4×5 Pinhole Plan

September 7, 2010

As alluded to in my last post I’ve been making and shooting pinhole cameras lately. The latest is the Petite Boite Noire (little black box… I give my cameras funny French names for some reason… hopefully I’m not cursing inadvertently or something).

525pinhole17The aperture is about 158, the base focal length is 1.5″ and it has a 1″ extension (approximately equivalent to the field of view of 11mm and 17mm lenses on a 35mm camera). It’s a 4×5 but I’m not using a film back. I planned to use paper as the light sensitive medium (paper is no longer strictly negative and calling it film is confusing so “light sensitive medium” is my term and I’m sticking to it)  so I just made the back the right size for taping a 4×5 chunk of paper to it.

525pinhole15Using paper as the light sensitive media has presented some new challenges. It seems to have a very limited range of exposure and it’s very contrasty. I’m having fun figuring it out though. More samples as I shoot them on my pic site here.

Here is pdf version of the plan.

I built the plans in Sketchup, Google’s free 3d software, so if you’d like that version, or have any other questions just post in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

Positive Paper for Pinholes

August 6, 2010

Just a quick note to share something I stumbled upon recently. Ilford just announced positive photo paper that develops in normal developing chemicals. How cool is that. Perfect for pinholes (my latest obsession).  Go from camera to wall in 3 easy steps. Admittedly, if you don’t already have a darkroom set up, this probably doesn’t do much for you and scanning normal paper then inverting digitally isn’t that big a deal, But still…

It doesn’t look like it’s available in the U. S. yet but I might just have to have some sent across the pond. Check it out here: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/product.asp?n=65

Feel the Flow

December 30, 2009

Life is a journey not a destination… right?

People always seem very interested in workflow so I thought I’d post mine here. At this time it’s pretty stable but flows are constantly evolving things so this is really just a snapshot of this moment (a moment where I shoot mostly digital and mostly ttv).

First… the software.

Picasa – it all starts with Picasa. Picasa is Google’s free image management/editing tool, it can be found here – http://picasa.google.com/ I love it for 2 main reasons… It reads raw file formats and it’s got a great tagging set up stored in an external file in the same folder as the pics which makes searching archives easy even after they’ve been backed up to disk. It also has a decent little set of editing tools that are easy to use and it interfaces well with Picasa Web (Google’s free image web hosting). Picasa does take a little getting used to. It works by searching your computer for all the image files on it and storing a reference to them so it can show you everything you’ve got in it’s interface. So there may be times where it seems a little laggy while this is happening. Also, if you make edits in Picasa and save them it saves to jpg. It says it’s making a back up of the original but that back up might be a jpg file too. So I’ve got a system where I make one folder for my raw archives and a separate folder for the pics I want to work on.

Digital Photo Professional – This is the raw editing software that came with my camera. I’m just starting to use it because I heard it was better than Photoshop and I struggled a bit with getting my version of PS to read my version raw files. I highly recommend shooting and doing as much editing in raw as possible. It really makes a big difference in the tonal range and control you can get in your final images. I like DDP a lot. There are a few little quirky things about it (I wish it would crop) but in general it does really well with the things I want to edit in raw.

Photoshop – Photshop is Photoshop. Everybody knows Photoshop. If you don’t know Photoshop don’t be scared. It’s easy to do the really minimal things I do in Photoshop and they could probably also be done easily in a lighter cheaper version like Photoshop Elements or even one of the free softwares out there like Gimp.

So… the flow.

I cruise my Picasa archives to find the pic I want to edit and open it in Digital Photo Pro (it’s in the right click menu thanks to Picasa).

In DPP I start by making sure the white balance looks good then I usually bump up the contrast, saturation and sharpness just a bit (I shoot with pretty tame camera settings) maybe darken a little and finally try and improve any noise issues. Noise reduction can soften so it’s kind of a balance with sharpness and contrast. Make sure and double check all your settings after noise reduction. I do as much of this in the “raw” tab as I can for some reason. Lastly I convert and export to a 72 dpi jpg (no compression).

After Picasa finds the new jpg I right click and open in Photoshop (thanks again). Here I crop, fix any tilt (PS has the best tilt fix, don’t do it anywhere else), do a final check on color, any extras I might want, do final sizing and compression (I like PS’ compression too, usually through the save for web interface). The extras might be converting to black and white, adding a vintage look, vignette or texture (though I personally am not a big texture guy).

