Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thermal Correcting Chads?

Concept Sketch for thermal typewriter correction chads.
(Click to embiggen)

After using a number of thermal typewriters, even the ones with convenient editing features and an LCD, eventually I make typographical errors. The first few times this happened I by habit reached for the correction tape dispenser, rolled over the error and discovered that correction tape isn't thermally sensitive. Duh!

Since then, whenever I find a typo with a thermal machine I'll cover it with correction tape and hand-write the correct character in its place at a later time. It helps to use a black pen of the appropriate line weight, so as to match closely the original thermal printing. This method has stood me in good stead, but the thought still nagged at the back of my mind, wouldn't it be nice if someone made thermally-sensitive correction tape?

Recently I watch a video by Gregory of The Poor Typist YouTube channel, where he reviewed a Brother EP-5 thermal machine. This looks like one of the later thermal machines Brother made, and lacks an LCD entirely. It also functions more like a standard typewriter, in the sense that it has a correction feature, along with the now out-of-date ribbon cartridges that print thermally onto regular paper. It got me thinking that with this machine Brother was trying hard to entirely conceal the thermal nature of the machine. Of course, all thermal typewriters originally used cartridges for transferring the printing onto regular paper, but some of them did mention in the owners manual that thermal paper could be used as an option.

Since I've lately been embracing a sketch book for documenting ideas, even before I'd finished watching Gregory's video I already had ideas in mind for how one might make thermal correction tape. The latest idea is documented in the wild sketch seen at the top. I tried it out today and it does work, though the method is more fiddly than the convenience of roll-on correction cartridges.

First, cut a piece of wax paper, the kind you may find in your kitchen drawer, several inches long. Then you'll need a roll of Scotch-brand double-sided adhesive tape. Mine comes in a yellow-colored dispenser. Tear off a few inches and tape it down to the middle of the wax paper.

Next, cut a piece of thermal printing paper the same size as the double-sided tape, and fix it to the tape, thermal printing side up. Neatness counts. You can tell which side is thermally sensitive by applying pressure from a sharp object, the thermal side will make a faint gray mark.

Now trim the wax paper down so it's the same length as the thermal strip, but twice or more as wide. You'll have a rectangle of wax paper where one half is covered by the thermal paper and the other bare wax paper.

You can either use it like this, or go ahead and cut the paper into letter-width pieces and store them in a handy container, like a 35mm film canister. Each piece (or chad) will be a little rectangle of wax paper, with roughly half of it covered in thermal paper.

To use these thermal correction chads you first need to figure out how to advance the paper in your thermal typewriter by even amounts so you can raise the errant typing up to the paper table on your machine, to gain easy access for applying the correction chad. Most thermal machines have paper up/down buttons that move the paper in 1/2 line increments. Other machines may have a ratcheting platen knob that also moves the paper 1/2 line at a time. Make sure you count how many vertical steps you've made, so you can return the line to the printing position.

Then use a thin, sharp tool like a small knife blade and carefully peel the chad off the wax paper backing and apply it over the errant character, then press into place. It'll look like the makings of a ransom note!

Then return the paper to its previous line position via the paper down buttons or ratcheting platen knob. Make sure you remembered how many half-line increments to move it. On the two machines I tested (the Canon Typestar 4 and the Brother EP-43) I had to move the paper about 7 half-lines to get the error to a convenient position.

If you've been typing in auto-carriage return or line-by-line mode, you'll want to switch the mode to the character-by-character mode, so you can move the print position back to the chad and make your correction. You may have to refer to the owners manual (if you have one) on how to do this, as it varies with models and brands.

Thermal typewriter correction chad

In the above example, I've covered a letter and overtyped it thermally. You can see I didn't place the chad exactly square, so I had to retype its neighboring letter again.

If you keep the entire strip of correction paper intact, you can cut out larger sizes to cover up entire words, but you'll need to remember to bring scissors with you. This indeed begins to look like a ransom note after all!

If you have any other ideas to improve this method, I'd love to hear them. Just leave a comment below - if Blogger permits it, that is!

Happy thermal correcting!

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

How is Everyone?

Evolution
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Using your time well implies always having something to do -- or does it? Perhaps in order to maintain a healthy mindset we must also schedule time to do nothing -- or nothing specific. Goofing off is a form of adult play, and play is absolutely essential.

This implies a schedule -- of activities and also free time, undefined.

I have some things to do this weekend. There's my Afghan Box Camera project, it needs a new paper safe and an internal battery-powered light source for contact printing. Then it needs to be put to practice, to see if these "up-" grades do indeed go the right direction.

