There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Thursday, October 8, 2015

52@52 Week 10

We moved to a new office this week. Last Friday was our last day at the old office (Google’s original office in NYC, incidentally) on Times Square.

I brought my latest acquisition on the day, a Canonet QL-17 GIII 35mm rangefinder that my friend Olivier had gifted me, loaded with expired Tri-X (actually Arista Premium 400, but same difference; it’s Tri-X under the hood). I shot the whole roll. I developed it in Rodinal 1:50 for 13 minutes.

This is a shot of my friend Tony, eating lunch in our cafeteria for the last time.

My friend Tony having lunch on the last day in our old office

I can’t say I’m going to miss this office. It made for a relatively convenient commute, being a ten minute walk from Penn Station, but midtown is soulless. Bryant Park is nice, but the several million Elmos mobbing Times Square are not.

Our new office is in Soho right on the border between Soho and the West Village. I’ve been walking the nearly two miles from Penn Station to the new office every day. It’s a lovely walk down 8th Avenue and Hudson Street. The West Village feels like a foreign country; it makes me feel like I’m in London. I’m still figuring out how I want to commute (the ferry is also a possibility), but any way I choose seems like an improvement to me. I’ll probably post something shot at the new office next week, and expect to shoot many pictures as I explore our new surroundings in the coming months.

Posted at 12:13 AM
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

52@52 Week 9

For week 9 of my 52 week project, I made a second attempt to shoot on the boardwalk in Asbury Park with my Calumet 4×5 and New55 film. This time was more successful than the last time (although my first attempt this time failed when the QuickLoad sleeve pulled all the way out of the holder rather than stopping where it should, leaving me with still a 50% failure rate).

The print was better this time than the last successful shot I made. I cleaned the holder thoroughly before taking it out, and that seems to have had the desired effect. I had seen a post by the New55 guys where they said that if the rollers weren’t clean, they might be separated a little more than usual, leading to not enough pressure on the sandwich, resulting in the lack of focus in the print. So that worked.

Scan of the print of a New55 photo of the Casino in Asbury Park

The negative still has a problem with fogging. I originally thought this was the goop remaining on the negative, but I’m sure now that it’s not; it’s in the negative.

Scan of the print of a New55 photo of the Casino in Asbury Park

But weirdly, I’m also seeing the mottling they mention in that post. So maybe this one was too tight.

I know that different production runs are coming out with different recommended speeds. I’m starting to think that ISO 100 and developing for four minutes as recommended on the sheet that came with this pack is too long. I think for my next shot, I'm going to try EI 50 and developing for two minutes. I’ve seen some shots posted by New55’s Sam Hiser that used that combination that looked pretty good.

Posted at 4:31 AM
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

52@52 Week 8

We went down the shore last weekend to Cape May and Stone Harbor for the day. We stumbled across not one, but two craft beer festivals (and yet, I didn’t have a single beer while we were there). I brought my tiny Rollei 35 B, loaded with bulk-rolled ORWO UN-54+, a black & white cinema film made by the descendent company of branch of Agfa that landed in East Germany. I forgot that the camera messes up whenever I unextend the extended lens; it lets light in, totally overexposing whatever that shot was. I lost half my shots that way. Bleah. I got a few reasonably nice ones. Not totally thrilled with any of them, but this is one of the better ones, from downtown Stone Harbor.

Fred’s Tavern Liquor Store, Stone Harbor, NJ

Posted at 4:39 PM
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Thursday, September 17, 2015

52@52 Week 7

For week 7 of my 52 week project, I took my Calumet CC-401 4×5 view camera out to Belford Harbor, again loaded with New55 instant film from the New55 Project. I headed out right after I got home from work to try to capture the light of the golden hour. It’s starting to get a little late in the season to do that with my commute.

The camera here was the same as last time, a Calumet CC-401 View Camera. The lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 210mm lens in a Copal shutter. I shot the New55 film at ISO 100. The shutter was set to f/22 and 1/15 of a second. The film was processed in a Polaroid 545i holder/processor and left to develop for the prescribed four minutes; the negative was then fixed in Photographer’s Formulary TD-4 fixer and washed for ten minutes, then scanned in an Epson 4990 scanner. Pretty much the same as last time, in other words.

Scan of the print of a New55 photo of Belford Harbor

The print this time is kind of odd. It looks out of focus across the entire shot. I know I focused carefully, particularly on the name of the Dutch Girl, which was the best-lit ship in the harbor.

Scan of the print of a New55 photo of Belford Harbor

The negative shows that I did in fact have the shot in focus. So I’m not sure why the print looks the way it does. Odd. I learned that I have to be particularly careful with the negatives when they’re in the fixer, though. I managed to scratch it up pretty badly. I patched most of them in the scanning, but I can’t really use the negative to print. Oh well. I guess that gives me an opportunity to go to the location again and get a shot that I don’t destroy through my own incompetence.

