Friday, January 26, 2024

Winter Gloom

I was setting out to meet with a few people on a collaborative project. That might present some opportunities. With the f130 Silver Dragon and Lomo 800, even portraits might be possible.

Chemist Dr. Jonathon Gutow measuring the surface tension of water to test whether the apparatus is clean enough for his experiment on one molecule thick coatings.

Didn't get more collaborators, but here's the space where some of the project is occuring, Coffee Wizardz on the first floor of The Draw. I had some kind of Hazelnut Latte. It was the only thing on the menu I recognized. Very tasty. The sun pours through the southern windows at midday.

Several readers at the coffee shop graciously agreed to be in my foreground.

That was just before the solstice and then the sun came out only briefly for two weeks. Here, from inside Becket's, the Jackson/Oregon Street bridge is dusted with what is sometimes called "snain." Then the temperature went down as well and it all turned into ice.

After a week and a half of cold gloom, the temperature got back up to freezing and it snowed again. It stuck to everything. Very decorative.

The film didn't quite distinguish between the well-exposed snow and the overexposed sky.

It might be a while before we go down the garden path.

This is color film, right? The little lamps contrasted to the monochrome landscape, but I'm not sure I featured them as well as possible.

The subtle cyan of the umbrella and chair, as well as the copper window boxes, usually are overwhelmed by the vegetation, but now provide a subtle counterpoint to the white pines.

The storm was most of the weekend and Monday, shoveled on Tuesday. It snowed again and was shoveled again on Wednesday. All day Thursday, it snowed 10 inches, beginning very wet and then getting very cold and blustery. As I rested on the lanai after a session on the sidewalks and driveway on Friday, this sunbeam greeted me and hung around for long enough to get the camera. It was sunny a lot when I was working on this and the previous post, but now the gloom has returned and it's raining.

The Silver Dragon has .23mm pinholes on the axis and 11mm above the axis, 30mm from a 6x6cm frame. The Lomo 800 was the third roll developed in's quart liquid C-41 kit. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Paterson the Pinhole Camera and Some Other Photographic Equipment.

When I make a camera out of a product's packaging, I don't worry about copyright issues because I'm not making a copy. Guinness, Lakefront Brewery or Chanel aren't going to worry that my cameras are going to be mistaken for their products. This time such a misunderstanding could occur. I hope they see it as a tribute and not trademark infringement.

You never know what's going to make a good camera. I saved the box from the Super System 4 MultiReel 3 Developing Tank with 4 x 5" Sheet Film Holder Kit, which, by the way, is a really major improvement compared to tanks and hangers. I needed to make one more Evil Cube to make sure I had eliminated the last gremlins from the Compact Series templates. The somewhat spare design of the box caught my eye and I was amused at the illustration of the developing reel which could become the circular shape in the middle of the front of a camera everybody expects. There also seemed to be a little irony about it.

Otherwise it's a normal Evil Cube. I still found a couple stupid errors on the template that are hopefully fixed now.

What kind of project would be appropriate for such a camera? Hmmm. Photographic equipment. We must have some of that around here.

I'm occasionally asked if I ever take pictures with lenses and my stock answer is "Yes, I use them to take pictures of my pinhole cameras." Let's enter Bizarro World and see what that looks like.

My Canon F-1 came with the logo for the 1980 Winter Olympics on it that I immediately covered up with plastic tape, which is still there. It's a black body camera!  It was my workhorse for decades and especially during my bad boy art teacher period at Knox College. It's sporting my favorite lens of all time: the Canon FD 20mm f2.8 — 94° angle of view and almost perfectly rectilinear. I was involved with extreme wide angle long before pinhole. It still gets used for a few special projects.

The Populist wasn't my first pocketable camera. This Olympus XA2 went with me almost everywhere. It can do auto-exposure out to two seconds practically in the dark.

Long exposures have also been something I've been involved with before pinhole. I got this Luna Pro to measure exposures in situations too dim for the F-1's internal meter where someone might have to hold a pose for seconds and sometimes minutes.

