Diafine in the Summertime

New York Diptych

I hadn’t intended on doing any developing this weekend, but as we started trying out some of the new cameras, it seemed like the thing to do. I decided to give Diafine another chance, primarily because it was hot and I was lazy. It was already mixed up, and since you use water in place of a stop bath, there was one less chemical I had to deal with. Also, Diafine works well at warmer temps than other black and white chems, which was nice since I was developing out in the garage this time.

I had plenty of issues with Diafine last time, but this time went a little better, I think mainly because it was at a warmer temp. I’m still not crazy about it for sheet film. I have no idea why, but I just seem to get weird little dots and marks on the sheet film that don’t seem to show up on roll film. It probably has something to do with agitation.

So, here’s what Diafine is good for:

1. Developing found film. It absolutely rocks for this. It eats 60 year old Verichrome Pan like it’s a tasty dooughnut.

Mmmm, doughnuts…

2. Cross processing color negative film into black and white. The picture above was shot with Fuji NPS160, a color negative film. Dropped it into the Diafine, and it came out perfectly processed without having to stress out over developing time.

3. Developing film when the ambient temp is too warm for other black and white chems.

4. Developing film when you just have one or two rolls of film to work with, instead of an epic amount (which is how I normally develop).

So, what was I developing (besides the above roll of film, which was shot with the Savoy and left over from the New York trip)? Well, we started to get out some of our auction cameras and experiment with them. Or, I should say, Travis fell in love with a few cameras, so we started using those.

One of the first lots we won at the auction was a box filled with a bunch of miscellaneous cameras, the Agfa Readyset being one of them.

Agfa Readyset

It was the only camera I wound up getting that was loaded with a roll of film. It also came with a box, carrying case, and exposure guide. It’s in perfect condition, and Travis immediately bonded with it, so I guess it’s his now. He finished off the roll that was in the camera, and then immediately picked out a roll of Gevaert 620 that expired in 1947 to load into the camera.

Travis hearts the Readyset

And then he shot that roll up in about 40 minutes. It’s camera love, I tell you! I don’t even think I’ve touched the Readyset yet! Granted, the decades old roll of film was barely able to capture an image, but no matter. It’s now loaded up with some respooled Ektachrome that’s less than 10 years old. Fresh!

So, that’s Travis’ new camera. Here’s the one I’ve bonded with so far:

Revueflex E

It’s the mighty Revueflex E! Yeah, I’ve never heard of it before either. Apparently, it’s a rebranded version of the Zenit E, another camera I’ve never heard of before. All I know is that it’s big and clunky, the aperture ring seems to be the opposite of reality, it’s enitrely non-intuitive to use, and the lens sometimes looks like it’s getting ready to just give up and fall off the front of the camera. I kind of love it. I threw a generic roll of color negative film into it and am halfway through shooting the roll.

So Travis has the Readyset, and I’m having fun with the Revueflex, but we both can agree when it comes to one thing – the awesomeness of the RB Graflex Tele.

RB Telescopic Graflex

There is so much weird about this camera, I don’t even know where to begin. When it’s all closed up, it looks like a simple box with some metal mechanisms on one side of it. There is no obvious way to open up the front of the camera. We finally figured out that if you turn the knob at the bottom, the little door on the front of the camera pops open and the lens and bellows begin to extend.

Okay. But then how do you focus?

Hello, Tank!

Oh! You pull up on the handle on top of the camera, and a viewing hood extends up! And that’s when it hit us – this was not like our other Graphics. This was a true Graflex, a single lens reflex. That means there’s a mirror inside of the camera that allows you to focus, but then also flips up and out of the way when the shutter is pushed.

Oh yes, the shutter. Now how do we fire that?

Curtain aperture

Um… what in the who now?

It turns out that the metal mechanisms on the side control two things – which aperture setting the curtain shutter is set to, and the amount of tension that is used to pull the curtain down. So, if I wanted a shutter speed of 1/100, I’d round up to 1/110, and then set the curtain aperture at 3/8 of an inch (that’s the actual size of the hole in the curtain) and set the tension to 1.

That may sound really confusing, but after the first few tries, it started to make sense.

There’s actually some really cool features that the RB (or ‘Tank,’ as Travis named it, since it’s army green and black) has that Zarl and Zarl Jr don’t have. The viewing hood is really nice. It’s easy to focus, you don’t have to worry about glare, and you don’t have to worry about composing a shot and then having the camera move when you shove the film pack in, since you can load your film holder into the camera first, and then focus. Also, the “RB” in the name stands for ‘rotating back.’ That means the back of the camera will actually turn, so if you want to shoot a vertical photo, you don’t have to turn the entire camera or the tripod.

The RB takes 3 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ and special Graflex sheet film holders – apparently the regular ones don’t work in this particular camera. All we got at the auction was this particular camera, no extras. So you’d think that since we would need such specialty items, it would be a little while before we could try out this camera.

Well, not so! Turns out last summer, I bought a big lot of 4×5 film holders on ebay that also wound up coming with 3 3×4 film holders… specifically, the kind that you need to use with this camera. I never really thought much about them before, or noticed that they looked slightly different than the other film holders, but serendipitously, they turned out to be just what we needed.

Also, I wound up buying a pack of film (also on ebay) a few months back – I assume with the thought of using it in a pinhole camera – of Kodak Orthographic film. I know I bought it because it was originally supposed to be used with an electron microscope, and, well, electron microscopes are cool. But when it came, it turned out to be a lot smaller than I had anticipated, so I never opened it.

