Thursday, January 27, 2022

Yet another 45mm

My latest attempt to make a 120 Populist without doing any customization is this 45mm. I gave away the last 45mm Populist I made. The graphics do look a little lined up, but it was easy stuff and I didn't do anything like modifying parts or insetting the design into the shutter. 

I used hollow point punches to make the holes in both the taking and counting shutters. I'm surprised how much it bothers me that both shutters look alike. The brown card stock is showing on the counting shutter so they're a little different. I've ordered a square punch.

The pinhole is one of the .26mm I made when doing the Space Dust 30mm camera.

It's an extremely nice camera. Light-tight without any extra lightproofing. Shutter is easy to grab with gloves on and push closed. The film advanced like buttah and stayed flat at the image plane. 

The film is 100, by the way. I've used it a lot in the past but not for a few years. Not too shabby for cheap film.

I had both cameras in my pockets on several recent adventures.

At home with the filtered sunlight in the living room with a variety of textures and surfaces.

I've been trying to take advantage of the low winter sun. Its been either cloudy or very cold so I had to find something nearby when I had this brief opportunity. A tree growing out of a clump of bushes at The Waters.

The back of Beck's Meats. This camera doesn't have a rising pinhole so I had to find ground floor arrangements in order to keep the camera level.

This would have been better if I had lowered the camera a bit. I was first attracted to the porch light which seemed like it really showed the gloomy weather. I don't think that worked.

The back of the newly established Gibson Social Club. Again obsessed with the level camera and got a lot of street in the foreground. I wasn't aware of the different shades of pavement when I did this.

The back of the newly rebuilt Mabel Murphy's, a historic college bar. It had burned down and collapsed into a pile of rubble. No one was hurt.

It was about the last day we've had that was this warm with the melting snow reflecting the featureless sky.

This was the First Baptist Church since it was built but it's recently become the Oshkosh Mosque. 

Continuing my obsession with the level camera with a lot of concrete in the foreground. There's a flag pole on about a five foot high concrete plinth in front of the building. I put the camera on that and extended the tripod as far as I could reach on tiptoe. Didn't seem prudent to climb up there so I could extend the tripod to its full height in the plaza between the courthouse and the police station.

A close up of the art deco original entrance. Nice framing at the top and the stairs make an interesting foreground,

Working with the 30mm and the 45mm at the same time really brings out how hard ultrawide angle is to preview in my head and how easy and intuitive it is at 45mm, which is still pretty wide angle. Next I'm going to make a 60mm.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Weird Wide Angle

I shouldn't assume a camera is going to be weird just because it was made out of packaging for a product called Space Dust. In the first roll through it there was the issue of very difficult winding and the misplacement of the axial pinhole. I modified the film bay spacers and realigned the pinhole in the center of the shutter opening. This requires exposing another roll of film. I'm currently trying to gain experience with a variety of film stocks and bought a roll of Ilford FP4+ off the shelf at Camera Casino. Can you believe I've never used FP4+ before? 

The weirdness continued with the most curvy film I've ever experienced. Why do I encounter something I've never experienced several times a year? The film was initially a little tight, but when out taking pictures, I advanced it with both hands at the same time on the tripod and thought I'd checked that it was taut.

On the inside it doesn't look like there's any reason the film shouldn't stay flat.

The first two frames had a light-leak streak down the middle of the film, again like nothing I've ever seen.

In order to make it quicker and easier to make the holes for the winders and shutters, I bought a couple hollow point punches and this rubber mallet. Any curvy film isn't immediately obvious but this is a round table so that upper right quadrant is a little weird.

I snooped down the alley I had photographed a few weeks ago with the yellow arrow and found its partner at the other end. Should have realized it was indicating one-way. Pretty noticable waviness on this one. Makes that corner already sharpened by the ultra wide-angle look positively dangerous.

The camera was well behaved for the padlocked front of the former steam bakery.

It's been awfully cold lately and I had to take advantage of a day in the low 30°'s F despite the sky being completely overcast. There was a forecast of a few periods of partly cloudy and I had to find something quick when the sun did come out for a bit. The main entrance of The Waters, originally The Yacht Club, looking a little pinched on the top of the portico and where the sidewalk meets the asphalt.

The side porch of The Waters. Most curved film planes exhibit barrel distortion so this pincushion effect from the film bowing outward can also be classified as weird. 

