Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mission Accomplished


Post-Script: A funny thing happened toward the end of our Starbucks meet-up. We had been sitting at a table by the front entrance when another dad, with teenage son, stopped by to talk with us on their way out, with the dad indicating that the boy had no idea whatsoever what that device was on our table; he had to explain the concept of typewriters to his son, it was so absolutely foreign.

Talking with my wife later this afternoon, we found it to be both "funny ha-ha" and "funny strange," how something as familiar to our background as typewriters could be such an absolute unknown to someone much younger. Which serves as reminder of our responsibility to impart to our progeny as much of the world of our youth as possible, for these sorts of verbal lore are how cultures and civilizations endure. And also serves as a warning, of how easy it is to lose the thread of one's generation, and how such rapid changes are brought about by technological and social forces seemingly beyond our control.

I made mention to the SM9's new owners that, should I succeed in planning an Albuquerque Type-In later this year, I'd let them know, in case they wanted to participate. In any case, I think it's safe to say that the Insurgency has felt a great strengthening of The Force.

Typecast via my new-style, wide-carriage Olympia SM9. But I hope this recent newcomer to the herd doesn't get a big-headed ego and think he now rules the roost; in a few days or weeks he'll get relegated to the closet for a spell, to be replaced at the typing table with another family member, at which time he should gain a bit more humility.

PPS: During our afternoon patio chat (what great weather we're having), we discussed how manual typewriters need no electrical power outlet or batteries, unlike cell phones, where one has to constantly worry about how many "bars" one has left. Then I looked over at the Olympia and noted that it always has 44 bars; 44 type-bars, that is.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Typewriter Video Series Intro


Post-Script: This video production went rather smoothly. I was especially pleased with the audio, using the digital field recorder and lavaliere microphone. And the manual focus film-camera lens renders very nicely, though it's not quite as sharp as the Lumix digitally-corrected lenses.

Some of my videos have gone upwards of 15 minutes in length. This one was just a tad under nine, and therefore didn't take nearly as long to upload to You Tube. I also feel that having these slightly shorter videos makes them more watchable.

I have not yet decided on the content of the next video in the series, but most likely I'll be showing the major features of manual typewriters, and thus I'll probably be doing close-ups of a number of machines from my collection. The idea will be to help show the major differences between portables and mid-sized machines, so a potential buyer can decide for themselves what category of machine to go hunting for, and what features may or may not be important. It's also a good time to introduce to the neophyte the major differences in operation between manual typewriters and computer word processors. For us oldsters these concepts are virtually back-of-the-hand familiar, but for many younger people they might be altogether entirely foreign.

This raises the point that I don't have a full-sized upright machine in my collection, nor anything older than the Corona 4, and so I won't be able to demonstrate their features; nor do I have access to exotic machines like Olivers and such. But I think I have enough of a selection to familiarize the neophyte in what he or she might find commonly available at their local thrift or charity shops. Once they get more familiar with the world of typewriters they can discover for themselves the exotics and collectibles, if that be their forte.

I remember when I first acquired the Brother/Webster XL-747, used in this video and typecast, and how I fussed over it for several weeks, addressing little issues and slowly improving its performance. Taking it down from the closet shelf after several months of disuse, I was pleased with the way in which it performs, as compared to the Corona 4; which itself is not that bad. This serves as reinforcement to my hopes that it was a valuable addition to my collection; and you can't beat its diminutive size and snazzy color; and the carrying case is in much better condition than any Lettera 22 I've ever owned, making its portability entirely practical.

Did you notice how my outfit and the typewriter were entirely color coordinated? Yes, that was entirely by accident, I can assure you.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Typewriter Videos


Post-Script: Of course, after I finished that preliminary list of ideas, I came up with more. Such as:

Scanning & typecasting; Uploading or hosting typewriter images; Dust covers; Gatherings/Type-Ins; Living with both typewriters and spouses; Typewriting as letterpress; Typewriters as wedding guest books; Loaning out typewriters; Teaching others about typewriters; Spreading the word; Electric typewriters; Typewriters for writers; Typewriters for classrooms; Typewriters and kids; Online typewriter resources; Street typing; Typewriter fonts; Selling typewriters.

This should keep me busy enough for the next few months; while in the meantime, if I think of any more photography-related videos, I'll work on them also.

I might have mentioned in a previous blog article, but it's taken a concerted effort to make the iPad a workable video editing platform with my video camera, considering that the camera lacks inputs for an external microphone; which means, if I want to use a lavaliere mic, I have to record the audio into a standalone audio field recorder, then get those clips into the iPad via the circuitous method of going through my PC and iTunes. But it's less expensive than buying a new camera.

Photo of Lumix G5 and Olympus SM9 via Fujifilm X10. Typecast via Olympus SM9.

PPS: You might have noticed the typewriter image in the viewfinder of the Lumix G5 camera doesn't match in color the actual typewriter; that's because I had mistakenly left its white balance on some custom setting from last week. These things, of course, you only notice after it's posted for all the world to see.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Neet Notebooks?

