Are You An APS Shooter...?

So the other afternoon I bumped into friend that I haven't seen properly in years and the conversation naturally turned to the 'what are you doing these days' threa.  It wasn't long before I was being offered an Olympus Trip. "You know, one of the old ones that takes film..." Sweet. I do like an Olly...

I arranged to pop round and pick it up and was presented with a camera case and immediately opened it up to find...a Kodak dvantix F600...

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It's certainly no Trip, But cosmetically it looks like it's barely been used which is good, and it does appear to have a part shot film in it which is always fun. It's takes a CR123A battery like the Olympus Mju as well so I swapped one into it and it fired up a treat.  It's got a 30-60mm zoom lens so nothing special there, and comes equipped with the standard run down of flash settings. A chunky little late 1990s beast in that classic '1990s space age brushed crappy grey and black' finish. Even has a tripod mount which I've always found a must have for small point and shoot cameras...!

I've been after something that takes APS for a while now. A pal of mine on instagram (yes you @londoncameraproject) is forever harping on about APS and how it's a forgotten gem of a format. I've personally never shot it and personally can't see why it was really ever a thing...but, I now have the F600 and a stack of APS in the fridge I'm going to give it a go once I've worked out a satisfactory bodge for developing and scanning it. I know that there are labs around that advertise dev of this format but I'd really like to work out a way of doing it at home. The main issue that I think I'll face, other that the actual dimensions of the film are that APS isn't supposed to be released from the cartridge. Well maybe it is for development but certainly afterwards it goes back in the cartridge to keep if clean and safe. I need to hack an old cartridge open really and have a gander at how it works. 

Interesting thing about APS is that you can wind it fully back into the cartridge mid roll and swap it out for another. Say colour to black and white or ISO200 to 800, and then when you pop the cartridge back in it automatically advances to the next frame. Just like swapping the backs out on my Bronica... 😂 

Anyway because of this feature you can't open the camera until the film is wound back, the F600 has a lever on the side to open it and I assumed it was jammed...but a quick look at the manual online (available at https://www.manualslib.com/manual/89133/Kodak-Advantix-F600zoom.html?page=16#manual incidently) showed me my error. 

Anyway. I've shot a few frames with it, and once I find a suitable way to develop and scan the film I'll post some results. But really don't hold your breath, you'll probably pass out... 

 

A New Addition to the Collection...

So a few weeks back I 'entered'  one of those competitions on instagram. You know the ones, where you have to repost something and follow their account and they'll randomly draw some winners...

@streetsilhouettes were offering three Polaroid cameras from Mint Cameras in Hong Kong as prizes if you reposted the picture, and well I actually won one of them! 

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It's a refurbished SX-70 and they were good enough to include two packs of colour film from Impossible. It's original production date was actually October 21st 1976 - Mint have a checker function on they're website that recalls the camera details from the serial number...! 

Its a great looking camera but as yet I'm unsure what I'm going to shoot with it.  All of my work recently is based around the notion of time and processes and using this camera goes against everything that I'm working with right now.  For the moment it's another beautiful addition to my camera collection, but as soon as I have a project that's suitable it'll be straight out and into service 😃  

 

 

I Guess The Book Succeeded...

I said i'd post again when/if I got some results from the book camera.  Well, I have some results from the book camera...!

I 'loaded' it in the dark bag as I mentioned before and went straight out into the garden to see if it worked.  The exposure was worked out by using the fantastic Pinhole Assist app on my phone.  (Other pinhole exposure calculators are available...! 😃 ) Fortunately I have a Paterson dev tray for sheet film which allowed me to dev the paper in the daylight.

 

So this is my back garden.  Also my hand holding open the electrical tape 'shutter'...  Happy with that.

Went out again after loading it again and visited Walpole Chapel.  This place is just up the road from my house and is one of my go to places when I want to try an idea.  Its where Ash and I got married so the location holds a special place in my heart.  

