Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Darcy the Chicken


Darcy the Chicken

The moral of the story being that a lot can happen in one day.

Typed via Olivetti Lettera 22, photo of Darcy and of typed sheet via iPad2 camera in poor light. I'm still intrigued with the idea of using the iPad as a typecasting platform, what with it's camera and the many photo apps available. Unfortunately, I didn't shoot or crop the typed sheet properly, but the whole operation was very quickly performed, and emailing the photos from the tablet to Flickr was also quick and easy. From Flickr it's a snap to link the photo into my blog.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Gift


I had arrived home one evening last week, from a long day’s work at the Fab - the chip-making factory where I work - greeted in our front courtyard by my wife, who whispered into my ear that our grandson was here, to stay the night, and that he had a present for me.

My grandson, The Line Writer, is going on 13 years of age, and is more like a son to us than a grandson. I stepped into the house, we greeted and hugged, and he led me down the hallway to my office, for my surprise.

I have six manual typewriters in my small collection, and keep one out on my side desk - covered by a colorful towel that matches the office decor when not in use - rotating them through periodically. One of my two Lettera 22s is in current rotation. Yet here was the Underwood Universal, sitting adjacent to the Olivetti, it's cover detached and resting behind it on the desk. My grandson just stood there, smiling, and pointed to a brown paper gift sack, sitting on the desk.

The gift sack was from Starbucks, an observation I made as a detective, sifting for clues. Yellow wrapping paper tufted out the top of the sack, a nice touch for a young lad. Affixed to the side of the sack was a small typed sheet of paper, with coffee cup ring stain included - another subtle hint, a stylish element he had observed on some recent typospherian blog, and which he was smitten by, having recently decided that a coffee cup ring stain on our typings should perhaps be some sort of trademark.

I could tell he had typed the note himself, and I also observed that he favored the old Underwood over the newer Olivetti. Perhaps it’s because of familiarity with the mechanics of one particular model over another; he had just used that same machine last week.

It’s funny how, in the world of manual typewriters, there never was established any kind of standard layout for the mechanical features, each manufacturer choosing instead their own unique way of operating the margin, carriage lock and release, platter release and back space settings. With the Lettera 22, for instance, you just have to know what that red button is supposed to do, as it isn’t labelled; neither is the margin override button, or the tab set and release lever.

It reminds me of a story my Dad used to tell, from the early days of the automobile, when each make of car had the controls in a different location. For example, the early Fords had the throttle located as a lever, just behind the steering wheel, that slid back and forth to control engine speed. A person got used to operating their car a certain way, and this in turn drove brand loyalty.

In the case of my grandson, he’s already decided that a 1930’s-era Underwood is just to his liking.

Inside the sack, under the tuft of bright yellow wrapping paper, was my gift, that day’s edition of The New York Times. I was thrilled.

We don’t subscribe to the local paper, getting our news instead from the Internet or, if we’re feeling especially tacky, the horrid local T.V. news with its incessant spectacle of crime, scandal and controversy. Yet, my grandson’s choice of The Times was particularly revealing, as he later made comment that he thought The Times had more real news. Interesting.

I freshened up from that long day of being bundled inside a cleanroom suit at work, and we sat in our courtyard, enjoying the day’s cooling air as sunset descended into evening, me perusing my gift until the light slowly faded. The oil lamp was finally lit, and another idyllic Albuquerque evening was upon us, yet another cherished gift.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pinholyoscoping the Solar Eclipse

Fwd: Cell phone image capture of Pinholyoscope's projected image at the moment of full eclipse



(Typecast via Corona 4 manual typewriter, circa 1925)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Intergenerational Typecast

BalloonMuseum001a Pinhole photograph of the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum


I'll post The Line Writer's story on another day. The four pinhole paper negatives came out fine, but I'll have to share the details of working in this media for another time.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Harvesting the Light Field

RioGrandeStatePark003a (Rio Grande State Park, north of Albuquerque)


LosRanchos003a (Los Ranchos acequia, in north Albuquerque)


(Composed on iPad2 using iWriter, typed on Underwood Universal. Images scanned and processed from 4"x5" pinhole paper negatives.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Repentance or Jailhouse Religion?