As soon as Sarah brought her mother's Plenax PB20 home in the '70's, I put a roll through it but the bellows was already full of light leaks.

Sarah's collection of digital cameras.

Sarah's parents' Olympus Infinity Zoom 70 and a Funsaver we think Andy bought at Disney World in high school. They both have film in them

I got through the first six months or so of my discovery of photography with a consumer rangefinder borrowed from a roommate and a Canon Pellicle Mirror SLR a friend had bought at the PX in Vietnam. I bought myself a used Hanimex Praktica SLR with a top-of-the-camera, non-coupled, averaging meter which failed almost immediately. I then took out a loan and got the Mamiya 1000 DTL, innovative then for wide-open through-the-lens metering and a top shutter speed of a thousandth of a second. It came in a kit with a "normal" lens, but here it features my first wide angle, a Chinon 28mm f2.8. The meter failed after a few years and I got the professional F-1. After several trips carrying around the manual exposure F-1 and three prime lenses, for a trip to Europe in 1998, I decided to treat myself to something automatic and got the Nikon N50 with a Takumar 28-200 zoom. Unfortunately it was very slow autofocusing and would occasionally refuse to fire the shutter. I only used it for that trip and a couple weddings.

Do I have a problem with tripods? Justin Quinnel and I disagree about their necessity.

When we were looking at houses to buy, I would always point out some nook which might work as a darkroom. The real estate agent must have been pretty excited when this house came up with a darkroom already there, including this 1940's Federal enlarger. I jokingly said we'd accept one of their counter offers if they'd throw in the darkroom equipment and they went for it.  It uses a glass carrier which can take up to a 4x5 negative, although it only had a 50mm lens on it. In the early 'aughts I had a brief excitement for black and white film photography and bought a medium format lens for it, but that never went anywhere.

It also included this Yankee development tank which I remember my professors disparaging, but I've developed hundreds of rolls of film in it.

Worried I wouldn't have enough for my workshops, I bought a couple spiral stainless 120 reels and a quart tank from pinhole enthusiasts Blue Moon Camera in Portland Oregon. These really intimidate some people, but I find them about the easiest to load of almost any system or format.

And the inspiration for all this, which has transformed my darkroom experience. I've mentioned the 4x5 system, but kudos also for the adjustable reels. My Yankee tank could transform from 35mm to 120, but now I can do two at a time, in any combination. It makes a difference with quick C-41 development times to get the chemistry in and out of the tank as fast as possible. The Paterson System takes only a third of the time as the stainless tank. I have to mention the film squeegee. I used to do it with my fingers and always had problems with dust and scum. Using this squeegee, soaked in the PhotoFlo beforehand, has eliminated 80% of the problem. I neglected to include the changing bag in this picture, but I'm not sure how it could have worked in the composition.

Paterson has hand-drilled .31mm pinholes, on the axis and 15mm above it, 6cm from a 6x6cm frame. The film is Kentmere 100 semistand developed in Rodinal 1:100. This was all done in available light, which was particularly dim this week. The exposures ranged from twenty minutes to 2 hours,

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Building the Compact Series

The distinguishing feature of the Compact series is that they are about the smallest 6x6cm medium format cameras possible. Just barely taller than the 60mm width of 120 film and only 95mm wide.  A Populist of similar format is 130mm wide. They also have a feature to keep the winders in place without a separate WinderMinder. I think, if put together correctly, they are about the most reliable and light tight cameras I've ever made.

I've made templates for 30mm, 45mm and 60mm cameras.

It is very handy to print the template on self-adhesive label sheets, but the template can be glued as well. For tips on glueing, as well as general cardboard crafting see The 10th Anniversary edition Populist plans. It is critical with glue to clamp parts appropriately and wait until they're dry to continue. Double sided self adhesive sheets can be used to adhere the templates as well as assemble the camera.  If you're using double sided adhesive sheets to adhere the templates, apply the adhesive first, then trim the part to it's finished size. In some cases you'll have to cut out the holes so there's not adhesive exposed while you're working on a part. When assembling the camera, adhere and trim those adhesive sheets when the part is flat and remove the second release layer after folding just before adhering it in its final form. See this post on Self-adhesive labels and double-sided adhesive sheets for notes on their use.