I also have an urge to create at least several videos. I want to do a typewriter-themed video, and also something more like a video poem or essay, something less categorical.

Just in the time it's taken me to craft this article, I've been helping my grandson set up his new GoPro kit for vlogging, showing him the best settings for his camera, tips on battery usage, etc. I've also been giving him tips about framing his shots in terms of both composition and timing; giving enough space on both ends of the clip for editing, while ensuring he has just the right amount of headroom in his selfie-shots. But the real learning curve for him will in be the editing, it's an entirely other kind of skillset from videography. But I think he'll have fun with it, and perhaps all those films he's seen will inform his movie-making.

The notebook shot above was after I'd visited Ethan Moses last week and we put his new paper trimmer to work. It will cut a phonebook's worth of paper in one swipe, so will be great for making professionally finished notebooks like this one, my first hand-stitched book, that now is almost too precious to use -- but use it I will, as soon as I finish my little stapled version, that is.

I try to start these articles with an opening image that somehow relates to the subject matter. I'm not sure this one does, unless you dive deep enough into your inner psychology. I'll leave it up to you to figure out. In the meanwhile, stay well and take care.

Typecast via Brother EP-43 thermal typewriter.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

On Notebooks

1930 Underwood Portable & Stitch-Bound Notebook
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I have a box full of these typewriter-themed note cards, which would make good covers for more handmade notebooks. This also gives me incentive for collecting notecards and other printed ephemera for use as cover art for notebooks.

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It's not difficult to see the photographic possibilities intrinsic to typewriter-themed notebooks when combined with old typewriters.

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Regarding the handmade notebook, it has 100 pages, a nice size for extended usage. The paper has a nice weight and finish, good for gel and fountain pens. After my frustration with yesterday's assembly process, mainly due to fumbling with the hand stitching process, I was rather pleased with the results. Still, there's room for improvement.

I keep the 1930 Underwood Portable on a small table in our patio room, handy for some quick grab-and-go writing on the front porch. This old machine has a great feeling action to the keys, and seems to be very reliable, aside from the occasional wonky ribbon advance when it gets near one end of the ribbon, which is why, when I'm actually writing with it, I remove the two ribbon spool covers (that have the nifty "UT" logo etched into them) so I can monitor the ribbon motion as I type. I've noticed in many old photos of writers with their typewriters, they often operated the machines with the ribbon covers removed. I recall seeing a more recent photo of Woody Allen at his Olympia, which he apparently still uses for writing, sans ribbon cover.

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My intention this afternoon was to just sit in the front patio, type a blog article and smoke a cigar. Then I began to admire the typewriter together with the notebook, and soon the shutter bug in me got busy. I wonder if these beautiful old machines were designed to be this attractive, or is it merely an artifact of distance in time, the effect of nostalgia? I suppose there are some people who are attracted to the beige and grey boxes of 1980's computers with their minimalist modern styling, but they don't, in my opinion, hold a candle to an old typewriter.

Typecast via Underwood Portable onto Clairefontaine Triomphe paper.

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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Message in a Bottle, and Other Thoughts

Message in a Bottle
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This was a fun project, resulting in bona fide messages sealed in glass. We discussed the merits of actually tossing our bottles into - where, exactly? We're in the high desert, after all, almost a thousand miles from the ocean. Perhaps we can wait for spring runoff on the Rio Grande (last year's runoff was spectacularly high) and hope the bottles make it downstream of Elephant Butte reservoir into the southern reaches of the Rio Grande, hoping for the Gulf of Mexico. Most likely they'd get trapped in some brush along the riverbank and get buried in sand, or discarded as litter. Is tossing a glass bottle into the river littering, when there's a real message inside? Probably.

Another idea was to take a trip to California and toss it into the Pacific ourselves. Hmm, maybe.

Last weekend I sat down at the Skyriter and composed a one-pager about the merits of keeping it or not. As it turns out, it ended up in the hands of a young man eager to put it to good creative use. Here were my thoughts:

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Going back further in time (in case you haven't figured it out, I'm dealing here with a backlog of writings) in mid-January I sat on Kevin's front porch (it must have been a warm January afternoon) and enjoyed a bit of writing on his Groma Kolibri, equipped with a green ribbon. This is the one I worked on earlier in 2019, and it's a sweet machine. For some reason I decided to underline the first letter of each paragraph, which is an interesting typographical idea, perhaps I'll do more of this. In the piece I mentioned "birdie time," this being our weekly visit where we try to get their bird used to our presence, as we'll be bird-sitting for them. Kevin also makes this wonderful statement, that I'm "a collector of typewriter experiences." Well spoken, and a great way to differentiate myself from the classic typewriter collector.