So, score on both counts, because the film fit into the film holders, albeit a little loosely. And since it’s orthographic film, it’s a lot slower than normal film – its film speed is rated at 12 (as opposed to 100 or 200, etc). We had to use slower shutter speeds and wide open apertures.

But keeping in mind the slightly bewildering developing affects from the Diafine, the actual image quality is pretty damn good.

Agfa Readyset portrait

Here’s a detail from the above photo at 100%:

Detail of the Readyset

Neat, huh?

We went to the camera show on Saturday, and I got a bunch of film, a new lens and lensboard for Zarl (it was cheap-ish, and the $5 lens made me nervous enough on vacation to want a reliable back-up), and a few boxes of old photo paper and glass plates (I know, I know… one more thing for me to try out). Most of the stuff for sale there, though, was more geared toward “The Camera Collector” – people who spend thousands of dollars on gear and shoot with Leicas and stuff like that. Which is fine, but not really what I’m into. I mean, there was almost no film for sale here – I guess because everyone shoots with in-date stuff and doesn’t deal with the expired film? Heresy!

Even with the film I did wind up getting, and the $3 box of glass plates, I still think Travis managed to find the score of the weekend – a pair of Kodak rocks glasses, which we used to drink copious amounts of alcohol while performing the Great Memorial Day Weekend Film Inventory:

The film inventory is still ongoing...


Speed Graphic Special

I swear, I didn’t intend for this to happen. I didn’t intend to go to Columbus Camera Group (the best camera shop I’ve ever been into – seriously, if you’re anywhere in a 3-4 hour radius of Columbus and are into film cameras, it’s completely worth the drive to visit) and walk out with a large format camera. However, being married to an enabler (“Don’t you want to look at the 4×5 cameras here? Are you sure you don’t want to get one now?”), I wound up walking out the door with Zarl.


Zarl is an old Speed Graphic camera that shoots 4×5 film. For some reason, there are two stickers on him that say “Zarl,” so that’s what I’ve started calling it. Anyway, Zarl is completely functional, and wound up costing me $75, which is the second most expensive old camera I’ve ever bought (the most expensive was the Rolliecord, which I never liked using, and wound up selling a few months after buying it).

I’ve wanted a proper (read: not made out of foamcore) large format camera for a while. The problem was, I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know how they worked. I didn’t know what I should be looking for in one. I was nervous about buying one off ebay, because although I have no problem buying small lots of film or old crappy cameras on there, I’m not too keen about spending a hundred dollars or more on an old piece of machinery I haven’t been able to handle in person.

And it’s not like I needed a great camera. I’m not a professional photographer, I just think taking and developing photos is neat. I know nothing about quality of lenses or anything like that. So, when I was at CCG, after being prodded by Travis to look at the large format cameras they have there, I explained that what I wanted was something functional that I could learn on. A starter 4×5 camera. And they showed me Zarl.

Zarl is a Speed Graphic camera made by the Graflex corporation, which basically rocked the large-format press cameras for about 4 decades. There’s a ton of information about Graflex cameras here. The model that I have, a Speed Graphic, is a little different from the rest of the cameras in the Graflex stable.

Speed Graphic Special

For one thing, it’s considerably heavier than other Graflex models. It weighs in at over five pounds, sans film holder. That’s heavy, especially if you are, like me, someone with pretty much no muscle mass whatsoever. You see footage of old school newspaper men taking handheld pictures with their Graflexes, and let me tell you, those guys were in a lot better shape than I am. I have to use a tripod with this camera. A sturdy tripod.

The main difference, though, is that the Speed Graphic doesn’t just have a shutter on its lens, it also has what is called an internal focal-plane curtain shutter. What the heck is that, you may ask? Well, it’s a big honking shutter in the back of the camera near the film holder that can shoot at speeds of up to 1/1000 of a second. The shutter on the lens, on the other hand, can only shoot at 1/100 of a second. The fast speed of the curtain shutter gives the Speed Graphic its name.

The curtain shutter is what gives the Speed Graphic its extra weight, too. I’ve read a couple of articles talking about the curtain shutter as being an optional feature to the camera, which it is, but I’ve already found it useful – The picture taken below was shot in bright sunlight using a pretty wide open aperture on 100 speed film. Normally, I’d have to close the aperture to something like f16, which would give me wider depth of field, but I wanted the DOF to be pretty shallow. So I used an aperture of f3.5, and a shutter speed of 1/1000.

Tmax 100 DOMO!

That picture was shot with the Domo just inches away from the lens. Which is awesome, because that means I can take macro pictures with this big-ass camera. I love shooting macro pics!

Because the Speed Graphic has an internal shutter, this means I can use something called barrel lenses on the camera. Most large format lenses include not only the actual lens, but a shutter element as well. These LF lenses tend to be crazy expensive, costing anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Which is unfortunate for me, because while I enjoy the macro shooting ability of the 75mm lens Zarl came with, it turns out that a 75mm lens on a 4×5 camera is massively wide angle, and when the camera is shooting focused on infinity, doesn’t come close to covering a sheet of 4×5 film.

Garage and van

It makes a perfect, charming, vignetted circle on the film (my scanner can’t scan in the width of 4×5 sheet film – it cuts off the top and bottom. But trust me, it’s a perfect circle). I actually quite liked it in this shot:

The van photo

It kind of looks like something from a Beastie Boys video!

