Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Write Fully So

brother SX-4000
There's something slightly furtive about the idea of sitting in bed with an electronic typewriter

This is also a typewriter

Here's the letter stamping kit. I made the shallow cardboard boxes as a way to contain the blocks in alphabetic order while also being easy to remove individual blocks. I secure them together with a rubber band prior to storing in their original clear plastic containers. After stamping I rubber band them into a bundle and clean the ink off their rubbery letters with a paper towel and bit of degreaser, before putting away, ready for their next stamping session.

Even though these stamp die are rubber, I've seen other sets online with wooden and metal die. I might try one of those also.

Here are several more examples of stamped letterwork I've made with this letter kit:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Creepy Barber Head, or Another Handmade Camera Project!

Creepy Barber Head
"Creepy Barber Head" paper negative image

Shoe Box Camera
The Camera Itself

Enjoy this video about making and testing the camera:

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Experiment Continues

Guild Entrance
The Guild's iconic marquee

Experiment 1
Keif Henley
Guild Cinema head-honcho Keif Henley


Experiment 7
Basement Film's next show is Experiments in Cinema

Board Game Store
Nob Hill on ABQ's former Route 66 is a high-rent district, and so it amazes me that stores like a board gaming gallery can stay in business. Here we see gamers having fun on a Friday night

Experiment 2
Experiment 3
Experiment 5
Experiment 4
Experiment 6

Friday, March 17, 2023

Working the Robo-Clackers

brother SX-4000
Stardate Page One
Stardate Page Two
Sears SR1000
Stardate Page Three

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Brother SX-4000 Electronic Typewriter

Pushing Daisies Page One
Pushing Daisies Page Two
Pushing Daisies Page Three
Setting Up The Brother
Alternative Pitches

Here's my video about the Brother SX-4000:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Found Wisdom from the Type-In


Sometimes you get more than you expected. This has been the case after every Type-In event. One of the things I look forward to, after all the people have left and it's just us few left to box up our typewriters, are the detritus of the Type-In, scraps of paper left over, with mostly anonymous typings, glimpses from deep inside the psyche of individuals we otherwise know nothing about.

Never assume these are mere random words on paper. People connected to typewriters via fingers and keys have unusual properties. People aren't sure what to type, so the first thing off the top of their mind gets impressed as ink into paper. Often they don't even know the significance of what they've written, they're just discarded, for us to find at the end.

My wife Andrea made the first edit, from the piles of paper picked up from off the tables or left in the machines. Then I did more culling, looking for the juicy bits, that seem to speak deeper than mere random words to paper.

Here are just a few samples, taken from the Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In that was held yesterday, March 11, at the Special Collections Library. Enjoy.

Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom
Spring 2023 ABQ Type-In Found Wisdom

Here's a video synopsis from the event:

Friday, March 10, 2023

Type-In Prep

Type In Prep 1
Type In Prep 2

Here's a link to the ABQ Journal article.

I spent most of today getting final preparations made for tomorrow's event, but in the process was able to make this video:

Knowing how busy I am at these events, I'll be luck to shoot any video during the Type-In, but if I do, I'll post a video and also a follow-up article here. See you at the Type-In!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Slowly Divorcing Film

Zorki 1E
One of my favorite film cameras, the Zorki 1E

Divorcing Film 1
Favorite Film Cameras
My favorite film cameras of late: Minolta X700 & Vivitar 24-F/2.8 lens; Kodak Retina IIIc; Zorki 1E & 50mm Jupiter 8 lens; Voigtlander Vitomatic II

Divorcing Film 2

Recent Digitals
Recent new digital cameras: the Canon Rebel T7 with 24-F/2.8 lens; the Ricoh GRiii

Canon T7 DSLR and Lumix G5 mirrorless

The Ricoh, though the smallest APS-C camera made and truly pocketable, has mediocre autofocus and is typically used for "street" photography by presetting the SNAP FOCUS distance and relying on depth of field to get objects behind and in front of that distance in reasonable focus. However, the LCD screen does not articulate, nor does it have an optical or electronic eye-level viewfinder. Using the camera is like using a phone camera, but with a screen that's much dimmer, and a larger sensor that intrinsically has narrower depth of focus and hence requires more critical focus - which it's not good at doing automatically!

The T5 has the same sized sensor as the Ricoh, and also doesn't have an articulating rear screen. However, what it does have is an eye-level OPTICAL, through-the-lens viewfinder with interchangeable lenses. This makes all the difference. Using the VF is like any other SLR, film or digital. The autofocus points built into the optical viewfinder are ACCURATE and FAST. You can also manually focus through the VF if need be.

