Friday, September 30, 2016

My Polaroid obsession part six: Spectra cameras- point and shoot with creativity!

The Polaroid Spectra line was made with the high end in mind. The film is the largest film they sold, wider by 5/8 inch. It could still function like a point and shoot camera, but came packaged with lots of versatile features, . like glass coated lens, timer, auto-focus, tripod socket, chime, flash on and off, and even accessories you could buy like closeup stand, effects filters, and macro lens. The most feature rich of the entire line, the Polaroid Spectra Pro, also came with creative features like multiple exposure, time exposure (like bulb), built in intervalometer, backlight compensation mode, and manual focus control. And if those features were not enough, in James Bond License to Kill there was a Polaroid Spectra that shot killer laser beams. I don't think that feature was available to the general public.

My collection includes a few strong favorites. The Pro Cam, for how ugly and big it is, the spectra pro for artistic versatility, and the image lcd for its folding lcd screen viewfinder- a last gasp attempt to appeal to the new lcd screen crazy digital population.

The top of my list is a very rare (in the states), Polaroid Spectra Blitz Street Camera which features wide angle, wide angle close up, and exposure control. It was a joint venture between Polaroid and the Lomographic Society ( the company that makes crazy creative cameras that artists and hipsters love but many gear snobs hate).

If you like integral film, but want more creative control- consider shooting with the Spectra line. Spectra film is available through TIP(the impossible project) and it is getting better all the time. You will have to add your own laser beam.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Polaroid obsession part five: I-Zone cameras- no rationalizing this!

How does one become a collector? Though there are many ways to rationalize collecting (preserving, sharing, specializing in, investing in, etc.) I chose the low road- denial.
My father has always been a collector, collecting stamps, postcards, military patches, and license plates. He knows just about everything there is to know about his license plate collection. His last apartment was basically papered in license plates, and he has a story or connection to each one. To the outsider, this collection bordered on obsession.
So when my wife pointed out that I was a collector of musical instruments, full blown denial kicked in. Though I have always heard that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I didn't want to be so easily labeled. What collection? All of my musical instruments are fully functional, and all are occasionally played. I don't own a single wall- hanger(useful only for aesthetic purposes)! Surely if they are all functional, then it is not a collection as much as a group of tools.
When I started collecting Polaroid cameras, I continued to employ this skewed logic. All of my cameras are fully functional and they still make film for them. If you have been following my Polaroid obsession, so far I have only shown cameras that are fully functional.
When I started collecting the I-Zone cameras, I had to learn to accept my addiction. Hello, I am Aaron, and I am a camera collector. The reason for my acceptance is that these cameras don't take any kind of film that is available. Even the expired film I have found has not worked in them. They are officially for legacy only. They also may exist as a cautionary tale!
Dr. Edwin Land, the inventor of Polaroid, was very much against making cheap, mass consumer products. His idea was to allow everyone access to cameras and instant development, but never at the cost of creating a bubble gum and sugar cereal type product, and this is exactly what the I-Zones were. They were marketed to children and tweens, and they were a powerful short term market. They made them with bright colors, simple use, sticker backing, and convenient size. They were an early version of the facebook post. You snapped them, shared them, stuck them on your wall, and wrote on them. Dr Land would have liked that part of the product, as he wanted shooting instant film to be an event. What he wouldn't have approved of is chasing the latest trend- the flash in the pan. He was about long term innovation.
Business wise, they were the hare, when Dr. Land preferred the tortoise. Not to say that he was slow, but he was steady. Dr. Land actually has the second most patents secured ever, with only Thomas Edison as his better. This “hare” shareholder and bottom line mentality was eventually the death of Polaroid.
So here is what collecting has become to me. It is a legacy preserving action, the parts forming the whole as a unique art piece. The collection is about content- not just about surface. There is a deeper read. Obsolescence captures the movement of time, and often the color, design, shape, and purpose of the object captures the spirit of the era. Oh, yeah- it is fun, too.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Yard scars

