Saturday, May 18, 2024

Coco Neige


The last Populist template with the new internal structure that needed to be checked was the 60mm.

Occasionally we receive an issue of 31 Rue Cambon, Chanel's semi-annual journal. This one's cover was made from unusually thick and stiff cardstock with a penetrating gaze prominenty featured. In the past in order to spread an image across the whole front of the camera, it took two copies, one for the camera body, and one for the shutter. We only received one copy of this issue. If the shutter covered the entire front of the camera, I realized it would be simple to make the cutouts for the shutter and shutter handle and keep the image whole.

The camera back used a similar scheme with the inside back cover giving the camera a name. In the snowy springtime in Wisconsin it seemed appropriate.

A rather extravagant material. These magazines can go for twenty bucks on eBay.

Followers of the Lensless Podcast Facebook group may recall me recently expressing wonderment at how easy it was to drill an almost perfect .30mm pinhole by hand. That was the one for this 60mm camera, which is extremely long in the pinhole world, but is actually moderately wide angle: 53 degrees. It's a mystery to me why almost all pinhole cameras for sale are of the ultra-wide 90 to 120 degree angle of view. There are probably two reasons. Perfectly rectilinear ultra-wide angle lenses weren't even available until the 1950s and were always rare and very expensive until the iPhone made them ubiquitous. The other oft cited reason is that the equations for diffraction demonstrate that shorter distances to the image plane show better optimal performance (ergo "sharpness") overall, and at faster f ratios. Working at f200 isn't all that big a deal with ISO 400 film, and you'll have to be the judge whether the images are too soft.

The last two cameras made from Chanel materials produced posts featuring Chanel products, but I've sort of exhausted those that are locally available. I carried this camera around for a month looking for an appropriate use before finally being inspired by this month's theme for the Fox Valley Photography Group.

It's a two part concept. First, go to an unfamiliar place and find many different pictures to take in the space around you. A coffee shop was used as an example. Then display nine of those in a 3x3 grid.

I would draw a lot of attention trying to do this in a public place, and most likely be in the way. At home I could probably find nine photographs I've already done of each room. Sarah's studio is one place I don't spend much time in. When I go in to borrow the Nikon or some other tool, I always end up getting distracted looking at some artifact on display. It was the perfect inspiration for both the camera and the challenge.

In addition to it being a pretty tight space for a tripod, it's a bit dim for pinhole. I had seen the small, practically weightless, inexpensive USB powered LEDs that can be mounted on a camera's accessory shoe. Not a lot of light in the pinhole world, but I was planning on using it rather close up. It was a little harsh so I attached a milk bottle for a diffuser to it with rubber bands, and mounted it on a boom mic stand so it could be positioned from behind the tripod. That reduced the exposures from an hour and a half to five or ten minutes, although a few were long exposures with just the room lights.

The shelves are full of objet d'art and artist's supplies.

A mug full of tools.

More artist's tools and supplies.

The inspiration board.

A stack of boxes and books.

A still life on the desk.

Ms. Ivy's collection of hats and bags.

The minimalism of the electric piano contrasts with the profusion of texture and color.

The earring carrousel.

Planning for spooky season.

Kirk's Folly's Seaview Moons are translucent. The expression and color changes as you move the light.

Scarves and shawls on the back of the door.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do about the 3x3 grid.  They may just get a 4x3 grid to better align with my 120 film.

Coco Neige has a .30mm hand drilled pinhole 60mm from a 6x6cm frame.  The film is Lomography 400 developed in Cinestill's Liquid Quart C41 kit.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Flowering trees, depicted with grains of silver

Last week I attended the Digital Developing Discussion at Photo Opp.  I make no apologies for using a hybrid process. Analog negatives and digital positives. There's nothing I do that doesn't have a direct analog in the darkroom. Not even things like create a base layer to return to the original scan, just do my levels, burn/dodge, color balance and dust removal and save it. I can go back in the history as long as the file is open, but can't readjust individual settings like I just found out is how Lightroom works.

But I'm curious about all these things people talk about at meetings. 

Inevitably, the topics of sharpening, noise reduction and grain removal were often part of the discussion.

So I went home and loaded the 35mm Handicam with about two cubits of ISO 400 Tri-X from my vintage bulk roll. People often speak of grain like it's fundamentally evil, to be avoided at all costs, but it's inherent in the creation of an analog negative. That's how silver based photography works. Imagine somebody complaining about Da Vinci's drawings because you can see pencil marks.

On a beautiful day, I set out toward Lake Winnebago. Every year, I forget about lake fly season until I run smack into tens of thousands of them at 12 miles per hour on a narrow path on which it's hard to turn around. They look like a half-inch mosquito. They don't bite but they're a noticable mass when you ride into them. They swarm like gnats all along the lake for about 50 meters from the shore - in most years. Occasionally they cover the whole town and snow removal equipment has to be used to get them off parking lots.

The trees on Miller's Bay in all their seasonal manifestations has gotten to be sort of a continuing theme. Before I became aware of the lake flies, I photographed this blossoming crab, more on the north end of the bay than my usual viewpoint.