Post-Script: These are simple enough that anyone with a paper trimmer, stapler and corner punch can make these. I did a batch of sixteen just yesterday, and it was kind of meditative as I zoned in on folding the paper by hand as precisely as possible. The hardest part was getting the template made for printing out four covers on one sheet of paper; but the laser printing looks very nice.

Send me your postal address and I'll get one or two in the mail to you. Just give me feedback on how you like them. I always carry one in my wallet, they come in very handy for generic note-taking.

Here's a link to the video on the inspiration for Field Notes brand.

Typecast via Corona 4. I've been tinkering with the Corona this week, as I got the new feet installed. I degreased with isopropyl alcohol the ribbon mechanisms, including the vibrator and reel mechanism, then followed up with some naphtha as a light lubricant, and the ribbon spools now runs the entire length before auto-reversing. She also looks nice and shiny with a bit of car wax.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Frame-Viewing the Camera Cerebrum

The Watcher being watched - illustrating the two-way nature of public photography


Post-Script: I've blogged about this before, some years ago (though I haven't included a link), and discussed it a bit on the F295 pinhole discussion forum at one point. I see a connection between what I've termed "frame-viewing" and plein air painting or sketching in public, the difference being that, in this case, the only record of the image is internal to the "fauxtographer" himself. So in theory it should be a pastoral enterprise, innocent enough, indicative of the higher intentions of a learned and sophisticated culture. Yet it is bound to remain controversial, if for no other reason than the fact that humans aren't the only species who exhibit a physical reaction to being gazed upon by another. It is this fact, of a biological response, that should preface all other discussion around "street" or other forms of public photography, or even surveillance.

My trepidation over pursuing further the public phase of this project is based on my personality trait of desiring to avoid all confrontation. That is why I would never make a real good street photographer, or even photojournalist, even though I've amassed a sizable portfolio of urban landscape and documentary images; they've mostly been devoid of the direct human presence.

I can also easily see the common-sense aspect to many people's objection over being publicly gazed upon, since in our present culture there's an ever-grayer line, and increased fear, between valid public image-making, and voyeurism or even exploitation. I don't think this project is intended to address or in any way dispel these concerns, either, for that is not my interest.

What does interest me is the relationship between the photographer, the subject, the camera device and, in the case of recordable images, the resulting photograph itself. I think these complex relationships inform much of the greatest publicly-situated photographs from the 20th century. I do find it fascinating that this simple framing device is able to provide some fresh insight into this ongoing subject, hopefully contributing to some ongoing dialog about the relationship between imagery and observation within our culture.

It is very possible that we desire to gaze upon others because in doing so we also see ourselves in them. That might help explain the continuing yet inexplicable popularity in the "selfie" as a photographic genre, whereby the technology has sufficiently advanced to the point of enabling a continual self-photography, a magic mirror we hold up to ourselves. It is also possible that none of this is entirely novel, since mirrors have been around for millennia.

Photos via Lumix G5. Typecast via Corona 4.

PPS: I should also make mention that back several decades ago there were viewing devices very much like this frame (but without the clicker device), manufactured and sold for use by large format photographers as an aid in culling out potential compositions. In use, the photographer would traipse around the rugged wilderness with viewing frame attached to a neck lanyard, without the bother of lugging along his entire camera, tripod and other gear. The viewer would be set up to simulate the same angle of view and format aspect ratio as the camera and lens being employed. When a potential scene was found, notations would be made in a notebook, after which the photographer could return at a later time, with his entire kit in tow, to make the exposure.

PPPS: After some concerted blog searching, here are all the past articles I could find that pertain to this project, either directly or by inspiration. You can see that the roots of the camera cerebrum go back at least as far as 2007.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

New Sneakers


Post-Script: These new rubber feet certainly quieted the machine down, especially the front two, which also serve as bumpers for the space bar. While test typing last night on my granite-surfaced kitchen island, not a bit of slipping was noted, testimony to how well the new rubber grips. I would certainly recommend checking out the Typewriter Man's website, should your Corona need new feet.

As for the upper case shift problem, what I suspect had happened is that because, over the years, the rear feet had become permanently squished, making them wider than they should have been, they were interfering with the shifting mechanism. Then when I had the machine reconditioned some years ago, the local repair shop didn't have new replacement feet, and so they just adjusted the shifting to compensate. Subsequently, after the feet replacement, the shift mechanism was free to move further than before. The problem last night, as I indicated in the piece, was figuring out why the upper case adjustment screws weren't permitting enough range of motion, which ended up being debris caught in the bearing race for the carriage up/down motion.

I still haven't looked at the premature ribbon reversal issue, but I'll leave that for another day.

