Fingers.

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Always learning.

Photography is a continual learning experience. Every camera I use – and especially if it’s a first time use – reaps lessons learned.

I got a nifty pinhole camera last year. It’s an ONDU 6×12 Multiformat. What that boils down to is it can shoot 3 ways… 1×1, 6×9, or 6×12.

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6×12 is what I’ll be shooting with this cool walnut wood box.

So, if you’ve been following along, you’re aware that I’m participating in the FP4 Plus Party this month. I loaded the 6×12 with a roll of 120 film.

It made sense to get out to parts of Central Texas that I’ve yet to experience. I drove east of Georgetown past Jonah to CR366, down to Taylor, and then out to Thorndale.

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All those miles traveled, I was able to make 6 images using that one roll.

Of those 6, half managed to capture my fingers closing the shutter. Those images were made with roughly 1 second exposures.

I really like my Zero Image 6×9 pinhole. The shutter assembly makes it possible to use a release cable.

I am digging the 6×12 format though, so I’m gonna have to rig up something to keep my fingers out of the frame of the ONDU 6×12.

Stay tuned.

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.

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.

Because one is never enough.

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My light meter collection.

Left-to-right: Minolta Spotmeter F (newest, as recently posted), Minolta Auto Meter IV F, (I’ve had this one the longest), Gossen Luna Pro (yard sale find), Sekonic Flashmate L-308s, Sekonic Twinmate L-208.

After posting about the Spotmeter F, I thought to round up all my meters and document yet another of my many photographic obsessions.

All these meters were purchased for use when shooting film.

I bought the Minolta Auto Meter IV F back in the mid-90s, not long after it was released. Great little incident meter. If memory serves, I bought it at Keeble & Shuchat Photography in Palo Alto, CA.

The Luna Pro was part of a bunch of gear and expired film I purchased at an estate sale in Sunnyvale, CA. for US $22.50. Not bad, and it works.

The L-308 was added in June 2009. Another nice incident meter, a little smaller than the Auto Meter IV F.

I bought the tiny L-208 in August 2008.

All four incident meters can be used as spot meters, too. Just move the white globe out of the way of the sensor and point towards the subject.

 

Could not resist.

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5 seconds.

I won this absolutely mint Minolta Spotmeter F in auction on eBay last week, it showed up in the mail yesterday.

Compared to what they go for if purchased from Japan, I got a really good deal.

Happy to report the meter is in fine working order.

I even managed to out-bid a few other folks and won it with only 5 seconds left. That can be tricky, as I’ve lost more than I’ve won using that particular strategy.

It came with a strap, a lens cap, and a case. All pristine. Happy to report the meter is in fine working order.

I was even able to download and print an English version of the manual from Michael Butkus’ Film Camera Manual Site.

Now I need to get Ansel Adams’ The Negative to complete my education on zone metering.

 

Bom dia. Buenos días.

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Vámonos!

Torri n’me recently took a two-week tour of Portugal and Spain. We had great weather throughout the trip and everywhere we went the food was really good.

13 cities in 13 days. A whirlwind.

Lisbon. Sintra. Cascais. Evora. Merida. Seville. Jerez. Gibraltar. Marbella. Ronda. Granada. Toledo. Madrid.

13 cities in 13 days. A whirlwind.

It was jam-packed with all sorts of activities and city-by-city tours. We visited historic palaces, cathedrals, and synagogues. We saw Roman ruins, Muslim and Catholic architecture. Took a horse and carriage ride. We witnessed a Flamenco performance. We had a guided tour of an equestrian school. We even sampled Port and Sherry in two different cites.

My last-day favorite was a slow, lengthy stroll through the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, where art that I’d only seen in history books was right in front of me. Awesome.

I brought along three cameras – The Panny LX100, Olympus XZ-2, Sony RX100m3 – and my iPhone 8. Talk about an extended photo stroll!

We had a great time.

I put together an album on Flickr with all my fave shots. Take a peek…

Lensless.

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x 3.

I recently added the ONDU 6×12 Multiformat pinhole camera to my pinhole camera collection.

Nice little box. I got the walnut version. It is so pretty.

I also have the 8Banners MC and Zero Image 2000 6×9 pinholes.

I’ll use the 8Banners for 6×6 and keep the other two at their intended format.

I found an inexpensive padded insert on Amazon that has handles and a hook-and-loop attached lid with a zippered pouch, perfect for storing a yellow filter for the ONDU and a shutter release cable for the Zero Image.

It came with a pair of padded dividers, to help keep the cameras separate. Nifty find.

Each camera has its own Manfrotto 785PL Quick Release Plate, used with the awesome 785B Modo tripod.

I also put together and printed a separate exposure chart for each box using Mr. Pinhole’s Pinhole Camera Exposure Guide. A very useful resource.

I’ll get out with these boxes in a couple of weeks, most likely shooting B&W for a while so I can tank develop at home. I’ll shoot color, too.

Should be fun.

Ex Libris.

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Learning is never ending.

A half-dozen photography related books I’ve added to my library over the past year.

Photographers on Photography: How the Masters See, Think & Shoot
Henry Carroll

Analog Photography: Reference Manual for Shooting Film
Andrew Bellamy

A Chronology of Photography: A Cultural Timeline From Camera Obscura to Instagram
Paul Lowe

Photography Changes Everything
Marvin Heiferman

Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques
Marco Antonini, Sergio Minniti, Francisco Gómez, Gabriele Lungarella, Luca Bendandi

Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography
David Ulrich

Messy.

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But essential.

I replaced the seals on the Olympus 35RC Saturday afternoon. It was another hot Texas day, but I had the fan blowing on me while I sat at my work table in the garage.

Removing the old seals was pretty easy, but messy as hell.

I used any and every tool I could find in the studio to scrape off the old seals and adhesive. Q-Tips, tooth picks, and mineral spirits were helpful in coaxing off all that ages old gunk. As was a couple of different X-Acto knives, skewers, and craft sticks.

Getting the new seals on was a bit tricky – fortunately the kit came with two sets of seals. Very helpful!

The trick is brushing on a little Purell hand sanitizer (the kind without moisturizer) to the sticky-back of the new seals, leaving a bit sticky where the seal is first applied.

You’re given a little bit of time to position the new seal, let the purell evaporate, then press the seal into place.

About an hour and a half total. Not bad.

I loaded it up with a 24 exposure roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be getting out next week with two local area film shooters. A short trip down to Austin is planned, with preliminary sights on walking the streets around the newish Austin Library. Maybe even go inside. We’ll see.

At ay rate, I have one of my Domke F6 bags filled with a handful of film shooters for the event. The 35RC, an Olympus Stylus Epic, Nikon One•Touch Zoom 90, Sprocket Rocket, the Fujifilm SQ6, and my Minolta XG-1 + 24mm ƒ/2.8.

Should be fun.

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…

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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…

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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.