Landscape has been shuffled and changed enormously by human intervention. The “nature” trails you have become accustomed to are likely areas that were once farms, once forests, once prairies. In Southeastern Ohio we like our relationship to nature- the Wayne National forest surrounds my little city of Nelsonville on all sides. I have seen pictures of this region in the beginning of the 20th century. The land was decimated and the hills were dotted with the stubble of tree stumps. It was not until the middle of the 20th century that there was a concerted effort to re- forest the region.
Localized rural and urban landscape cannot even pretend to have avoided the hand of man. The continual construction and destruction of the land causes a great deal of dismay to many, but I find the aesthetic of decay and renewal very interesting. I enjoy seeing the multitude of Appalachian shacks and outbuildings, some which have outlived their purpose leaning or falling. Old railroad tracks to nowhere and logging roads and crumbling asphalt that is melting into the earth after another highway has made the road irrelevant, become strokes, lines, and marks on the canvas of our own personal landscape.
This interest extends in microcosm to my own back yard. An old shed in the far back was knocked down more than 20 years ago leaving a small pad of cracked concrete. A rock sticking out of the ground revealed(after a great deal of digging) a hundred year old decorative pond. My wife and I leave our own scars on this patch of grass, like the skate ramp I rode for years half removed, leaving a bumpy dead area yet to be fully claimed by weeds, or the patch of earth where the swimming pool resided becoming a circular vegetable garden.
Each old broken sidewalk, cracked patio, and bare patch of earth carries a story. There was that period where we were constantly doing raku-kiln firings and pit-fired ceramics in our yard. I can still remember the bunches of students gathered around to see Ann scorch the earth with glowing pottery. There is still a cement pad near the pond where my wife and I, as a new couple, poured and screed our first concrete together. Stuck in the concrete is twisted copper wire that reads Ann+Aaron 2000.
These yard scars are only evident in linear time if you allow your roots to grow, but they are the very gratifying things that make my roots stronger. I now know that I love these messy little transitions, these hints of a life lived- even if it is just in my back yard.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Polaroid obsession part four: Plastic SX-70 cameras- the unsung heroes!

When people think about Polaroid's crowning achievement they think about the folding sx-70. A work of art employing sophisticated technology in a foldable slr, it is deserving of the praise even to this very day. But what of it's lowly cousin, the plastic non-folding sx-70?
This particular camera shoots on the same artsy sx-70 100 asa film, but does so in a more conventional way. The general shape of it is that of a 600 camera minus the built in flash. Depending on the model it was available with variable focus, fixed focus, sonar autofocus, tripod socket, accessory kits, cable release socket, accessory self timer, and a huge variety of after market electronic flashes. The most popular(and the inspiration for the instagram logo) was the white rainbow Onestep. This camera has a fixed focus, so you just point and shoot. For a flash it takes flash bars or you can hook up an electric flash.
This was the camera that was featured in countless movies, but the ones that stick with me are Gremlins(1984) where Phoebe Cates used it's flash as a weapon against the light sensitive antagonists. Guillermo del Toro wrote in a mini homage to Gremlins with his protagonist using the same camera as a weapon in the same way in Don't be Afraid of the Dark(2010)!
My two favorites are the RF versions and the sonar versions. The RF version is variable focus but actually includes a fully working rangefinder. The sonar version is so ugly it is pretty. It is the one that has a gold disc on the side. It allows auto or manual focus. Most of these cameras are actually better than most of the 600s(again my opinion). They offer far more creative control. And creative control is good.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Inconspicuous consumption, or building a banjo

Have you ever just wanted something? No logic involved? It is a lot easier to get something you want when you have a string of excuses for why you need it- ways to convince yourself you have to have it. When it is just a desire not connected to anything more than a passing feeling, it is much harder to convince yourself to get it- much less the rest of the world.
Yet, these ridiculous spontaneous purchases are what our society is made of! Being a bit of a tightwad, what I often do is find a way to A] Make the purchase cash neutral (an example would be buying something in a lot and selling off the others to break even or profit), B] Trade for the item, or C] Make it myself!