This time I gaffer taped up the book to try and cut down on light leeks.  Previously it was held shut with a couple of Manfrotto clamps.  This time the clamps served as a rudimentary tripod on the floor...!  I didn't take a picture of that.  

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So it works.  Very happy with that.  I seem to be on a mission at the moment to turn random stuff into cameras.  Not sure if i'll use this again, or if it'll just get relegated to my studio.  On to the next camera project. 

 

The Book You Need To Succeed

When visiting the library last week I came across a trolly with some 'free to good home' books on it.  They were mostly titles on design and relevant software.  One was an old copy of the Photoshop CS3 Bible.  Its a fat old book, and I had the idea that it would be quite ironic to turn it into a pinhole camera...

...so I took it home, and thats what I did. :) 

A few hours and some assistance spent hollowing out the centre created a 'box', and a pinhole secured into the front cover and hey, its a camera.  PVA glue holds all of the pages together and returns some sort of rigidity to its structure.  The inside was painted and gaffe taped to make sure its as light tight as it can be.

A couple of thumb tacks hold a piece of 5x7 photographic paper in the right place, and allows me to guide the paper in (hopefully) in the dark.  I know that the paper is safe under red light but I haven't got a fully fledged darkroom right now, so a dark bag will have to do.  

I'll post again when I have some results to show...

A Second Outing For The 'Tinhole' Camera

Tried the mint camera out again the other day. Last night I got the time to develop the paper negative that was inside... 

 

...and this is the scanned result. The only post processing on this was a small brightness adjustment as it was slightly too dark. As you can see I was rather heavy handed in the dark when trying to stick the paper to the back of the tin lid and managed to leave fingerprints all over the paper which were then processed into the photograph. To be honest I really like that though. I feel that it adds an element of authenticity to the process. I’ll try and avoid it in the future though probably - at least at the start!

I find it interesting that although there is distortion and vignetting around the edges, the actual sharpness of the detail in the image is much better than I would have expected from this camera that was basically thrown together on a whim with no real thought. The pinhole is not any particular size, just ‘small’. I made no calculations other than knowing that the focal length was ‘about 20mm.’

The vignetting is possibly caused by light leaks around the corners, these present to an extent in the neg with black corners and the distortion is quite possibly because there was no way that the paper could possibly have been completely flat. It was simply held in with two pieces of blue tack. 

'Tinhole' Camera

Got bored. Wanted to turn something into a pinhole camera. I dont have a shipping crate like Vera Lutter but I found this tin at a car boot sale the other day and it seemed like a good donor.

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Drilled a hole in the back and taped over the inside a pinhole made with a small section of tin. No real accuracy here, wanted to see if it worked. In the dark I will cut a piece of photo paper to fit and see if I can make a paper negative. Lined the inside with black tape in the hope that that will prevent light bouncing around the shiny inside of the tin. 

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Drilled a hole in the bottom, and blacked out the inside after setting a pinhole over the drilled hole in the bottom. One shot use. Piece of cut to size (badly) photo paper and should be good to go. 😃

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Dont know why at 10pm I decided that I had to try this, but, at 10pm I had to see if it worked. My paper developer arrived today so I guess thats why I had to try it....
At 10pm theres obviously hardly any light in my kitchen so I aimed the ‘camera’ at a table lamp and used Pinhole Assist to work out an exposure. It said that using paper (rate it at about ISO 6) that it would be ten minutes to make an exposure so this is what I did 

This is a daylight processing tank for sheet film. I used it to process the paper, as I can do this in daylight because the tank is light tight. I can load it just like I do my film in a blacked out room and do the rest of the process in normal light. If I can get hold of a red safe light then I can just use a regular developing tray. 

 

Almost impossible to photograph, but this was the first attempt in the developer. I had heard that you could check your exposure when the paper had been in the developer for about a minute. The instructions on the developer said to leave in for 1 minute 30 seconds. I opened the tank to check and saw the image disappear. Didn't occur to me that you can check but only under red light...! Quickly put it in stop solution but it was too late. There is only the slightest bit of an image left. 


