The arc of progress.

arc

Old, but not dead.

Over the past three weeks I’ve been checkin’ out the #ShittyCameraChallenge tag on Twitter and I’ve noticed that folks are using any old shitty camera they can get their hands on, including ‘vintage’ digital.

I still have my old Pentax Optio 300GS. It’s a tiny compact digital camera I bought in 2003. It’s a whoppin’ 3.2 MP, uses a 128 MB Compact Flash card, and it runs on AA batteries.

It’s not really shitty, but it is old.

It’s not really shitty, but it is old. And after 17 years, the sensor has a handful of dead pixels.

So, yesterday I walked around the house, garage, and backyard shooting whatever caught my eye.

These two shots had a similar feel, seemed meant for each other. A wagon wheel, and leaves from one of the Pride of Barbados plants out back.

Printmaking blues.

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Positive.

I made my first attempts at cyanotypes yesterday. Interesting process. Simple, really.

Reminded me of way back, during my mid-20s, when I worked as a draftsman for a civil engineering firm. I made a lot of blueprints in-office for field use. I’ll never forget the smell of ammonia.

Cyanotypes are pretty similar.

It takes mixing two chemicals – ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide – and brushing the mixture on paper in subdued light.

The chemicals are non-toxic, but probably not good to ingest or inhale. Wearing gloves is a good idea.

Perfect? No. Cool? Yup. Fun? Definitely!

I made a cyanotype of this geometric pattern I created in Adobe Illustrator, which I printed out on a sheet of clear acetate.

I placed the acetate over the coated paper and sandwiched ’em both between a thin sheet of plexiglass and a backing board, holding everything together with clamps.

I set it out in the direct sun exposing the paper for about 8 minutes. I unclamped the printing frame, removed the paper, rinsing it under running water. I then dipped the paper into a tray that had a bit of hydrogen peroxide mixed in with water to help darken up the blue.

You can place any number of different things on top of the paper. Besides the graphic, I also used a small branch from a plant. I plan on using photographic negatives from my medium and large format cameras in the near future.

Perfect? No. Cool? Yup. Fun? Definitely!

There are bunches of tutorials on YouTube. Bunches.

Classical glass.

 

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A little macro action.

I have an adapter that allows me to use old manual-focus Minolta lenses on my micro four thirds cameras.

I made this particular lockdown garden shot – one of three Bulbine’s we have in pots on the back patio – using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and a Minolta MD Rokkor X 50mm ƒ/1.4 lens that I’ve had for years.

I shot it square, there’s no cropping, but I did run it through the Urban Acid action, adding a few personal tweaks.

A twilight shot, the camera was pointed into the sun-less early evening sky, I shut it down a bit to get more of the flower and buds in focus – plus a smaller aperture allowed me to move the camera in closer. No flash, all natural light.

Titled “Yellow Bulbine,” I like this shot bunches.

Oh, and sorry about the really poor Mason Williams reference. Sometimes I just can’t help mysef.

It’s that time again.

brownie-trio

Shitty, shitty, shitty.

The Shitty Camera Challenge is happening soon. It’ll be a little different than last year, I think, as it’s being touted as the “Quarantine Special” this time ’round.

It lasts from June 1 to August 31, 2020. Not exactly clear about when to post, but I’m sure that’ll all get figured out as time progresses.

I looked on eBay to see if I could find some camera that’d be adequately awful to use, but found zero inspiration. I was about ready to throw in the towel.

Larry found it in the garage when they moved into the house…

Fiddlin’ in the studio I came a cross a handful of old 120 spools, mostly plastic, but one of them was metal. It has the words “KODAK FILM” embossed on both ends. Pretty cool.

It reminded me that I have a 50th Anniversary Kodak Brownie that a neighbor in the old ‘hood gave me. That old thing had a roll of Verichrome Pan in it, which I developed using D76. That’s where the spool came from.

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Of the three pictures that turned out (see top of post), two looked to be from the seventies and one looked earlier, maybe late fifties or early sixties.

Larry found it in the garage when they moved into the house, held onto it until late 2007, when he gave the camera to me.

I also have two rolls of expired film to use, a March 1968 expired roll of Verichrome Pan plus a June 2008 expired roll of Plus-X. The camera shoots ~6×9 so I’ll get 8 shots per roll.

 I’ll probably rig something up so I can compose and shoot horizontally…

Today I dusted it off and cleaned the, uh, viewfinder. It’s really not much of a viewfinder, honestly. I’ll probably rig something up so I can compose and shoot horizontally… you know, landscape.

The little red window that’s supposed to show the picture numbers has faded to a fairly transparent orange-ish yellow, so I made a little flap out of a piece of gaffers to cover-up between advancing shots. Should help.

I think it’ll do. Funky, fun, and free.

It’s not cheating, is it?

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A $40 experiment.

One of my fave shots from Spring 2020 ‘Roid Week was taken with a Pentax Q10 mirrorless camera and using the Polaroid Lab, printed on Polaroid I-Type instant black and white film.

I noticed a more than a few peeps doing something similar. Very interesting work and great results.

I spotted some black-frame Instax Square film on Amazon. $10 for a box of ten shots – I bought four boxes.

I’ll be taking square black and white shots with my LX100, load them onto the SQ10s miniSD card and print them out in monochrome.

That’ll give me 40 shots to edit down to 12 through between now and the Fall.

The Blue Set.

Check your settings.

I make mistakes. Some big, some little. Consequences vary, but I always learn from them.

Take for instance these half-dozen shots made back in early 2011. I used my Panny GF1 and a c-mount lens, the SLR Magic Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4, to make a few pictures around the neighborhood.

Love that swirly bokeh. But the blue was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, as I noted in comments made about the portrait on Flickr “…the blue cast is from my not remembering to switch back to AWB before I headed out for a walk around the block. The Tungsten setting casts blue in daylight. But I think it works in the handful of pictures I posted this afternoon. A lesson, of sorts.” The unusual portrait got a good number of views, a coupla’ faves, and a handful of comments.

I seem to recall noticing what I’d done about 6 pictures into my stroll and changing back to AWB. Oh, well. Interesting results.

The lesson? Check your settings.

 

Safe at home.

Hope you are well.

It’s been a while since my last post. The COVID-19 lockdown is mostly to blame. At my age it’s a good idea to avoid people as much as humanly possible right now.

I get to the grocery store once a week. Costco is totally out of the question, and trips to Walmart are as infrequent as possible. I just don’t want to chance getting the virus.

I’ve taken a few digital shots around the yard with the LX100, GX8, and my iPhone 8. It’s Spring here in Central Texas. Lots of color showing up right now, and some things I simply cannot resist.

Other than that, I’ve been sifting through my archives (2004-present) for film scans to post on my film-only IG @dogbonesoup. Along with select shots from recent film-camera outings, I’ve whittled my choices down to around 50 photos. I’ll be posting there twice a week for the foreseeable future.