Use what you have, revisited.

scan-comparison.jpgA little experiment.

An update on my adventures last Sunday morning with my Zero Image 6×9 pinhole camera.

I developed the Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 that was in the camera back on Thursday, along with the *fat roll I posted about last Tuesday… more on the mystery roll soon.

Everything went smoothly with the developing. Stock D76 @ 68º for 7 minutes 15 seconds.

The negatives hung in the hall bathroom until the next day, and they were dry by the time I was ready to scan.

The Epson V500 I have has been a work horse over the years, handling everything I throw at it. But things went south from the beginning on this particular task.

Things went south from the beginning on this particular task…

There’s a white background that snaps in-and-out of the scanner lid, it’s not needed when scanning film. Took it out. Then I pulled out the 120 negative scan tray and loaded up a strip of three shots, set up the scan software per usual, and went through the process of creating a preview before actually scanning.

That’s when things started to go awry. The preview was splitting up the negatives in a way that was totally unusable.

I fiddled with every the setting I could, but the results did not change.

I remembered watching a You Tube video some time ago that showed how to scan a negative as if it were paper. I figured I’d play a bit and put the white background back in the bottom of the lid and removed the negative from the scan tray, placing it emulsion side down so the film curled away from the glass, then ran the software as normal for scanning documents.

Well, that worked. Kind of…

reg-scan.jpg

Intrigued, but not totally satisfied that I couldn’t get the scanner to work properly, I set about fiddling some more. I noticed a button near the bottom of the interface that was labeled “reset” and thought, what the hell, then clicked it.

And this time the machine worked as designed. Happiness.

After a few dialog boxes, everything seemed like normal, so I set the scanner up again for negatives.

And this time the machine worked as designed. Happiness.

Here’s the result…

neg-scan.jpg

I like them both. You can see more detail in the shadows of the first scan, and I like the somewhat distressed appearance. The second, proper scan is very clear (for a pinhole shot) and not as washed out.

It’s a 3 second exposure, taken at the La Frontera shopping mall, from a car wash located in the southeast corner of the property. I asked permission to park and played in an adjacent field, with my tripod and camera set-up in the shadows cast by the fly-over.

Love the lines, curves, and shadows. The sun was still pretty low in the sky and being blocked by the column on the left side of the image.

* a fat roll is when 120 film does not roll tightly around the take-up spool, usually resulting in light leaking to expose the edges of the last few coils at the end of the roll.

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Research.

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… and Discovery.

One of my favorite things about photography is learning new methods and techniques.

For example, my return to large format has uncovered a multitude of new tools and toys while combing the internet for info about the process of developing 4 x 5 negatives.

I don’t have a darkroom, so I’ll be using a dark bag to not only load and unload film holders, but to transfer the film from the holders to a nifty new device I came across online, called B’s Reel.

I’d been looking at the Stearman Press SP-445 Compact 4×5 Film Processing System to handle the task of development. And I’d pretty much settled on the SP-445 until I came across a YouTube video made by Dave Rollans titled Developing 4×5 at home with B’s Reel.

Good video. Convinced me to change gears and go with the extremely cool and useful B’s Reel.

The SP-445, because of its small in size, can only develop 4 sheets at a time. B’s can develop 6, using a standard Paterson 3-reel tank.

And with 6 Lisco film holders, this developing system will work just perfectly if I head out to shoot with two different types of film.

Check out Benoît Barbé’s website and goodies shop.

Pail.

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… by comparison.

I shot this photo with my Panny GX8 and a Pentax 25mm ƒ/1.4 (m43 50mm equivalent) c-mount CCTV lens, ISO 200, wide-open, using the Dynamic Black and White in-camera filter. A Manfrotto 785B Modo tripod and the camera’s timer set to 2 seconds helped keep things steady. I unscrewed the center bar from the pod to make the camera sit closer to the ground. The camera was just short of 5 feet from the subject.

The only post-processing is simple auto-levels in Photoshop.

I love the swirly bokeh this little lens produces.

The setting is the north side-yard of our home, sitting on a flagstone step, beneath the shade of our neighbor’s Live Oak and you’re looking east here.