...and this time it worked! This is the second attempt in which I just repeated everything that I did but didn't open the tank. I turned out all of the lights when opening the tank and moving the paper into the stop bath. From there on the lights can be on. The paper here is still in the tray of fixer. Its dark as hell but there is definitely something there. And this time its not disappearing...! 

...and this is the scanned and inverted paper negative result. Really happy to know that this works, and it has given me the realisation that I can make a pinhole camera, in theory, out of pretty much anything that I can put some photo paper in and make light tight...!

A New Manifesto

I now feel that the reasoning for making the work is becoming clearer.  My memories of things from my past are as a general rule not crystal clear. I retain these slightly hazy memories from past experiences, family holidays as a child. Day trips. Too many to try and make a real list. Some are clearer than other, some are more important than others. One that really stands out was time spent on the Isle of Mull in June 2007. It was a two week time frame - the first was a week to celebrate my girlfriend's (now wife's) cousins 30th birthday. The family owns a house on the island and is a very sentimental place for them all.

The second week was a break for Ashley, myself and her mother and father. In reflection, it was one of the first gatherings of their family that I was a part of, and also the first time that I had been invited away with just Ashley and her parents. Possibly it was the first time that I felt accepted as a genuine part of their family.

It was also the time that I first went out of my way to purchase what I thought was a half decent camera to document the trip with. I don’t think thats a major part of it, maybe more just a side note...
I have lots of memories of the two weeks, and the majority of them are places, and short snippets of time unfolding within those environments. We visited an art gallery, outside of which was parked a purple Reliant Scimitar. We went to a nearby beach and there were cows walking on it. There was a random shed, not dissimilar to the one that I have been repeatedly testing cameras on recently. In it was an old, rotten, MK2 escort. It barely fitted in there and the shed was falling down around it. This list could go on but I don’t feel the need for it to.

On May 3rd 2017 I am making a trip back to the Isle of Mull with Patrick, my now father-in-law. He is exhibiting some work in the art gallery that I remember and it seems ridiculous not to go as well and make this body of work. Its at least 600 miles to get there, so its not something that I can just up and do one random weekend.

I intend to find these places somehow and use my pinhole camera to photograph them. It is my intention that the resulting images should look as they do within my memories. Black and white, soft in clarity, but recognisable for what they are.

I have a folder full of images taken on this trip back in 2007. I have dug them out of a forgotten hard drive - I haven't looked at them for probably 7 years. Yet I don’t want to look at them now. I feel that if I look at them then what I have in my head will disappear and until the work is made at least I do not want that. I feel that if that goes, then I will not be able to research this way of working genuinely. I don’t want to look at them but I don't want to go there and make this work and realise at a later date that i’ve missed something.

I want to make it clear as well that I do not wish to re-enact, or re-stage any of these images. That is 100% not the purpose. I think that I will just tuck away that folder of images so I am not tempted to look. I now don’t see the purpose of having put them back onto my computer. They have the potential I feel to ruin what I am doing. 

Zenit TTL 35mm SLR Pinhole Conversion - Part 1

I wanted to see what the result would be of a pinhole camera that had an actual mechanically operated shutter. The simplest way I could think of for trying this was to convert a regular 35mm SLR camera into a pinhole camera. To do this I bought a body cap off of eBay and drilled out a hole in the centre. Over this hole I securely taped one of the Reality So Subtle brass pinhole discs. Coincidently the focal length of this conversion, the distance between the film plane and the pinhole was again 50mm so I could use a 0.3mm pinhole again.

