Thursday, December 31, 2020

Light Leaks

In the process of going through some boxes of pictures for a family photo album I came across a kit of light seal material which I think I bought about ten years ago from Jon Goodman.  There was enough material to take care of several cameras, so I decided to put it to use,  starting with my ten-dollar-yard-sale Nikon EM which I haven't done much with, partly because of a small light leak.

I scraped out the old deteriorated seal material from the Nikon using a small screwdriver.  A little dab of glue on each end of the narrow strips held them in place well.  I also replaced the seals near the back hinge with some adhesive-backed foam panels from the same kit.  The whole job took about half an hour.  

As soon as the new seals were firmly in place I loaded up some Kodak ColorPlus 200 and took the Nikon for a walk around the neighborhood.

The next morning we took the dog and the camera for a walk beside the river and I finished up the roll.

No unwanted photons were detected.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Zoo in Winter

 We visited the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque by appointment on Friday afternoon and saw very few other people there.  We were pleased to find the spectacular new penguin exhibit open, but besides ourselves there were only a man and his small son there.  The interior lighting is far too dim for any film I might be using.

The peacocks which freely roam around the zoo seem ready to display mate seeking behavior regardless of the season.

When we stopped to view many of the animals in their enclosures there were often no other visitors in sight.  I was surprised to find how that altered my experience.  For me there was a prevailing feeling of abandonment.  It seems unlikely that the animals would be so affected, but who really knows what their experience is?

The camera for this outing was my Hikari 2002; its great virtue is that it makes use of the always excellent  Pentax K-mount lenses.  All of the zoo shots were made with the SMC Pentax-A 1:2.8 135mm.  I was pleased to see that my Unicolor C-41 processing was still working well with the seventh roll through the current chemical kit, in this case Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Friday, December 18, 2020

P30 Hits a Pothole

 I found a couple rolls of Ferrania P30 in my refrigerator donated by a generous friend.  I decided to give it another go after looking at my first experience with this slow, high-contrast, fine-grain film.  The first time I shot this film was in a camera with which I was unfamiliar; I didn't know what to make of the results.  Taking a second look, I decided the stuff looked promising.  I loaded the film in my 1955 FED 1g, a Leica clone from the Soviet era.

Not far into the roll of film, the advance started getting erratic.  I skipped some frames trying to get past the problem, but it only got worse.  Halfway through the roll the advance locked up.  I called it a day, and went home to process the P30 in Rodinal 1:100, stand development.

There is nothing actually wrong with the 1g.  The issue is the difference in the height of the modern film cartridges from the height of the reloadable cassettes designed for the FED 1g and similar FED and Zorki cameras from the same era.  My solution up to now has been to lay a penny on top of the film cassette to compensate for the lesser height of the modern film cassettes.  As the current experience demonstrates, this is not the ideal solution.

So, I disassembled the camera in order to clean out the chewed up film bits.  I wiggled the advance mechanism a bit to get it turning again and lubricated the advance gear train with some light oil.  That got things working pretty smoothly, so I reassembled the camera and looked for a better way to align the film in the camera.  What I came up with was a plastic washer the same diameter as the film cassette and about the right thickness to to hold the film cassette down to allow the film to travel through the camera without jumping off the sprockets.

I've got one more roll of P30.  I'll load it up in the 1g and try shooting a stop faster to see if I get better highlight and shadow detail.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Chess Set

   My first full-time job in San Francisco was in an office building on Mission Street.  Next door was a junk store in which I found an old bone chess set; I took ten dollars from my first paycheck to buy it.  My friend who was an artist painted a chess board for me on a square canvas.

I imagine a lot of small decorative objects were manufactured from bone prior to the widespread use of bakelite and other plastics early in the Twentieth Century.  The pieces in my chess set were turned on a lathe, with the small component parts threaded and then screwed together.

I've always liked the graceful design of my bone chess set and thought it would be a nice subject for some still life photographs.  So, nearly fifty years on, I'm beginning to work on that idea.

I only got a couple shots from the roll of Kentmere 100 that approached what I had in mind for portraying the chess set.  The +4 accessory lens I had for my Nikon was a little too strong for the job.  I'll try again with some equipment better suited to the task, and add a tripod so I can stop down for better depth of field.

I took the camera outside to shoot a few frames to get a better idea of how the Kentmere 100 was going to work with undiluted Kodak Xtol developer.  I thought the result was pretty good, though I'm wondering if the tonal range might be a bit better with 1:1 processing.

About ten years ago I did use the chess pieces as a subject when learning to use the Sketchup 3D drawing program.  My first results from that exercise were pretty crude, but I got a little better with practice and managed to make a desktop background picture of the two queens which I still have on my old 386 computer that I use for scanning and editing my photos.

I think the red and white color scheme for the opposing pieces was common in past centuries.  I will have to try some color film for the subject.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Feathered Friends

 On San Bruno Mountain south of San Francisco the Red-tailed hawks most often built their big nests high up in eucalyptus trees.  I bought pole climbing irons at one of the surplus stores on Market street to get me up to where I could look into the nests.

Friday, December 11, 2020


 I found some of my slides from our time in California taken in 1975 and 1976.  The mounts say Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Technicolor.

In the seven years we lived in San Francisco I did not make many pictures of the city.  Rather, I was drawn to record my efforts to make contact with Nature at the city's fringes.  I don't recall showing the images to anyone before.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Cinestill 800T

 In sorting out the expired film in my refrigerator I came across a roll of Cinestill 800T.  It was only six months past the expiration date, so I decided to give it a try.  It seemed a good idea to start with some interior shots since the film is said to be balanced for indoor lighting, so I made half a dozen shots of my cat.

On the way out the door I thought to myself that I should really have a filter on the Minolta Himatic 7S to account for the fact that I had Tungsten-balanced film in the camera.  However, when I processed the film the images looked to me like those I would expect from normal outdoor color film.

The first few frames had light leak streaks across them, but the rest looked ok.  It seemed likely that the felt light trap on the film cartridge might be at fault.  Otherwise, I thought the grain and color looked pretty good, though not what I expected.

I probably would not consider using this film again because of the twelve dollar cost per roll.  I still have some curiosity about this stuff, however.  One of the most appealing photos I ever came across on Flickr was made on Cinestill by David Ramos.  If I thought that I could come close to what he got from the film, the cost would not be an issue.

Friday, December 04, 2020


 Five rolls of film processed in my last Unicolor C-41 kit were pretty much a disaster.  I could not find accounts of similar problems experienced by others doing color home processing.  It was depressing.  I considered going to doing only black and white photography.  I like the challenge of black and white,  but a life without color for me seemed not worth living.  

The sixth roll looked fine; in fact it seemed as good as I've ever gotten from my home color processing efforts.  What made the difference was a change of film.  The first five rolls were the Fuji 200 that I had used for years.  The sixth roll through the C-41 kit was Kodak ColorPlus 200.  My conclusion is that the batch of Fuji was defective.  Fuji seems to have given up most of its film production and Fuji 200 color has been mostly unavailable for some time.  It is possible that some odd lots will show up, but I'm not buying any more.

If Kodak goes the way of Fuji I suppose that I could use digital for color, but I'm hoping I won't have to resort to that.