Some parts of this camera need to be glued. 

The pinholes and winders are exactly like those in the Populist as described in the The 10th Anniversary edition Populist plans, already referred to. I can't figure out how to make a anchor link in blogger, so you'll have to scroll down a bit. You won't need them for a while, but the winders are necessary when assembling the camera and of course you need pinholes to take pictures.

Start by laying out all the parts on the appropriate cardstock to make sure you have enough for everything. 

The pictures in this post might be from 3 different cameras, 30mm, 45mm and 60mm. The shapes of some parts may look different. I'll mention it when it makes a difference.

If you want the printed design on your box, the template will be on the inside. The camera front, camera back, front shutter top, rear shutter top, the top viewfinder as well as two small rectangles for the shutter handle will be visible on the outside of your camera. If you are interested in placing specific design elements in particular places on the outside, you can position things fairly exactly by carefully cutting out the holes in the template, tracing them on the design on the cardboard and cutting them out, then placing the template on the other side with those holes lined up. (Save the inside cut outs of the shutter covers if you're aligning patterns on the shutter cover and sliders.) 

The template is horizontally symetrical so it can be aligned with the holes when it's placed on the inside of the box.

Several parts need to be stiffer and have to be attached to a double layer of your cardstock laminated together: the base of the viewfinder, the inside shutter channel, the moving shutter, the winder collars and  the top inside of the film chamber. I recently decided the top inside is better done with foamcore, but four layers of cardstock would probably work as well.

The rest of the parts can be adhered onto any cardstock. I find it handy to attach the template to the printed side so when I'm assembling I have a matte paper surface to glue and blacken if necessary. Remember to roughen a glossy printed surface with sandpaper before trying to glue something to it. That's not necessary with self-adhesive labels (which I used for this picture). Two parts, the tripod mount and the film holder top, needs to be cut from 1/4 inch (5mm) foamcore. (I only did the tripod mount for this picture, but now think the film holder top is also better out of foamcore.)

It's your decision whether to cut out all the parts first, or keep them in large pieces until you need them. Remember to throw away any scraps you cut out so they don't get confused with the parts.

With smaller parts it's a good idea to cut or punch the holes before cutting out the part. The winder holes are just slightly too small so they will seal tightly when you push a ⅜"/6mm dowel through it.

The first part is the image chamber interior.

Using a straight edge, with the tip of a ball point pen, score all the lines. It's important that all these fold up aligned so take care to keep everything square.

Fold the top and bottom inward, and the two small flaps on the bottom outward.

The sides of the film holder are made with compound folds which are then glued back together. Try to score them as accurately as possible, crease them firmly and fold them carefully so everything stays square. Start with the fold next to the front. The sequence of folds is in, out, out, in, in, in. This is a little tricky with the little 30mm camera.

The plain cardboard side of the last flap gets glued against the grey strip on the template side. I prefer glue to adhesive sheets for this so the position can be adjusted and clamped when it's in the right place. I think a fully dried glue joint is probably stronger in this case where it can't be squeegeed well. The second to last fold should form a right triangle which will create the bay for the film. The folds should match the shape of the top and bottom of the film holder.

There are four parts to the tripod mount, the cap, the spacer for the the t-nut, the t-nut with a 3/8" shaft (6mm), and the tripod mount base, which has been cut out of foamcore.

Press the t-nut into the foamcore as far as you can. Adhere the spacer to the top, with the fronts aligned.

Then glue on the cap. Each of these parts is a little less deep. If you wish your images to reach the bottom of the film, trim off the angle between the bottom of the tripod mount and the t-nut so it's not in the pinhole's way.

It's not unusual to get these parts not perfectly matching. You may have to trim the spacer and the cover to exactly match the shape of the tripod mount.

