Cool and dark.

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Life’s about making adjustments.

My extremely rocky re-entry into developing film last year resulted in one botched and one barely salvageable roll of Ilford Pan F Plus, shot with my Hasselblad 500c/m and Holga 120S.

I was using a new dark bag to load the film onto Paterson reels. Even though it was done in an air conditioned room, the amount of heat my nervous and excited hands and arms generated caused enough steam in the bag to make the film stick to itself, totally ruining the Hassy roll.

The Holga roll wasn’t much better. The edges of the film got pretty crinkled, but I managed to feed the whole roll onto the reel without sticking to itself in the process.

Seems like a lot of trouble, huh?

The hall bathroom in our home has a separate water closet with a door. I can close the hall door, get my film rolls, reels, the tank parts, scissors, and any thing else I might need set up on the lid of the plastic tub where all this dev stuff is stored. I then turn off the light over the sinks. It’s easy to move the tub into the closet and close the second door.

It is absolutely dark in there, but I put a rolled up towel at the base of the door, just in case. I also take off my watch. After everything is situated, I sit on the toilet lid with the tub in front of me and turn off the light.

Seems like a lot of trouble, huh?

I haven’t screwed up a single roll since making this change, so the effort is worth it.

Plus, I’ve ditched the dark bag.

Trust.

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Pure and simple.

My efforts to learn about and appreciate Lone Star talent have resulted in a new addition to the Texan Photographers section of the Morris Library.

Weeping Mary
Photographs by O. Rufus Lovett
First Edition, 2006.

Beautiful images, interesting story.

I spotted a black and white “ussie” of Mr. Lovett and Scott C. Campbell in IG Explore – it’s spooky how much Texas-related stuff shows up there – and noticed a comment made by Keith Carter, another legendary Texas discovery.

Side note: I added Carter’s Fifty Years to my library last year.

Anyway, me, being the snoop I am, had to take a peek at Lovett’s stream. Lots of interesting shots, and after a little more internet research I came across high and wide praise for his charming book of photos of a very small town and its residents in East Texas.

I was able to find a first edition of Weeping Mary in excellent condition for a great price.

Fiddlin’…

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… in the digital darkroom.

I played around with one of my shots from last Sunday’s car show over in Round Rock at Centennial Plaza. This is the badge and right front-end of a silver colored Porsche 1600/356. 1956, I’m guessing.

The original photo was color, taken using the vivid setting available in the Sony RX100M3.

I use an older version of Photoshop, CS5 Extended, or Photoshop 12. I haven’t yet fully embraced Adobe’s subscription model and this rather old version still works on my trusty old 2012 Mac Mini.

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I have the free version of the NIK software bundle installed and use it often for both color and black and white edits.

I haven’t yet fully embraced their subscription model…

For this shot, I used the Silver Efex Pro 2/030 Film Noir 1 filter to make the conversion to BNW. Love the grain from this filter. There are plenty of settings to mess with, including film types, vignette, and brightness/contrast. I also removed the image border.

Next I used the Photoshop burn tool to darken up the letter “P” at the top of the badge. I was pretty much shooting into the sun at ƒ/1.8 and a it got a little blown out, but there was enough there to recover.

I like that blown-out area to the left of the badge, framed by the badge and the curve of the fender, with the trees in the background and the fender’s shadow fore.

Around the world.

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Well, kind of.

There’s always a story.

Back in mid-August I purchased one of the G3 Ondu 6×12 pinhole cameras.

I’d just missed the Kickstarter pre-order deadline, but the good folks at Ondu were kind enough to give the pre-launch price, even though it was my fault for letting the purchase linger in the shopping cart on their site. They actually reached out to me, which was nice.

The 6×12 arrived in around 3 weeks. It’s a beautiful piece of art.

About 3 days later, another box arrived. It was another 6×12. Not sure how that happened, but I reached out to them via email, telling them that I’d be happy to send it back if they covered shipping. They appreciated my honesty and gave me a mailing address. About a week later I finally got to the local post office and sent the package via mail.