Picasa also has a great sharpening tool and a really killer filtered black and white conversion tool if you want to try doing those things as this point in the process.

So that’s it. Pretty simple but I’m pretty happy with it. Let me know if you have improvement suggestions.

Vintage Box To Modern Film

December 29, 2009

Use your vintage box camera with 35mm film:
(the fast and easy way)

1. Get some 35mm film, any will do.

2&3. To be able to measure film advance, you’ll need to tape in place some flexible plastic piece that go a bit inside the film sprocket holes so when you turn the film advance lever you’ll hear a click! as the plastic piece enter each sprocket hole. How many clicks you need to advance each frame depends on your camera format so it’s up to you to figure it out.
[I count 18 clicks to advance each ~9cm frame]
Tip: book binders are the standard plastic thingy for this step, make sure it doesn’t get loose to keep it clickin’.

4. Cut some foam pieces to pad the 35mm film slot so the film doesn’t move and to provide some tension to the film reel.
[if you're feeling paranoid, then add some tape to keep it in place, but that's totally overkill.]

5. Tape some spare 35mm film lead to your new film so you don’t waste shots by advancing your unexposed film to the other side, remember that each frame it’s ~9cm long so that’s a lot of film.

6. Tape the other end of the lead to an old 120 empty spool. (or 620 if that’s your case), fit everything in place inside your camera.

7. Cover the red window on the back with black tape on both sides to prevent light leaks. Don’t worry about loosing all of your precious light leaks, you’ll have them but leaving this window open it’s too much. Close the camera.

8. To help you compose your shots inside your new format, mask the viewfinder(s) with black tape.

9. Start shooting!, process your film and amaze your family & friends.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:
You’ll need to manually rewind the film back into the canister in TOTAL DARKNESS or use a changing bag.

Submitted by nausk!.

Best Tip Ever

December 26, 2009

I recently upgraded my 10d to a 1000d. Apparently in the last 5 years cameras have gotten 100 times better. Joking aside… it really is 10 times the camera (at least) and it was about 1/3 the cost. Maybe I’m reaching that “old man can’t keep up with technology” stage in my life but I can’t believe you can get a quality DSLR, over 10 megapixels with a lens for under 500 bucks (well under). I found that one of the advances my new camera featured was live view. Live view means you can view your composition on the display screen as you’re composing. Live view can also be magnified… Do you see where I’m going with this? I can now put my camera on a tripod, compose my image, zoom in on the point I want to be focused on, focus precisely using that magnification and fire the shutter. The results are so much better than the auto focus and it’s really effective in hard focus situations like macro, ttv etc.

New Camera Old Lens

December 26, 2009

Back in the day… before bayonet mounts… before canon mount lenses couldn’t be put on nikon bodies and nikon mount lenses couldn’t be put on canon bodies there were a lot of cameras and lenses from multiple manufactures that used a threaded mount called the m42 mount. I don’t know what the m was for but the 42 was because the threads were 42mm (I think). This was a strong standard and a lot of these lenses were made in a lot of variations and there are still a lot of them out there. Because these lenses had threaded mounts (I think) and because they were made before auto focus they are very easy to adapt to be put on modern camera bodies.

The lenses range from dirt cheap to killer deal. The quality of the glass can be as good or better than modern lenses. The adapters range from 5 bucks to maybe 50 with varying functionality. I’ve got a $5 adapter and a pentax 50mm 1.4 SMC so I’ll speak specifically about that combo. I got the lens on ebay for 60 bucks so I’m at $65 total for a very sharp, very fast lens. The modern canon equivalent is $400. I love it. The only down side is no auto focus and I’m perfectly happy to trade that for $335 off a killer fast lens (not to mention that the more expensive adapters may have more functionality).

So if you’re looking more info or searching for adapters and lenses on ebay use terms like m42, 1.4, eos, adapter… etc. Make sure you get familiar with your specific application because different adapters and different lenses will vary slightly in terms of cost, functionality and features. Oh and one other thing… some of them are radioactive so don’t carry them in your pocket or sleep with them under your pillow. Have a nice day.