Adhere the tripod mount to the bottom of the film holder. If you're using double sided adhesive, give it a good squeeze with a pliers.

There's a layer for the top inside of the film holder to double it's stiffness and provide a bit of glue surface for the next step. If this part is cut out of foamcore it provides a little bracing and surface to glue to. Adhere it to the top of the film holder. (Forgot to take a picture of this.) Remember to also make an angled cut in the back edge so it doesn't block part of your film.

If you're using double-sided adhesive, even though the next step will be glued, it's easier to adhere and trim the adhesive for the following step before the film holder is glued together.

Remember to dry fit and practice clamping before getting any glue on it or pulling off the release layer!

For clamps, rubber bands that fit around the film holder just tightly enough to hold it together, but which won't crush it (which doesn't take much). I use rubber bands that are 3 1/2 inches/9cm, but you might find some that are thinner that do the trick.

First place two rubber bands around the sides of the film holder so they're just held onto tripod mount and bottom, and on the top against that double layer. There should be a tiny corner of the top that comes over the extra layer. This is where dry fitting is necessary. Your folds may not be perfect. It may require a little custom work with your fingers to get that joint as close as possible.

When this is held together fitting as well as they can, place two more rubber bands around the sides of the camera, in the front and back. After practicing all this and making adjustments, apply glue to the edges of the top and bottom of the film holder and clamp in these two steps. You may be able to see gaps. Add additional glue and try to bring them together. Even after the glue is dry and the clamps are off, it may be worthwhile to apply some additional glue where things come together.

This is admittedly the trickiest part of the build and you may find that your pieces don't match exactly. It's important that the back and top and bottom of the film holder is a single plane but it's easy to adjust after the fact (see below). Get everything aligned and glued and wait for it to dry. Then check to see if anything needs to be trimmed or other wise adjusted or if additional glue would make a more stable joint.

Fold the film holder front and practice aligning it over the interior and clamping them together. Then, one side at a time, apply glue or peel off the release layer and adhere them together.

Make sure you also glue the little flaps against what now are the bottoms of the film bays.

Small errors can add up so that the back end of the film holder might not meet exactly with the film holder cover. It's relatively easy to fix and might even provide a better edge for your images.

Cut a rectangle of card stock about 40mm by the distance from the top of the tripod mount to the top of the camera. Fold the rectangle in half and sharply crease it. You might want to make it the whole distance from the top of the camera and cut out the places where the tripod mount and film holder top get in the way.

Then clamp it on the holder aligned with the top and bottom. Check that it doesn't extend into your image. Trim if necessary.  Make sure it's glued very flat. 

Cover this edge with tape or some other material that won't scratch the film when it's pulled over it.

Fold the camera back. Note that the black flaps go on the inside.

If you're using glue, you'll have to wrap the film holder, with two 120 reels in place, with wax paper like a very neat Christmas gift so any stray glue won't permanently adhere them together and so the protective layer won't create gaps that may become light leaks. I did this camera with double sided adhesives, but here's a picture of that step with a Populist. You may have to pick pieces of this off with a tweezers after you separate them later. Also you'll be gluing against the glossy exterior of your material, so those flaps (the other side of the black ones) need to be roughened with a bit of sandpaper or the tip of your craft knife.

If you're using double-sided adhesive, remember it's going to stick pretty firmly the first time in contact. If it's not tight, it may be hard to try again. Fold carefully and practice. The sides should meet together. Make sure you squeeqee it with your fingers so it stays stuck and if using glue, clamp with multiple rubber bands. When you're dry fitting it, check that the tripod mount and the winder holes are unobscured and aligned and trim as necessary. This is where you need the winders mentioned above.  Use them to enlarge the holes just to fit, and make sure the holes on the film holder and the back align. Adjust as necessary. The whole point of the winder collars is to cover a little error here, but it's best not to tempt fate. That may require clamping with rubber bands even if you are using double sided adhesive. Note that there are little flaps on the sides of film holder that get inserted inside the back.

