Hello again


Hello, been a while. Not much photography action has happened since we went to Iceland, besides developing film. Travis and I moved from Ohio to Indiana earlier this year, so all of our energy was focused on that, the packing and the moving and the unpacking. But we’re here now, mostly unpacked, and finally ready to get the darkroom back up and running. I think that our new bathroom/darkroom solution will be a lot better than what we were doing at our old house, but there are still a few things I need to get figured out. I’ll probably do a new darkroom post once we get everything sorted.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a wee bit of lumen prints. It’s good to mix up some fixer and make simple prints, even if I’m not ready to do anything else.

More Mushrooms

Mushrooms are creepy.

My first project for when we are up and running with the darkroom (in the next few days, hopefully), is to try making some contact prints with this bit of awesomeness Travis scored for me at an antique mall:

Agfa Lupex

That’s right – an unopened box of 1940s-ish Agfa Lupex postcard sized contact paper. I love old Agfa, I love contact paper, and I especially love postcard paper. I have no idea how well the prints will turn out. The one example I found online of prints on Agfa Lupex came out pretty low contrast, but with antique paper there is just so much variation in how things were stored there’s no way to know how a specific paper will react until you try it. If nothing else, I may be able to make lumen prints from it.

Churchie's Spy Camera

This was another antique store find. It’s the cheapest 127 camera ever. We love it.

I would love to load it up with some film, but we’ve got a huge backlog of cameras with partial rolls of film shot in them. It’s embarrassing. So that’s also on the agenda – finish shooting the film in all of these random cameras so they can finally be developed, poor things. I have camera guilt. They just keep… looking at me, all sad and half-shot.

Another thing on my agenda to do is become better acquainted with the Nikon D5100. I use it all of the time, but still feel like there are so many functions I don’t use because I either don’t know they’re there, or am not sure what button to press. I just today learned about the different focusing modes on the camera (still subjects versus action, etc). Yep. Seems like something I should know about.

I got out the super dark infrared filter and popped it on the Nikon this afternoon, playing around with digital infrared. It was windy, so everything turned out blurry, but I liked this shot:




Hello! I’m still here! We successfully managed to go to Iceland and return! Yay!

As is achingly obvious, I haven’t updated the blog in a while. That’s due not to a lack of interest about photography, but just a general all around malaise that has come from feeling that major life changes need to be made. Long story short, Travis and I have decided to blow this pop-stand and get the heck out of Dodge (read: Ohio). So right now our nebulous plan is to spend the fall and winter fixing up our house and getting rid of a bunch of our stuff, and then next spring move out of state.


(Our house doesn’t look this bad – or this cool – but we definitely need to do some work before we put it on the market)

It’s exciting finally having a plan and a concrete goal. We’re probably going to move to a smaller place, at least for the interim, so I’m trying to downsize a bunch of our possessions. It is time to scatter my earthly belongings all over the Goodwills of central Ohio! Well, maybe not that extreme, but I’ve accumulated a bunch of possessions over the past ten years that I definitely don’t need anymore. Sno-cone maker, I’m looking at you.

The end goal is to get us to a place where Travis actually works decent hours, or a schedule, like a normal human. Hopefully, we will also be a lot more organized and clutter-free, which will let us have the space to do some of the things we would like to do more of (photography related stuff and crafty related stuff for me, and homebrewing and general tinkering stuff for Travis).

Tree sweater

Also we’re planning on moving some place where we can get a lot better food than what we can find around here. Calzones and Italian sausage, here I come!

Anyway, this all leads me back to doing some shameless self-promotion. I try not to be all, “Oh, hey, I’m selling photography junk, so BUY MY STUFF NOW!” but I thought it might be worth a mention that I’m going to be doing some major updates to my Etsy shop this fall and winter. I have a lot of photography related equipment, film, paper, etc that I’m going to be offering for sale. I’m definitely not getting rid of everything (You can pry my mint green Savoy and my 8×10 contact printer from my cold dead hands), but there is a ton of weirdness and cool things I’ve picked up along the way that needs to find better homes than what I can currently offer. Because there is so much stuff I’m going to be posting, my item descriptions may be a little shorter than usual, but as always, if you have any questions about anything, just send me an Etsy convo. My shop also accepts credit cards now directly through Etsy, so you don’t have to deal with Paypal anymore if you don’t want to (hooray!).

