There Is No Cat

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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 © 2002-2017, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

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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