There Is No Cat

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

52@52 Week 47

Now that I’m set up to do tray development of paper, it opens up a few more possibilities. This week, I shot my project shots with the Intrepid on Harman Direct Positive paper. No negative, just a print. Amazing stuff.

Belford Harbor

This is Belford harbor, where one of the ferries to the city docks. It’s also the home of a number of working fishing boats. The creek behind our house empties into this body of water, Compton’s Creek.

I rated the Harman Positive Paper at ISO 3. This stuff is usually used with pinhole cameras, but I couldn't find the pinhole that came with the Intrepid, so I used my regular lens, a Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm, stopped down to f/45. At ISO 3, the meter said 5 seconds. Because of the way the bulb setting on my shutter works, I forgot that the way you close the shutter is by turning the shutter speed wheel, so this was actually more like 8 seconds. And that was cool; the other shot I took that day was actually exposed for 5 seconds, and it looks a little underexposed. This one looks a little overexposed. But they both actually look pretty good.

I developed this in the Adox Neutol Eco that came with my Enfojer. It was developed by inspection, so I’m not sure exactly how long, but I think it was in the developer for about a minute and a half.

Speaking of the Enfojer, I’ve heard from Fojo that there actually is a negative holder made from aluminum that I didn’t receive, and that something may have happened to my base in transit, so they’re going to be sending me a new base and the negative holder. So for now, experiments with printing on the Enfojer from negatives are on hold. I did purchase some light diffusing paper from Inventables.com; it will be interesting to see if that lessens or eliminates the pixelness of the prints from negatives that I was noticing.

Posted at 8:09 AM
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

52@52 Week 46

So I managed to shoot a roll of film, develop it, and print a photo from it with my Enfojer on silver-halide paper in the space of the past week, fitting it all into the constraints of this project, just like I said I would try to do last week.

Laura and her mom wait for the parade

I shot this with the Rolleiflex on Rollei RPX25 film, which is a clean, high contrast film. I think that’s reflected in the shot. There’s not a whole lot of gray in the sky. Developed in it Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes.

The Enfojer as it’s delivered can be a little difficult to use. The top and bottom of the frame that holds the photo paper that you print onto is supposed to be held together by magnets, and in my experience, that doesn’t work very well. More often than not, I found that the frame separated, that the hinge part of the top of the frame didn’t stick to the bottom, which made printing a lot more difficult as I scrambled to place the paper properly without triggering the beginning of the exposure from the phone, which turns on at the signal of a loud sound (the recommend snapping fingers, but my finger snaps aren’t loud enough, so I clap). I’m still trying to get an answer from the team in Croatia about negative holders (it looks to me like the negative holder is a couple of holes in the side of the print head, which does nothing to keep the negatives flat and makes printing from the edges of a negative strip next to impossible; I’m hoping that my package was just missing something that does a little more to support negatives). I solved the frame issue with a little bit of Elmer’s Carpenters Glue and a couple of clamps. The frame stays together now, and printing is much easier. The negative strip issue might be a little more difficult, but it should be possible to design and 3D print a negative holder that would slide into the print head if Fojo doesn’t provide one.

Oh, and I found a bug in the iOS app where if you select the button to print from a negative, the phone immediately starts exposing the shot and never stops. My workaround for that was to create an entirely black photo on my iPhone, then use that as a source to print from. When the phone prints it, it reverses the entirely black photo to entirely white, producing the light needed to expose the photo.

This shot is of my wife Laura and her mother at the parade last weekend celebrating 100 years of their home town, Elmwood Park, New Jersey. The parade hadn’t started yet at this point.

When I look really close at the print, I can see the pixels from the light source, my iPhone 6. I don’t think there’s any way to avoid this at full size with phone-generated photos. I haven’t tested printing at smaller sizes yet to see at what point this ceases to happen. For printing from negatives, I might look for some light diffusing material to place between the phone and the negative to try and solve this issue.

All in all, I like the Enfojer and am having fun using it. Having to hack it to get it to work the way I want it to is part of the fun.

Posted at 8:42 AM
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Thursday, June 9, 2016

52@52 Week 45

Another shot from the Impossible Project’s new I-1 camera. That’s partly because it’s the new kid on the block, and partly because I haven’t refilled my film holders for the large format cameras.