So, as good as the 75mm lens is at macro photography, I’m going to need to get another lens for it. Anything in the 135mm to 200mm range should do. I don’t particularly want to spend the money on a new lens, which brings me back to the barrel lenses – barrel lenses are just that: lenses. They don’t feature a shutter element, and some of them don’t even have an adjustable aperture element (I guess those were just mainly for portrait photography). They tend to be less expensive than other large format lenses, apparently because a lot of LF cameras can’t use them, due to the lack of the shutter. However, since the Speed Graphic has an internal shutter, the barrel lenses are an alternate option for me. Now I just need to find one…

Actually shooting a picture with this camera is kind of a crazy process. It’s definitely the most challenging camera I’ve worked with before. When I was reading about the Speed Graphics I read on one of the pages a quote that went something like, “This is a camera that will increase your skill as a photographer every time you use it.” I like that.

So, here’s what I have to do when I want to shoot a picture with Zarl:

1. Haul camera, tripod, and loaded film sheet holder to whatever I’m wanting to take a picture of.

2. Set up tripod, place camera on tripod, try desperately not to knock the whole shebang over.

3. Open up camera. In my particular case, the one massive flaw that Zarl has is that the button that pops open the camera has disappeared. So, I’ve taken to jamming the little metal spoke that controls that mechanism with the metal tip of my shutter release cable. That seems to work out okay.

4. Remember to drop the camera bed. I have to do this with the lens I currently have on Zarl, otherwise, the camera bed shows up in the bottom of the picture. The picture of the van, above? The scanner cropped that out, but the very bottom of it has the camera bed in it.

5. Open up the viewfinder hood and see if there’s any light coming through the ground glass. In order to focus, I have to make sure that both shutters on the Speed Graphic are open. That means that both the curtain shutter and the lens shutter are set to the T setting (Timer) and clicked open. The lens aperture also needs to be set to pretty wide open in order to get enough light to see the image correctly.

6. Compose and focus the image. Upside down. Because here’s what it looks like through the ground glass:

Another look

7. Adjust the aperture to where you’re actually going to shoot with.

8a. If shooting with the lens shutter, click the timer button again to close the shutter, and then set the shutter to whatever speed you’re going to shoot with, or…

8b. If shooting with the curtain shutter, click the curtain shutter button to close the curtain shutter, and then set the shutter to whatever speed you’re going to shoot with.

9. Say a quick prayer to whatever deity you choose, and then shove the sheet film holder into the back of the camera. This is seriously the hardest part – the Speed Graphic has a spring back, which means that the possibility of the camera moving when you do this is high, even if the camera is on a tripod. If you jostle the camera, especially on a close-up shot, you have to remove the film holder (because you can’t see an image through the ground glass with the film holder in place) and go back to step 5. The picture of Domo above is slightly out of focus because I jostled the camera a little bit when putting the film holder inside. I’ve gotten a little bit better about trying to hold the spring back open and carefully placing the holder inside, but it’s still pretty tricky.

10. Remember to move the dark slide out of the film holder before taking the picture.

11. Finally, you’re ready to take the picture. Say cheese!

I know that made it seem really complicated, but the truth of the matter is that I’ve shot about 10 pictures with Zarl and it already feels intuitive. It’s just like using an unfamiliar sewing machine – it can seem really scary and intimidating at first, and then after a few minutes it all seems to make sense.

I’m thrilled with this camera. It’s not in the best cosmetic shape, it’s currently outfitted with this wacky periscope lens, and it has ZARL stickers on it, but it works. It’s a heck of a lot easier for me to learn about large format photography when I actually have an LF camera in front of me.

And the image quality! My god! It’s amazing! I guess a lot of LF photographers focus while using a loupe against the ground glass, but I’ve just been winging it. So, when I blow the photos up to their maximum size in Photoshop, I can see that things are slightly out of focus, but no so much it matters. For example, I’ve been scanning in my negatives at 3200 dpi. The picture of the van, above? Here’s a detail from it:

Dodge detail

And that’s probably a bad example, since the picture was slightly out of focus, but you get the idea. There’s almost no grain at all.

I’ve just shot with black and white film so far, but the grays are so smooth, and the amount of detail is insane. When I blew this picture up, I could see individual little flecks of dust on the car (and no, it wasn’t because my neg was dirty!).

Dodge Dart

Most of the film I’ve used in Zarl so far has been expired 4×5 Kodak Tmax 100. However, I had a film holder loaded with some of the Arista Ortho Lith film in it, so I tried shooting a few pictures of the Domo with that as an experiment. Ortho Lith film is something that I’ve just started using, so I’m not totally comfortable with it yet. It’s film that acts like it is photo paper. It’s very slow. So, where I used an aperture of f3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/1000 with the Tmax, I used the same aperture but a shutter speed of 1/25 with the ortho lith film.

Ortho lith film can be developed in black and white paper developing chems. Or, you can develop it in special ortho lith developer (sometimes referred to as A+B developer) and get a solely black and white image, devoid of gray tones. I have some of the A+B developer, but haven’t tried using it yet. I have been developing my ortho lith film in black and white paper developer, but when I tried developing one of the Domo shots the other night, it came out clear, which probably means my paper developer puked on me and I need to mix up a new batch.

Because I’m lazy, instead of doing that, I dropped the other Domo 4×5 ortho lith picture in the HC110b (which is for developing film) to see what would happen. Well, guess what – it developed the ortho lith film just fine.

Ortho Domo!!

You can see the tones are slightly different than the picture shot on Tmax. In real life, Domo is brown, and has a bright red mouth. The ortho lith film reads the red as black, making his mouth very dark, and his body darker than the Tmax photo. I actually like the way ortho Domo came out better than the way Tmax Domo did.

