Tuesday, January 26, 2021

From f295: My first pinhole bike ride.

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.

We’re in the deep of winter in Wisconsin and I’ve been doing a half hour a day on a trainer stand in the basement so the idea of being out on the road on a warm summer day looks really good to me. I commuted to work on a bicycle for almost 40 years and had been going on long rides several times a week since I retired but this was the first time I went out specifically with the intention of taking pinhole photographs. It was posted on September 18, 2015 under the title: A bike ride on the Wiowash Trail.

Once again, I loaded the Populist and just let it sit there for over a month, so I got disciplined and assigned myself a project. I've been doing lots of riding on the Wiowash trail, so the project goal for today is to shoot the whole roll on my bike ride and drop it off for processing at the end of the trip.

I use this little side drive around Fairacres (it used to be the county fairgrounds), so as to avoid some busy intersections. 

I live about halfway between Lake Winnebago and the Fox River, so I have to go through the city about a mile, half of it on Viola Street.

This far north, the last several hundred yards before the Trail go through Riverside Cemetery. This little Hellenistic structure is the last resting place of the Paine family, one of the local lumber baron dynasties.

I enter the trail just about where the northern end of the Paine Lumber Company was. Although Europeans had been traipsing up and down the Fox since the 1670's, and the Menomonies had settlements all over the area, this was where the first permanent European settlement in the area was when James Knaggs set up a ferry to cross the river in 1831. In 1847, a float bridge was built nearer Lake Winnebago, and the center of the community moved down there.

The trail follows the river, and the view to the left is dominated by the westernmost bridge in Oshkosh, the six and a half lane Highway 41 causeway.

Just before you get to the highway the trail divides, one path going south along the Highway over the causeway, and the way I'm going, northwest toward Larsen, although now I think the trail continues all the way to Shawano.

Nice to have a dedicated path over the highway.

Part of the trail is a causeway over the east end of Lake Butte des Mortes.

There are occasional benches beside the trail. This is my favorite. It's usually at least part of the way in the shade, and it's made of rough wood, which to me is better for recovering from bike butt than the metal or plastic benches. 

Just past County Highway S, which used to be U.S.110, the trail goes under the new four lane Highway 45 along with County Highway Y. Funny that the turn warning is for the bicycles. 

The trail follows an old railroad right of way, so it's pretty straight and the main theme is one point perspective, but quite a bit of it is arched over by the trees with nice dappled light.

Through occasional gaps are scenes that are probably identical to your mental image of what Wisconsin looks like.

Just short of County Highway GG, the trail crosses Dagget's Creek on this timber bridge. In about 2002, this is where I put the camera for Pinhole Doug's GPS pinhole project. I went back a couple years later and it was gone, but I don't think anyone ever sent one back to Doug. 

That's as far as I'm going and I've run out of film. Time to turn around and head back to the camera store.  

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

Manic Expression in Slow Motion

After spending a summer of intensive therapy with the Manic Expression Cube, I reloaded at the end of August and then it just sat there until Halloween.

Manic Expression the GardenManic Expression on the RoadHydrotherapy for Manic Expression •  DC3/C47TruckTruck et ceteraVeg

Every now and again, usually inspired by a sunbeam, I would make an exposure, swear I was going to continue until the roll was finished, and then ignored it again.

We finally picked the green tomatoes and put them in a paper bag with an apple to ripen. It took awhile but it finally worked.

Another arrangement.

The last holdout just getting it’s final color.

M&M’s in the candy jar.

A sunbeam on the mantle piece.

In the late fall the sun reflects off the neighbor’s window and shines in through our north window onto the dining room table.

A water glass and a bouquet in the sunbeam.

We have the brightest holiday light display on the block which illuminates the magnolia (about a four hour exposure)

Early in the pandemic, we made sure we wouldn’t run out of dish soap.

We probably won’t be attending any events where these bejeweled face masks will be appropriate.

This type of mask might have been appropriate in the plagues of the 1600’s but don’t meet the specifications for the current situation.

The current state of the scars on my knees.

A sunny footograph.

