Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Adjustable rising fronts for the Variable Cuboid

Last summer when I made the New Evil Cube, I put a second pinhole above the one on the film axis. That gave me some of the capability of the rising front movement of a view camera, primarily so I could photograph buildings without them looking like they're falling over backward. I was pretty happy with the results and went a little nuts with the concept.

Not willing to leave well enough alone, I started thinking about doing a continuously variable rising pinhole since you're inevitably going to be varying distances from buildings of different heights. Another advantage of the adjustable rise is you only have to drill one pinhole.

I finally got around to it with the 24x24x24mm Manic Expression Cube. The moving shutter on that little camera is just pressed up against the front of the camera and light squeezing in between them turned out to be a problem.

I recently revisited the idea making two fronts for the Variable Cuboid, at 45mm and 60mm. With a 6x6cm format camera there's a lot more room inside to work with. I connected the moving shutter to a panel on the inside of the camera to create more of a light trap.

The overlap at the top, when the shutter is at it's lowest position, is only about a quarter inch. There was a light leak when I rode around in full sun for 50 miles with the camera on a tripod strapped to my bicycle rack. That included one incident going over a railroad track where the camera popped off and bounced down the highway. It seems pretty light tight in more normal circumstances.

Sharp eyed viewers might be wondering why only the 60mm has a hood to shade the pinhole after I made kind of a big deal about putting a hood on a 45mm camera in a recent post. The 45mm front was the first prototype and it has a couple additional layers of cardboard on the inside and the outside parts of the moving shutter, so the pinhole is recessed a bit more. Combined with the wider angle, any additional depth would have obscured part the image.

The moving part extends the entire width of the camera and the position of the pinhole is indicated by white beaded pins.

I started testing with the 60mm front mounted. The moving shutter moved a little too easily and it was difficult to open the shutter without moving it after adjusting the rise precisely. I finally overcame this by putting a couple rubber bands around the camera and over the shutter. That worked fairly well but I've since squeezed another piece of cardboard behind the moving part so that it's tighter and now it stays in place when you pull the shutter open.

A retrofitted vent in the wall of the old Chief Oshkosh Brewery. Not a bad pinhole, eh? If you zoom in to full resolution you can read that the vent is an 18" ILC Auto Shutter No. 2454.

Last year I photographed the passageway that joined the old and new Evangelical Lutheran Churches. This is the other side of that junction. It's now been sold to another congregation.

Like the Paine Art Center and the Oshkosh Public Museum, The Morgan House is another residence of an Oshkosh lumber baron that's now a museum.  This one is preserved as an original Victorian home.

I switched to the 45mm front in a changing bag while sitting on the ground. I'm pretty pleased how easy it is to switch these fronts.

Morgan's factory is now a giant empty lot on the shore of the Fox River. This little house, that must have been some kind of an office, is still standing on the corner of the property.

The Granary was a flour mill for a hundred years until 1982. It's since been home to several bars and restaurants. The most recent one just closed and now it's the office of a public relations firm.

I photographed this alleyway last year on my first outing with the Variable Cuboid.

Turning around, looking down the alley toward Algoma Boulevard.

Back home, one of our volunteer oak trees with the neighbor's chain link fence newly covered with invasive, but in this case welcome, grape vines. Usually the point to using a rising front is get a higher view while keeping your verticals parallel. For this picture, I lowered the camera and raised the pinhole so the neighbor's garage wasn't visible in the scene.

After all the rain in June, we decided to build a raised garden bed. While everyone else is awash in ripe tomatoes, ours are still green.

The 60mm front has .30mm pinhole and the 45mm a .27mm, both hand-drilled.
The film is Kodak TMax 100 stand developed in Rodinal 1:100.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Loading and film advance for the 35mm populist.

In order to load the 35mm Populist, you'll need an empty 35mm cassette.  Cassettes made specifically for reloading are available from several vendors.  If you've taken film to a photo store to get it processed, even if they send it out to a lab, if you ask them they'll probably be happy to return the empty cassette.

If you are using an empty cassette from a roll of film, carefully, going around the rim in several places, pry off the cap that the spool doesn't stick out of with a bottle opener, trying not to bend it. Reloadable cassettes have caps that are made to be removed and replaced.