Through the Viewfinder

December 26, 2009

I’ve never been strictly a film or digital guy. I’ve always loved the look and old school feel of film but it’s hard to deny the benefits of digital like instant results and free unlimited bracketing. As digital evolves it’s becoming obvious that others feel the same and are finding ways to get some of those old school looks with digital.

My current favorite technique for merging these worlds is Through the Viewfinder or ttv. Ttv is basically using your digital camera to shoot through the viewfinder of an old twin lens box camera. These old twin lens box cameras would normally be held at waist level and have large viewfinders that you would look down through to compose the image. The viewfinders’ mirrors and composing lenses are made of plastic or glass that is pretty low quality so you get focus and light fall off at the edges similar to old or toy cameras. Often, since they’re over 30 or 40 years old, they’ll also have a lot of dirt on the lenses or mirrors that give an old vibe to the results too. The old twin lens box cameras can usually be found cheap (less than 20 bucks) on ebay, garage sales, swap meets and in your grandmother’s closet. There are a lot of them to choose from and they’ll all work fine. My personal fav is the argus 75.

Get one of the twin lens box cameras, point it at something cool, point your digital at it’s viewfinder and take the pic. It’s that easy… on the simple end of the range. Of course, like most things, you can get as complicated as you want. The next logical step is a shade between the 2 cameras. The viewfinders on the twin lens box cameras are usually convex so they tend to reflect everything. So many ttv-ers build shaders to eliminate reflection. I usually just use black construction paper rolled into a tube and taped then cut to length (or something like that). I’m also a huge tripod guy so I also take another step away from simple side and mount the whole thing to a rigid frame so I can connect it to my tripod.

More info available on request or visit the ttv group on flickr for tutes and samples.

Free Photography Classes

December 26, 2009

A friend who recently bought a camera asked me for advice on the best way for an armature to improve their skills. Of course my answer was practice practice practice. Thinking back on it later I realized that some practice could be done without even having a camera in your hand or having to drive to some place pretty. There are a handful of social networking type web communities that are centered around photography. Flickr is one example I’m involved in to I’ll speak to it. Flickr is a free convenient place where millions of photographers post millions of pictures. They also hangout, group up, talk about those pictures, talk about gear, technique and everything related to photography. So… if you start watching pictures on a regular basis… maybe join a group or two… you’ll be gaining photography experience from the comfort of your own home (or cubical). You’ll start recognizing what you like and don’t like and you can take that awareness with you next time you go shooting. Pick out a few favorite photographers and try to learn how they do what you like. Maybe even talk to them for a lesson. It’s great fun, you’ll see a lot of great photography and get lots of great practice.

DSLR Superwide… Super Fun… Super CHEAP

December 26, 2009

So back in the film days I was always a wide guy. I like to shoot right around 20mm. I think that look gives the untrained eye/brain that surreal – I’m taking in more visual information than I normally can – feel without being so wide that’s it obvious camera trickery. So I got a low end 20-35mm at a reasonable price and everyone was happy.

Then along came the DSLR with it’s small sensor and “1.6 crop factor” and my beloved 20mm super wide is now a 32mm piece of crap. I didn’t worry. I trusted the big corporation to look out for my needs. I waited. Then finally they saw the error in their ways and came out with a 10-22mm lens perfect for my needs. And since they love me so much they were willing to give it to me for the low low price of 700 dollars. Too much right? So I went looking for other options and found what I’ll call wide angle conversion lenses. Search for that exact phrase and you should get decent results.

I got a Digital Optics .45x. It threads on to my 18-55mm kit lens so theoretically (assuming all the focal length claims are accurate) I’m at 18×1.6x.45=13mm at the wide end! Actually… when zoomed all the way out I get some serious vignetting and distortion but that cleans up pretty quick zooming in a little or cropping in post and I’m still well under 20mm. I see them new for as low as 40 bucks and I got mine used for 20. Obviously the quality of the glass is going to be awful but hey… I love all kinds of toys with all different levels of quality so if I can be back to my 20mm for 20 bucks low quality is not going to stand in my way.

Welcome to Hack-a-Pic

December 26, 2009

Hi. I started this blog so I could record all my favorite photography nugs in a way that was easy to share and discuss. I’m not sure if there will be a lot of action – post wise – but feel free to comment if you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions, contributions or would like more information on something.


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