Finally, just after the new year, we had a day where rime ice coated all the trees and I went to Menomonie Park.

It’s a bit hard to see on the giant oaks.

It shows up a lot better on evergreens.

A curvy slide on the playground,

It’s the centerpiece of the new equipment which recently replaced an older wooden playground which was meant to resemble a pioneer settlement.

The park is the site of a drive-through display of lights during the holidays.

The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick, but it still pushed up this substantial shove along a crack just off the shore.

The last frame on the roll was of one of the small trees that line Miller’s Bay with Ames Point on the horizon.

The Manic Expression Cube has a .17mm hand-drilled pinhole 24mm from a 24x24mm frame.  Fujicolor 200. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Yule Haul

 At a time when toxic egomania dominates the headlines, it seems a little heretical to say this, but based on the largesse I received for the holidays, I’ve been a very good boy.

Cooking was a natural theme. We always have a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vegetable oil sitting next to the stove. In addition to being somewhat ugly, it’s difficult to dispense just a few drops and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for where I put the cap. These bottles and their carrier are not only attractive but the narrow spouts they came with allow much more precise dispensing and they have little gravity caps that I framed the image too closely for you to see.

The knife with the broken tip came with the first set of really good knives we got. It was originally a four inch utility knife until I dropped it one day. The original tip is still embedded in the kitchen floor. The knife sharpener at the Farmer’s Market restored a sharp tip and it saw service for another decade until I foolishly tried to separate two pieces of frozen meat with it this fall. I may try to grind a new tip on it. It’s really nice to have a new, very sharp paring knife. In accordance with long tradition, I cut my finger the first time I used it.

Dr. Strangelove has always been my choice for the best film ever made and I received the new blu-ray special edition, complete with the envelope for Attack Plan R. It used to seem implausible that some crazy paranoid could have the authority to launch a nuclear strike. It does seem unlikely that Russia would be his target however.

I have been going on 20+mile bike rides every two days since March, which is difficult to continue in Wisconsin winters. I was very happy to receive a trainer stand. I was a little concerned about how well it would hold up my considerable mass but it’s very sturdy. I also didn’t want another thing to take up space and it’s very compact, uses the old road bike I already have and folds up when no longer needed in the spring.

It’s a different experience than riding outside. I don’t think two hour rides would be tolerable. It is good for concentrating on intense intervals and I’m now getting my money’s worth from Netflix.

I do still have the new bike with studded tires and will be venturing forth occasionally in the cold and snow. I should have some evidence for that in a blog post next week. These weatherproof trousers will come in handy well into the spring.

Going for long rides, in the limited bandwidth out in the country with GPS tracking on, while listening to podcasts can stress the limits of your phone battery. I had a couple incidents this summer when I forgot to charge it overnight. A pocketable charger gives a little insurance.

Edible treats traditionally fill one’s stocking. Honey-roasted cashews are one of my favorites. When I was giving Sarah an enthusiastic description of my planned photo essay, I spilled half of them on the floor. The birds and squirrels have now had a very merry Yuletide as well.

Terry’s chocolate oranges have been a favorite stocking stuffer around our house and I recently learned are ubiquitous for the holidays in the United Kingdom. Sarah’s pioneer-era grandmother and my depression-era mother often told how real oranges were a special holiday treat. I wonder if the chocolate version is a remnant of that tradition.

Toblerone in the stockings has been a family tradition since Andy discovered them on our first trip to Europe. In this special year, it was necessary to purchase them on-line and they were only available in multiple bar packages. 

I don’t know how Santa got out of the store with the alarm still connected to this bottle of Jack. It fortunately didn’t go off when the bottle was opened.

There was also a bottle of Glenlivet, which does have a pinhole connection. One of my first cameras using 120 film was made out a Glenlivet box. That one had a very traditional parchment-like look. The new box is a distinctive blue very similar to Tiffany’s. Do you think Sarah is giving me a hint about a new camera for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day?

And of course my favorite gift came earlier in November with a special surprise stocking stuffer from the state of Georgia today.

