Tuesday, June 20, 2023

World Stereoscopy Day '23: A Garden of Guitars

World Stereoscopy Day is June 21st. I had planned to place several solargraph stereo pairs around on the winter solstice for a blog post to be done when the sun stopped moving north. I couldn't think of any great places I could affix them and kind of forgot about it. Recently there have been many reminders by the solargraph community that the traditional time to harvest your images are on the solstices. That reminded me that I only had a couple days if I were going to do a post on Stereoscopy Day.

The least I could do was expose a roll of film in the 45mm 6x6cm 120 Stereo Populist. What could I do to make six stereographs? Taking inspiration from the organization behind the day's celebration, and the coincidental match to the number of guitars in our house, I thought of taking them out in the sunny garden, which also provided a nice alliterative title. They would stand out well as foreground objects in front of the vegetation, which always has surprising random depth in stereo.

There are several ways to present stereo pairs for viewing. I'm going to use two in this post. 

The next three paragraphs from last year's Stereoscopy Day Blog, with updated links.

First is the most natural method, cross-eyed viewing, with the left view on the right and vice versa. You cross your eyes to make a double image. As the left and the right sides of the pair overlap in the middle, they fuse into stereo and depth is revealed. Note that you still see three pictures. It's the one in the middle that's 3D. That may seem unnatural to you, but they're just scanned (or printed) as they appear together on the negatives with no other manipulation or equipment. It does take some learning to view them. I created an exercise with simplified graphics at this link and have been told it does make it easier to learn.

The second is with anaglyphs, where the left and right views are rendered in red and cyan and overlaid on top of each other. Viewing through a red lens on the left eye and a cyan one on the right eye tricks the brain into calculating the depth. You of course need an appropriate pair of spectacles.

 If you want to play along and you can do parallel viewing or if you've got a lorgnette, Brian May's Owl, Google Cardboard or an Oculus rift, here's a link to a PDF with the pictures set up for stereo viewers, in the same order they're in the blog. If you've got a regular Holmes Stereocard Viewer, if printed at 100% they should be the right size.

About the turn of the millenium, I was trying to get back into playing the guitar after 25 years or so of never touching it. I kept entering sweepstakes giving away electric guitars so Andy and Sarah got me this Fender American Standard Telecaster for my birthday, on which I had the bridge pickup replaced with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail (like Bruce Springsteen although I didn't know that at the time). Our friend the guitar salesman who installed it warned me I'd never get a truly clean sound out of it.

When I collided with a Corvair trying to get a girl to the dorm before hours (look it up, kids), she put her knee through my brother's Alvarez nylon-string acoustic which he had abandoned after he got married. I replaced it with this Alvarez, which is a clone of a Gibson Hummingbird. This was the instrument I played in my folkie career during the Vietnam War.

Everybody has a brush with Gear Acquisition Syndrome. eBay led me to acquire this lovely Ventura clone of an ES-335 with a curiously narrow neck.

A double humbucker solidbody is another major classification ya gotta have. Another eBay Ventura Clone of a Gibson L-6 with the very unusual six-way rotary pickup selector switch.

Sarah gave me the BC Rich Warlock for my 60th birthday. You can understand why that "clean sound" comment didn't concern me. My playing is best described as Punk Surf Metal.

Andy's student Rodriguez which took him halfway through his Bachelor's in Guitar Performance, here with a mind-bending reflection on it's shiny top.

The 120 Stereo Populist has two side by 6x6cm chambers, 45mm from .27mm hand-drilled pinholes on the axes and 10mm above them. The film is Ilford FP4+ semistand developed in caffenol.

As my Pinholic tendencies have gotten more severe, playing these guitars has gotten very rare. When I was rockin' the basement a lot, there were open-mics and jam groups around, but they always specified "acoustic only" which really rubbed me the wrong way. Now I know a drummer who's willing to play with me if I got my calluses to where I could play for more than one song. There's also a bar just a few blocks away that has a regular open-mic/jam night with plenty of amplification. Maybe I just need the right encouragement.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Little Free Libraries on Little Free Film

When writing about using a rescued 100 foot roll of 35mm Kodak Tri-X that had expired in about 1985, I kept thinking about it as my Little Free Film, especially if used in my miniscule Manic Expression Cube. I remembered thinking once during my pandemic summer of Manic Expression that the Little Free Libraries one finds around town would be a good project for the little camera. Going past one recently something clicked and a blog title was born.