Remove the spool and with the extended part facing down, tape your film securely to the spool. I find it easier to cut off the leader so the end is square.  When you take the film to be processed, it doesn't make any difference to the lab if the end of the film is square, and if you're developing the film yourself, you'll have to cut it off anyway to load it onto the processing reel. Make sure it's firmly attached to the film so it doesn't come off when you start to advance the film, and that it's firmly attached to the spool so when you rewind, you don't pull the tape back into the original cassette.

Slide the cassette back over the film spool, and if you succeeded in keeping the cap straight, close it. Note that the spool will now stick out of the end you removed, opposite the way a film cassette normally goes.  If you can't get the cap back on, it probably doesn't matter. The point of putting it back in the cassette is to prevent exposure to any light that might leak through the winding hole.

An audible clicker let's you know that the film is advancing, and how far.

Place the film in the camera.  If you're using an unexposed roll of film, be careful not to pull it any farther out of the cassette than necessary. On the take-up side, make some kind of mark on the internal divider where the sprocket holes ride over it. It's a little tricky to find something that will make a visible mark on the black divider, but I find it's sufficient to put a couple scratches with the tip of my Xacto knife.

Cut a narrow strip about 3mm wide from a plastic milk jug or similar plastic container at least 35mm long.  Hold it against the internal divider with the bottom against the front of the camera, and cut it with your scissors as close to the divider as you can.

That should leave a bit extending above the divider a millimeter or two.

Trim the end so that it's narrow enough to go through the sprocket holes.

Carefully align it with the mark you made where the sprocket holes line up and tape it to the internal divider. It should just protrude through the sprocket hole. Once you have it in position, reinforce it with a few more pieces of tape to keep it in place.

When you advance the film, it should make a clearly audible click.  A standard 36mm wide frame is 8 clicks.

You've exposed at least one frame loading the camera, so advance at least 8 clicks before starting to take pictures.

There is no way to count how many frames you've done.  You're out of film when you can no longer advance the film.

The rewinding hole is in the bottom of the camera. (I usually cover this with a bit of cardboard between the front and back of the camera just because I'm paranoid about light leaks.) When you've finished the roll, in subdued light (not in full sun anyway) remove the winder, place it in the rewinding hole and rewind the film.

You should hear the clicker so you know when it's moving.  Be careful not to pull that tape off when it stops. Remove the film from the camera, and remove the take-up spool.  I usually leave a bit of film sticking out of the cassette to make it easier for the lab to process it.

As always, please let me know if there are any questions or comments.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

From f295: Madtown Getaway

F295 was an international discussion forum begun and administered by Tom Persinger. Originally just about pinhole photography, it expanded into all kinds of alternative methods.  It was active from 2004 until 2015 but it remains on-line. Recently it disappeared from the web for a few days, and that prompted me to decide to reprise some of my favorites here at Pinholica, for backup if no other reason. 

It's the time of year for getaway weekends and I've recently had to start taking Allopurinol again and that reminded me of this piece.  Posted on August 8th, 2012 under the title: Madtown Getaway.

Last weekend went to Madison for a weekend getaway with college friends Laura and Gene and their daughter Mac and her new boyfriend.

First stop Saturday morning was the Farmer's Market, a huge weekly event around the Capital. Very hot day. Here Sarah and I and our veggies sit on the lawn enjoying fruit slushies while everybody else catches up.

Waiting at the bar for a table for lunch at The Old Fashioned with a pint of El Hefe Bavarian Style Hefeweizen.

Drove up to Praire du Sac to tour the Wollersheim winery. Here's "The House" from the window of "The Winery".

The store and the "Flight Bar." Hard to get out of here without becoming a member of the case club. A lot of snobs dismiss Wisconsin wines, and midwestern wines in general, but I like them.

A cruise up and down State Street to peruse the uniquely Madison shops is a regular feature. Here Sarah and Laura check out at the Soap Opera. The clerk looked up when I set down the camera and opened the shutter, but despite carrying on a conversation with Sarah and Laura, never said anything about it.

I sat out some of this on the benches that line the street, and not entirely because of a stereotypical male ambivalence about shopping.

My left foot has recently decided to swell up and require a decided limp to walk. I'm not sure if this is the same as Tom Sawyer showing his friends his sore toe. I don't expect any favors in return from you guys.

Final event was a visit to the Olbricht Gardens. Here's a water lily in the Sunken Garden. Coincidentally the last frame on the roll.

