There Is No Cat

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

52@52 Week 13

We moved to a new office at the beginning of October. We moved from Times Square to Soho. The office is in a little piece of Soho that feels like a bit of midtown dropped into the middle of the coolest neighborhoods in North America. But at least with a short walk, you can be in either Real Soho or the West Village. I took the Rolleiflex out for a walk at lunch time through the West Village.

The camera needs to be fixed. While I was out, I noticed that a screw came out of the body, meaning that one of the rails that holds the back in place and provides a place for my neck strap to connect is loose. I can’t count on the camera not to fall. It made for an unsettling lunch out with the camera.


I shot this with old formula Tri-X (code TX, which was 400 speed, as opposed to TXP, the 320 speed version of Tri-X) that expired back in 2003. It was frozen since it was bought, according to the professional photographer I bought it from on eBay. I’ve seen nothing to disabuse me of that idea since I started shooting it. I bought 20 rolls and have shot at least 10 of them. I love this film. Now I just wish I was shooting better pictures with it.

With this shot, I am now one quarter through this project. 13 down, 39 to go.

Posted at 6:53 PM
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

52@52 Week 12

This week’s shot is from the Oktoberfest in Highlands, New Jersey. This attendee had the most spirit. Usually there are a lot of dirndls and lederhosen, but it was kind of chilly, so pretzel mouse ears won the day.

I try to go to this Oktoberfest every year. They have good German food, provided by Bahr’s restaurant, which is mostly a seafood restaurant, but they also have a small German menu courtesy of their chef, who used to own the Hofbrauhaus in Atlantic Highlands before it was torn down and replaced by McMansions. They also have a good selection of German beer, although that’s less unusual now in the area since the Asbury Festhalle und Biergarten opened a couple of years ago.

In the spirit of Oktoberfest

I shot this with the Rolleiflex (a good German camera for a good German Oktoberfest) on expired Plus-X 120. I think this was my last roll of Plus-X in 120. I’m going to miss it. I think it’s really a lovely film.

Posted at 5:26 AM
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

52@52 Week 11

I tried to take this week’s shot with New55 film again.

It didn’t work.

Shame, really. I met a family on the pier in Atlantic Highlands, two kids, a mother, and a grandmother. The grandmother was very chatty and asked if I wanted to take their picture. Sure!

I should have shot them with the Tri-X 320 I had. Oh well. I just got a gray blob. Not sure what happened with that one.

With the second shot of New55, I know what happened; the shield came all the way out instead of stopping where it should have. So that one didn't turn out either.

$34 wasted, and my success rate dropped below 50%, where it had been hovering reliably.

Atlantic Highlands Marina

This was shot with the aforementioned well-expired Tri-X. I found a box of 50 sheets in Columbus, Ohio, at Columbus Camera Group, a funky store in a repurposed old church just off High Street. They had a lot of funky old film when I was there last year, including a Pro Pack of AGFA Scala in 120 format, which I also bought (and haven’t used yet; it’s sitting in my film fridge). I don’t think it was stored particularly well, but I also think there’s something with the bellows on my camera that cause the odd shadowing in the lower corners. I’m looking forward to getting my Wanderlust Travelwide and Intrepid cameras, which won’t have those problems. I had a really bad time with film this week. Both New55 shots failed, and a roll of Fuji Superia 800 that I shot on our first day in the new office with the Canonet QL17 came out utterly blank, not even any markings on the film; I think the chemistry went bad. Sucks, because we’ll never have a first day in that office again. I guess this doesn’t happen with digital. Part of the charm of film.

Posted at 8:17 PM
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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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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, 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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