Sunday, March 24, 2024

More development night and the self-portrait theme.

When I went up to Photo Opp's Development Night, I took a second camera, the f130 Silver Dragon, loaded with Lomography 800, just in case opportunities arose. 
Billy Hintz operating the digitization station using a 3x5 foot light table to illuminate 35mm negatives.

Mark Ferrell, one of the trio of Photo Opp founders, master analog printer for major artists, agencies and magazines. During the summer of 1971 we worked within a block of each other in mid-town Manhattan. We had been conversing for quite a while when the beam from the western circular window moved to the corner where we were sitting. Since everyone's a photographer at these gatherings, they're usually cooperative when interesting lighting happens to fall upon them. 

In light of (ha ha) the Fox Valley Photography Group's self-portraiture theme this month, I took advantage of the spotlight for a sort of negative/positive portrait.

A little Abstract Renovationism.

Shortly after I opened the shutter, pointed at a few developers behind the battery of soux-vide cookers tempering the C-41 kits, they all walked off to wash their film. Trying to make the best of it, I went around the table in front of the darkroom tent for another selfie.

This still life just appeared next to me in the kitchen,

Time to get serious about the assignment. Since the weather had been so warm, it seemed a good time to retrieve the cast iron parts of the garden bench that has been eaten by rose vines for the last several years and restore it. Once I got all the materials together the weather changed and I had to rush before it got too cold to apply the finish. It was just about freezing with a sporty breeze when I did the final assembly. By the way, this was about as short an exposure as I can manage flipping a card away from the pinhole and back.

Another magical fantasy novel.

A reunion of pinhole cameras in their birthplace. I suppose if the media were covering the Pinhole Day workshop at Photo Opp, this might be the kind of thing they'd use. If you'd like to take pictures with one of them, come to Appleton on April 28.

Posing formally in the corner grilling ham and cheese sandwiches with a giant costoluto genovese tomato and the Henckels six inch chef's knife.

I do use other knives but this is my main instrument. 

I've used it before to illustrate one of my favorite passages from The Pencil of Nature:

"We have sufficient authority in the Dutch school of art, for taking as subjects of representation scenes of daily and familiar occurrence. A painter's eye will often be arrested where ordinary people see nothing remarkable. A casual gleam of sunshine, or a shadow thrown across his path, a time withered oak, or a moss covered stone may awaken a train of thoughts and feelings, and picturesque imaginings."

Not really the cropping I had previsualized, but it's probably the most interesting portrait of the lot.

The Silver Dragon has hand drilled .23mm pinholes, on the axis and 11mm above it, 30mm from a 6x6cm frame. The Lomography 800 was developed in Cinestill's Liquid Quart C-41Kit.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Flora: a minor revision of The Populist

The internal assembly of the Populist is made from a long strip of cardboard which is folded into a rectangular shape to form the image chamber and the film bays of the camera. It works OK but the template has to be assembled from two parts because it's too big for one adhesive label. It requires a long piece of card and careful assembly to make sure it's truly rectangular with parallel sides when it's glued inside the box. While making some medium format sized boxes for single-shot photo paper cameras recently, I realized they are exactly the same size as the image chamber of the Populist. A properly folded box inherently has parallel sides and would provide a little more glue surface for a stronger camera. This new box needs a hole to be cut for the pinhole. A goal of my original 2007 design was that it could be made by children with rounded tip school scissors which is probably why the internal assembly was designed that way. I gave up on that with the current 2017 design but never changed that part. The new scheme also requires a smaller piece of card.

After verifying the accuracy of the revised templates, I'll update the directions for making a Populist eventually. If you're thinking of making a Populist, the current design on-line is just fine, just make sure that internal assembly has parallel sides. Oh, darn. Now I'll have to make a bunch of cameras.

Local business Kimberly-Clark comes through again with attractive materials.

This camera really didn't need to be tested. There was really no doubt that it would work but I can faintly hear Mr. Natural whispering to me that it's not very Zen to make a camera and not take some pictures with it.

When we need our supply of Oaks Chocolate refilled, I send them an email with our list. Last Monday, they responded right away, telling me it would be ready on Wednesday the 6th. I read that as tomorrow. When I got there, they pointed out my inattention to the actual text of the message but since the place was completely empty they'd get it done if I wished to wait. Hmmm. What to do in an empty candy store to occupy my time? The hand-lettered signs on the corner of the display case asks customers to please not touch the century-old glass, which is neatly illustrated by the wavy reflection of the fluorescent fixture which stretches the length of the store and can't be avoided.