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The Typewriter Bus idea mentioned above was my idea for a mobile typewriter bus for conducting public type-in events in various places. It could have school desks bolts to the floor with typewriters securely mounted, and an external fold-up sideboard table along the outside for standing-while-typing outside. I can envision a fold-up awning on either side for shade, and a 50-states typewriter bus tour. I only need lots of money and time. Maybe. Maybe not. But never let your dreams die.

The next three pieces were composed on 30 December 2019, again at Kevin's, using the Torpedo 18. It must've been a heck of a session, as it progresses from the first page involving a review of the last year as it pertains to the founding and growth of the ABQwerty Type Writer Society, to a short essay on pictures versus language and my desire to explore personal story-telling, to another short essay about my paper negative photography. A hodge podge of subjects, for certain.

2019 Year in Review:
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On visual versus written media, and personal story-telling:
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Thoughts on paper negative photography:
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I should've been posting these pieces here as separate articles, but I do tend to procrastinate, more so lately. I hope you find this variety of writings to be of interest. Please leave a comment down below if you wish, I'd love to have a dialog with you about these ideas.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Thoughts on the Intermediate Process

Selfie, Kodak Ektar 127mm on Cameradactyl OG, reversal processed Arista RC grade 2 semi-matte paper
Direct positive print

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Certainly, casual photographers for decades have avoided the minutia of the intermediate process by choosing cameras and formats that offer a more instant picture-making experience. The average person couldn’t be bothered by F-stops and ISO numbers, they just want to push a button and see a photo. Which may be one reason why smartphone photography is so popular; the intermediate process happens behind-the-scenes, in software code and microscopic circuits, the modern-day equivalent of the point-and-shoot camera.

Processing Harman Direct Positive black-&-white paper through its regimen of developer, stop and fix (or in the case of reversal processing print paper: developer, stop, bleach, re-exposure and developer) certainly represents some kind of intermediate processing; it’s not as instant as a Polaroid, say (or Fujifilm’s Instax). But it’s more immediate than film, especially so when considering the many people who still use film do so as an intermediate image-capture medium that’s then scanned-to-digital and subsequently processed a second time around in order to arrive at a digital print, a kind of double-intermediate processing.

There’s also no arguing that prints exposed in-camera and processed directly afterward lack the flexibility that we have come to expect of modern image-making systems. Their usefulness is limited: the selection of large format lenses, apertures and focal lengths is limited; the tonal range is limited; the photographic sensitivity of paper is limited. But one often finds, to their surprise, that such limitations present a challenge that fosters a renewed sense of creativity; boundaries are often healthy for the creative process. In my case, I'm more satisfied by the immediacy of the direct print process, and willing to accept the tradeoffs in image quality or flexibility.

These days, I’d rather return from a photo outing with one good print in hand than a roll- or card- full of mostly junk. It’s a refreshing change, embracing direct positive prints and eschewing the intermediate process.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Inventorying My Cameras

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“Inventorying My Cameras”

So, what's a person to do, the day after deciding to downsize their handmade camera collection? Simple: build another camera, that's what!

This sounds like madness, right? Perhaps. But really, in spite of all the various camera designs I've explored, I still have a few ideas rattling around in my noggin. One of these ideas is to take a spare steel 35mm developing tank and turn it into a "self-developing" pinhole camera. I've been using these tanks for years, minus the film reels, with small sheets of photo paper, wrapped front-side-inward around the inside of the tank and secured with a loop of masking tape on the back side, as a makeshift rotary processor. They have that all-important lid with a light-proof pour spout, permitting liquids to be poured in and out without fogging the paper inside.

Drilling a small hole in the side of the steel tank was not easy. I couldn't ding a starting dent with a metal punch, so the drill bit wanted to dance around and not penetrate the metal. I ended up using a drill bit on a high-speed rotary tool to work a small starting dimple into the surface, after which my drill press and larger bit would catch enough to start cutting. I kept the bit lubricated with light oil, which helped.

The focal length is 85mm from one side to the other, so I made a 0.3mm pinhole in a thin sheet of brass, which I epoxy glued to the inside, ensuring all four sides of the brass square were sealed with glue.

