Saturday, February 28, 2015

We've Got Snow!



Post-Script: It's now a few hours later, I've done my snow shoveling, and the courtyard, driveway, back porch and sidewalks are clean. The sky is beginning to clear and any surface that gets direct sun is drying off nicely. The idea is to do this before nightfall, because it can get well below freezing at nights in the high desert, and whatever moisture there is will be ice in the morning. This is typical of snowstorms in New Mexico, they can come quickly and melt even quicker.

Photo via Lumix G5, typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Slow Progress


(1) Link



Post-Script: Double points get assigned to whomever can identify the source of the artwork on focus at the view screen shown in the second photo. I was using the binocular lens on the front of the box, shown in the top photo.

Here's a photo of the red-LED circuit, with plastic diffuser. As you can see, the interior of the box in the background (not yet painted black) is nicely illuminated:

I thought, for the sake of completeness and those darkroom photo nerds out there, I'd post results of my red light + photo paper fog tests.
Starting in the upper left corner going clockwise:
Red RubyLith window + Red 25A eyepiece filter both opened, 2 minutes exposure (intense fogging);
With eyepiece closed, 2 minutes exposure (still intense fogging from RubyLith film);
Red 25A eyepiece filter open, RubyLith window closed, 2 minutes exposure (still intense fogging);
With eyepiece closed and RubyLith window stopped down to 1/4" hole, 20 seconds exposure (still slight fogging);
5-watt red-LED directly above paper, 2 minutes exposure (slight fogging);
5-watt red-LED filtered through plastic diffuser, 2 minutes exposure (NO FOGGING-YAY!!)

Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent; photos via Lumix G5.

Monday, February 16, 2015

At Delicate Arch

Typecasting atop Delicate Arch

"At Delicate Arch"

Bonus Image:
Delicate Arch

Sunday, February 15, 2015

North to Moab

Moab, Utah

"North to Moab"

Post-Script: We stopped in at Eddie McStiff's for our evening meal, an old standby favorite from previous visits. Everyone left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

I do look forward to visiting Arches NP tomorrow.

Typecast via Hermes Rocket, photo via Fujifilm X10.

Monday, February 09, 2015

A Keeper of Words



Post-Script: Reference yesterday's blog article, "Shreddings 1.0."

It's all too easy, once blogging becomes a weekly ritual, to focus one's creative output strictly for that purpose; the same, I suppose, if I were intending to be a published author, where the lines of distinction between writing and self-marketing become blurred. But writing must find another place in our lives, if it is to be a true fount of creativity. Rather than output, it needs to become an inner resource.

Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent; photo via Fujifilm X10.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Shreddings 1.0



(1) I've found myself having collected a smattering of a few rough-draft typings during the last few months, that might have initially been the genesis for potential blog articles but somehow never made the cut. And so now, before I three-ring-punch and bind them away for perpetuity, I thought it appropriate to excerpt some snippets - shreddings, if you will - and compose them accordingly.

The less detail, the better; always leave them with a bit of mystery; when in doubt, cut it out.

(2) Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent; gosh, the more I use this machine the better I like it. Tonite, I watched the series premier of "Better Call Saul," on the AMC channel, filmed here in dear old Albuquerque. Beforehand was some zombie series (The Walking Dead?), which I haven't taken to watching at all, but got me to thinking that this Smith-Corona Silent could be a good Zombie Typer, for when civilization falls apart, all hell breaks loose and creepy dudes with flesh hanging off them are breaking through the windows.

(3) The Instant Box Camera Project is progressing (the subject of my previous blog article); I've just about finished the rear access door, and the more complex front lens board holder is nearly done, cobbled together from various strips of scrap wood that I found around the workshop. I've placed an order for genuine rubber-coated blackout fabric, and I need to find some Rubylith film, as a red filter for the viewing port on top. A more complete report will be due when I've made enough progress to warrant another blog article.

(4) A while back, I wrote about sending a typewriter to a friend in Texas; well, he's not only using the Royal Futura 800, but has now started his own blog, here. He's quit a fine writer, and is linking the theme of his blog to a cross-country bicycle ride he intends to do this year. I find it interesting this connection between manual typewriters and bicycling, as a few other typewriter bloggers also are avid cyclists. Please do give his blog a visit, and support him in his endeavors.

(5) Top photo via Lumix G5, a slide viewing light box and a bag of excrement from the paper shredder. Oliver North-style.

Monday, February 02, 2015

On Projects



Post-Script: There's a surprising amount of detail on the Internet about these obscure devices. For starters, you should visit the Afghanistan Box Camera site. Then take a look at all the images available online, from various countries including Argentina and Afghanistan.