Since going to the Praire Avenue Branch of the South Bend Public Library even before I could read, my life has been associated with libraries and of course, books. I've always admired the Little Free Library movement. They're an international organization promoting front yard libraries with free books, selling the little enclosures and providing a web site and mobile app that shows where they are. It was all started right here in the American midwest in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The nearest to our house is just across the street from Merrill Middle and Elementary School. I was curious about what content was available in these but I didn't want to snoop through them. My general impression is that they're full of early readers and young adult novels.

What do you think the stabilizing straps are supposed to do on the side which is leaning over? Looks like there's a wedge in the front of the post so it's probably over corrected from leaning the other way.

A little further west on New York Avenue. In addition to the interesting title, Plague, was the most controversial title I recognized, Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, a challenging read in almost any context.

Some have added decoration such as this faux-window on the side.

The little library at North High School is pretty disorganized and is missing a good chunk of a roof tile. 

It's right next to one of the exits where the madness of drop-off/pick-up occurs on Smith Avenue.

On the no-exit Nicolet Avenue, which ends at Lake Winnebago, with a basket of flowers to enhance the experience.

This was the only one with a separate "Book Donation" box.  The motto of the movement is "Take a book, share a book," but they encourage larger donations as well which they use to supply new libraries.

The Bowen Street Laundromat, a subject for my little camera in the past, has a shelf inside registered with the movement.

Despite the sunny day, that pesky Inverse Square Law made exposures inside quite long. Looking for a place to sit, I was pleased to find this illustration at the end of the shelf.

Hickory Lane is another dead end along the shore of Lake Winnebago, apparently near some cottonwoods, which give a little creepy aspect to this collection,

Keeping these little structures plumb seems to be a common problem.

Riding along Irving Avenue, I encountered one that wasn't registered with the international movement.

It included a bench to peruse the selection with a sign crediting it to the local neighborhood association.

Stevens Park is surrounded by quiet neighborhoods so nobody else knows it's there. The library is sponsored by an individual but it's nice the city let them put it here.

It's a nice shady spot to scan the titles.

One is hosted by an addiction recovery agency on an otherwise residential street.

As I was setting this up, a guy came from the parking lot and said "You're taking a picture with a box." 

I replied "Yes, with a pinhole" 

He said "With a what?" 

I repeated myself and he got a quizzical look on his face and continued into the building.

Across the lawn next to the sidewalk on busy Ninth Avenue, another unregistered example put up by an affluent looking church. It had mostly religious titles but there were a few popular novels,

While I was adjusting the camera, a woman came around from behind me, opened the library, took one of the novels and continued down the street without acknowledging my presence.

Another church, this time registered and attached to the wall.

A bench to sit and read. Just out of the picture to the right, some kind of childrens' event was getting out with continuous traffic of parents picking them up. Nobody stopped for a second to see what I was doing.

This one on the west side is kind of in the middle of the yard. I was hesitant to approach with the tripod and then realized they must expect people to walk out on their lawn to get to it.

The door was slightly open. There's a little planter on the side but it doesn't look like it's been gotten to this spring.

At West High School, another with a door that won't stay closed. I wanted to feature that grafitti tag but the door kept swinging in the slight breeze. The side nearer the hinges doesn't seemed to have moved enough to blur the drawing.

It's out near the street a bit away from the school but where it's again right in the midst of the twice a day child transportation melee.

Another on city property but chartered to an individual teacher in the school district. The collection mostly consisted of several years worth of a youth craft magazine.

It's right in front of Roosevelt Elementary School

A little of the impetus of this project has been a surge in our own book collection, which Sarah has featured for the current tableau on top the piano.

One distinguishing feature of physical printed books is that you can read them perfectly well in the direct sunshine.

The Manic Expression Cube has a .17mm hand-drilled pinhole on an adjustable rising front with 7mm of travel, 24mm from a 24x24mm frame. The venerable Tri-X was semi-stand developed in venerable Rodinal 1:100.

Particularly analytical readers will probably have noticed I still have a  problem with pointing this camera up and the to left of where I want it. Most of these are cropped a bit. That does give them kind of a randomly captured quality. I've adjusted the beads on the moving shutter again, and am going to add some beads to line up at the top instead of just the cardboard triangle and try to find another clever title for the Tri-X.