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I'll be using a makeshift gaffers tape shutter for now, but may resort to a rotating plastic sleeve shutter, the kind I've used on 35mm film canister cameras.

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Naturally, a person would wonder if the processing chemicals, especially stop bath (acetic acid) will corrode the brass and pinhole. The answer is most likely yes, which is why, when I rotary process the paper, I won't be doing entire revolutions of the tank, instead will be rocking it back and forth, with the pinhole face up on the top, as the tank sits on its side on my rotary base.

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This little tank camera, along with a kit consisting of small containers (<100mL) of processing chemicals and a changing bag, would essentially provide the features of an Afghan Box Camera, if using Harman Direct Positive Paper. Alternately, the citric acid/peroxide reversal process could be employed, but it's very slow and the already long exposure times required by the pinhole aperture would be impractical. I hope to at least be able to do still-life and scenic images and process them in the field with the Harman paper.

Certainly a glass-lens self-developing camera would be more practical for portraits, as the faster optics would require much shorter exposure times. Perhaps that'll be the next project.

Here's Part One of my pinhole camera overview series, with Ethan Moses:

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Down Sizing?

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I've come up with a tentative list of typewriters to give away:

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I think it's a fair question to ask: once I clear out these twenty or so typers, does this mean I'll be making room for another round of collecting? Well, at this point my intentions are to maintain a much smaller collection, more conducive to a "semi-minimalist" approach to being a typewriter-oriented creative. But, as always, I reserve the right to change my mind, sometime down the road. Perhaps, if that "dream machine" presented itself, I'd consider adding to the collection. But I'd like for my collection to be practically functional, focused on using for the purposes of creativity, rather than hoarding.

Typecast via Triumph Norm 6, one of the keepers.

Choose Wisely

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Thursday, January 02, 2020

Austin Kleon's Top 100 of 2019



If you're interested in creativity like I am, you probably have a few "go-to" kinds of people, whose Interwebz presence inspires you to keep pressing forward, don't look backwards. Austin Kleon is one of those people for me. I first became aware of him with his book Steal Like an Artist. I then discovered his blog, which has been a rich resource of creativity-provoking thoughts.

His blog is full of the outflow from a creative private life, which he freely shares with us, his readers. I enjoy his updates as he daily creates art with his young boys, who seem to have inherited some creative gene, as evidenced by their talent.

Kleon's work inspires me to be more spontaneous, less self-judgmental, with my own private work. And so I was fascinated to read his review article of the 100 things that made his year 2019. This article is full of hyperlinks to a treasure trove of this lasts year's creative output, which you would do well to explore. I was even thrilled when this popped up in his list as number 15: "The color of the sky in Albuquerque, New Mexico."

That's it, short and sweet. If you need inspiration, check out Austin Kleon. And don't be so hard on yourself because you don't think you can be creative.

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Angel

“Christmas Angel”

I've been experimenting more with the direct positive reversal process for black-&-white print paper, and decided that, since it's two days after Christmas, it was high time to do a holiday-themed still-life. Naturally, I'm late; but there are twelve days to Christmas, right?

Today's a windy, wet day here in the high desert, not fit for man or large format camera, so naturally I figured it best to do the project under artificial lights. I don't have a stable of high-powered strobe lights, so daylight-balanced LED lights would have to suffice; the same lighting I use for my videos.

Here's the basic setup:

Christmas Angel studio setup

I've repositioned my studio lights to be more direct-on to the subject, which is a glass angel figure. The backdrop is a roll of 4-mil translucent polyethylene film, and the angel is supported atop an inverted drinking glass - because improvisation is key to these kinds of projects, right?

I used the Intrepid 4-by-5 (5-by-4 inches in the UK) with the Fujinon 135mm F/5.6 lens, set up atop a Bogen tripod. Wide open at F/5.6 there was inadequate depth-of-focus to bring the figure in sharp relief, but I made a test print anyway, to check my exposure.

Here's the subject focused upon the ground glass, open at F/5.6:

Christmas Angel studio setup

You may be able to tell that the diffusers for my high-tech, $8 hardware store lights are sheets of translucent drafting vellum, clipped onto the lights with bulldog clips. Again, improvisation is key.