Yes, the T5 is in no way pocketable, even with a large jacket. You carry it on a strap for all to see. People know you're a photographer, or at least "armed" with a camera. This became obvious to me the other morning when I was walking through the neighborhood on the way to the post office, camera on strap. Some car pulls up, passenger window rolls down, and the driver inquires as to why I'm taking pictures. I explain that I'm a documentary photographer, have lived in the neighborhood most of my life and document different parts of ABQ, including my own neighborhood. I even gave him my name. We ended up shaking hands and we both felt better about the situation.

The Ricoh on the other hand can be carried sneakily, especially in the colder months in a jacket pocket, ready to be pulled out, the power button pressed and a quick snap taken. I've taken lots of photos this way. I'll probably use both of these cameras into the future, but more likely the Canon will get the nod when viewfinding is expecially critical, or I need a focal length different from what the fixed 28mm equivalent lens on the Ricoh offers.

By contrast, these are the kinds of images I like to make with silver gelatin media:
Bookcase Joe
"Bookcase Joe", 2 second exposure at F/5.6 onto 4x5 format pre-flashed grade 2 paper negative

"Tree", 1 hour 44 minute exposure on 8x10 format diazo paper, 240mm-F/4.5 Fujinon Xerox lens

The first image is very typical of what you can get using paper negatives, even lit at night by artificial lights indoors, taken using the lights of my video table. The exposure time range of 1-2 seconds is about ideal for hand-timed lenses: long enough to accurately time but short enough to avoid image blur.

The second image is even more unconventional and experimental. Diazo paper is "white line" blueprint paper, the kind draftsmen would use to print their drawings, using a machine with a UV flourescent bulb and liquid ammonia for the developement. In this image I cut down the paper to 8x10 size, loaded it into a sheet film holder and used the Xerox machine lens on my 8x10 box camera to focus the scene. These exposures take a long time, in this case almost two hours of bright daylight. It's then developed by taping to a flat cutting board and placing over a shallow tray of household cleaning ammonia (the strong kind) and letting the vapors do the work. The development can be done indoors under normal illumination, ensuring the paper isn't exposed to UV light, either sunlight or strong artificial UV sources.

I like these kinds of unconventional image-making processes, they are very satisfying. But you'd hardly call it "film" in the normal sense of a strip of plastic rollfilm loaded into a camera. But I supppose, in the large sense of the term, it's still film-based, if by "film" we mean a thin layer of light-sensitive chemicals.

Back to where I'm at today with digital cameras (DSLRs) that are "film-like" in the sense of having optical viewfinders like film cameras. When carrying the Canon T7 around, I'm still taking the same genre of photos I've taken in the past with other film and digital cameras, such as this one recently:

Target Cart
"Target Cart"

Or this one:
Victory, NE ABQ"Victory, NE ABQ"

Or this one:
3701 Morris, ABQ"3701 Morris, ABQ"

I feel like it's the same photographic process at work here: walking the streets with some aesthetic in mind, thoughts floating in and out about my relationship with this community that I've lived in most of my life. Camera on strap slung across my chest, bring the camera up to my eye, see the scene through the viewfinder, focus and compose, press the shutter. And after some post-exposure mumbo-jumbo, informed by my relationship with the subject matter, here you see it yourself, online. The mumbo-jumbo could have been processing film, scanning film and post-processing a digital file of the film scan; or, in this case, post-processing the digital file from the digital camera, directly. The results I think are pretty much the same.

The title of this article suggests I've divorced film. But, like all divorces, they are messy and there's typically more to the story than either side is willing to admit. For myself, I feel, like the typical divorcee trying to self-justify, that I've done all I could've done: I kept my darkroom running, I shot film, but the prices kept going up and the scan quality of the labs kept going down. In the end, I'm interested only in the images. That's really what it's about. Yes, I once loved the film process, but today I've found a new lover, because it makes the process of seeing the images less like some form of punishment.

I love those old film cameras, every one of them. They're like old typewriters to me. But I don't fondle cameras, these mainly stay sight unseen in a cabinet rather than ogled on a display shelf. I may yet put a roll through them, once in a while, for old time's sake. But that's more like in remembrance of what film, to me, used to be. As for you, I'm fine with whatever way you choose to express yourself creatively. Let's just keep doing it, more often!

Here's one of my photo books of ABQ, Implied Presence. Here's another of my books, TV Shop. And my first photo book, Duke City Street. These were all created using Lumix micro-4/3 mirrorless cameras.