As for Iceland? It was pretty amazing. I would highly recommend visiting there, especially if you (like us) were using it as your first trip abroad. Dealing with customs, driving in a new country, etc – all of that wasn’t scary at all. The hot dogs were freaking amazing. You can see some more of the Iceland pictures in my set on Flickr. It really inspired us to want to see more of the world (next stops: Costa Rica, Ireland, and Zambia!), but that will probably have to wait a little bit until our life settles back out again.


Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted lately. That happens. Sometimes I just hate communicating with the outside world (in real life, I’m pretty stunningly anti-social). I burned out a little bit on photography for a while, which also happens. Went on vacation, and hardly shot any pictures at all, despite the 14 tons of film I lugged around. The stars just weren’t aligned. Also, my beloved Nikon D40 broke a few days into the trip. It’s a shutter issue. I’m not too disappointed, as it’s 3 years old and has shot, quite likely, hundreds of thousands of pictures, but still: a bit of a bummer. Haven’t contacted a Nikon repair person yet to see how much it will cost to repair, but I may be looking at a new Nikon sometime in the future. I don’t really want to spend the money on one, but frankly, the Canon Powershot SX1IS that we also have just doesn’t even come close to the picture quality I got from the D40, even though it’s a few years newer. Not that the Powershot isn’t a good camera, it is, but we tend to use it primarily for its telephoto zoom than anything else.

So, the Nikon died, and the vacation wound up just not being a great one for photos (although I did manage to shoot off a roll of color infrared slide film when we were in Montreal! Potential win!). Conditions were weird, and I felt more like hanging out in the camper knitting than trying to force pictures that just weren’t there.

One of the things we did wind up doing on vacation was hitting up an awesome used book store in Middlebury, Vermont called Monroe Street Books. If we hadn’t had poor Bela waiting for us out in the truck, I think Travis and I both could have spent, oh, a few days inside. As is, we walked out over a $100 poorer, but with a cardboard box full of books and magazines (including, for Travis, a first edition of Michael Jackson’s – the beer guy, not the other Michael Jackson – World Guide to Beer).

I found the photography section at the end, maybe 5 minutes or so before we checked out, and wound up just tossing a few books into the pile based on just a glance. Ansel Adam’s ‘The Negative’? Sure, we’ll get that. Back issues of American Photography from 1938? Could be useful! Travis held up a book with a photo of darkroom equipment on the cover to show me, and without even opening it up, I nodded okay. We were drunk on the used books, and even though I hadn’t felt like doing any photography stuff in the past month or so, I couldn’t stop myself from buying them.

I paged through the old American Photography magazines at the camper, and each issue has at least one article in it that, even though it comes from a magazine over 70 years old, is still relevant now.

I didn’t start flipping through the Ansel Adams book until I got home, but it looks to be uber-technical, which, of course. It’s Ansel freaking Adams. I might be in the mindset at some time to concentrate and read through the book, but right now… no. It got set aside for a later day.

The big win, however, was the book I barely glanced at in the shop, the red book with the photo of the darkroom equipment on the cover. It’s ‘The Darkroom Handbook’ by Michael Langford. It looks like it’s out of print, but used copies were readily available at Amazon. I have to say, after going through this book, if you have any interest at all in doing anything with photographic paper beyond making a simple black and white print, you need this book. If you have any interest in making color prints or doing anything with color paper, you need this book. Seriously. Buy the hell out of it. It’s completely amazing and inspiring. I haven’t felt like doing anything with film or photo paper or cameras at all in the past few months, and I can open this book up to any page and it makes me want to burrow in a darkroom for days just to play.

I really like that it spends just as much time exploring the possibilities of color paper as it does with black and white. I still haven’t tried making any color prints yet, but damn! Now I have a million things I want to try with it. There are techniques that go back and forth, too – making prints on color paper with black and white negatives, using color slides to make black and white negatives or prints, toning black and white negatives with color and printing on color paper, etc. It’s all awesome! The edition I have was printed in 1981, and I’m sure there are chemicals and supplies that aren’t available anymore, but that doesn’t even matter, really. This book is all about showing the possibilities that exist, and by doing so, nudging you to go explore on your own.