I sent them a note with a picture of the receipt and Jessi at Ondu asked how to reimburse me. So cool.

I was waiting for word from them that the package had arrived, occasionally checking my PayPal account for evidence that it’d reached Slovenia.

Nothing.

Then right around Christmas the box I’d sent came back. For some unknown reason it was returned to me. So weird.

I waited a couple of weeks past the holiday to reach out via email to let them know what had happened, attaching a picture of the travel-worn package. I asked them in my note “I’m not sure what to do about this, folks. Any ideas?” and Elvis replied “… this camera just is meant to be yours. Lets not complicate things more.”

Now I have two Ondu 6×12 pinhole cameras.

Still deciding what I’ll do with it, keep it or gift it.

Walking among the dead.

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Austin’s history under foot.

I met Kevin Thomas at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin last Sunday morning for a film stroll.

It’s a place I’ve been wanting to shoot since I saw Kat Swansey’s cemetery shots in her IG stream and her recommendation for a visit to Oakwood.

Foggy and a little chilly, it started clearing around noon. The drive down I-35 wasn’t bad at all.

I brought along the Yashica-Mat 66. I loaded a roll of Tri-X 400 in it the day before. Everything seemed pretty normal. Sunday I couldn’t get the film to advance properly. Hmmm.

Also on hand was my little Instax Mini 8, and I burned through two packs of Mono Chrome. Got a coupla’ keepers.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

The Minolta XG-1/24mm ƒ2.8 + mystery roll, too.

I had the Sony RX100MIII in the bag, as well. Sadly, when I tried to use it, I discovered it had a dead battery.

So, I shot bunches with the iPhone 8 and Blackie App.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

It was a good 2+ hour walk.

On my way back home I stopped at Austin Camera to pick up the negs/prints from the 4 rolls of C41 I left there last Saturday. Pretty cool to see what they contained. Around 20 keepers, plus I still have to scan the shots from the Sprocket Rocket.

Bookin’.

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… and lookin’ so fly.

The Shutterfly book I put together using pictures from our Portugal/Spain trip arrived in the mail last week.

Except for a few text alignment issues and me not making the shot on the front cover large enough, it turned out pretty nice.

Love the materials they used for this basic order. The cover is quite thick, nice and glossy. The pages are sturdy and semi-matte finished.

I’m happy with the results.

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Practice makes perfect.

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Seeing makes pictures.

I attended last night’s NAPƒS meeting to hear Ted Keller talk about “The Value of Practice.” It was a good talk and his experience with teaching/training was apparent.

It struck me how many of his theories and methods I’ve unconsciously used in my years of playing with cameras.

I am not a classically train photographer. I learn (even to this day) by research, applied practice, and a whole lot of intuition.

I like to play. Experiment. I also spend a lot of time looking at the work of other photographers. I read about photography. I watch videos. I make a lot of pictures.

And that’s where my interest in photography starts… with the picture.

… I’m convinced that paying attention, being in the moment, and seeing is even more critical.

Sure, knowing how to use a camera is important, but I’m convinced that paying attention, being in the moment, and seeing is even more critical.

I’m more interested in the act of making a photograph than I am in the technical details of operating a camera. I find that using extremely simple film cameras – like the Agfa Click I or the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim is a liberating experience.

See. Point. Shoot.

Modern cameras – in all their complexity – can be intimidating. And unforgiving. So Ted’s insistence that practice prepares one for being ready is absolutely true.

Just don’t forget to look around or you might miss the shot you were practicing to get.

One last thing… the member print exhibit. Patti Mitchell’s concert shots were stellar. To paraphrase Bill Bunton, “It’s easy to see why she consistently wins in the competition every month.”

Note: The last photo club meeting I attended was the second Monday back in September, the Round Rock Image Creators. I’ve only attended one Round Rock Photography Club meeting. Now that NAPƒS has split the competition to 1st Thursday and the Speaker to 3rd Thursday I’ll have to weigh which club gets my eyes and ears in 2020. Bummer.