The ortho lith experiment has opened up a few doors for me, because a box of 50 sheets of ortho lith film from Freestyle cost $17, as opposed to a box of 50 sheets of 4×5 Tmax 100, which costs $65. I may not be able to sub in ortho lith film for everything I’d shoot using regular black and white (mainly because I think that skies will probably be washed out with the ortho lith film), but I can use it for a lot of other subjects.

Oh, HC110b, is there anything you can’t do?

I still have a ton of stuff to write about with the big C41 developing bonanza of this week, so I’ll try to get to those things in the next few days.

A new pinhole camera

About a week ago, I made another new foamcore 4×5 pinhole camera:

The new Bollywood Pinhole camera

I’m calling it the Bollywood pinhole camera, due to the paint and the bling. I wanted to bling it out more, but was afraid that I would have problems with bling flying off whenever I removed rubberbands holding the film holder in place.

Actually, I barely need to use rubberbands, since the film holder fits so snug.

Back of the Bollywood pinhole camera

I haven’t been using a back cover for it, either, although I might fashion one. Some of the pictures look as if they’re a little light leaky.

I made this camera to replace the Exposed Pinhole camera, which, although functional, wasn’t as pinhole-y as I liked. The focal length was too long, so all of the pictures just turned out looking kind of normal. I intended on making the Bollywood pinhole really wide angle, but screwed up my measurements and wound up with a focal length of about 46mm. So, better than the Exposed pinhole, but not really amazingly distorted.

Mr. Pinhole said I should use a pinhole of .286mm, but that’s smaller than any of the drill bits we have, so I just winged it. Whatever pinhole I’m using is smaller than .34mm (that’s our smallest drill bit), but I didn’t feel like scanning it in and trying to measure it. I’m lazy. I just kind of assumed it was around .28mm, which would make the fStop f164, but after seeing the results of the pics I took, it may be even smaller. So, I think I underexposed everything a bit, which is a nice change from overexposing everything, which is what I typically do.

Of course I went and shot a bunch of pics with this camera before I tried developing any of them, including about 10 or 12 at Franklin Park Conservatory using slide film. Hey, it’s only 4×5 color reversal sheet film! No big deal! [sobs]. At least with the slide film, I’ll be able to tell for certain about the light leaks and underexposure.

Hey!  It's me!

So, after shooting a bucket full of 4×5 film with the brand new camera, I developed some of it yesterday. My first round of developing was using the Arista print developer for the photo paper and the ortho lith film. Here’s a 20 second exposure with the ortho lith film in the Bollywood:

Dodge Dart

I may suck at developing, but I rock at making pinholes. Look how sharp the details are! Maybe some of that is due to the choice of film, but damn! Shiny!

After I got done with the print developer, I mixed up some HC110b from syrup and developed the regular black and white film. I didn’t have much of it. I had a roll of old Ilford Pan F that I exposed in the Pindiana camera. The negatives were wonderfully contrasty, but unfortunately, I didn’t really like anything on the roll. Except for this picture, which turned out okay.

Drive by pinholing

I tried developing an old roll of instamatic Kodacolor II that expired in 1976 in the HC110b with the thought that maybe I could recover some images in the black and white developer, but no go. The negatives came out basically opaque. This was from the same lot of 126 film I was bitching about earlier that I tried developing in the color chems, and nothing came out. I think I still have a few unshot rolls from the lot. I may just try cracking the 126 plastic cases open in daylight (so I can, hopefully, be careful and not shatter them all to hell), extract the film, pitch it, and then use the case and backing paper to respool 35mm onto it. I like the wacky square images of 126 film, and I hate to have 47 million instamatic cameras not being used for anything.

Besides those two rolls, the only other film I developed was some Tmax 100 I shot in the Bollywood pinhole. This was a 4 second exposure:

More van!

Still a bit dark, isn’t it? And it looks like a little light leak-y along the one side. Not too bad, though. Here’s a windmill:


I cropped this one, but if you go to the large size of it, you can see there’s a line of developer bubbles along the top edge. I did tank developing for this batch, and it seemed to go a lot better than the tray developing, but when I use my small tank (with the cracked lid), I need to remember to switch out lids. Or just use the swirly kind of agitation rather than doing inversions. I think I lose too much developer and add too much air (creating the bubbles) when I do inversions.

Two other things I developed yesterday – one is a sheet of ortho lith film I shot using an anamorphic pinhole camera. I used a tube that had held pumpkin spice cookies as my camera, with the pinhole in the lid.

1st go at an anamorphic pinhole shot

Crappy photo, but neat effect. I just need to aim it at something else. This was a 25 second exposure.

The other thing is a piece of 5×7 photo paper I used in my DeCecco Pasta tin pinhole camera. Focal length is 64mm, pinhole is .3429mm, fStop is f190, exposure was 2 minutes, which actually turned out to be about perfect.

Pasta tin pinhole

Yesterday’s paper developing went a lot better than it had previously. Not only did I process it in a tank instead of a tray, but I also tried warming up the developer a little bit. I still have a sheet of 8×10 I need to develop, though – will have to get out the trays for that, unfortunately.

I’m planning on starting to do my shitload of E6 developing sometime this week. I still have all of the 4×5 pinhole shots I took on vacation last fall, the batch of 4x5s I took at the conservatory on Friday, and about 5 or 6 random rolls of 120 I need to develop. I’m going to use my big ass sheet film tank for the 4×5.

Film Tank

Using this is a pain in the butt, because it requires 1500ml of fluid, which is a lot more developer than I normally mix up at once. Also, I can’t do inversions with it, so I wind up just swirling everything around and making a colossal mess. It’s pretty nervewracking.

