Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Serendipitious Studio

A lot of things inspired this post.

  • First and foremost was to try out semi-stand development with caffenol. I do it all the time with Rodinal 1:100 but in the upcoming classes at the Trout Museum, the students can mix the caffenol from its grocery store ingredients and we can pour it down the sink. I want to use stand development because it's the most forgiving of less than perfect exposure. It's not very pinholey to admit that it's for it's reputed high acutance as well.
  • Then there was some uncertainty surrounding the camera in which a roll of film had already been exposed. If I was going to learn anything, it was necessary to have a roll from a camera with an established record to go into the soup with it.
  • Doing a what-was-I-doing-at-this-time-last-year review, I noticed the studio exercise with the vegetables in the pre-vaccine cold of last winter. I had vaguely been thinking of repeating that except with stuff we've had for a long time.
  • A studio project has the appeal of being warm, out of the wind and right here.
  • After driving to the wilds north of Appleton to finally get our garage door ordered, we stopped at Kirkland's just to get out and snoop. As serendipity would have it, we found a solid black fluffy blanket for the couch to replace one that has "HO-HO-HO" emblazoned on it.
  • In the decorating transition that was occurring, the upstairs hallway window was unavailable. It was too cold to use the lanai.
  • Last year we got a love seat in the sunroom. It would provide just the right curve to use the new blanket as a backdrop for stuff that's around me all the time and, it's in a room full of windows with curtains that can modify the light using clothes pins on a hazy sunny day.
  • Lastly, just before beginning this, I watched about half a minute of a YouTube video where a guy said you could respark your creativity by looking for the beauty all around you. That sounds familiar. Well, everything reflects light.

Another attraction of the studio method is that it allows the accurate composition of stick positioning. Held against the viewfinders, one of the dowels from the pasta drying rack is long enough to almost exactly determine the edge of the frame. It turned out these were a little generously composed  and most of them are cropped a little.

There was recently a meme on Facebook asking if you remember the tablespoon measure in the foreground. There were about a bazillion comments that they use one every day.  We're sure the lemon juicer came from Sarah's grandmother. The rest probably did too. We've always had them.

Sarah's grandmother's pastry cutter and my mother's pie tin. I use the cutter all the time but I'd made pies in pyrex for decades before the tin came into my possession, and I can't give up the glass. Odd statement from a pinhole photographer.

If it involves boiling or steaming, it's in one of these stainless pans. From Sarah's grandmother. Sarah's mother had a set exactly like this except it only had one lid and the lid handle was missing.

Other than a few fossils, the oldest thing we have is the sugar tongs made in London in 1776. These are all from Sarah's particularly victorious period on early eBay.

This Italian alabaster Buddha was in the window of the waterbed store we passed almost daily going from our apartment to the Joynt. Sarah gave it to me for my 24th birthday. Even with the precision of stick composition, it's easy to make a mistake and miss the edge of the backdrop, although it's really not that distracting in this case. It looks like enlightenment coming over the back of the couch.

Tableware from the Blugold. I use the cup all the time to mix roux or salad dressing.

When we lived in Illinois, Sarah took advantage of a special sale in a mail brochure and ordered a set of Le Creuset cookware from the Spiegel catalog. The piece most commonly still in use is the small Dutch oven, but the larger version and a few other pieces still get used occasionally.

The pans from that set have wooden handles and we've had the handles burn completely off two of them. The smallest was replaced by this Calphalon pan which doesn't quite fit the Le Creuset lid, but it works if you're careful.

All reviews of Le Creuset cookware say it's really good to cook with but it's heavy and it hits the floor really hard when you inevitably drop it. We've been transitioning to All-Clad, all Yule gifts from Sarah. I'm embarassed how much I like the non-stick frying pan.

The utensils sit in a pickle crock next to the stove. They are of many vintages. The oldest is Sarah's grandmother’s potato masher which is the most effective I've ever used.

I've always cut holes for my cameras with an Xacto knife, but having others do it that way seems a little demanding and time consuming so I've become an aficionado of hollow point punches. In order to get the square one for the shutters, you have to get the hole kit (ha ha ha). It includes a variety of round punches I can also use. They're made for leatherwork. I can't hold them in place and hit them with a mallet without mashing my fingers a bit. This clamp makes a very effective handle.

It was necessary to go out in the field to the top of the piano for some documentary reportage. I caught Minnie and Mickey smoochin' behind the church!  They're lit by a small lamp held just above them to the left for three minutes, using the steeple to shade the background,

Looking at these very close up while retouching dust, it was one of those times I kept thinking: "So there's just this little hole in a cardboard box?"

The 60mm front for the Variable Cuboid has a .3mm hand-drilled pinhole. The film is Ilford Delta 400 (interiors, ya' know) semi-stand developed in Caffenol, which worked fine.


  1. “ and I can't give up the glass. ”

    Who’d a thunk it?

  2. For several years I used caffenol to develop all my film. First a semi stand method then switching to Caffenol CM(rs). The CM(rs) worked great on 100 speed film not so much on 400 speed film. Eventually I got tired of measuring out the chemicals each time I developed film. When I used up all the Vit C I switched to Freestyles Ascorbic acid developer.

    1. Me too, but this summer I want to have as much of a maker vibe as I can.