So, for the first time in months, I have a few lumen prints going outside, which is nice, but nicer still is that I’m inspired to start doing darkroom stuff again. Maybe that’ll happen!

eta – I can’t believe I forgot to mention this! So, I was on vacation, camping, for a few weeks (as I’m wont to do), and the internet access we had was spotty and/or inaccessible. Also, my netbook isn’t set up to receive emails to all of my email address (I have a ridiculous amount of them). As is, I didn’t get any Flickr notifications until after I got home.

I haven’t been on Flickr in about a month, due to my photography malaise, so when I did have internet on vacation, I didn’t think to check my Flickr page. So, I didn’t receive the following Flickrmail until a few days after they were sent.

I received two from the same person, someone I don’t know and can’t ever having remembered encountered, either online or in real life. The two Flickrmails were sent twenty minutes apart, the newest one being titled READ THIS FIRST PLEASE. Bemused, I opened it up to see an apology from this person for having accused me of copying their photo. They said they had written the first mail before checking their version of the photo first, and could now see that the two were different.

Okay… No big deal – the person hadn’t left any comments on the actual Flickr photo page (or if they had, they had deleted them), and had only contacted me privately about it to begin with. But of course, I had to open up the first Flickr mail to see what it had said.

Just for context, here’s the photo in question:

Blue house

In the caption to the photo, I mention that it was an HDR image from a single RAW image. The photo was put on Flickr in April 2008, and all of the exif data is available to view.

Here’s the original Flickrmail I got accusing me of stealing the photo from this person (name omitted to protect the confused):

“I came across your photo entitled Blue House while I was Google mapping just earlier, and I have to say, I like how you colored it, since originally, it was a black and white photo. You even cropped the cars out of it, and as a result, it looks very nice.

The only thing is, that photo was not taken by you, Ms. Vance-Kuss, as you have asserted in the comments below, but by me. I did it for a Basic Photography class in high school during the fall/winter part of my senior year. I do not appreciate that you have falsely claimed the photo to be yours, however, I am not so petty as to make you take down something that you, too, have put your time and effort into. If you do not believe me, I have the negative (and the original photo somewhere that I developed) to prove it.

As such, I’m simply requesting that you give me some credit in the caption below for the original photograph. Also, I would like to know how you managed to get a hold of my photograph as well.

Thank you for you time,

So… just to be clear… this person saw my color, HDR, digital photo of a house in full public view on Flickr, a photo that has gotten a grand total of 148 views, that I posted over 2 years ago, and immediately thought that:

1. I have somehow seen this person’s black and white photo of the same house.
2. I managed to get my hands on either the print or the negative in some nefarious way.
3. I magically erased the vehicles in the original photo. (in 2008, without the newest version of Photoshop)
4. I colorized the entire thing.
5. I somehow made it magically HDR-y, despite only having a single black and white print of negative to work with.
6. I faked all of the exif data in the file to show up on Flickr like I had actually shot the photo.
7. And I posted it online. Two years ago. For absolutely no financial gain or any other motivation I can discern.

Awesome. Best accusation of copyright violation EVER! Also, I wish I was that freaking good with Photoshop.

Anyway, moral of the story is, don’t accuse someone of stealing your work unless you, oh, I don’t know, maybe actually check what your source material is first? Otherwise, you look like a doofus.

I didn’t write the person back, primarily because I’m still actively going through an anti-social phase – anything I wrote in response to this person, even though no harm was done, was bound to sound psycho. I’m not a professional photographer by any stretch, but still, I have at least a small reputation I’d like to keep intact. So in lieu of sending this person a WTF were you thinking?! Flickrmail that makes me sound crazycakes, I figured I’d just post about it here. Because really, it was pretty funny.

I am bribing you to read this post.

Imperial Satellite

Yes, there is the potential to win a free thing. I will tell you how at the bottom of this post. In case you just want to jump down there and read how to enter the contest, here’s the cliff notes version of the meat of this post – I started an Etsy shop for vintage camera stuff and photography-related funtimes. You can get to it through that link or through the widgety thingy on the side of the page.