Fresh roasted nuts. I wonder if they ever make chocolate acorns?

The side of the Grand Opera House, with shadows.

Just to the right, the emergency exit from the ground floor seats with more of that tree on the corner.

The theme for the Fox Valley Photography Group this month is Self-Portraiture. I'm a very convenient and willing model so my face shows up in my photographs fairly often. Almost all photography classes require this as an assignment. It requires previsualization and it's impossible not to have some emotional attachment to the subject. Taking my hair out of a pony tail is probably about as revealing of my true self as I'm likely to get.

Thought there'd be more glowing locks with the backlighting. Looks a little like Gandalf with a good rendition of an unhandyman injury on my thumb. I gotta go to the optometrist and get my glasses straightened out.

There's no place to put a tripod at the Rooms of Blooms biennial flower show at The Paine Art Center but stone columns are a very stable support. No one seemed to think it odd there was a man holding an orange floral box against the wall for a minute and half.

Despite our regular consumption of Oaks Chocolate, we do keep alternatives around.

The base of the acrylic pepper grinder broke after over a decade of heavy use. It still contains the peppercorns and grinds all right but a cylindrical object isn't very convenient to have rolling around on it's side where you're cooking. We replaced it with one of Peugot's early products in stainless steel that included this charming little operator's manual.

We have a weekly video call with Andy and Kristin. Modern broadband service is amazing. We get to see Greyson freak out live at "The Black Dog" from the next block.

That evening was developing night at Photo Opp. I had two frames left but could probably find something to photograph if I went up there. It looks a lot better now with the new light fixtures and the vault painted.

That circular window on the west wall projects a spotlight into the space in the late afternoon. During the previous exposure I was chatting with Instax photographer Joy Laczny with whom I shared a wall at Photo Opp's Range of Photography exhibition last year. We both noticed the beam falling on the comfy white chair and she agreed to sit for me with her Photo Opp hoodie and a new-to-her Polaroid.

I ended up not developing the film there. I wanted to experiment with minimizing film curl. I read that commercial labs have humidity controlled drying closets to actually slow the drying process, so I left the tempering bath on while the film was drying. I checked it frequently and as soon as it wasn't sticky, cut the negatives, put them in envelopes and under a very heavy pile of oversized art books overnight. It worked sort of. Most of the sideways curl of the film was controlled but it still rolled up the long way. It was much easier to get it to stay in the film holder. I still got a few Newton Rings, but much better than recent rolls of color film.

Flora has a .25mm hand-drilled pinhole, 30mm from a 6x6cm frame. The film is Lomography 400 developed in Cinestill's liquid C-41 kit.

Friday, March 1, 2024


After all the complexity of the last post with building multiple cameras, two angles of view, three ways of simulating binocular vision and five rolls of curly color film, I recovered with a dose of black and white film in just a single camera. The only black and white film I had was Kentmere 100 so I didn't even have to decide what film to use. The Toucan 45 had only seen one roll of film.

It was a mild sunny day, perfect for defining planes and rectangles.

It cracks me up how much this looks like an extremely curved film plane. In this case, it's the building that's curved.

It was quite a surprise to see that Miller's Bay was still full of ice. I knew I was flirting with flare pointing the camera toward the sun to get the textures of the ice highlighted by the solar reflection. The capture of the ice was only moderately successful and it looks like a pretty big meteorite just hit the eastern shore of the lake.

There were still a few brave ice fishers. As I carefully set up the tripod on the rocky shoreline, as close to them as I was willing to get, the more distant one told his companion that he was getting his picture taken. When the wind is coming off the lake, it's surprising how well you can hear conversations from out on the ice.

A cluster of trees on Monkey Island across the mushy looking ice of the southern inlet . 

The lake itself has only a few large chunks left bobbing near the shore which is completely lined by this brilliant border.

A planter between the columns in the front of the Wisconsin National Life Building. Interesting how the wide angle of view records a distinctly different shadow angle on the adjacent columns. The left is on a line with the sun and the camera and nearly shadowless, the right one 60 degrees away from that line.

Shadows on the side of the Masonic Temple.

A little too close to an Amarylis blossom,

An anatomically correct vase remaining from Valoween.

Sarah's corner of the sun room.

My corner.

The Toucan 45 has a .27mm pinhole 45mm from a 6x6cm frame. The Kentmere 100, which dries wonderfully flat, was semistand developed in Rodinal 1:100.