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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Menomonee Park Infrastructure Project

In the last post, where I was testing the camera I made to replace the pictures for the 10th Anniversary Populist plans, it sounds like I went to Menomonie Park with definitive plans to test how it worked. What really happened is that I took that first picture of the concrete bunker on the shoreline and then rode around town for two days looking for something I thought worth photographing and never quite found anything inspiring enough to bother with.

Contemplating this problem while soaking in the bathtub several days later, I thought of that ubiquitous solution of photography clubs and internet instructional vendors - The Project. The basic idea is a concept or subject that will force you to get out and take some pictures. Getting things done is easier when you have a list of tasks to accomplish rather than just waiting for inspiration.

Since I had made the first image of the city water bunker already, it occurred to me that there were at least 12 structures of one sort or another in the park. I could just take on the challenge of taking one image of each building until I exposed the rest of the roll. That first run through the camera turned into a bit of a comedy of errors and I was only really happy with a few of those images. I did enjoy the challenge of finding an interesting composition of each location. After fixing the shutter, installing the pinhole hood and swearing to remember to tighten the film before making each exposure, I set off to try it again.

Nevada Street runs straight from my house to the lake, near the north end of the park. That’s where the little pumping station is which I had so much trouble with in the last roll with the loose shutter and double exposure. (Why do they put in the window openings if they're just going to fill them with bricks?)

One difference from the first day was that instead of a completely blank sky, there were some puffy cumulus clouds on the horizon. I kept finding myself seduced into trying to include them instead of just concentrating on the buildings.

One of the reasons the buildings in Menomonie Park appealed to me with this camera is that they’re only one story. To keep it simple for the how-to post, I didn’t put a rising front pinhole on this camera. I thought the low buildings would allow me to keep the camera level so they didn’t look like they’re falling over backward. The other solution to keeping your verticals parallel with a wide angle is to get higher up so you don't have to tilt the camera. When I got to the softball fields with their tall backstops, I couldn’t help myself climbing up the bleachers to get a level point of view.

The other side of the concession stand is the station for the miniature train ride which circles the lagoon. Seems like a boring little trip but the attraction must be enduring, I remember one of these going around the little zoo in South Bend's Rum Village Park when I was a child.

Another common amusement in parks are Merry-Go-Rounds, so often featured spinning in pinhole photographs. No longer in service, this one was still in operation as recently as June of 2015 since it still appears in Google Maps satellite view. (I know that’s when the image was done, because I was repairing my back porch and when you look at my house, one of the screens is lying in the driveway.)

By the way, notice the effectiveness of the pinhole hood in preventing flare while pointed toward the sun in these last four photographs.

By this time I realized the interesting clouds were only near the horizon and I was getting lots of empty sky. I thought I could use the roof and picnic tables in Shelter No.1 to create a one point perspective composition framing just the interesting part of the view. When I got there it was empty except for one guy sitting with a bicycle, drinking some sort of beverage. Thinking he was a casual biker like me pausing in the heat, I mumbled something like “Do you mind if I take a photograph?”  It turned out he was a noisy drunk and went on quite loudly about how he “don’t pose for no pictures for nobody.” I tried to reassure him he wasn’t in the frame but he kept expounding on the theme. I don't think I captured the clouds and I screwed up one frame from the distraction.

There was a lively family gathering going on in Shelter No. 2 and after the experience with the drunk I wasn’t ready to risk asking if they minded if I took a photograph. I was about to just pass it by when I went around the back and was taken by the dappled light and the shiny new Cadillac.

This gate into the zoo’s wolf enclosure seemed to call out to the square format of my camera.

There’s a second concession stand in the entryway to the zoo named after the short-lived flying visitors whose biblical swarms prevent any use of the park in early May.

I did the back side of the beach house in the last roll. I liked the way the corners of the buildings  created contrasting shades and also thought including the lake would place it in context. Someone in the past had commented that my cardboard cameras reminded them of Miroslav Tichý's. I didn’t want anyone to think I was also imitating his behavior by including the girls in their swimwear on the other side, so I thought this composition of casually parked bicycles and one fully dressed mother watching her kids frolic on the beach was a safer bet.

I’m usually not much of a fan of those internet challenges but this project was kind of interesting. I’ve just built two fronts for the Variable Cuboid with adjustable rising pinholes and might use this scheme again to get them tested.