Clouds

I started out with the light setting turned down just like the previous pack, but my shots were coming out dull and dark. So I put it back to the center. This is the shot where exposure and composition came together.

Almost three years ago, I backed an enlarger that uses your mobile phone as a source for making black and white prints on one of the crowdfunding platforms. It can also enlarge film negatives. After a much longer than expected wait, it appears that my Fojo has been shipped, has made it through customs, and will be here tomorrow. So maybe I can shoot something with one of my 35mm or medium format cameras in the next few weeks and print it, then post it here as part of the project. I’m very much looking forward to receiving this. I’ve never actually printed one of my photographs myself before, not using traditional methods anyway. This should be fun.

Posted at 8:19 AM
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

52@52 Week 44

This week, again, was all about the Impossible Project’s new I-1 camera.

Clouds

I shot color film this time, the new generation I-1 color film. This version has no battery, so it’s a bit cheaper than the film packs made for old Polaroid cameras, which get their power from a battery inside the pack. The I-1 has a built-in battery, which means you need to recharge the camera, but its better for the environment.

Beach, Cape May, New Jersey

My first shots on color all came out muted, kind of faded. Overexposed, actually. It’s not a bad look, but not what I was looking for. I was shooting in Cape May, NJ, and Levittown, PA, on sunny days and got the same kind of results. For the last couple of shots on the pack, I dialed down the exposure about 1/3 of a stop toward darken. This is more representative of what I actually saw. It was a cloudy day, so the colors are muted in a different way, but it’s good.

I’m going to try to shoot some color this week on a sunny day with the exposure adjusted like the first shot and see what I get.

Posted at 7:32 AM
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

52@52 Week 43

I mentioned last week that I had gotten one of the Impossible Project’s new I-1 cameras. This week, that was all I shot with

Beach badge booth in Asbury Park one week before the season opens

I took the camera to the boardwalk in Asbury Park last Saturday, loaded with a pack of their latest black & white film. One nice thing about the film for this camera is that it doesn’t have any batteries in it. The camera carries the battery, unlike old Polaroid cameras, which were powered by a battery within the film pack. That solution made sense 40 years ago, but with today’s understanding of environmental impacts, having a permanent battery in the cameras makes more sense.

The viewfinder on the I-1 is the best take I’ve seen on a sports viewfinder. I got something similar with my Wanderlust Travelwide and found it so useless that I replaced it with a Linhof large format viewfinder. Wanderlust didn't provide any instructions on how to use theirs; they have a site that will supposedly someday include instructions and tips on how to use their camera, but it’s been “coming soon” for many months. Impossible does a much better job on the education front. Impossible’s viewfinder has some clever touches. The mechanism for framing with the silver circle inside the silver box is very good, and Impossible even has a video explaining how to frame shots. That said, it’s still a sports viewfinder, and framing is never going to be exact with this. I find that what winds up on the film is about 10-15% wider than what I see through the viewfinder. Impossible recommends that your eye should be 4-5 centimeters from the viewfinder. It seems to me that this roughly corresponds with jamming my chin up against the back of the camera. Basic physics and optics dictates that if I wanted to see everything that would show up on the film, I would have to get even closer, but that’s not really possible. The viewfinder is attached to the camera with magnets, and is easily removed. I hope that either Impossible or someone else takes the opportunity to create a replacement viewfinder that provides a more accurate, and more reproducibly accurate, viewfinder for the camera. I know it’s not an SLR like my beloved SX-70, but the viewfinder could really be better.

The camera is being widely reviewed. I’m reasonably happy with mine. I’m still figuring things out. I haven’t done much with the iOS app, just a couple of manual shots, but it shows promise. Ray Liu, for example, has been doing some really neat work with his I-1 and the light painting function of the app to capture long exposure light trails. I hope to try something with this in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, you get this snapshot.

Posted at 10:04 AM
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

52@52 Week 42

We went to Washington, DC, last weekend. We were actually mostly in northern Virginia, attending our nephew’s college graduation, but we spent an afternoon in Our Nation’s Capital, where I shot this.