In my case, this thing that I wanted was a banjo. I saw them in music stores and they were so bright and interesting. I could say the attraction was bluegrass, the claw-hammer style, or old-time music, but that would be giving me too much credit. My connection to the banjo is more like Kermit the Frog, Steve Martin, and Deliverance. In other words, I had no right to the instrument!
Even cheap banjos are usually expensive, so I set about making one out of junk I have in the basement. The foundation is a drum. Unfortunately I had to choose a drum that I had on hand, so my banjo body is quite large. I used a snare drum when I should have used a small tom. Banjo heads are usually 11 inches or so, and mine is 14 inches. That combined with the trash can lid for the resonator back, and I have a monster banjo.
Why trash parts? That leads me to the origin and the history of the banjo. The original banjo was a banjar and comes out of Africa. The banjo as we know it was a slave's instrument and it was home made. It wasn't until minstrel shows that white Americans started to use the instrument, and at first it was in comedy wearing blackface. When American whites began to love the banjo, there was a great effort by instrument makers to whitewash the instrument. That is why it looks so decorative today. I wanted my instrument to speak of the earlier connection to folk art and craft.
Making one was rather simple but time consuming. Take the hardware off of a snare drum until you are just left with the ring. Cut the snare drum in half so you end up with two rings. Look at lots of sites with banjos and combine that with using a program that calculates the fret locations. Shape a neck by cutting a block of wood in profile and sanding it until you are close. Mount frets, mount hardware and mount the neck. I chose to mount the neck by drilling a hole in the butt end of the neck and mounting one of those screw in nuts, then drilling a hole through the body and running a threaded rod through. It took me quite a while to shape the butt end with a jig saw and sandpaper to get it tolerable, and even more time to get the neck at the right angle when mounting. Now just add the trash can lid and you can string it. The strap is made of an old belt and boot strings. The bridge and tailpiece were the only things I bought and I got them from China via ebay.
I had a friend who can play banjo test it, and he was impressed. Once I made it I set it on a stand out of the way so I could grab it when the feeling struck. It is a very good thing I did not buy a banjo! I am just starting to get that feeling now, years later!
It is very empowering to be able to work with your hands, stringing together a lifetime of craft and art to make whatever comes to mind. Not all projects succeed, but I feel pretty good about this one. Now it is time to play!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Four dollar Silhouette Cameo- I get the best deals!

It is true, I get the best deals! It is not accidental that I am thrifty. I come from a fairly modest background of hand-me-downs and make it if you want it. From an early age my sister and I made our own toys. I was always taking things apart to see how they work and putting them together in “improved” ways. It is a wonder I never got electrocuted. As a teen I discovered the local scrapyard- Worly Steel, where you could get anything for 10 cents a pound! I bought my VW beetle a new hood with pocket change. I scoured the pile finding bicycle frames and all kinds of great stuff.
This has carried on into my adulthood. I am an avid thrift store, antique mall, flea market, and yard sale lover. I put in the time, and only buy it when I think I have found something special. It was during one of these safaris to a thrift store that I saw a translucent printer-looking thing with a four dollar price tag that piqued my interest. It looked like one more of the millions of inkjet printers, but had no place for ink. It was labeled Xyron Wishblade.
Inside was taped a brand new blade still in the package with the original price sticker for 42 dollars. At that point I pretty much knew what this was. This was a craft cutter like the Silhouette, or the Cricut- a machine for the serious scrapbooker or crafter! As an avid fan of arts and crafts supply stores, I was very familiar with the all too expensive machines.
A quick search indicated that this machine was from 2007 and retailed at around four hundred dollars back then. I took it home and found out that the wishblade was a very versatile cutter at the time, unlike the Cricut. The Cricut was limited to fonts, shapes and designs they supplied. This one could import images and draw anything you want to cut! All the reviews indicated that it was a bit of a nightmare to learn, and didn't support software updates past XP and Vista.
Remember, I am a cheap bastard! This would not discourage me- I had a plan. I would look for a software solution and if I didn't find one I would throw together an ancient machine just to run this! Then I discovered one line buried in the comments section of a blog that indicated that the same folks who made this old Xyron are now producing the new Silhouette Cameo! I went to the Silhouette site and downloaded the design suite of free software and the Xyron runs like a dream! And since it is new software, it is easy to navigate and use! The Silhouette Cameo is a newer, cleaner, repackaged Xyron Wishblade!
I am successfully test cutting all kinds of things, but I will be scanning the thrift store shelves from now on for those “obsolete” devices that cost a small fortune a decade ago! In our mass consumer society, it pays to be a late adopter- happy hunting!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