I've been working with the direct positive reversal process enough to have confidence with using Arista grade 2 RC paper, purchased from Freestyle Photo. It's a bit harder finding fixed-grade RC coated print paper than multi-contrast papers. Earlier this week, I made a series of tests to see what happens with multigrade RC paper, which I hadn't tried before with this process; Ilford warm tone, to be exact. In daylight, the multi-contrast paper is exceedingly contrasty, almost like lithographic film, not really suitable for continuous tone subjects. I tried filtering the camera lens using contrast control filters, and had a series of "interesting" results, none of which were of sufficient quality to be of use in serious projects. But after those experiments, I went back and tried my trusty grade 2 RC paper, using the same chemistry, with predictably nice results; again confirming my previous experience that fixed-contrast paper seems to work better for me with this process.

People have asked me how I do the reversal process, so here goes. This week I've been using LPD paper developer, mixed 1+4 (50mL concentrate into 200mL water, for a dilution ratio of 1:5). I've had good results with this new developer, and will thus continue to stick with it. For the citric acid solution I mix 4 teaspoons of citric acid powder into 500mL of water. For the H2O2 I mixed fresh 35% H2O2 in a 1 +1 solution with water, for an effective strength of 18%. I get my concentrated, food-grade H2O2 at Moses Kountry Health Food store (it's sold for use in "peroxide therapy"), here in ABQ. Besides some trays of water, I'm also using a mild stop bath, of 500mL water with a "dash" of white vinegar, to render the solution mildly acidic. All of the trays are brought up to room temperature, no small feat considering my garage-based darkroom is nominally around 48f in the winter; I run a space heater in the darkroom, and microwave the chemicals before pouring into trays.

Care must be taken to wear gloves and eye protection when working with concentrated H2O2, and to ensure one doesn't slosh the stuff around when transiting from garage to kitchen microwave.

The subject is metered at ISO3, then I add 3 additional stops of exposure; my meter only goes down to ISO 3, so the effective exposure index would be less than ISO 1. Today's initial test was metered at F/5.6 for 2 seconds, but I gave an extra stop to account for bellows extension, for a final exposure time of 4 seconds. I think this is "short" enough that a portrait could be made under the same conditions, if the subject had a head brace.

Processing was as follows:

First development 2 minutes. The image should look over-exposed, almost completely black.
Rinse/stop for 30 seconds in the mild acid solution, just to stop development.
First citric acid bath for 30 seconds.
First H2O2 bath for 1 minute, face down, continuous agitation. The print should look white with just a few dark areas. Expect plenty of fizzing action.
Repeat the citric acid and H2O2 steps. The print should now look almost completely white, with just a few gray areas. Be careful of peroxide drips contaminating the work area when moving the print from tray-to-tray.
Rinse the print of residual H2O2 in a tray or over running water, to make it safe to handle.
Turn on the white lights. Second exposure for 30 seconds adjacent to a bright white LED bulb. You may begin to see a faint image begin to auto-develop.
Under white lights, place print back into developer tray, face-up, for the second development. Very quickly (<30 seconds) you should see the positive image form on the paper. This is the magic happening.

Permit the print to fully develop for at least 2 minutes, then give an archival rinse. There should be no unexposed silver halides left in the paper, so no need to stop or fix.

For the second exposure, I stopped the lens down to F/16, to give sufficient depth-of-focus to render the angel figure sharply focused. Since F/16 is three stops more than F/5.6, the exposure time was 32 seconds. Processing was the same as previous. It came out nice, I'm very pleased.

Note that with printing paper there's little or no reciprocity failure, since these exposure times are what you'd typically use in the darkroom for printing from negatives. Both prints (4 seconds versus 32 seconds) look identical in terms of exposure.

This batch of H2O2 (diluted 1+1 with water) I poured up yesterday from a fresh bottle, during my struggles with the variable contrast paper tests. But I've saved the older batch of peroxide, which I've been using for the last year (!), as I think it's still usable. It seems to have a very long life, another positive attribute to the process.

I'm finding this process to be less trouble-prone than using Harman Direct Positive paper, which is developed in standard print chemistry (developer, stop bath, fixer). I tried some outdoor tests with the Harman paper earlier this week, with poor results; it requires fresh, strong developer at room temperature, and seems to lose speed in the winter daylight with its lack of strong UV light; it's also very contrasty, whereas the grade 2 paper is much less so. Since either process requires the use of three chemicals (developer, stop bath and fix versus developer, citric acid and H2O2), and I can use a variety of RC papers for the peroxide process (Harman Direct only comes in a fiber paper), I'm finding it more convenient, since RC paper requires much shorter rinse times, and dries flat without curling. Also, the grade 2 RC paper I'm using has a semi-matte finish, a nice surface for a print. And it's quicker than processing paper negatives, then having to contact print a positive (which means running at least one test strip before hand). The only downsides to the direct positive process are you don't have a master negative from which to make more prints, and the exposure times are longer than for paper negatives.