Fold the camera front. Again, the black flaps go inside.

Again taking precautions with waxed paper if you're glueing, fold the front of the camera over the back, with the film holder and reels in place, with the winders inserted with the collars between the two parts. (I forgot when I did this picture.)  Make sure you're not crushing the back or the film holder. Even if you're using double sided adhesive, clamp this with four rubber bands, which will keep it in place while you do the flaps one at a time.

If you're using glue, clamp the flaps with a few rubber bands. (Again, the winders should have been inserted for this step.)

The Shutters.

There are two shutters, a double one for the pinholes, and a single for the counter window on the back.

Cut out the shutter bases and tops for taking and counting shutters.  If you're using double-sided adhesive, apply adhesive to one side of the shutter bases. Do not apply adhesive to the shutter tops.

The shutter channels should be made from two layers of cardstock laminated together.  Make sure your craft knife is sharp and use multiple light strokes. If you're using double-sided adhesive, attach it to one side of the channel and cut it out.  Then attach it to the other side, and cut out the empty spot. Save these interior parts for use later.

Adhere that bit of adhesive you cut out of the shutter channel so you have a bit of double layer stock with adhesive on both sides which you will use when making the shutter handle.

Using the Shutter Handle Cover to determine the size, cut a piece of this double layered, double adhesive piece. Adhere it to the shutter handle cover, and then attach that to the grey area on the Shutter Slider. 

If you wish, you can mark the area on the Shutter Slider where it will be in the finished Shutter, engrave out a layer in that area, and inset the piece you cut out making the opening on the the Shutter Cover.

If you have chosen to use two pinholes, you'll have to cut the slider along the dashed line before completing the shutter. It's important that this cut is straight and smooth so when you open one half of the shutter, it doesn't pull the other one open with it. If the cut is made after the handle is adhered, it's more likely this edge will be smooth and straight. Cutting through the five layers of card of the shutter handle is tricky. Use a new blade and make sure it's held down firmly under the straight edge and use many light strokes. 

Cover this edge with the pencil graphite which makes it slide smoothly.

Adhere the Shutter Channel to the Shutter Back and place the slider in place.

Adhere the Shutter Covers on the top of the Shutter Channels. If using glue, be very careful about not gluing them into imobility.

Adhere the Shutters in place on the back and front of the camera. If using glue, make sure your rubber band clamps don't move the Shutters out of place when you put them on while the glue is wet.

The Top Finder

Adhere the Top Finder Base to the Top Finder Cover aligned with the longest edge. The cover should extend out from the base by a few millimeters.

Adhere the Top Finder so that Cover extends over the Camera Front and holds it in place.

Because it would get in the way of the winders, the viewfinder and top holder are a little different on the 30mm camera.

If using two pinholes, place a beaded pin at the position of each pinhole on the sides. Make sure you cover the pointy pins on the inside. If using only one pinhole, adhere the guides in place.

The rear shutter is exactly the same size as the negative, so I generally use that to determine angle of view with the beads in the front, but you may want to put some marks or beads to indicate the ends of the negative on the side of the camera.

Mount the Pinholes.

Mount the pinholes on the front of the Film Holder. Make sure not to cover one hole while placing the other.

Lately I've been using a leather punch to drill holes through wine corks and gluing the winders in them to make something easier to grip with more effective torque. I have done this with just an Xacto knife in the past.

When loading and advancing this camera it is necessary to loosen the supply and then advance the take up in about half turn steps. It's pretty tedious loading, but advancing between frames is only a couple turns. If you try to advance past if it tightens up, you'll break the winder. Rewind it a bit and take up any slack you've created and try again. This rarely happens with the latest design and a few of the cameras just advance with the take up winder alone.

Here's a video I did loading the first Compact 45, even before I improved the loading and film transport.

As before, if anyone actually tries to build one of these I would really love to hear about it and share the story and pictures here on Pinholica. And please, if you find an error, think of a better way to do something or have questions, communicate that to me.