Sunflower002aA recurring theme lately has been my creative passions, and the struggle to find the time, energy and motivation to pursue them while maintaining the other responsibilities of life. Priorities, I’ve decided: one has to choose what’s most important and somehow find the courage to place that ahead of other, competing interests. 

The problem for me always comes down to my desire to please everyone, to not upset the apple cart, so to speak, to make everything a priority, to want to do it all but (usually) failing to do any of it to any reasonable degree of success. The risk, for me, is in the choosing, because having limits to one’s time, talent and energy means you also have to reject the other things you’d like to do but can’t.

I’ve spoken before about more successful artists who do make the necessary sacrifices in life for their careers, who are able to muster the courage to just say ”no” to some things in order to maintain the other things that are the most important. Sometimes, to the outsider, their behavior might represent a madness of sorts, giving up the pragmatic, practical necessities in order to pursue some idealistic venture.

We live in an age when the measure of all success is as Wall Street might rate the success of a company by rewarding or punishing its stock price. We are told to sit up straight, eat your veggies, go to college, have a career, marry, buy a house, have 2.4 kids, make a go of it, have a healthy 401K and retire comfortably: the American Dream. 

And where does that leave room for one’s inner creative passions? Sunday afternoon, perhaps, if you aren’t watching the game on TV, and if you don’t have some last minute, pressing obligation like running that errand before going over to the Jones’s for a dinner party, and if Junior doesn’t have some last minute school project that requires your immediate and unbroken attention. Priorities: it’s all important, isn’t it, so what do you cut out?

What if, just for once, we demand that our self interests are also important, that we have things that we need to work on, that require our time and unbroken attention and perhaps some place of quiet and solitude, that requires we give up some things, or at the very least work out some restructuring plan in our lives, in order to make room?

I have this theorem, call it Van Cleave’s Postulate, if you must: Our priorities are what we actually do in life.

You see, we can dream about wanting to do something, we can talk about wanting to do something, we can actually make claims of being a doer of something, but until we actually do that thing it’s all just empty talk. Or, as Scripture might teach us, we need to be doers of the word, not merely hearers.

Among a plethora of interests, I’ve been involved with pinhole photography for the last several decades. I have a functional darkroom, I have a large assortment of hand made cameras, I have a particular methodology for working with silver gelatin paper negatives in large format cameras that achieves (or so I have been told by the fine folks at the F295 pinhole photography discussion forum) film-like results. But, I've been found in violation of Van Cleave’s Postulate, in that I’ve let my interest in pinhole photography lapse into disuse while maintaining the claim that I’m a pinhole photographer. This is also known as hypocrisy.

This last Sunday was the annual World-Wide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD), and I used this event as an opportunity to repent of my un-pin-holiness. I broke out my workhorse camera, a hand-built plywood, 4"x5" box camera, loaded up some paper negatives and made several exposures in my backyard.

The thing is, you’ve got to figure out a way of streamlining your process if you want to fit it into your busy life. In this case, I used a Jobo tank to process each negative in the comfort of the kitchen, loaded from the sheet film holders via a changing bag, thus not requiring use of the cluttered garage-based darkroom. The Jobo tank requires only 40ml of chemistry per sheet, thus providing a very economical usage model, and delivers very consistent results. This method has proved to be so efficient that it suggests a mobile technique could be employed, using a changing bag, development tank and water & chemistry stored in portable plastic containers.

Another area that requires some streamlining is the scanning and/or printing of the pinhole paper negatives. I’ve traditionally either contact printed the paper negatives onto silver gelatin paper in the darkroom or, more frequently, scanned and Photoshopped the images on my desktop PC, providing JPEG images that can be uploaded or printed digitally, or sent to a mini-lab and printed on RA4 color paper. I have no clear solution to this problem, since silver gelatin prints are the finest quality printing method one can choose for this medium. It becomes clear that investment of time in the darkroom is needed, no shortcut being available. But digitizing the paper negatives could alternatively be done by photographing them with a digital camera and processing the files on the iPad’s photo-processing apps, rather than being chained to the desktop.

I hope, in the next few months, to continue working with pinhole photography using this more streamlined methodology, repenting of my formerly lackadaisical approach that has squandered decades of experience and learnt techniques, hoping to expand my artistic vision and produce some meaningful work. We will see if, in the near future, I’ve truly gotten religion, or if it’s mere jailhouse religion.