone and a frame leaned against the desk.


Sarah channeling the creative vibe.


Another AirBnB in Vienna, right across the street from the Ministry of National Defence and Sport, and again on the top floor of the building.

Looking directly across the street in the late afternoon.


Looking northeast later that evening.


Looking northwest the next morning in the rain.


We had a lovely view in Munich, but I only made one exposure and didn't pull the shutter all the way out and blocked three-quarters of the frame.  Sigh.

In Strasbourg, there was a bakery just across the street and just before sunrise, their workroom above the store, with several busy chefs, was the only light on.



A narrower view to the right a few minutes later that morning.


In Paris we had a great location, but the view out the window was of the interior courtyard, which did look nice from the breakfast room.


The Evil Cube was loaded with Portra 400.  Supper Club Shorty with Ektar 100.  I'll leave it to you to work out which was which.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Abroad: The Populist in Paris

We had thought about going to the Louvre, but didn't really make plans, and it's really gotten hard to go there. We'd been there twice before and in recent days we'd been treated to a lot of classic European painting, so we decided to go to the Pompidou Center instead.

We walked from our hotel near the Place de la Concorde and stopped for lunch at Le Café des Initiés on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Saw a '64 or '65 Mustang with a really loud V8 go by. Tried to make friends with the house cat.


The famously exposed exterior.


After several galleries of conceptualism, we sat and watched a film of Samuel Beckett wandering around a room.  It seemed like a good time to take a picture of the utilitarian emergency exit.


The guards in other museums we encountered were very civil service and dressed either in uniforms or dark blazers.  In the Pompidou Center they are mostly college age, fashionably dressed in a definitely art-student manner, often lounging in a chair in a pose of boredom or fatigue. This one was older than most, possibly in his forties. He stood up and then noticed my camera and tripod next to me on the bench, facing him. He stepped over and asked if it was OK for him to move.  I said "Sure." He briefly stepped out of the room and came right back and leaned against the doorway.


We took some refreshment on the top of the building overlooking Paris before the exhaustive David Hockney retrospective.


They also have a few little sculpture gardens out on the roof. On the front of the building there's a crawl with a repeating message that said something like "Picasso, Matisse, the Best view in Paris..."


The next day, after a walk in the Tuilleries and along the Seine with the Evil Cube (in a future blog post), we hopped the metro for a walk on the Left Bank.

Our first destination was Luxembourg Gardens, the only one of TripAdvisors top-five-things-to-see-in-Paris that we hadn't ever seen. Even with these formal gardens in the middle, and the automatic rifle toting guards around the palace (where the Senate meets), it has a real city park feel to it.


I never really associated impressionism with the Luxembourg gardens, but it was instantly recognizable as the subject of dozens of lesser known paintings from regional museums in the U.S.


We had lunch at the Pavillon de la Fontaine right in the garden. We would never sit on the porch in jackets for lunch on a day with autumnal temperatures, but we happily had meals out doors several times in those conditions in Europe.


After I ordered my omelette jambon et fromage and Sarah her quiche, the waiter inquired if we might enjoy some frites as well. Well, of course. They were some of the best of what was an exceptional fried potato trip.


Continuing the Latin Quarter nature of our walk we stopped at Shakespeare and Company. Sarah bought a cozy mystery to read on the airplane home.


We crossed the river to the Île de la Cité, to visit Sainte Chapelle. Maybe because it's much smaller than a cathedral and therefore more intimate, it makes a bigger impression. And all done without electricity. I got caught by a guard and told I shouldn't hold my (little rubber-footed) tripod against the stone doorway, but think I had counted up to 24 already. I tried to explain it was a pinhole camera, but that wasn't the point. (A tourist in a business suit with a digital SLR had a fully extended tripod in the middle of the crowd.) The exposure then was probably about 40 seconds and I'm amazed it recorded people holding up their phones to take pictures.


We managed to sit in the few chairs available for awhile and I tried to support the tripod on my leg.


We still had several metro tickets so we went over to the Eiffel Tower and walked across the river for the iconic view from the Trocadero.


A little more documentary version.


The next day it was out to DeGaulle to begin the voyage home. We arrived three hours early as recommended by everyone, and found that Aer Lingus doesn't open flight check-in until two hours before the scheduled departure. Everything went OK though and the trip back went without incident.



I'll conclude the 35mm portion of our program with an exposure the morning after we got home. As great as it is to travel and visit palaces, gardens and great artworks, it is nice to return home to our own small palace.




It turns out the sunbeams are much the same at Mosquito Hill as they are in palatial gardens.




All with The Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame - with the Promaster folding pocket tripod. - Later edit: Oops. Those last two are with the new Manfrotto tripod.