The Long, ‘It’s Been Forever and Here’s Why’ Post

14 09 2013

I considered titling this ‘Art Therapy’, but, rejected that on the grounds that it was too vague. This is certainly the longest, and most personal, post I’m ever going to make on this blog, but rather than leap right back into posting about cameras and techniques without a word about, well, the last 8 or 9 months, I thought I’d write a combination update/things that help when your life’s imploding kind of post.

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5×4 Pinhole Results

28 01 2013

This should have happened a lot sooner, but for a while, I’d thrown the half finished camera into a corner, having realised that pine is bloody awful to work with. I’d used thinner strips of cherry wood for my 6×6 camera, and going from a thinner hardwood to this pine sheet wasn’t especially pleasant. As a result, the camera is a tad wonky and rough.

But, a couple of weeks ago, I dug it out, sanded it as much as I could be bothered doing, lined any leaky areas with black foam, and gave it a coat of varnish. It’s more or less presentable, and just about does the job.

It’s a 70mm focal length, F195 pinhole. At the moment, the film holder just slots into the back, and is held firm by the foam light sealing. At some point, I intend to add a hinged back, to push the holder more firmly into place, as I do have a slight light leak issue along the ‘open’ side.

2013-01-26 09.30.16

Yep, that’s a beer mat acting as a shutter.

All the photos were shot on Tetenal photographic paper, just slightly smaller than 5×4 on the shorted side (which means being careful about sliding the darkslides back into place, as I discovered when I accidentally lost a shot due to the paper getting caught on the wrong side of the slide upon replacement). The negatives were scanned and inverted in PS. With the exception of some dust removal, and a couple of very minor levels adjustments, all the photos are pretty much as they came out of the camera in terms of exposure.

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Happy New Year!

1 01 2013

Just a quick one, to share something I did earlier which could be useful to other people – especially if you collect (and use) older cameras without strap lugs (a lot of older cameras came in ever ready cases, thus, no need for strap lugs on the camera itself).

J got me a Lomography Sprocket Rocket for Christmas. I’d been eyeballing them for a while, I’m a sucker for a funky format, and I love the challenge of a camera with limited exposure control. It tends to force you to get creative about how you shoot, if you want to produce anything decent.

I’m loving the camera, I’ve already run a trial roll of old bulk-load B&W through, to get a feel for it, and it’s currently loaded up with a roll of 800 ISO Fuji Press colour.

The only issue is, there’s no strap lugs. Since I like to carry either round my neck, necklace style, or slung across the body, a strap is pretty much essential for me. I tried attaching one to the D-ring on the tripod mount cover, but the D ring isn’t really intended to bear any sort of weight.

So, I did this instead.

2013-01-01 09.31.26

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Afghan Box Camera

3 12 2012

Well, I’ve got a week off work at the moment, due to having a pile of holiday to take. So there’s a week now, and a fortnight in February during which J and I will be visiting Berlin. Pretty excited about that, just got to decide which camera/s to take along!

This week, however, is largely dedicated to Creative Things. It’s got off to a great start, with some wall space for my Floriography work at my favourite local coffee shop, a 5×4 pinhole nearly completed, and a joint effort (although it’s J’s baby, really) construction of an Afghan box camera.

The main bulk is constructed from 9mm MDF, with some thick cardboard as a (maybe temporary solution) to make the moving parts. We hijacked the lens from an old, cheaper model Kodak Brownie Junior (a 620 camera I could never be bothered respooling 120 for – although now it’s lensless, I’m considering making a pinhole plate for it; I find I have much more motivation to do fiddly things, like respool film, where pinholes are concerned).

This has been a couple of days worth of cutting, drilling and sanding in a freezing cold workshop (although the gluing time wasn’t so bad – we just clamped the lot together and buggered off back into the warm house for a few hours).

Making the focussing system:

Gluing the parts together:

Pretty much finished!

Now all that’s really left is to find some trays for the chemicals, and test her out. Hopefully tomorrow.

The 5×4 is pretty much in one piece now, all that’s left is to cover it in vinyl leatherette (entirely for aesthetic purposes – the wood is cheap pine, so got a bit tatty whilst planing and sanding, then I managed to cover half of it in paint whilst spraying the interior flat black) and add a hinge, lock and shutter. Maybe a tripod mount. I’m determined to finish it by the end of the week, so I’ll write more about it then.