 

The 50mm was measured as accurately as I could but I cant say for sure it was dead on. Even with a vernier calliper it could have been one or two mm out.
I taped over the viewfinder and the old battery chamber to make sure no stray light could get in and the body cap screws in to no light should be able to get past this. I added a shutter release cable that could be locked off to allow for long exposures without holding down the button on the camera and can use it in bulb mode for an exposure as long as required. The frame spacing should be as accurate as it would be when using it conventionally with a lens. The pinhole adaptation should make no difference to this. 

"Memory takes a lot of poetic licence."

“The scene is memory and therefore nonrealistic.  Memory takes a lot of poetic licence.  It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”

 

AMANDA: Go, then! Then go to the moon - you selfish dreamer!

TOM: I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further - for - time is the longest distance between two places

 

The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams 

"I Got Trapped By Pinhole Photography..."

What I believe Stroobant is saying here that we don’t as human beings see a snapshot, or a still image of a scene. The scene is not fixed, and that is not what you saw. What you actually saw was time unfolding around the scene. The scene was not static like in a painting or a ‘regular’ photograph. 

Build a Pinhole Camera - A Collaboration With Patrick Elder

First pictures of the camera I designed. I realised swiftly that having no sort of woodworking knowledge it would be best if I commissioned someone else to build it! That someone was Patrick Elder, my father-in-law. He's a Sculptor, and his work can be found at www.patrickelder.com.  I gave him the ‘plans’ that I drew up and basically gave him creative freedom to do what he wanted with the design, as long as the dimensions that I gave were adhered to. Still early stages yet, there is no back at the moment, and no design for a shutter for the front of the camera. The slots are in for the 6x6 mask and the edges are there for the 6x9. These dividers will not be removable, they dont need to be unlike the 6x6. The edges of the dividers have been made as smooth as possible, as the film will roll over the and I do not want them to scratch the film. In a regular camera they are quite often metal roller, but I wanted as much of this as possible to be made from scratch, rather than cannibalising other cameras, and I also wanted as much of it as possible to be wooden.

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That being said I did have a metal tripod mount machined into the bottom. It needs the ability to be tripod mounted otherwise it would be pretty much useless really, and taking one out of a scrap camera was much easier than attempting to make one. 

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Time & The Mechanical

Within my life I am interested in the mechanical. I grew up being interested in cars and spent hours working on and modifying aspects of many different project vehicles. During my BA studies this interest in the mechanical nature of technologies translated over to the cameras that I preferred using and the mechanical nature of the cars and the culture that surrounds them became the subject of my image making.

This work was selected for submission to the Uncertain States Emergence show in 2016, has been shown in exhibitions in Norwich and London and has been shown on several online platforms including the London Camera Project and Everybody Film.

This subject has now been paused, but the love for the mechanical within the image making process has continued. I am at present making images with a variety of custom built pinhole cameras, of intentional varying quality, to photograph places of nostalgic interest to me. I am interested in the passing of time around static places and I find that by using pinhole photography, it allows me to firstly capture much more than just a moment of time due to the long exposures required, and secondly it allows me to use technology that is much more personal and relevant to myself. 

'Proper’ Build Your Own Pinhole Camera

After doing some reading on the mrpinhole site and on other pages on the internet it is becoming increasingly apparent that the relationship between your cameras focal length and your pinhole aperture is very important and affects the quality of your final image quite severely. With this in mind I would like to have a go at making a camera, or at least having a camera made where these dimensions and figures are as accurate as possible. With the Ensign pinhole camera conversion the measurements of the cameras focal length were approximate, and I believe this is why the images were not as sharp as I expected. Above is a scale diagram of the top down view of what I have done so far. 50mm focal length which will be teamed up with a 0.3mm laser cut pinhole. These dimensions seem to offer the best chance of getting a sharp image. They allow for a large projected image onto the film so I shouldn't get any distortion at the edges caused by a very short focal length.