Trying to find something else while I had sunshine I noticed a red graphic of a bull in the diamond shaped window in this door. It's not as noticable in black and white but this picture has to win the curvy film championship.

The Brio Building combining curvy film with the effects of a really wide angle using a rising front. For some reason this reminds me of a Stavkirke.

Might have been interesting if the architect of the brutalist City Center Mall would have added a few curves to the entrances.

On the last frame it decided to behave for a rear entrance to the mall.

When I was doing this I also had a 45mm camera in my other pocket and would switch as the scene before me called for. 

I loaded both rolls of film on the stainless reels without issue and developed them at the same time in Rodinal 1:100. The negatives from the 45 are waiting to be edited.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Lessons in camera making and pedagogy.

I'm currently in a situation where I'm obsessively building cameras. I'm going to make some teenagers do it this summer so I’d better know what I’m talking about. They’re going to be making either a 30mm, 45mm or 60mm camera, probably chosen by lots. I decided to start with the 30mm since I had to modify the template for that distance to the pinhole. 

I should be working on only what will be in those workshops this summer, but of course I'm distracted by a few other things.

Since Andy and Kristin are such fans of Untapped, I try to get an unusual microbrewery product they can add to their life list when they come for Yule - this time Elysian Fields Space Dust IPA from Seattle. It’s also kind of a funny six pack. I shouldn’t be making these cameras out of products that I can’t acknowledge the existence of around children. I also shouldn’t be spending time trying to line things up exactly either. As it turned out the designs I was trying to match weren’t the same size but it actually turned out a little better, after I customized a double shutter for it.

The pinholes are a little big. After about six tries I came up with a .25mmm and two .26mm pinholes and nothing closer to the optimal .231mm for this distance to the film.  I am trying to model the expertise of an eleven-year old. (Wasn’t that when Harry Potter started at Hogwarts?) I just mounted the .25mm on the axis, with one of the .26mm rising and called it f120.

As unexpectedly as the Spanish Inquisition, I mounted the axial pinhole too low and got a good profile of the lower edge of the shutter. I really thought I’d checked that. 

You know I’m a big fan of the rising pinhole, but guess which one I used for 11 of the 12 exposures.

Oh well, there’s always cropping.

I don’t want to repeat another Yule Haul, but I got a full deck of cards in my Christmas cracker

I’ve mentioned the hybrid seasonal decorating that always includes something spooky.

The garden put on a pretty good show this summer. I shouldn’t fault it for being a little drab now.

Mickey and Minnie contribute the spooky element on top the piano.

The heavy metal pumpkins are less obviously Halloween artifacts.

King Kong and a little cardboard skeleton contribute to the theme in the kitchen.

I pointed directly at the sun which was behind the clouds and between the trees to demonstrate how low it was. The whole sky is overexposed so you can't really tell.

Somehow I made the beautiful light and the elegant Koehler fixtures seem a little pedestrian.

After having such fun with Sarah’s spooky cube in the winter sun, I’ve been very frustrated that the only sunny days since have been 10° F colder and I haven’t been able to brave a ride on my bicycle without a specific destination. After riding to the grocery store on one of those cold sunny days, I walked around the corner to get the rising front image of the Glad Tiding Tabernacle. I thought the congregation had moved this summer, but it turned out they were just cleaning the sign.

In addition to the surprise with the pinhole placement, I learned numerous lessons in camera making and maybe pedagogy.

Making this camera and another after it, I discovered I had the film bay spacers just a hair too long on the redesigned templates. It's surprising how rigid cardboard can be when squeezing a film reel. Easily fixed on both, but I had to do repairs mid-roll on this 30mm in order to wind all the way to the end.

A big change in the pedagogy of those classes next summer is maybe using black and white instead of color.  With the film, developing, making the automatic prints and scanning, the color was getting pretty expensive, and everybody kept spooking me that I wouldn't be able to come up with 24 rolls of 120 when I needed it. I never noticed any "out of stock" warnings with and Fomapan and there are about six other choices less expensive than Ektar 100. Black and white is also a bit of a mind twist for kids living with camera phones,

I was also concerned that the kids wouldn't really get to experience wet photography.  It's technically pretty interesting and I've always thought it useful to know as much as possible about your medium. I can't imagine turning an 11 year old loose in a darkroom trying to load any kind of film reel but I realized I could just load the reels before class. We could develop them together in the sink in the classroom. Using Caffenol for developer, we could pour it down the sink, retaining the fixer with a stern warning about heavy metal pollution. Since a 30 oz. tank takes two reels, they could work in pairs to agitate while I extol on the wonders of the reduction of a salt.