News flash- Fuji has just announced a square format instant integral film due this spring- this comes right on the tail of the announcement of black and white in instax film! Square format- the domain of Polaroid 600 and sx-70- now produced exclusively by TIP The Impossible Project. Is Instax now a format competitor? Not really. At 62x62mm, this is one tiny square film. Since Instax mini is just an Instax wide cut in half,  and this one is just a square with the same height dimension as the other- can we look forward to the new mini-skinny or extra wide? We can look forward to new cameras, though.
Any way you look at it- this is an exciting time to be a fan of instant film!

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Polaroid obsession part three: packfilm cameras with bellows or folding packfilm cameras

The showcase of my Polaroids is far from over! If your response has started at polite interest and now moved on to genuine concern- don't get too comfortable! Below are my folding packfilm or bellows packfilm consumer cameras. These are my favorites- even above my SX-70 cameras! They use the film I love (peel apart) and they are very well built- especially the metal ones! The cheapest ones have funky features, like measuring head height to get the camera in focus! My favorite of all , the 195, is fully manual and has the fastest lens at 3.8.  My favorite automatic is the 450, which uses flash cubes and a focus flash which uses louvers to control the flash. Though most of these are from the sixties, they are some of the best Polaroid cameras built!
The Zeiss Icon rangefinder can be found on most of the high end models.

The one on the front left, the 195, is my favorite.

The odd looking black ones are the "new" packfilm cameras that were released later. Though they are nice looking, they are not nearly as well built.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Polaroid obsession part two: plastic packfilm cameras

Unfortunately I don't have a museum, so I cannot put all of my Polaroid cameras on display. Pulling them out of totes, dusting them and inventorying them is the closest I can get. Someday I will have my museum!
The cameras I am sharing today are my consumer grade plastic packfilm cameras. They are both the type 100 and type 88 cameras. Some have plastic lenses, some glass lenses. Many have development timers, and most have variable distance focusing. They are fairly simple to shoot with, and generally take very nice pictures. If you see these for sale, there is a good chance you can shoot with them. Just look for clean battery contacts. The type 88 film packs were discontinued quite a while ago, but the type 100 has been manufactured by Fuji as FP100c. Fuji has discontinued production of this film in 2016, but there will be inventory for the foreseeable future. New 55 and Supersense, and Catlabs of JP are going to take up the mantle and produce packfilm soon, so there should not be a supply gap.
Why shoot these plastic packfilm cameras? The simple answer is FUN! If you are into Lomography, or Fantastic Plastic, then you will love these time machines!
My favorite is the Super Colorpack. Try one of these cameras out and do your part to preserve a bit of our history while taking cool photos!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Making your pack-film last...Fuji Fp100c one shots part three, ground glass(also instax mini and instax wide!)