I mentioned previously that I'd been using that older batch of H2O2 (and an older batch of citric acid) for the last year. It's gotten me thinking about residual silver. If you're a darkroom worker, you should know that fixer removes unexposed silver halides from paper and film, which gradually builds up in the solution of used fixer until it's saturated and no longer usable. The exhausted fixer I will turn in to the local hazardous waste disposal site (it shouldn't be poured down the drain, since silver may be considered a heavy metal); although others report success with auto-plating the silver out of solution using fine steel wool.

My question is this: why wasn't I seeing a build-up of residual silver in the used citric acid and/or H2O2 solutions? I've been using the same solutions for over a year; what gives? In a bottle of used fixer it's common to see a dark gray film of oxidized silver build up on the inside surface of the container, but no such film is seen in either solution. I'm guessing here (and I'm not a chemist) that the silver that gets "bleached out" of the paper is in fact still in the paper, it's just bonded with something to render it white (or very light gray) in tone.

Well, that's my report for now. I'm pleased with the final print, and will also be doing more images with the 8-by-10 (10-by-8 inches in the UK) box camera with its F/4.5, 240mm Fujinon Xerox lens.

I wish you all much joy and happiness in the coming year, and thank you for visiting. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Which reminds me, do you have issues with leaving comments here on Blogger? I find on my iOS devices that I have to visit a blog using Private Browsing mode, otherwise Blogger doesn't give me an option to log in when leaving comments on other's Blogger sites. Go figure ...

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Typewritten Cartoons

Typewriter Cartoon
Typewritten Cartoons

Naturally, I had to sit down at my Torpedo 18 last night and work on my own typewritten stick figures. While it's easy to make faces, forming an entire body takes a bit more doing. Here are a sampling of various figures, and some suggestions as to who these characters might be.

Typewritten Cartoon Characters

It soon became apparent that what was missing was an inverted "V", to form the legs of the classic stick figure. But my typewriter had merely a standard typeface. What to do? Simple: invert the paper and type the character upside-down, then remove the paper, roll it back in right-side-up, and continue with typing the dialog. Here's a sampling of my first attempts at creating upside-down stick figures. I've drawn boxes around each one I like, with handwritten notation next to each describing the order of the typed characters.

Typewritten Cartoon Characters

And here's my crude attempt at placing these figures into a cartoon-like context. I wonder if, perhaps five years from now, the "snowflake" comment will even make sense to readers of this blog. Gosh, I hope not!

Typewritten Cartoon

These typewritten cartoon figures are directly related to the smiley emoticon characters first derived from text-based computer code. The main difference here is that, with the manual typewriter, I have the ability to overlap characters, combining them into new forms, while also playing with the line advance. Not that this couldn't have been done with early computer code - perhaps a program could have been written to directly control the printer's head, instructing it to move one character backward and overprint a new character over an older one. So, even though our lowly manual typewriters usually produce only monospaced text, we have direct control over their placement.

I dabbled briefly with cartoons, back in the 1980s, with a local group of creatives who called ourselves S.W.A.C. - Southwest Association of Cartoonists. Our leader was a gent named Tom Ebelt, and one of our members was New Yorker cartoonist Danny Shanahan, who lived at that time in the village of Corrales, just northwest of ABQ. He subsequently moved back to New York. I've followed Danny's career since then, and in fact have one of his original pieces, that didn't get published in the New Yorker.

I enjoy the New Yorker's cartoon caption contest, though I'm terrible at thinking up good captions. But what amazes me about good cartoons is it's usually all about the writing, not the drawing. Take the typical New Yorker piece, perhaps a couple sitting at home in front of the television. Without a caption, it's just a cartoon couple on their couch. But with a witty line or two it becomes magic, taking on a life of its own.

That's why I think these typewritten cartoons have some potential. The "art" work is about the most primitive you can get, reminding me somewhat of the Basic Instructions cartoon and how artist Scott Meyer uses computer-generated images to piece together his panels; the difference being that in the case of typewritten cartoons the figures are typeset from a predetermined typeface, rearranged in a creative manner. What makes or breaks typewritten cartoons is the writing itself. Not that I'll necessarily be doing more of these anytime soon, but perhaps I'll post more of these as they strike me, and providing they're of sufficient quality. We shall see.

But how about you: do you make typewritten cartoon figures? I'd like to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

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