Okay, long version now.

Whenever I get interested in a subject, I go way, way overboard. When it comes right down to it, I just really love learning how to do something. And I don’t just want to know the basics, no, I want to know why things happen, what the history is behind this subject, and hey, what happens if…? The what happens if? may be my favorite part.

I’m interested in photography – not just recovering found images, not just using old cameras and film, not just making prints – I’m interested in the whole big ball of photography. So, this has led to my accumulating a myriad of photographic stuff in order to experiment with.

And I’ve made some progress in narrowing down what I really like dealing with. There are certain cameras (the Savoy, the Yashica C, etc) I find myself reaching for, certain films that I have fallen in love with (Kodak E100G and Vericolor III, I yearn for you!). There are also things that, for whatever reason, I haven’t connected with as well. I really dislike dealing with 35mm film for the most part, although I’ve come across some ways to use it more joyfully. I have two Canon AE-1 35mm cameras, one with a wide lens and the other with a telephoto, and those are probably the only 35mm full frame cameras I need. This doesn’t mean 35mm is a bad format, it just is a personal preference. The same thing with Polaroid integral films. I’m absolutely thrilled that the Impossible Project has managed to raise these films from dead, and I do enjoy goofing off with my Polaroid One-Step every now and then, but it’s just not a camera I find myself reaching for frequently.

Basically, I have a lot of camera-related material that I’m not putting to full use. So, in the interest of making some excess cash (that will probably be funneled right into more photo paper or something like that), and also in the interest of getting this stuff to people who will actually use it a lot more than I currently am, I started a new Etsy shop called ‘i shoot film like it’s digital.’ Because I do.

Yes, I already have an Etsy shop up and running – Gaslight Dyeworks, which focuses on the yarn/fiber materials I produce. I figured, though, that I would probably be getting two entirely different customer bases, that I should have two different shops. However, if anyone does want to buy yarn and cameras at the same time, I will combine shipping. 🙂

Right now I have mainly cameras and some other paraphernalia listed. I’m slowly sorting out the equipment and materials I haven’t been using or have duplicates of – I currently own 4 Brownie Hawkeyes4! – and getting them listed in the shop. I haven’t started going through my film stash yet, but I’m sure that some of it will wind up there, too. That may include things like respooled 127 or 620 film.

Also, I’m planning on selling little bundles of found slides if people want to use them for crafty projects, and maybe selling some prints of my own photographs if I can actually print them and make them look decent. In addition, I’m also offering, conditionally and with no guarantees, film developing, particularly of film that has been neglected for a long time. I say conditionally because it would depend on how busy I currently am, and with no guarantees, because there’s no way that I can guarantee that a 35 year old roll of Kodacolor-X is going to develop. However, it is something I have some experience with, and something that other people may not have the time or resources to be able to try.

It’s my intent to keep the items available in the shop limited to things that are either interesting in some way or are actually still functional. Trust me, I’ve gotten enough boxes of crap from ebay to know exactly what to save and what to pitch from them. Also, if I’m selling a camera, for instance, that’s broken, I will come out and say that it doesn’t work. If I even suspect that the camera doesn’t work, like in this Ansco listing, I’ll say that, too. I’m in no way interested in selling things under false pretenses – I’m not going to be the person who lists a hundred cameras, and then coyly says in every description, “I don’t know anything about cameras!” I hate that.

It’s also my intent to keep the prices of what I’m selling actually in touch with reality. Do I want to make some money? Of course. But I don’t want to fleece people either. For example, I saw someone on ebay a while ago trying to sell a plain old Kodak Autographic Jr. for a buy it now price of $200. And the listing had a blurry picture with a one sentence description. Really? I guess, if someone buys that, they get what they deserved, but I don’t want to be that person. If I have a camera that I’ve tested out and works fine, if it’s clean, if it comes with additional stuff like a manual or box, I’ll have a higher price on it than a cheap little plastic camera that looks cute but is broken. My goal is to be fair.