Now that you can make one shots and can crudely bracket some shots, you may want to see exactly what light is getting through your lens. A ground glass plate was used to do just this in the earlier days of camera and is still widely used by professional film cameras to this day. Ground glass for a typical packfilm camera can be used to give you very specific information about sharpness of focus, framing of the subject matter, and even dialing in accessory lenses for effect. If you are a lomography or experimental photography nut, this should work well for you!
Making a “ground glass” for packfilm is simple and cheap. All you need is a piece of plexiglass, an empty pack, some sandpaper or foggy(not clear) scotch tape, and some glue-all adhesive. First take the pack apart. Set aside the part that has the foam tongue- you won't need it. Take the inside piece(film plane) and trace it onto your plexiglass. If your trace is about 1/16th or so wider and bigger than the inside piece, make sure you adjust the difference before you cut.
Now cut the plexiglass to size. I feed plexiglass slowly and methodically through my band-saw or jig saw as it tends to melt if you go too fast(it can also crack). Once you have it to size, sand the funky edges smooth. Dry fit and adjust accordingly.
Now for the “ground glass”. Either sand the plexiglass on one side until it is very foggy, or cover one side with the scotch tape(careful to leave room to glue the edges down. Apply glue to the inside rim of the pack, and stick the plexiglass to it- foggy or taped face towards the glue. Wait for it to dry and you are done!
I have also shown a fuji instax mini and a fuji instax wide ground glass I have made- just as easy!The Lomo Instant and Lomo Instant Wide use instax film(and the new Automat as well)! 
It helps to have some sort of hood if the glare from the room or space is too much. An easy hood is a black tshirt with the camera poking through the neck hole and the body of the t-shirt acting as the hood. A clothespin can fasten it-simple!
Since most Polaroid cameras were consumer grade and did not have professional features like bulb, some cameras may need a little strip of electrical tape to cover up the exposure control (this will open the lens for several seconds at a time).
This process should further preserve your precious FP100c while you are waiting for Supersense and New 55 to reinvent packfilm!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Making your pack-film last...Fuji Fp100c one shots part two, bracketing

Now that you have a simple way to separate your packfilm shots out to shoot individual shots, let's get even cheaper! Let's try bracketing. All you need is your empty pack, darkslides, film, and a silver marker. First let's mark the darkslides. Using one of your packs, separate the image area into the slices you will bracket(see image).Load the darkslide into the cartridge in light so that the edge meets your first mark. Load it with the black side out- not the silver and black side out. It is easier to see your marks that way. Load it into your camera and make a dot where the darkslide meets the film door. Take the pack back out and pull the darkslide to where it meets your second mark. Re load it and re mark with a dot at the film door. Unload it and repeat a third time. This will give you 4 brackets. Put every thing in the changing bag and replace the darkslide with your new and improved darkslide. When shooting brackets, pull to the first mark and take your shot, then pull to the second, and so on until you have removed the darkslide on the 4th shot.

Some notes about this process:
  • The edge is a bit sloppy, but it will work. If you want to, you could use masking tape to reinforce the film edge of the darkslide.
  • After doing this with four brackets, I think I may go with three. It helps compensate for the inevitable slop and light leaking.
  • This kind of bracketing is cumulative. it works with long exposure, because with each pull the time adds on to one prior. 
  • It is ideal for dialing in night time exposure,  as reciprocity failure makes predicting times at night difficult. It also works great with pinhole shots.
  •  In the images above i did not use a heavy tripod and a remote shutter, hence the shake on the overexposed stuff.
  • Be very careful not to grab the white tab when you are pulling the darkslide. A tiny bit of tape on the film edge tear away strip(per the prior blog on one shots) is not a bad idea, either.
  • If you haven't noticed- I am a packrat. I save all of my packs and all of my darkslides and store the negatives for later darkroom use! From here on out, it may be a good idea to save those packs!
  • Be looking out for my next posting- one shots part three!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Supersense and New 55- the future looks bright indeed(RIP FP100C)

Yes! Supersense, backed by the founder of The Impossible Project (makers of film for  your Polaroid cameras) is joining forces with New 55 to create type 100 packfilm! Check out the announcement at . I am breathing a sigh of relief- Fuji discontinued FP100c, my favorite film. I am so glad that Florian Kaps is teaming up with New 55. I can't wait to see what they come up with! Also, Catlabs of JP has made the same promise- to make packfilm. the more the merrier!
Florian Kaps has also suggested in the recent past starting an Analog Products Institute, and if you explore web site you will find all kinds of analog goodies!
My prior blog talked about how to get those fuji packfilm packs to last longer, stay tuned for part two!
I am going to bed pretty happy!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Making your pack-film last...Fuji Fp100c one shots