 

View of the camera from the back with the back open/off. Inside will be an interchangeable set of masks to allow shooting in 6x9, 6x7 and 6x6 formats. I am not sure if I would use these formats, especially 6x6, but it seems like a waste to not incorporate them as I have the chance. The camera will also have two film advance knobs to allow the film to be rolled in both directions. Again, not sure if i’d need it, the only real reason I can see for it would be intentional accurate double exposures of certain frames, but, I can incorporate it so why not. When shooting pinhole I tend to note each frame in a notebook - subject, exposure, film etc so I could in theory roll back and shoot over a certain frame if I wanted to.

At the top I have noted film diagonals, this is the size of the diagonal of the negative. I have also noted that with a 60mm focal length the image diameter created is 115mm. This is the projected CIRCULAR image from the pinhole. 115mm is large enough to cover the 6x9 negative easily.

 

I have chosen the use of 120 roll film as I want to have large negatives. I could have designed the camera to use 4x5 or larger sheet film, but at the moment the use of sheet film is financially not available to me. I would also need to buy dark slides to use it so 120 roll, with a 6x9 neg is as large as I can reasonably go.

The larger the negative in theory the greater the detail that can be captured.

Quick sketch of the camera from the same angle with the back closed. The back will need three viewing windows covered with red plastic to allow me to read the frame numbers on the films backing paper. I may also try and come up with a way of covering these fully to prevent any light leaks. I do not think this is required, some of my 120 cameras have windows that you can cover, some don't so I guess its not required. Just may be better if the film is in the camera for long periods of time?
May also incorporate the holder on the bottom right to put in a box label to remind me what film is in the camera. My Bronica ETRS has this on the film backs, I dont generally need it as I go through a whole roll when I am shooting something. I dont like to leave half used rolls in the camera and I like to develop them as soon as possible. Also if im shooting something for my university work I dont have time to just leave it until the roll is fully finished.

 

 

Joel Sternfeld at Beetles + Huxley

February 3rd 2017

Joel Sternfeld - Colour Photographs: 1977 - 1988 Beetles + Huxley Gallery

This exhibition was one of two reasons that I was already visiting London on that day. I have only become a follower of Sternfeld’s work in the past few months so seeing that some of his work was going to be exhibited was reason enough for me to head to London.

The first thing that struck me unfortunately was the size that his work was being presented at. I saw the Alec Soth exhibition at the Science Museum last year and was moved by the sheer size that his work was presented at. I had simply assumed that as Sternfeld shot most, if not all of this work on an 8x10 large format camera that the work would be presented in a much larger size. To be honest, in this respect it was a little underwhelming. That is not to say that they were small. Each framed print was probably eighteen inches across the longest side. I had just expected larger. Maybe it was simply due to the amount of framed work they had to get into X amount of space. Perhaps I should have queried that. In fact I shall contact them and see if I can find that out.
The mounting of the images was also slightly disappointing. I do not know how long these prints have been in these frames, whether they were framed specifically for this exhibition, but the prints themselves were definitely starting to sag behind the glass. They were not flat.

But, I did really enjoy the exhibition. I really liked the fact that even at the (small) size they were presented at, you could see the detail within the work that Sternfeld is renowned for. Tiny birds in trees, lines within peoples skin, blades of grass. Some of the images even showed the movement of foliage caught by the longer shutter speeds he must have used. This is why I would have liked the work larger, to see that easier I suppose. You could even see dust that was in the print, that was on the original negative. I liked this as well. It showed that the image had not been processed to within an inch of its life. 

 

Post 1...

This is intended as a place for me to write about things that are relevant to my practice.  At the moment this is not live, its only for me.  I may make it live at some point, i'm not sure yet.  Well I guess if you're reading this then I've decided that I will open its up for everybody.  Just don't be too surprised if one day the link disappears.

I have an odd relationship with writing, sometimes I don't mind it, sometimes its the last thing I want to do.  You'll notice a lot of spelling and grammar errors.  I make no apologies for that.  As I said earlier this is just really for me.  Unless I decide to publish it.  Whatever.  

You'll notice I ramble a lot as well.