Happy Father's Day. Go read a book with your kid.

Friday, June 9, 2023

It is better to light some film rather than curse the sunbeam.

While I'm cooking, I usually sit and use my computer on the marble table by the west kitchen window. From May until September, if the sun is shining, it falls directly on the screen and I can't see anything. Trying to be positive about this, I decided to use the sunbeam to photograph anything I could find to place into it. I had been trying to decide if I wanted to commit to another "36" exposure roll with my 35mm film, square format Manic Expression Cube and this thought sealed the deal. There was a roll of Acros 100 in the freezer. Numerous white business reply envelopes, that I save to store negatives in, were handy to reflect some fill light. 

Immediately available was one of my favorite models, a Constoluto Genovese tomato.

There was a sale on various colors of bell peppers.

The first parsley harvested from volunteers in the garden.

A dried rose which has been sitting with the tomatoes for a couple weeks.

The sunbeam makes it all the way into the corner of the pantry.

Looks like these have been in there a while.

Another stalwart from the pantry.

Sarah asked me to get a small watermelon.

The checkered sugar bowl.

A few tools are kept in the basket by the window. It seems to me the screwdriver and the needlenose pliers are trying to calm the excited vice-grips

Mickey and Minnie visit from the dining room.

The little green mister that came with the micro-greens kit.

A spiky little succulent from the south kitchen window.

The sun shines on the table on the lanai as well so I can't use the computer out there either.

We interrupt our program for a special weather bulletin: Picturesque puffy clouds have been spotted growing over Lake Winnebago. I rode over there to use my one-frame 4x5 camera, but this tiny camera is pretty easy to take along. This is about the same scene as I did with the big camera, but only about two thirds as wide angle and a twentieth as much film.

A bit to the left to feature the largest cloud that led me down here in the first place.

Directly across Millers Bay looking at the Ames Point breakwater.

The view south with the clouds a little back lit. I'd forgotten to take a black card and was using my black phone case to uncover the pinhole for a shake-free exposure and simultaneously accomplished making a Facetime call to Sarah!

There were no heirloom tomatoes at the store, so I had to revert to the on-the-vine variety.

Mulitcolored cherry tomatoes on a bed of spring mix.

The new bouquet.

The glasses I got after my first cataract surgery in 2007, and my current prescription after the lens was replaced in the other eye ten years later. I can see about as well with both of them,

The remainders from an earlier floral arrangement.

The watermelon was for Summerween.

Batman maintains order in the kitchen.

Godzilla provides reinforcement. Although he lost his voice after hundreds of dives in dishwater and a foot during a ten year wrestling match with Lars Ulrich, he's still a fearsome presence.

And now a Public Service Announcement from the Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market. 

Volunteer photographers are available to pose for your pinhole camera.

First market is always a little sparse with the choices of vegetables. The lady with the greenhouse tomatoes does great business this time of year.

A wad of bills left after the mostly cash-only market.

The top end of a bunch of asparagus.

I'd better use up this brocolli.

And make another loaf of bread.

Looking further afield in the living room for subjects.

The bunny atop the cocktail shaker looks very skeptical.

Finally a shady place to sit after the sun goes behind the garage.

I have to say I'm impressed by this little camera. Disparaging 35mm pinhole is a common theme on-line which I think is ignoring great potential. I'm not saying I don't see the difference between these and larger film formats but sometimes it's easy to forget. How far did you go before you forgot these were just 24x24mm negatives done with a hand-drilled pinhole? Would you have just assumed this was medium format if I hadn't fessed up right away?

Another surprise is how fine-grained these are. In my last try with Acros, it seemed pretty grainy. The processing was the same except that last roll I used slightly less dilute Rodinal. Don't see how that should make this much difference.

I probably shouldn't admit this, but doing all this close-up work, a lot of the time the composition was a little off and about a third of these are cropped to two-thirds of the tiny negative. Can you tell which ones?

There's another roll of the Acros, I just ordered a roll of Rollei RPX 25 because I was so impressed by the fine grain of the Agfa APX25 I just shot, and there's still 60 feet or so of the vintage Tri-X I found. It's looks like there's a lot of playing with this camera in my future.