A little bit of background: After Polaroid stopped making film in around 2008, the only game in town for pack-film was Fuji. They produced FP100c color film, Fp100b black and white film, and FP3000b black and white film. It is amazing film. Not only does it have a great image quality overall- surpassing that of integral film(my opinion), but it was self terminating. That means the time needed for peeling the film apart was more flexible than Polaroid film was. As of this year, Fuji will have discontinued all lines of pack-film. There have been several attempts to convince them otherwise, but with no success. This leaves pack-film shooters in a scary place. With a dwindling inventory this idea may help a bit.
I have been doing this for a couple of years with fairly consistent success. I take a pack of ten shots (Fuji FP100C) and using a photographic changing bag, turn it into ten packs of one shot. Why? Since I have a rather large collection of Polaroid cameras, I like to make sure they work before I commit to shooting with them for the day. I also like to do one-off experiments. Some of my cameras are fairly unconventional, designed for the lab or designed for making passports and driver's licenses.
What need do you have of one shot packs? Maybe a family member just came over and you don't want to take a whole pack out of the fridge. I know I sound cheap, but I was not among the thousands who were able to dig into their wallets or pull out their credit cards and buy a bunch of the now endangered and limited Fuji pack-film stock by the box. Maybe you need to test that 2 dollar yard sale camera you just got home, and you don't want to risk wasting the whole pack(You can take the dark slide out of a pack, but I challenge you to put one back in!).
Like most artists, I am a pack-rat. I have saved every empty pack I shot. I also save all old negatives in a box in hopes of someday recovering them( I have done it once, and I can assure you- it works!). For some unknown reason, I have also kept most dark slides! What you will need to do this is ten dark slides left over from the packs, 10 empty packs, one full pack, and a changing bag. I find the Fuji dark_slide to be better than old Polaroid dark_slides because they are thicker. I also find Fuji packs to be easier because they are all plastic, but you can use Polaroid packs if that is all you have. If you are someone who has done lots of film unloading in these bags this should be fairly simple. If you have a pack of expired Polaroid pack-film, experiment with that in the light so you can see how things go together. Below are photos of four of the one shots already loaded, and a couple of photos of an old pack taken apart. Note what the tabs look like when separated from each other.

Put the 10 empty packs, 10 dark-slides, and one full pack of film in the changing bag. Pop the full pack open by gently squeezing the sides. Lift out the center that has the film and paper wrapped around the plastic film plane. There are paper loops that later become the numbered tabs on the film- they will be used! First gently tear tab #1 off of the back of the dark slide. Move the dark slide out of the way. Just like you removed tab one from the bottom of the dark-slide, work your way through the stack disconnecting just the top of the tab from each of the 10 shots(see the picture). You are separating the loops, not getting rid of the tabs.
Next lift the first shot free of the film plane, careful to keep it folded. On the negative side there is a small staple. Gently rip shot one from the staple. Now just re-package that shot in an empty pack you open up. Wrap it snug so the negative will get fully exposed. Add the dark-slide over the film, then close up the packaging. When you are done with this step, the dark-slide and the tab should be hanging out one side. Do this to all ten, and you are ready to bring them into the light.
Of note: Obviously by now you have noticed that you need only 9 empty and one full pack- you can immediately re-use the full pack. Also, the negative is now un-tethered by the little staple, so it is possible that it could be yanked a bit by the dark-slide. This has not been my experience with over 50 single shots, but if you are concerned about it bring a bit of scotch tape into the bag and apply a bit to the papery edge which will tear away. Also, if you haven't already, take apart a junk pack in the light- it will all make more sense.
Hopefully this will help someone with their process, I know it has worked well for me!

PS. I just realized I left this blog entry with all kinds of doom and gloom. There is light on the horizon for pack-film. Florian Kaps, formerly of Impossible Project fame and now working with is now building an analog products institute and their first order of business is recreating pack-film! Another group, Catlabs of JP, has also promised to make pack-film! So my idea of packfilm one shots is just a way to bridge the gap, because I feel confident that these guys can bring back our pack-film!