A neighbor had set this pail out next to their garbage can for pick-up one Wednesday and I spotted it on my early-morning walk. I made a point of walking back past their house to snag it on the way home.

I store charcoal in it.

I love the swirly bokeh this little lens produces. It’s a great portrait lens, as well – you just have to get up in people’s faces with it!

Goin’ large.

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But not quite 4 x 5. Yet.

I’m fiddlin’ ’round with large format photography again.

I broke out my Shen-Hao 4×5 field camera with the Rodenstock 150mm lens, the Polaroid 405 film back, and an expired pack of Fuji FP100c – 12/2011 vintage.

The Polaroid back comes with a mask, but it’s just a little bit off. I’m drawing one in Illustrator that’ll be more accurate for the Fuji 3.25 x 4.25 size.

The first shot was a success, a straight-on photo of the night stand in the war room, with the front standard tilted forward slightly. The point of focus is the lamp switch. It’s just a little fuzzy, I know. My choice of tripod is the cause.

I have an older Calumet tripod with a 3-way head that I should’ve used. I used a Giotto with a hefty ball head that’s hard to manage with the Shen-Hao sittin’ on top of it.

Not bad for the first shot and the film seems to be okay. I’m saving the negatives for reclaiming later on.

More to come.

The leap.

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Worth it.

I’ve been updating my Mac system a bit lately, adding a second monitor, replacing the very old keyboard, and moving up to Apple’s Magic Mouse 2.

The MM2 is awesome. I used the previous model with my work laptop back before I retired and loved it.

The Logitech wired mouse I’ve been using on my personal system the past few years was fine, but that model was discontinued and I had an Apple wired mouse that was just okay.

So, I finally bit the bullet and paid the price for the Magic Mouse 2.

A good investment.

Pencils.

pencils.jpg

One of my many obsessions.

An iPhone6 shot displaying an arrangement of a few different types of pencils from my collection. The red KOH-I-NOOR is from my youth. I’ve even managed to hold onto a small German drafting tool kit I got when my Mom, Sister, and I visited relatives in Germany back when I was 13 years old.

But, yeah. I dig pencils and drawing and sketching. It’s an all-my-life kinda’ thing.

Back-up Strategy.

fuschia.jpg

Avoiding a lose-lose situation.

When it comes to photography, I like taking pictures first, processing pictures second, and doing back-ups last. Well, that’s not entirely true… hunting for new gear is probably pretty high on my list of photographic priorities.

So, yeah, one of my least favorite parts of photography is doing back-ups. And I’m a tightwad, and I really don’t want to spend a bunch of money on annual cloud storage subscriptions. Instead I’ve invested in a series of external hard drives for mirroring my back-up system.

I also have a disaster recovery system in place with 3 bare hard drives that involves moving 2 off site on a quarterly basis.

The main part of the scheme is how I organize the files.

I create a separate folder for each batch of photos based on camera and date. Each batch folder contains 4 subfolders, one for the original files, another folder for processed files, one for images sized for web use, and one for images sized for web use that are watermarked.

As I mentioned above, the top level folder is named using date and camera, and to make the folders easy to sort numerically I start with the year, then the month, then the day, with a dot between. Like so > 2017.06.04

The camera used, again separated by a dot, follows > 2017.06.04.lx100

The four folders within this main folder are named originals, processed, sized, and branded.

The original files I leave untouched.

The processed files have been opened in Photoshop, tweaked to taste, then titled.

The sized files are knocked down to 72 ppi and roughly 900 to 1200 pixels in width, depending on orientation.

The branded images are just sized files with an added watermark, placed 20 pixels from the bottom of the image and centered.

file structure

At least once a month I copy files to the other hard drives. Once a quarter I swap the off-site drives.

I also do complete card dumps on 5 external hard drives. I often go back and look through those archives to see if I missed any gems, like the Fucshia at the top of this post, originally posted in July of 2006. It’s one of my most popular shots on Flickr and a shot that I initially passed on, only to go back a few weeks later and rediscover. You never know what gems you may have overlooked.