Posted at 1:53 PM
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

52@52 Week 6

Took the Pentax K1000 out this week. Thought I had fixed the light leak in the camera. Was wrong. Oops. Loaded it with a roll of Adox KB14, expired in 1977. Rare film, later sold as Efke 25, one of my favorite films. Oh well, at least I have one more roll I can use in a camera that works properly. Live and learn. I was able to salvage a few shots from the roll, including this shot of the biergarten in Asbury Park last week. We were on vacation last week. Didn’t go anywhere, but visited some of our favorite places in our area of the Jersey Shore. We went to the biergarten twice. I love this place; they’ve gone to great lengths to make it feel just like the biergartens I’ve been to in southern Germany. I think it works pretty well; I’m not generally a fan of things that pretend to be something else, but this place is an exception. I think the biggest thing I took from growing up as a punk rocker was the importance of authenticity (proto-hipster culture, I guess), and even though this is fake, it’s such a good fake that it hits the right buttons for me. Plus the beer is really good.

Volkswagen and Jeep

Posted at 4:35 AM
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

52@52 Week 5

I tried this week to do another shot with my first pack of New55 4×5 film. Actually, I tried two. I took my Calumet CC-401 monorail camera and Berlebach tripod to the boardwalk in Asbury Park yesterday morning. It’s an unwieldy setup; I’m looking forward to receiving my Intrepid press camera (via Kickstarter) and my Wanderlust Travelwide (didn’t get in on the Kickstarter for that one, but got in to the pre-order pretty early) so I can shoot large format without having to ensure that I can have my car somewhere near.

Anyway, I took the camera to the boardwalk, along with a couple of sheets of New55. I shot the film. So far, so good. Then I came home and tried to develop the shots. That’s where everything went pear-shaped. I guess my previous attempt at shooting New55 had left the rollers on my 545i film holder kind of gunked up, so before processing the first piece of film, I dismantled the holder and cleaned the rollers. Again, so far, so good. Then I made my first mistake; I forgot to re-seat the rollers correctly. So when I processed the first film, the rollers didn’t compress, and the pods of developer didn’t break, so the film didn’t develop. If I had realized this before I dismantled the film, I could have just reset the rollers and run the film through the processor correctly. But I didn’t, and I opened up the film packet to find that nothing had happened, exposing the film in the process. Bleah.

Lesson one learned, large format Polaroid-style photography requires total mindfulness. Measure twice, cut once, that sort of thing.

I’m not sure why the second shot went bad, but for whatever reason, only one of the pods broke, and the resulting photo just didn’t show anything as a result.

Fortunately, I had also brought a traditional 4×5 film holder loaded with Arista EDU Ultra 400, and shot a backup shot of one of the shots I was attempting with the New55 film. This is the result of that backup shot. The particulars: Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 210mm lens in a Copal shutter, f/45, 1/125 of a second, developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes and fixed with Photographers’ Formulary TF-4 alkaline fixer.

Carousel Building on the boardwalk in Asbury Park

I think the exposure was a little off, but the shot came out reasonably well. Lost some stuff in the shadows.

Posted at 5:12 PM
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

52@52 Week 4

Our nephew Nick is growing into quite the young man. We had lunch with him and his Mom Kelly on Sunday. I brought cameras, because Nick loves cameras. I loaned him one of my old Polaroids to take on his vacation. I hope he got some good pictures.

I shot this with my Kiev 88cm, a Ukrainian Hasselblad knockoff, on expired Kodachrome 64X from the Film Photography Project (expiration date December 1994, but stored frozen all this time and shot at box speed). The lens is a 120mm Petzvar, a small run Petzval lens for the Pentacon Six mount created by Dennis Ivanichek. Petzval lenses were designed early in this history of photography (ca. 1840), and produce an interesting blur pattern for the portions of the photos that are out of focus. There has been a lot of notice paid to these kind of lenses recently because Lomography started producing one for Canon and Nikon mount cameras. This one was interesting because there really aren't many new lenses for the oddball Pentacon Six mount that the Kiev 88cm uses.

Nick on the pier in Atlantic Highlands

We love getting together with Nick and Kelly. Nick is sweet, polite, and fun to be around.

Posted at 5:44 AM
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

52@52 Week 3

I shot a roll of lith film in the Rolleiflex 3.5 MX-EVS (made in 1954, 75 mm Xenar lens) this week. It didn’t come out very well. Many of the photos, including the one I wanted to use for my theme of aging, were oddly stained. I’m not sure what happened. I’ve done semi-stand development a number of times, but for some reason, Rollei ATO 2.1 film shot at EI 25 and Rodinal 1:100 for an hour didn’t go together very well. This shot, however, came out pretty well I think.

The view from Moby’s in Highlands, New Jersey

Maybe part of aging is accepting that you can’t control everything, and that sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned, but that the way they do work out can be pretty good anyway.

Posted at 8:14 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2015, 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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