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's Aliiive!!!!! or...Speed Graphics Instax Mini

Since I love to shoot instant and I love the happy accidents, I am always looking for unique ways to shoot. I ran across a terribly abused Graphex Mini Speed Graphic(1939-1946) in a bargain bin last year. The tolex was destroyed and there were lots of little things broken or missing, but the lens was good. I thought it would be fun to try and shoot some sheet film, and since I don't yet have a 4x5, this seemed a good starting point. A year later my friend and photographer extraordinaire Dennis Savage gave me a Mini Speed Graphic in a box of stuff! The lens was toast, but the tolex looked great and using my first Mini as an organ donor I was able to put together a pretty nice little camera!
About a month ago, I started thinking what if- what if the popular consumer grade integral instant film Fuji Instax Mini would fit into these 2x3 holders? I could shoot some shots and in about 5 minutes have a fully developed image! Today I tried it and it was too easy. If you are into Lomography, instant photography, lo-fi imagery, alternative photography, or you just like to mess with stuff- this may be for you! You also could be among the thousands who feel limited by the non-manual toy like feel of the Fuji Instax Mini cameras.
This process is not without issues, but if you wanted no issues you would just shoot with your i-phone and instagram it. My little camera needs lots of tweaking to get rid of light leaks, but I would expect that from a 75 year old leather bellows.
The short and sweet is that the film sits in there nice. I took a pack of instax into a changing bag with 5 2x3 film holders. I then unloaded the film from the instax and into the film holders one by one. I was very careful to preserve the orientation in the bag. The only big warning I would give is that one side of instax has the developing pod. I chose to put that on the outside(where the end folds back down. I was careful to shove it in there good and deep so very little of the pod would be compressed when I added the darkslide. Once everything was loaded I shot it like I would sheet film. When I was done I put the empty pack and all of the film holders back into the bag along with an instax camera. I reloaded the film, careful to get the orientation right. Then I put the cartridge in the camera, turned on the camera, and proceeded to shoot the camera in the bag until all of the film was processed.
The results were fun, messy, and gratifying. Though this was just a test, I know I am going to use this “instant” process again and again!
Of note: the 800 film makes for some great interior shots without flash, but outdoors it is very easy to get overexposed with the limitations of the Speed Graphic. I may have to size an ND filter for it.
Also of note: Fuji will have black and white film for their instax mini this October!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Brownie collection

My wife and I started this small collection of Kodak Brownies together. I hope to someday shoot some film in them(you can load the old cartridges with 35mm or buy expired). There are a couple of non-Brownies included- my mom's Yashika mat124g( which I love to shoot) from when she was a photographer with the Air Force, and my father in law's Exa Ihagee Dresden he got from France, WW2. There are also some Brownie 8mms!

My Polaroid obsession

I have always had an interest in photography as a tool. I would take pictures to use for my paintings. I would take pictures to reference for drawings and prints. I would take pictures to record important events. Then I discovered the darkroom! My imagination went wild- the possibilities of a painterly process with a mechanical tool sounded great! A flood destroyed my darkroom right at the beginning of the digital age. I put my painterly photography needs on a back shelf. About four years ago I found some Polaroid cameras in a free art supply pile. That was the beginning of my addiction and my Polaroid camera collection. This is an image of a small portion of my collection, the 600 series cameras. I will try to post more as I display them. I have cameras from the earliest days (1949) to the last days of Polaroid as a camera and film company. My favorite to shoot are packfilm cameras, but I also like shooting the other formats(spectra, 600, and sx-70).
Actually, the bottom row is two deep- there are 8 cameras behind that row! So we are looking at 49 cameras just in the 600 series!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Large painting easel DIY

I started painting big on my canvases recently. 6 foot by 6 foot and up! The price of a new Santa Fe 2 easel is cost prohibitive at 900 to 1500 dollars new. A drywall hoist will set you back about 200 dollars, and a little rigging with some junk lumber makes for an adjustable easel for those heavy large paintings.

Polaroid to intaglio sketch with a four dollar press

First a little of my art background with this medium. I made intaglio prints in my undergrad years and always intended to continue. 20 years went by without a single print being made(no press was available). I went to grad school and got to make intaglios again. Now I am done with grad school and I swore that I would not wait another 20 years! I found this tiny embossing press at a thrift shop for four dollars. It has a geared metal bed and was designed for craft. I used a stack of ordinary craft felt, and did my engraving on copper with a combination of needle tool, electric engraver, and burnisher. The prints are exactly the size of a polaroid print. My mini prints will tide me over until I can get a large quality intaglio press. Next step, aquatints!

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