With Ilford Delta 400, semi-stand developed in Rodinal 1:100, in the Fantasy Factory Cube, .3mm pinhole 6cm from a 6x6cm frame.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Ultrawide good news and bad news

Reporting on my learning experience with the widest setting on the 4x5 Pinhole Lab Camera, I have to rely on that most common of clichés, there’s good news and bad news.

In the last episode, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the extreme vignetting and frustrated that the shutter obscured a good part of the image. I adjusted the internal guides for the film plane so that instead of 30mm, the shortest setting is now at 38mm, and trimmed as much of the shutters as possible and still keep the pinhole obscured when it was closed.

I’m happy to report that for the axial pinhole at least, the entire 4x5 frame is illuminated and the vignetting is reduced to the point where burning and dodging for most scenes is adequate to get edge to edge detail.

The bad news is that a mysterious light leak has appeared. It’s in the camera because it appears in exactly the same place in most of the negatives. I couldn’t see it in any of the last two batches of negatives. There were some fogged negatives in the first group. I ascribed it to a slightly ajar darkroom door when putting the paper in the box I use in the changing bag. It could, however, have been extremely overexposed versions of this leak farther back in the camera.

It is kind of mysterious. The way the pattern spreads, it looks like it might be coming from the top of the image, i.e. the bottom of the camera. 

The cardboard in that corner did crack when I folded it so maybe that thinned it out. The inside is painted black and it’s a double layer everywhere including both the top and bottom. There is also a spot where the two lower pinhole brasses overlap which could form some kind of light pipe that beams onto the negative.

I have put opaque tape over all these possibilities.

In dimmer circumstances, there isn’t a trace of it. This was done about 3:45pm on a cloudy day just after the solstice. Pinhole Assist said 27 minutes, but it had gotten so dark after that much time, I turned on the porch and garage lights and left it for another 3 hours.

Another long exposure from the corner of the sun room. This was about 11 in the morning. After I opened the shutter it kept getting darker and eventually it snowed. I left the shutter open until 3 pm.

An issue from the last post involved a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse where their position under a spot light and the red car they were in was about the worst situation when faced with extreme vignetting with photo paper negatives. I realized there were two spotlights under the range hood and if I centered the image between them I would have the dark center with the brighter sides that would best counteract the vignetting. The red cookie jar on the right again illustrates the spectral response of the paper.

For this vertical menacing portrait of the gargoyle, I wanted a lower point of view than the tripod would go. I used the off-axis pinhole but with the camera oriented with it below the axis for a falling front effect. The shutter covering the axial pinhole still obscured the bottom of the image and again with the light leak.

The rest of these also exhibited the light leak but with burning-in and some use of the clone tool I could minimize it’s appearance to better appreciate the composition. I think I may be getting the hang of the ultra wide angle.

This large dark bush, just after the snowfall, against the front of the school lit by the low winter sun, seemed like a good candidate to manage the vignetting.

The joint where the 1930’s elementary school joins the 1970’s addition. I liked the way the sun defined the planes of the building and thought I could get away with the dark sides if the sky and the snowy parking area defined the width of the image.

I still really have a hard time previsualizing the image. Being this close to the tree, it seemed like it was filling my field of vision but the top of the image includes quite a bit of sky over the top branches. The converging (if pointing up) and diverging (if pointed down) verticals haven’t been really bothering me, but with this one it’s kind of distracting with the slightly off center tree seeming to lean over.

The point of the off-axis pinhole is to keep those verticals straight so I did one with the rising front and that worked fairly well. The shutter is out of the way in this arrangement as well.

There is one mystery I can’t really figure out. If you look roughly where the light leak is, it appears there is a double image of the right side of the building and the stairway. This isn’t some clumsy work with the clone tool, it’s actually in the negative. I supposed I could have briefly accidentally opened the shutter while I was adjusting the pointing, but it’s only in that narrow band and doesn’t extend all the way to edge of the negative. I suppose it’s possible that whatever hole was creating the light leak was partially covered in this case and created a small enough aperture to form the second image.

All these were done with the glossy Ilford Multigrade III RC Rapid from my 1992 grant project developed in Caffenol for 2 minutes.