As I fled inland, flowering trees were on my mind after that first exposure. I kept noticing their individuality and in the early morning sunshine, they were often highlighted against a shady background. Spring flowering trees. What a great theme for grainy black and white photographs!

Grove Street is safely a few blocks away from the lake. Pointing at peoples' houses is something I usually avoid, but from our experience with the magnolia in front of our house, it's not unusual for folks to stop to take a picture of your flowering tree. I stayed on the sidewalk, but put the tripod as far onto the lawn as I could reach.

A more bushy variety at the end of a driveway a few doors down,

At the end of Oak Street, a crabapple skewered by a street lamp in the parking lot of Bella Vista, formerly Mercy Hospital.

Across the parking lot, a particularly asymetrical example.

Possibly the most modest house on posh Washington Avenue seems to be protected from my prying pinhole by these two crabs.

Farther down Washington, the walk is bordered by a neatly trimmed short hedge and flanked by crabapples of different shades of grey.

Across the street, two more, of different albedos, flank a power pole.

A trio in front of the Oshkosh Public Library.

Some terraced planting around the library.

Flowering trees contrast well in front of stone walls.

A rookie, planted just last year when they redid the parking lot.

In front of the hotel, formerly a Best Western, now being converted to a Marriot.

A low display mirroring the aspect ratio of the single story Chamber of Commerce.

A row along the edges of the relatively new Washington Square.

A lilac in front of the historic Airbnb Doe House.

No flowers, but leaves of a range of exposure values. As I was waiting for the sun to come back from behind a cloud, a young man walking by asked "Pinhole?" "Yes" I replied. "Awesome!"

Next to the Mercury Marine Lab.

This tree had one branch that was much brighter than the rest.

While waiting for the sun again for a flowering bush on campus,  I noticed the historic-looking street lights were framed in a gap in the clouds, which it seems I didn't quite capture. 

The roll turned out to be 20 exposures, just like they used to sell Tri-X in before the mid-70's.

The handmade Handicam has a hand-drilled .15mm pinhole 24mm from a 24x36mm frame. The film is 40 year old Kodak Tri-X semistand developed in Rodinal 1:100.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

HandiCam: A 35mm Populist with the new image chamber box

The template with the new image chamber box for all sizes has to be tested, including the 35mm Populist. Good thing it got checked. I laid out the new part a few millimeters too short. Easy to adjust if you notice it before folding and gluing the part. 

 Materials again provided by local business Kimberly-Clark with this diverse set of hands.

Of course it's going to work, but the rules say you gotta put some film through it. Unfortunately, the clicker underperformed and the yield was particularly low from this roll. I have to quit telling myself I can hear a very faint click and just remove the film in the darkroom and fix it. Even taking it out in room light in the two cassettes would only lose one frame instead of half the roll futzing with an inneffective clicker.

Sarah and I went up to Appleton and stopped to see the current exhibits at the Trout Museum. If it looks like the upstairs gallery seems dark, it was washed with video projections. You can see the blue lens of one of the projectors at the upper left.

Out the second floor windows, the giant steel origami bird on the roof of the entrance to the museum watches over Houdini Plaza. They've just started building a new museum a couple blocks down College Avenue in a partnership with Lawrence University. I wonder what they're going to do with the bird?

The third floor hallway. This would have been good for the "high key" theme a couple years ago.

We stopped to snoop at World Market. Lots of quirky imported goods in addition to a very entertaining foodstuffs area. We left with chips, cookies and oat-milk chocolate. Maybe they were crisps and biscuits.

An iconic first sign of spring.

Unfortunately in Wisconsin it's often not a definite indication. An hours long, wet and blustery blizzard occurred on April 2nd. More white on white. That high key challenge was in October. Most of these people grew up in the pre-climate-change upper midwest. No one would dare suggest such a theme in April.

The magnolia was ready to go, but had the sense to wait when it got covered in snow.

The daffodils were starting to come up. They can survive almost anything before they blossom.

The poor crocus was almost completely buried in snow.


The brilliance of what the container said was a "classical cedar finish," somewhat muted by the snowfall.

The crocus made it through and opened up when everything melted.

Working on that self-portrait theme for the Fox Valley Photography Group.

Photographers gathering for the Photo Opp photowalk in DePere.

Socializing after the walk.

Then it was Pinhole Day. A selection of cameras to choose from, arranged by angle of view.

Brandi chose the 103° Wisconsin Amber Wide Angle. That camera seems pretty close to her, but almost her entire body is in the image.

Across the street, there was a painting on an easel out in the yard. As I set up the camera, the painter came out to introduce himself. He did it in college in 1970 and thought it was better out here than in his basement.

A selection of backdrop papers included in the donations to Photo Opp.

And toward the end of the day, hanging out watching the negatives scanned and appearing as positives on the screen.

The handmade Handicam has a hand-drilled .15mm pinhole 24mm from a 24x36mm frame. The film is Lomography 100 developed in Cinestill's liquid quart kit.