I happen to be extremely uncomfortable with self promotion, and I definitely do not intend for this blog to be ‘Oh hey! I’m selling these things! Come give me moneys!!’ If I have something for sale that’s particularly neat, I may mention that, but for the most part, the Etsy widget on the side of the page will probably be the biggest mention of the shop here. I’m going to keep doing the photography related madness, just like usual. In fact, I have an order from Freestyle on the way that contains the few missing pieces to my brand new darkroom set up. Yay! Two word preview of coming attractions: lith printing. I haven’t tried it yet, in fact, I haven’t even successfully made a print using an enlarger yet, but is that going to stop me? No, of course not! Once my secret underground lair (read: makeshift darkroom in the bathroom) comes together, there’s no stopping me!

Which is all well and good, but by now you’re probably thinking, ‘For the love of god, wasn’t there something about winning a free thing?’ So, yes, let’s get back to this little number:

Imperial Satellite

Travis and I went trolling around the more Amish-y part of Ohio a few days ago, and I came home with an embarrassment of cameras. Most of these were bought at an antique store actually run by the Amish, which was a little strange. Anyway, as a gesture of thanks for reading about the shop, I’m giving away this camera as a prize. The winner will be picked at random from anyone who leaves a comment on this post between now and noon Eastern time next Friday (April 30).

Did I mention this?


The camera still has film inside. It’s on frame 10. So, if anyone wants to experiment with developing found film on your own, here’s a little bugger to get you started.

I haven’t advanced the film or opened the camera, so I don’t know what kind of film we’re looking at (I hope it’s not Triple Print!), or even if the camera still works. So, theoretically, this could turn out to be a dud. But, the camera is a cute enough little thing, so even if it’s full of FAIL, it’s still retro-nifty.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and for checking out this little photo blog in general. 🙂

Behold! A kerfluffle!

So, an interesting thing happened recently. I made some curtains. Maybe you’ve seen them?

Kodachrome curtains

They’re made out of old Kodachrome slides I bought last fall from an antique store in Kansas City. I got a lot of maybe 400-500 slides, plus a few other things, like a crate and a slide projector, for about $25. When Travis and I got home, we sat down on the floor of our living room and went through them, seeing what we had. It was a lot of fun. I scanned in most of them, uploaded some to Flickr, and then put them back in the box. A few months later, I finally got around to trying something I had been wanting to make for a while – a pair of curtains for my front door made out of the old slides. I needed curtains for door. I had slides that I appreciated and liked to look at. It seemed like a perfect match.

The project went together quickly enough, and 3 days later, I was able to hang them up on the door. Hooray! I took some photos, added them to a few groups on Flickr, and did a Craftster post about it, because Craftster is awesome and I’ve been inspired by a lot of projects on there in the past. I figured that because I posted on Craftster, I’d get some more hits than usual on my photos on Flickr, but I didn’t think much about it.

I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning Travis told me the views on my photo were in the thousands, which is crazily huge compared to the regular traffic. And that’s when things started to get a little weird. This is going to be a long post, people, so head on over the jump with me… Continue reading Behold! A kerfluffle!


Toby with ball

It’s been a while.

In all honesty, I was losing steam on the way I had this blog set up for a few weeks before Travis got sick, but after he did, that was pretty much the kiss of death. The most creative thing I did during the Great Sickness of Ought-Eight was to figure out how to get Travis to consume chicken broth.

After he got well, I decided to just put this blog on hiatus a bit until I figured out what I want to do with it. I think now I’ve finally got it sorted. I’ve always been more of a process orientated person, rather than product orientated. It’s hard for me to get up motivation to do something to solely achieve an end result. I get more enjoyment and satisfaction actually working through the steps of something rather than having a finished thing at the end of it all.

So, with that in mind, I think what I’m going to try to do with this blog is to go more in depth about my crafty endeavors. A catalog of FOs is nice, and there will probably still be some of that here, but I think I’d like to concentrate more on tutorials and things of that nature instead. So, the Yarnzombie mothership is still going to be, “Hey, I made socks; Barack Obama is awesome; Lost is spooky,” but this blog is going to be more on, “Hey, if you want to make socks similar to the ones I made, here are the steps I followed.”

We’ll see how it goes.

Also, coming soon: recipes! At least, one recipe. I’ll try to get it posted later today. Nom nom.