So, hey, here’s a funny thing. Since I was going to write about doing the E6 developing, I went and got the instruction sheet from the last time I did it to look over it. And in doing so, I realized that I had done the developing completely wrong the last time I developed slide film. Whoops! Also, one more bit of proof that I’m the Worst Developer in the World. Apparently, you’re supposed to wash the film between the first developer and the color developer, and also between the color developer and the Blix. Yeah. I didn’t do that. At all. In the end, I’m not sure how much that mattered. I mean, I did get results last time.

Jefferson Memorial at night

Still, though, the whole rinsing thing might increase how long the chems will be useable. And I still never tried the thing I wanted to with the E6 developing, namely, replacing the first developer with black and white developer to see what happens. I may try that this time, after I develop all of the E6 stuff that I care about. The instructions (which I clearly didn’t read thoroughly enough last time) state that when you reuse the E6 chems, you need to add time to the first developer to compensate for that weakening, but that the color developer and the Blix don’t weaken with reuse. So, if I can just replace the first developer with, say, HC110b, I should be able to reuse my slide chems like woah.

Also want to try developing E2 film with cold E6 chems to see if that works. I don’t think I ever tried cross processing C41 film into E6 chems, either. Hopefully, since I’ll be mixing up such a big batch of chems this time and using the big sheet film tank and the taller Patterson tank, I can get through the developing faster.

Bubbles, smears, and doom

Have I mentioned that I am the World’s Worst Film Developer? Because I totally am. I blame it on the fact that I have no formal training in photography at all. Also, I’m using a developing tank that leaks and a thermometer that has only the vaguest grasp on the actual temperature.

I’ve never let any of that stop me, though! No, I just charge blindly ahead, haphazardly mixing up chems and dunking film and watching in amazement when a suggestion of an image appears on a fresh negative.

I spent the past few days doing a batch of C-41 developing. I had something like 30 rolls of color film backed up, so I mixed up a liter of color chems. I used Arista’s C-41 liquid kit. At this point, I’ve tried the liquid kit and the Unicolor powder C-41 kit, and I think from now on I’m just going to order the Unicolor kit. It’s cheaper, and seems to work just as well.

The kit is supposed to develop something like 8 rolls of 35mm film, but like I said, I had 30 I needed to develop, so I just kept going and going and going. I did about 14 rolls (mainly 120, 35mm, and 126) the first day, and 16 the next. The second day, I added some chems from a Kodak Flexicolor developer replenisher kit into the developer. I didn’t know whether it would help or hurt, and I didn’t really have any directions for it, but I kind of just thought, ‘What the hell!” and threw it in. I don’t think it hurt anything, but I think I probably should have started adding it after I developed my first 6 or 8 rolls of film.

I finished almost all of the film I wanted to develop, and was going to do my last two C41 rolls and then try developing some older color film (Kodacolor X and Triple Print) with room temp chems, when I realized that the chems I were using had gotten seriously funky. Like, this funky:

At the drive in

It actually was not the dark creepy night of the apocalypse when I took this picture. That’s courtesy of my near-exhausted C41 chems, just barely able to gasp for breath. So, I decided to be done with the color processing for right now. Still, 28 or so rolls of film out of a kit that was only supposed to do 8 is pretty good (if you overlook the fact that a lot of the pictures have serious weirdness going on with them).

Have I mentioned that my developing tank leaks? It does, like a sieve, when I do inversions. The lid is cracked. It’s a bummer, and messy. I wear gloves when I develop, and hold a towel around the tank to try to minimize flinging Blix everywhere. It’s a pain in the butt. Also, I wind up getting pictures like this:

Horses II

Check out that sky. Bubbly! I thought that the sky bubbles were due to some weirdness in the temperature of the chems, but yesterday I tried stirring the chems using the swizzle stick thingy instead of doing inversions, and that seemed to solve the problem. Instead of bubbles, I got smeary things instead.

Not that I’m complaining about any of this (well, the leaky tank sucks, but I don’t feel like buying a brand new one). Maybe because I have absolutely no formal training in photography whatsoever, that allows me to not be really anal about what I’m doing. The only real bummer during this stretch of developing was that none of my 126 Instamatic film turned out. I guess that was to be expected, since it had expired in 1976 and 1981, but that was still disappointing. Plus, I always wind up destroying the Kodak Instamatic cartridges in order to remove the film, so I can’t even reuse the cartridges for respooling. Sadness.

I’ve got a ton of pictures to upload to Flickr, and some other photo-related posts I want to do here, so hopefully I’ll get some more posts up here soon. But until then, here’s a few pics:

Amish from above



Oh, in case I’m not the only person in the whole world still messing with 116 and 616 cameras, I started a Flickr group for them. So far I’m the only member, which is hilarious and sad. So if anyone out there wants to share the 116 love, feel free to join. I’m so terribly, terribly lonely… 🙂

In which I find a use for junk

My dining room table is covered with camera junk, so I tried organizing it today. Now I have 4 medium sized bins with organized camera junk in them. So, I’ll have to find a spot for the bins to live. It’s a never ending battle. And the dining room table is still covered in camera junk!

Anyway, finally got up the nerve to detach the face of the Autographic 2A from the bellows. I had to tell myself that the main body of the camera was trashed, and that I was giving new life to the parts that still functioned correctly. It was still a little nerve wracking, though. I looked for a simple way to remove the face from the bellows, but if there was one, I couldn’t find it. I finally just wound up cutting the front of the bellows around the back of the face with an Exacto knife. Not exactly elegant, but it worked.