U. S. Capital building in Washington, DC

I took the Wanderlust Travelwide with me, and shot two frames on Kodak Portra 400. The first was of my nephew and his family (and my wife, his aunt) after graduation. The second was this shot of the Capital and reflecting pool. The area around the reflecting pool was filled with state troopers from around the country marking National Peace Officers Memorial Day. I also had my new Impossible Project I-1 with me, which provoked the usual questions about do they still make film for those things. People were surprised that not only do they make film, they make cameras now too, and that this one was less than a week old.

I shot this at f/22, 1/100 of a second, and gave it the usual 3.5 minutes in C-41, which never changes no matter what film you use. The exposure was spot on based on the histogram when I scanned the negative.

I suppose there’s nothing new about this photo. It’s shot from the place where millions of photographers shoot the Capitol building, where the lines of sight are more-or-less preserved and you can see most of the building and its surroundings. But this one is mine.

Posted at 8:41 AM
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

52@52 Week 41

I think I finally figured out how to make a decent photo with New55. All the shots I see New55 posting on Facebook and to their blog seem to have one thing in common; they’re all shot against a dark background in a studio. None of this shooting landscapes outdoors; things get washed out, the prints look blah. So I grabbed my Foldio2 and put the black backdrop in it.

Multimeter

This is the new machine-coated version of New55, and I developed for the recommended 2 minutes instead of the 3 minutes I was finding was needed with the hand-coated version. I shot this with the Intrepid and 150mm f/5.6 lens, well extended to be able to focus close up, and tilted somewhat to get the entire face of the multimeter in focus. I shot this at f/45. The light meter app on my iPhone said exposure should be 8 seconds, but I figured there might be some reciprocity effect at that length, so I exposed for 12 seconds. That appears to have been the right choice.

We had a power outage on Tuesday around 5pm. The power flickered and came on and off a couple of times, then went completely. It came back about an hour and a half later, but had done some damage with its earlier dance. Everything seemed fine at first, but our Internet (and phone and TV) service failed around 11:30 Tuesday night. Bleah. I looked at it Wednesday morning, and the battery backup unit on our Verizon FiOS setup had the “replace battery” light lit up. I tethered my Macbook to my phone and Internet chatted with Verizon tech support and landed on having a tech come out and look at it. But I know how to change the battery if that’s all the problem was. So I went out and bought a replacement battery and dropped it into place. Bang, Internet (and phone and TV) were back. I cancelled my tech visit for the next day.

Until 5pm, when the battery ran out.

I tested the voltage on the battery when I brought it home just before lunch Wednesday with the multimeter shown in this photo. It was 12.78 volts. 5 hours later when the system failed, I tested it again and it was 6.88 volts. The light on the plug indicated that there was 120 VAC going into the battery backup unit, but it doesn’t appear to have been charging the battery at all. If I let the battery sit for a few hours, it gets back up to 11.5 volts or thereabouts, but it’s basically dead. I can put it back in the BBU and get about a minute of service, but then it shuts down. At $30 a pop, I can’t afford to replace the battery every five minutes. And I would think that if the BBU is plugged in, it should power the Optical Network Terminal outside even if the battery is dead or removed, but I opened the ONT up, and after a minute, there were no lights lit up. So I need to get Verizon out here after all, and probably replace the BBU (and maybe the ONT, but I doubt that one; the ONT seems to work okay when it’s provided with enough power.

So that’s why I shot a photograph of a 35 year old multimeter, which was very helpful in figuring out what was happening here.

Note that even with no Internet, I’m still posting this week’s photograph on time.

Posted at 7:49 AM
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

52@52 Week 40

May the Fourth be with you.

Cardboard cutout of Darth Vader in the secondary lobby at Razorfish, New York City

I work with a bunch of geeks. We have a mannequin dressed up as a storm trooper in the office, but for this pun-filled day, they brought in a bunch of cardboard cutouts.

I have been very busy with work lately. My new project is run out of the west coast, and has daily status meetings at lunch time, so I don’t have an opportunity to get out and about at lunch like I used to. So I brought the Travelwide to work yesterday, and when I saw the tableaus go up, I figured I would shoot it, especially since I hadn’t shot anything else this week.

I keep a tripod in the office, which came in handy for this. I shot this on Tri-X TXP 320, f/22 at 1 second. I didn’t have a cable release, so I couldn't go any longer than that, since the only shutter speed longer than 1 second on my shutter is bulb.

Posted at 2:30 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2016, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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