I maybe could borrow six 120 reels and three 30 oz. tanks. If I could they might be old-style stainless steel reels. 

I started to look how much tanks and reels cost and found two stainless reels and a tank for half as much as anything else I'd seen, coincidentally from the pinhole-evangelists at Blue Moon Camera in Portland.

Since we've lived in this house, I've developed film on a Yankee Clipper Roll Film Tank. 

I now have enough to develop three rolls of film at once, half-way to what I need.

The Yankee Tank was with the darkroom equipment that came with the house. I still have the box but it's in pretty bad shape. I remember these being dismissed as low quality by the grad school faculty but I've never had any trouble with it. You can still buy them. 

I just noticed on the bottom it's labeled Windman Brothers. 

I'm going have to load as many as six rolls in an hour over a lunch break. I hadn't loaded 120 film on a stainless reel for 40 years but I got it right the first time!

We also need to make positives. Sorry printmakers, it's just impossible to be wet about this. I hope to do a group portrait on paper and develop and contact print it in front of them in the supply closet.

I'm getting familiar with digital camera capture of negatives. I'll have Sarah's Nikon D750 with the Micro Nikkor 55mm f2.8, and the museum has that vlogger's favorite, a Sony A7 with a lens that might focus that close. I did all these negatives with the D750. I haven't quite learned to get the best negative possible but it's within editable range. 

They'll have iPads to edit on. I think I've found a free app that captures and reverses a negative with the iPad camera. That would allow them all to work on capturing negatives at the same time and we wouldn't have to mess with transfering everyone's images onto their iPad.

We should be able to make big prints on a color printer.

I'd appreciate any input on any of this.

The pinhole pictures are done with T-Max 100 semistand developed in Rodinal 1:100.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

A long time in the 6x9 Variable Cuboid

Occasionally,  I'll load a camera and not use it for months despite it being right in front of me most of the time. I loaded the 6x9 Variable Cuboid with Portra 400 about Easter.

I had a vague idea of a pandemic project that never quite came together.

The first exposure was during a video call with Andy and Kristin. They call about weekly. We all had just been vaccinated and were planning our visit at the end of May. (Sarah and I were in the second week they were available in Winnebago County in February.)  I'm probably not the first to note this, but what I still think of as videoconferencing has made a big difference in living through the pandemic. I was always responsible for supporting desktop videoconferencing at the university (remember CUSeeMe?) and eventually also administratively responsible for half million dollar classroom installations. Now we use it to connect with our kids with bunny pillows behind us, wirelessly and on batteries from practically anywhere.

Then the camera sat by the kitchen window all summer, right in front of me.

I found the three varieties of pumpkins that rose from the compost interesting enough to put the camera to use.

I also put it out for the eclipse, with the lanai and the garage in the scene. This and the other camera I had out that night are about the same speed but this is Portra 400, two stops faster. Still no trail from Jupiter.

In early December, I received an email from a gentleman whose daughter taught art "as far east and north as you can get in the United States." Having grown up in the area, she follows my blog (!) and asked for a copy of The Pinhole of Nature for Christmas. He lives near the upper East corner of Lake Winnebago and wondered if we could meet and I could sign the book. We met at Lawless Coffee which I had discovered riding my bicycle to Neenah. It's about half-way between our houses and I knew about this well-lit area by the windows. It turns out he's a photographer and somewhat of a camera maker himself, and his daughter as well, and both have made pinhole photographs. We had a delightful conversation. A unique experience for the author of a book that's only sold about 30 copies. Hi, Paul! Hi, Becky!

Sarah got several bouquets of flowers for her birthday and kept rearranging them as necessary. This one was on the kitchen table for a while.

During our fourth visit this year. Lovebirds on the love seat, watching YouTube to keep them still.

A 1939 bracket on my garage door rusted through and released a giant coil spring which stores a little of the gravitational energy of it going down which makes it much easier to open and close. Two companies have come and said they can't repair it and someone will call and tell me what they can do. Neither have called back.One of them blamed COVID.

All with the 6x9 Variable Cuboid with the 30mm and 55mm fronts but I can't remember which is which. It's been awhile.