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Monday, February 08, 2016

One Last Hoorah


Post-Script: It's funny how something as seemingly mundane as a typewriter can bring back so many memories from long ago. In the case of this particular machine, its so-called "techno" font reminds me of having taken several computer programming classes, in high school in the early 1970s (Basic, Fortran and Algol). We typed each line of our program onto individual IBM punch cards, one line of code per card. Along the top edge of the card could be the plaintext equivalent character for each set of punched holes below. This style of printing, from a dot-matrix printer, is somewhat indicative of this Olympia's, hence the remembrance.

In the course of preparing the typewriter for sale, I decided to type up a "brief" instruction sheet of the machine's various controls, along with its care and feeding. It will also serve as an example of the machine's typing quality. Well, that "brief" instruction sheet is now three pages, and of course I could have gone on and on.

Being as how I have some spare correction tape cartridges (from one of my spontaneous office supply store binges - yes, I need a 12-step program), I'm going to include one along with the machine. And for another $3 I'll include an unopened 100-sheet pack of the Mead "general purpose" typing paper that I purchased online several months ago. Because I'd like to make the new owner's typing experience go as well as possible.

Which reminds me, I got an email today from a person in Albuquerque who found my blog online and has a question about a Smith-Corona Silent typewriter, of the same color and model as one I own. So that's kind of neat, now I'm starting to answer typewriter questions.

The top photo was made some years ago using my old Lumix G1, in the front courtyard late in the day. Because of the time of day, the brown stucco house and brick-colored courtyard paving, its very warm in tone, which the camera somehow rendered rather vividly, but I made no attempt to correct the tones; I have a whole set of these typewriter portraits, from that same day, on my Flickr stream, and rather like them.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Just in Case


Post-Script: I must also make mention of the fact that these SM9s are "half-space" machines, meaning that as the typebar is moving up toward the platen, the carriage moves one half space, then another half space as it returns. This means that it is capable of inserting a missing character from an already printed word, as is evidenced in the word "local" in the seventh paragraph. To accomplish this, the errant word is first erased, then the carriage moved to the last letter of the previous word. Then the space bar is held down as each successive letter is printed. About half the machines in my collection have this feature, which I've come to appreciate, given the errors common to my typing.

Just in case you might think that I've gone off the deep end, gushing with pride over the acquisition of a battered suitcase, my wife, whose opinion in matters of aesthetics I trust more than mine, approves.

I did a bit of online research on this Hartmann Skymate suitcase, and it appears to be the pigskin version. There appears to be a significant history behind this brand, which I had not previously appreciated. Also, if online prices are any indication, I might have gotten a good deal on this.

Photos via Fujifilm X10.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Mighty Fine Find


Post-Script: I installed a two-color ribbon purchased via Amazon, and noticed afterwards a bit of ink smudging happening, which you might have noticed in the typecast piece. I suspect it's the ribbon, not the typewriter. Late yesterday evening I felt I needed some typing therapy, and sat out in the patio room with the L.A.R.O.P. (Little Arse Roll of Paper) mounted to the wooden tray table, and did some stream-of-consciousness typing. Normally the imprint upon this thin automotive masking paper is rather faint, but with the combination of this typewriter and the smudgy ribbon, it gave a very dark impression - which impressed me!

I'm also aware, being the owner of a small collection of manual typewriters, that I really don't touch-type all that often on these machines. Part of the reason is because, for blog articles needing to be scanned, I treat each piece more as a finished work of letterpress, and so use a careful two-fingered method, so as to impart as clear of an imprint as possible. However, I get the sense that this SM9 might be a good candidate as a touch-typing machine, due to its snappy action and overall great condition. So that late-night L.A.R.O.P. session served as an opportunity to get a bit of manual touch-typing practice in, and it was a good experience. I am aware in doing so that my ring and pinkie fingers are in need of a bit of training; which can only happen with more practice.

Lacking a carrying case, I've been thinking about what to do when the time comes that I might want to transport it. Of course, one solution is, having a good assortment of portables, to simply use a smaller machine when desiring to type out and about. But still, there is the fact that this one will eventually get swapped out in usage rotation with another, and so storing it safely in my closet becomes an issue. I think I'll go do some more thrift/antique store shopping and find one of those hard-cased Samsonite suitcases, that seem all too plentiful; perhaps I can manage to install some kind of makeshift bracket inside, for mounting to the typewriter's undercarriage. There is also the possibility that the hard case for this machine might still be at the store I purchased this from, perhaps mislaid, and so it would warrant a return visit.

Photos via Lumix G5.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

The Ever-Eager Runway Model

The subject of today's video, a roller base for 35mm development tanks
Post-Script: Though I've kept the Corona 4 on display for some years, I haven't paid it as much attention as it deserves, hence why I only found out last week the problem with its feet. If after I replace the feet I decide to continue using it inside its base, I might add a thin sheet of craft foam underneath, to dampen the sound; it's noticeably louder now, absent the thick felt pad.

Should you be interested, here's an embedded link to the You Tube video I was working on, about a project for making a roller base for 35mm film development tanks, for use with rotary processing small direct positive paper prints.

Photo via Lumix G5.

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