I was happy with the pinhole I made when I tried out the 2A earlier this week, but I wasn’t happy with how it looked. I basically made my pinhole in the center of an aluminum circle, and used electrical tape to tape it to the front of the shutter mechanism, therefore covering up everything that made it look awesome to begin with. I tried to figure out a better, more attractive solution today, and came across a box of broken watch parts Travis had picked up at an antique store a while ago. There’s all sorts of tiny gears and springs in there, and, more importantly, watch faces of a bunch of different sizes. What I did was cut my aluminum circle down and then taped it firmly to the back of a watch face (electrical tape, again, that stuff is my crack), making sure I centered up the pinhole with the center hole of the face. Then I superglued that to the ring the lens screwed into in front of the shutter.

Time to make a pinhole camera!

The shutter is about 1/4 inch behind the watch face, so it still operates smoothly. I had a bit of a light leak, but I think I managed to fix that by wrapping some cord in electrical tape and shoving that in the cracks. It looked light tight to me after I did that, but I guess I won’t know until I do a test run.

I still need to make the basic box, of course. I was originally thinking about constructing it out of black foamcore, and then wrapping the entire box with chunks of 120 backing paper. Decoupage would have been involved. I like this idea because I have a ton of backing papers saved up (I can never bring myself to throw them away unless they get torn) and I think it would look cool, but also because the backing papers would hopefully make it even more light tight. However, I think I may save that idea for another pinhole camera. I don’t really want to take anything away from the old 2A face, so I may make the outside of it out of birch plywood of something like that. Something simple. I’ll have to see what scraps I have in the garage. The inside will probably still be made out of the black foamcore, though.

I think I’m going to go make it about 2 1/2-3″ deep. I’d rather have aswide of an angle as possible, but I’m still afraid of getting a bunch of vignetting in the pictures. 3″ should work.

Randomly, here’s another picture from the Mad Developing Spree. This was taken with the Savoy and shows off the weird distortion of this camera. I heart it.

Bent World

Developing more film, la!

Here’s a miscellany of developing updates.

The 116 film actually worked! Holy crap! Granted, you could barely see anything on the negatives, and the film scanned in with some crazy color shifts and was fogged, but it’s all good.

Scenes from the Nightmare Carousel

I shot some Kodak black and white Portra that’s meant to be developed in C-41 chems, and actually wound up liking it quite a bit more than I had anticipated.

Grainy Lincoln

Developed the roll of expired E100G slide film that I shot in the Savoy in color chems, and fell in complete love with this picture:

Fuzzy ducklings

One of the things I developed but haven’t uploaded anything to Flickr was a roll of redscale 35mm that I shot in a pinhole camera. The scans of the negatives really seem grainy (not in a good way) and dusty, and I’m just meh about them. Redscale. Whatever. I think that’s a technique that I’m glad I tried once, but probably won’t go back to it (unless by accident).

After I got my color processing done, I busted out the Adox ATM 49 developer to try that for the first time. I bought it since I got a few rolls of Adox CHS Art 25 film from Freestyle. I only shot one roll, but it turns out the developer conveniently comes separated into two batches of chems, and can be used for processing other black and white film, too.

I had two big FAILs regarding the black and white rolls. The first came with a roll of Efke infrared 127 film. I had tried to rig a good infrared filter to use for that, but I think I just succeeded in making an absolutely opaque piece of glass instead. The entire roll turned out blank except for the frame numbers. I wasn’t too bummed by that, since I was guessing that it probably wouldn’t work.

The other FAIL involves a roll of Fomapan R100 film. That’s black and white reversal film, which I had never played with before. It sounded cool, so I ordered it from Freestyle and shot it in DC. However, after I got back, I realized that you’re supposed to send it in to have it processed, since it takes some magical processing chems I don’t have access to. Well, screw. I decided against sending it in and paying money to have it processed and thought I’d just have a go at developing it in regular black and white chems. I knew I wouldn’t get slides, but I thought I’d get something.

The film came out really dense and grainy, which was disappointing. I didn’t expect the negatives to have the dark orange hue that they did. Actually, when I saw how the negatives came out, I wondered if I would have been better off waiting to develop that roll in E6 chems. I’m not sure if I have any more of this or if I just bought the one roll, but if I do, I think that’s what I’ll try.

Everything else came out decent, though. Here’s a couple of shots using the Adox 25. These were shot using the Canon AE-1 and a yellow filter.


From behind

I also followed through on my 116 pinhole camera attempt. I converted the Kodak Autographic 2A into a pinhole camera and shot a roll of old, funky Ilford Pan F in it. The pinhole worked great, but the camera had some serious light leakage.


No worries, though. Now I’m thinking about just removing the front part of the camera and attaching it to a box that I can use 4×5 sheet film holders in. I just need to get up the motivation to build said box and the nerve to tear apart a beautiful, but light leaky, old camera. It’s scary!

The black and white roll of film I was happiest about happened to be the roll of Orwo NP22 film I shot in the Yashica C. It turned out fantastic! I think the film expired in the early 80s, and I had no idea how it had been stored (I got it off ebay), but it wound up having a really neat crackling effect to it.

Phoenix Recycling

And, of course, the Yashica is just always awesome.