I had a few setbacks this week with the project. I started out wanting to reuse as much scrap material found around my house as I could, and so I cut some laminate flooring tile into pieces, but only found out a day or so later that the plastic-like coating prevents glue from adhering properly; and I didn't want to mix up a huge batch of epoxy. And so I made a trip to the hardware store, where I purchased some cabinet-grade plywood. I figured if I was going to all the trouble of making this thing, I might as well do it the right way.

There are two basic configurations of these boxes. One type, popular in India years ago, used an old bellows camera attached to the front, with room inside for processing the paper negatives. The other type, which I've decided to base my design on, is the type used in Afghanistan, whereby a camera lens is fixed to the front of the box and an internal focusing mechanism is used, that employs a ground-glass film holder bracket mounted to sliding rods, operated by a guide rod that protrudes out the back of the box. There's a door that opens in the rear, from where the operator can see into the box to adjust focus on the view screen. The operator manipulates the paper via a light-tight arm sleeve, mounted either to the side or the back, depending on the design. Mine will have the arm sleeve mounted to the side.

Finding truly light-tight fabric is a bit harder of a challenge than what you might expect. The only light-proof fabric commonly found in craft stores is the heavy oil-cloth type of tablecloth material, which I used in the past with the portable darkroom box, but it's rather stiff to work with. In places like Afghanistan it's common to use the sleeve of an old jacket, but I don't have any jackets worthy of cutting up for this project. So I'll probably source some rubber-coated bellows fabric, available from a specialty supplier at a rather steep price.

The focusing mechanism uses a pair of aluminum rods upon which the view screen/film holder bracket rides, controlled with a smaller aluminum rod that extends out the back of the box. Getting the rods lined up parallel to one another was key to making the whole thing operate smoothly. The view screen is a thin sheet of Lucite plastic that's had one side sanded down to serve as a ground glass. It hinges back, permitting a sheet of photo paper to be inserted.

Before the cabinet pieces can be glued together, I need to finish the door and hinges on the back end; cut the hole and make the mounting bracket for the arm sleeve in the left side; mount a red-filtered viewing port to the top, directly above the developer tray, to enable development-by-inspection; and fit a bracket to the front enabling several lenses to be interchangeably used - the main lens will be a 127mm Kodak Ektar, taken from an old Speed Graphic, but I also have an improvised lens made from a binocular objective, that's also mounted to a Graflex-style lens board, and works wonderfully for portraits, as it exhibits a nicely soft effect around the edges.

While most of the traditional types of these boxes have the top surface function as a hinged access lid, I'm planning on making the right side (opposite the arm sleeve) hinge open instead; this will give me easier access for installing and removing the chemical trays, which are little plastic craft storage boxes. The reason for this change is that I made the interior of the box as small as I could, while still providing room for the three trays, but in so doing the focus guide rods prohibit removing the trays through the top without tipping them on-edge, which would spill liquids inside the box. The overall dimensions of this box is 9.5" x 9.5" x 21.5"

There are other considerations, once the device is finished. For one, though I don't intend on becoming a professional street portraitist, I might want to accept donations, to cover the cost of paper and chemicals. As such, I might want to get a business license and peddlers permit, enabling me to do this in public without legal hassle. Then there's the challenge of keeping the chemicals at room temperature while out and about, which could be a challenge in cold weather. Being as the sun is usually bright here in New Mexico through much of the winter months, a little solar heat box might work as a way of keeping bottles of chemicals warmed up, as a standby supply. I haven't mentioned the most important item of all, becoming skilled at making portraits in natural light, which will only come with time. I foresee a period of time where family members and friends alike (if they remain friends, that is!) will be used as test subjects, until I get up to speed with the operation of the camera and processing.

One important detail for your edification is how the pictures are made. Like others, I'll be using light-sensitive silver gelatin, black & white photo paper, the kind used to make darkroom prints. When used in place of film, these are known as paper negatives and, as the term suggests, produce after development a negative image. I've been working with paper negatives for decades, another reason why these types of cameras fascinate me.

But since the subject desires a positive print, the paper negative, still wet from processing, is placed on a copy stand bracket, in front of the lens, and re-photographed onto another piece of paper, which is then also processed to make a positive print. Overall, from initial exposure to a finished print, I expect the process to take no more than 15 minutes. I would expect to keep the original negatives and give the subject the resulting prints.

Another technique that I experimented with earlier, using the large darkroom box and an old Polaroid Model 800 camera, was contact printing the paper negative, using the sun as the light source. Here I installed a thin sheet of clear glass inside the Polaroid, and placed a piece of white frosted plastic over its lens. Then, aiming the Polaroid at the sun, I'd use its shutter to time the exposure. The sandwich of paper negative and print paper would then be unloaded in the dark box and processed. I don't see being able to use this technique with this new box, since it lacks the necessary room for loading a contact printing device.

Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent. I replaced its red/black ribbon with a standard black Porelon #11472 typewriter ribbon, purchased at Office Max; these make a nice, black imprint.