Lastly, a small picture of my work up on display 🙂


6×6 Cherry Pinhole

15 10 2012

Following on from a post a couple of weeks ago, where I posted some progress photos of a medium format pinhole camera I have been constructing from wood (thin cherry boards), this is my progress with the camera so far.

The test roll showed some major faults with the design of the camera.

1. The clasp I used wasn’t well suited to the design, making opening and closing the box difficult.

2. The film winding mechanism is far too loose, resulting in the film winding back on itself periodically. I managed to counteract this to some extent by use of gaffa tape, but clearly that’s not an ideal solution, nor is it very pretty.

3. The film itself was given too much room to travel, resulting in a curved film plane, and also making it difficult at times to view the frame numbers in the window.

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One Thing Leads to Another

1 10 2012

In this case, it’s photography leading to DIY. Honestly, I’m now nearly as excited about new power tools as I am about new cameras.

For a while now, my interest in pinhole photography has led me to pretty much seeing any light tight, hollow object as a potential camera (and to demonstrate what I mean, let me tell you that I’ve been eyeing up a top hat for just this purpose for a while now).

I’ve also been ogling various premade pinhole cameras, such as the Zero Image lovelies, and the gorgeous Noon Pinholes available on Ebay. But I can’t quite bring myself to spend £100 on a pinhole camera, no matter how beautiful, since pinhole to me is very much all about doing things yourself, from scratch – learning photography from the absolute ground up, as it were.

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The House I Grew Up In

27 02 2012

Aged 4, my parents seperated, and we moved close to my grandparents. Whilst my mother cleaned up the house she’d been renting out, we lived with my grandparents. Even after we moved into our own place, we were only a three minute walk away, and I spent a lot of time there.

At 19, I moved away to go to college, then to university, and at the same time, made a great many bad choices, developed bad habits, and entered into bad relationships.

6 years later, I moved back into the house, with my grandparents. It’s probably the best decision I made over the whole 6 years, and a big part of the reason I’m not dead right now.

This house has changed in so many ways, but in other ways, remains exactly the same as it was when I was 5 years old.

Using a combination of family photographs and slides (of which, thankfully, we have many), and my own photographs of the house, I hope to eventually create a story spanning the past 25 years, and more.

These are the very first of the photographs I’ve taken of the house. The whole idea for the project began in part because I’ve been digitising the huge quantity of family photographs and slides I’m lucky enough to have, and in part because I’d been thinking about a side project I could do alongside something I have in the pipeline which is going to be a much longer term thing.

In the House I Grew Up In

This bookshelf has been in this same spot since I can remember. There’s a lot of furniture that has been in the house since I was a small child, but this bookshelf is amongst the few things which have never been rearranged. For me, it’s a fixed point in time. It is also the one thing that really brought this project idea into my head.

In the House I Grew Up In

I remember staying in this bedroom many times throughout my childhood. The bed was in a different place earlier on, although I also recall it being where it is now. The most potent memory this position evokes is waking up one morning, maybe 7 or 8 years old. My family had been decorating, and unbeknownst to me, a bucket of wallpaper paste had been left at the foot of the bed. For whatever reason, I had scooted to the very end of the bed, and plonked both feet straight into the bucket. I called for my mother, who, thinking I’d just put a foot into it, called for me to hop to the bathroom to wash my foot. Everyone but me, I believe, saw the funny side.

In the House I Grew Up In

I remember staying in this bedroom many times throughout my childhood. The bed was in a different place earlier on, although I also recall it being where it is now. You can hear the traffic occasionally pass through the night on the road outside, and even now, I find the passing of traffic more often a comfort than an annoyance.

I confess, I’ve had something of a creative block of late, in large part due to the focus on a funding application, and the very singular mindset I’ve had regarding it meaning that I’ve had trouble really getting my teeth into anything else. But, the application has been submitted. It’s unlikely to be a success, there were several things missing, but I’m very glad I put so much effort into it. Whether I get it or not, what I now have is a very specific, very good, project proposal, which can be used both personally, and as a template for any future funding bids. In addition, I’ve identified several areas of my creative life which I need to work on, so that if this sort of opportunity arises again, those missing parts are filled. I see that as a success in and of itself.

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