So, now I’m trying to decide if I want to mix up a batch of E-6 chems and give that a go. I think I may try it in a few days. I’ve got 5 rolls of slide film shot, but I figured I may as well try developing some other stuff in it, because why the hell not? Specifically, I thought I’d try a roll of C-41 (backwards crossprocessing!) and maybe shoot some 4×5 black and white sheet film to see what happens to black in white film in E-6. I also have some old rolls of film – Kodacolor, some E-2 film, probably some Triple Print crap. I figured I can try some really long, room temperature processing of that stuff to see if anything comes out. I was planning on trying developing the E-2 stuff using Moominsean’s method, but I’ve got multiple rolls of E-2 film, so if doing it in E-6 doesn’t work, I’ll try his way next time. I was going to do some of the older Kodacolor and Triple Print stuff in the C-41 chems, but it slipped my mind. So now I’ll try cross processing them. I just figure if I take the attitude that it’s probably not going to work anyway, if I do manage to get an image, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’ve got a bunch of new film recently, too.


I’m most excited about the roll of 70mm Konica. I’m going to use that to respool rolls of 116 film. Yay! Picked up a lot of old (circa 1990s) C-41 film. Most of it (and the Ektachrome) is 220, though, so I’ll have to cut it down. I keep meaning to load a roll of 220 into the Yashica and see if I can reset the fram numbers in the middle of the roll. That would save me a lot of time.

I’m awash in 120/220 color film right now, actually, which means that I think I’m going to start using up my stash of Portra 160 NC (i.e., the most boring film known to man) as black and white film. The one time I developed it in black and white chems I thought it came out great.

The garage next door

Now that I think about it, what I need to do before I mix up the E-6 chems is to shoot some Portra NC so I can cross process it. Maybe it does something really outstanding as a slide. I kind of doubt it, but there’s always a shot.

More about the Canon Powershot SX1 IS

I’m a bit more familiar with the Canon Powershot now than I was last night, so here are my latest thoughts.

The bad:

1. The RAW situation is still uber-irritating. The Canon software to manipulate RAW images isn’t as good as Photoshop, and I’m pissed that I have to use two separate programs to edit images instead of just one. Hopefully when the Photoshop update comes out that will have the Canon RAW files figured out, it will work on my version of Photoshop, since I’m not running the most current edition.

2. It takes AA batteries. I hate that. Just give me one awesome rechargeable battery like the Nikon has, please.

3. It doesn’t have a filter mount on the front of the lens. I really like having a UV filter or something on a camera to protect the lens. Fortunately, I can buy an aftermarket filter adapter for it.

4. There are a set of three buttons on the back of the camera that I keep accidentally hitting when I hold the camera. That changes settings, and then I have no idea what the hell just happened. Those buttons really need to live somewhere else.

5. The dial on the back of the camera that changes the SCN settings (like, from Portrait to Sunset to Snow) is really sluggish. It moves quickly, but doesn’t seem to update the selection right away.

6. It looks like the longest long exposure shutter speed available is 15 seconds. So much for long exposure night sky shots.

7. The camera has two aspect ratios that it will shoot still photos in. Unfortunately, you can’t shoot RAW photos in the wider aspect ratio.

8. The camera has a lot of settings you can’t use if you set the camera to Auto, for example, continuous shooting. That kind of bugs.

There are some other things that I’m having problems with, ut I’m not sure if they’re user error or camera flaws. This morning, all of the pics I took were coming out grainy.

Baseball, deconstructed

However, in the afternoon, I tried setting the camera’s ISO to 80, and I think that may have helped. I kind of don’t have any idea what I’m doing in regards to the whole ISO thing. (I just checked the exif data on my pics from this morning, and it seems that the ISO had been set at 800, for whatever reason. That may have been the problem after all.)

Also, my pics seem to be coming out really contrasty.

Bela, looking up

If I could easily edit the RAW data of these images, it wouldn’t be a big deal, because I could fix (or, at least, lessen) the problem in about 2 seconds. However, the whole RAW debacle just makes me want to record images in all JPG for the time being. Which brings me to another thing… right now I seem to be getting a max resolution of 180 dpi… surely my max resolution should be more than that? I’m not sure if shooting in both RAW and JPG is weirding up my settings. Maybe my resolution will go up when I switch to just shooting JPG.

Now, for The Good:

1. The zoom lens is pretty awesome. Even though my pics from this morning were grainy, I still managed to get some nice zoomage.

Zoomed cemetary

I was very far away when I took that picture, and could have zoomed in more.

2. The LCD viewscreen is very bright, and it also moves around like a transformer.

Tiltable viewscreen

That will be very handy for me, since I like to take pics with the camera setting on the ground.

3. Unlike the Nikon, this camera will auto bracket exposures. That means it can take 3 different exposures of the same subject for use in turning into an HDR.

HDR, David's Van, Canon Powershot

4. The macro seems to be pretty powerful, although I’m having to crop a lot to get the picture I like.

Hop leaf

5. The white balance actually seems to be better than the Nikon’s, although I didn’t test it extensively.

6. I can shoot video (both regular and HD) with this. That’s pretty awesome.

7. Also, I can zoom in and out while recording a video.

8. Also (again), I can shoot pictures while recording a video, although that function is a little wonky, and it would probably just be better to edit out still images from a video after it was done recording.

9. The camera hooks right up to the TV so that you can view pictures and video with no additional parts (although if you have an HDTV, I think you need to buy an extra cable or something).

All in all, I’m pretty positive about this camera. It has some design flaws, and the RAW thing is just mind bogglingly stupid, but besides that, it’s a pretty nifty piece o’ work. Once I get the ISO thing smoothed out, and figure out what a few of the buttons mean, I should be good to go.

Trial and error

Savoy, sabattier

I am now awash with color chems. I made my Freestyle order a while ago and got 3 different color chemical sets. There’s an E-6 kit, which I won’t be getting into until after I get back from DC (Travis and I are going to Washington DC next month – hooray!), the Arista C-41 liquid kit that I got last time, and a Unicolor C-41 powder kit. The Unicolor kit makes 2 liters of color chems, so I think I’m going to try mixing a third of that up – that should give me about 666 ml of chems, which is about perfect to develop two 35mm rolls of film at once. Oh, I also got some Flexicolor C-41 developer/replenisher off of ebay. Not too sure exactly how I’m going to use that, but since it’s the color developer that tends to go funky, not the Blix, I figured it was a good investment for just $3.50.

Anyway, barring any unforeseen calamity, I should be giving color developing a go tomorrow. Which is good, because I have a gigantic backlog of color film that needs to be developed (including some old Kodacolor II 127 and 126 film – process C-41, though!). We put a telephoto lens on our spare Canon AE-1 and have had film in that constantly. We keep it in the dining room to take pictures of the birds at the birdfeeders. We’re geeks. Since we were shooting so much with that camera and I wasn’t doing any color processing at the time, we got a roll developed at CVS to see how the lens was working.


AE-1 Crocii

Setting aside CVS’ shitty processing, the lens and camera seem to be working just fine. I was concerned that we needed to replace the battery since the one it has in it has been in there for years (this AE-1 used to be my dad’s), but it’s all good. The lens has a slight wonkiness to it that I like. Kind of tilt-shifty.

Been messing around with pinhole cameras.

Ominous spring

That was a picture from some TMax I taped to 126 backing paper and used in the 126 pinhole cam. I got series image overlap and can’t really understand why. Oh well.

The photo at the top of this post is from the Hannakube pinhole camera. It looks all funky because I tried to get the Sabattier effect by exposing it to light midway through the developing process. It probably could have gone better.

Since I’m getting ready to develop a bunch of color film, I popped one of the sheets of Kodak Edupe Ektachrome 4×5 film into the Hannakube and took a picture with it. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, since I have no idea how to use the Edupe film actually as film. I did about a 1-2 second exposure. Anyway, I’ll try to develop that tomorrow (cross-processing) to see if I got anything on the film.

I finally tried out my film cutter today. I got this a few weeks ago off of ebay. It’s set up to trim 120 film down to 127 sized. Using it was not exactly graceful.

Oh, the humanity!

I was trimming a roll of Kodak Portra 160NC 220. I wound up with two rolls of 127 film, plus some extra that I just wound up exposing to light since I didn’t have another roll of 127 backing paper and spool accessible. Oh well. Now I know for future reference. Here’s how the cutter works:

Film trimming

It’s pretty simple. The trick is to not press down to hard on the top, lest you tear the film/paper. All in all, a worthwhile investment.


I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille!

Focus. I needs it. I think my problem is that I have too much shit – I’m overwhelmed with the amount of cameras I have, to the point where I some I haven’t even tried out yet, plus now I’m getting back into making pinholes again – it’s too much. The result is that when I go out to take pictures, I have a buttload of cameras I’m taking with me, and I wind up just getting flustered and wanting to make sure I try out everything. Not good.

Anyway, yesterday I tried making a Polaroid pinhole camera using some Polaroid film boxes and got a massive FAIL instead. Wasted two shots of 600, which isn’t tragic, but with how expensive (and near-extinct) integral film is, I kind of don’t want to be wasting more of it than I have to. I think I’m going to wait to do further experimentation with Polaroid pinholes once I get the extra Fuji peel-apart film in. At least they’re still making that.

So, instead of having a play day with the Polaroid, I took a few shots with my new pinhole cameras and then screwed around with the Lensbaby some.

Forsythia buds

Waiting for sun


Later on at night, Travis and I went out to shoot some pictures. He wielded the Canon AE-1 with the telephoto lens, whereas I has the two 35mm pinholes, a Polaroid, the Yashica C, and the Brownie that I can get 4×5 film in. Oh, and there was the Nikon, too. And besides learning that I need to just focus on one camera at a time, I also learned that night photography with film is a new, scary animal. It wouldn’t be so bad, I guess, if I actually used some sort of exposure calculator. But I didn’t. I basically made a few second long exposures with the Yashica and Brownie, shot a few Polaroids that didn’t come out (the theme of the day for me), and popped open the shutter on the pinholes and just let them sit until either the wind blew them over or we were ready to leave. I have no idea what, if anything, came out (especially since I wasn’t using a tripod either).

After I ran out of film, I switched to the Nikon (it’s my safety).

This one is blurry, but I like it anyway.

Travis, all black and white-ified

Traffic cones at the Walmart

Tried taking a bunch of multi-exposure shots (sans tripod!) to HDRify, but this was the only one I was kind of happy with. I like the colors in it, at least.

Shooting night for day

Will try to develop some of the film over the next few days. If I get one decent night film shot out of the lot, I’ll be happy.

Oh, we also stopped inside Walmart (The Great Satan!) to check out developing prices and such. They still develop APS and 110, which is nice, and it would be even nicer if our APS camera still worked. We discovered yesterday that it doesn’t, which is kind of a bummer, since I’ve got 5 or 6 rolls of APS film. So I guess we’ll be on the lookout for a new APS camera next time we hit Goodwill. Anyway, if I read their info correctly, apparently to get a roll of film developed only (no prints) is $1.76 a roll. I don’t know if that’s just for 35mm or if they do 120 too – I know I’ve seen people on Flickr talk about getting their 120 film processed there. It’s not something I would want to do a lot (except for the APS and 110 – since I don’t have any way to develop those), but would be nice if there was something I absolutely wanted to get developed right away.