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.

More Film Cameras

13 11 2010

I originally intended to just update the last post on this subject, as I won another Trip (hopefully with a properly functioning lens) on Ebay. But then, after a wander around local charity shops, and a browse in the used equipment window of the local camera shop, I arrived home with two more new-old cameras, one being a bargain of a rangefinder 😀

So, here’s an update, along with a few I’d missed the first time.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN
Fixed lens, aperture priority rangefinder. I’ve yet to run a film through, but it’s from a good photographic store, who know their shit, and who I’ve been buying cameras and film from for over a decade. The original mercury battery is present, and still illuminates the battery test light, but I was advised that it does need replacing, as it’s close enough to dead that the auto shutter isn’t reliable. That accounts for the bargain price of £10, since the mercury batteries are no longer available. However, a quick read through some of the Yashica groups on Flickr turned up some useful information, from buying a simple battery converter, to using stacked batteries, or different 6v batteries plus a metal spring to fill the gap. I found an adapter on Ebay, for a tenner, so fingers crossed that’ll work out nicely. Provided the film-test goes well, and there’s no problems, I’m absolutely thrilled to have picked up this camera. I’ve been eyeing up rangefinders, and this was amongst the ones I recall reading good things about.

Ricoh AF-5
J has one of these, which he likes, which is why it caught my eye. It’s a point and shoot with popup flash, with a lovely rangefinder look about it. The second of todays bargains, at £5 with original box and manual, from a charity shop. I’ve been shooting pretty much exclusively film on nights out recently, on a little Praktica P+S, so this will be an interesting alternative to that for a little while.

Praktica SK5600
Little point and shoot autofocus, which eats batteries like crazy. But does a decent job of snapping drunken photos in dark nightclubs, and cost about a quid from a car boot sale. It’s served me well, and fits in a handbag rather nicely.

Polaroid 600AF
Bought a few years ago, to do part of a project for uni. Back when you could still buy Polaroid film for it from damn near anywhere, for a tenner a pack. Haven’t used it since, so I assume it still works. I intend to run a pack through it at some point, if I can get hold of any at not-ridiculous prices. 4 packs of 10 shots, 6 years out of date, for £100+ you say, Mr Ebay? Fuck right off.

Photograph, this time round. Click to see it bigger.


1. Bronica ETRS
2. Praktica BMS
3. Ricoh AF-5
4. Tiny Cobra flashgun, which came free with the Praktica BMS, and happily works with at least three of my cameras 🙂
5. Polaroid 600af
6. Yashica Electro 35 GSN
7. Minolta Dynax 5
8. Minolta 7000
9. Agfa Isolette
10. Olympus Trip (the one with a wonky lens, the second has yet to arrive. I’m hoping I can get them both in working order, and keep one as is, then ‘refurb’ the other with a funky coloured retrim).
11. Kodak Instamatic 133 (Totally pointless, but I can’t pass up a cheap old camera.)
12. Praktica SK5600 (Tiny enough that when I use it on nights out, a lot of people do assume it’s digital, and automatically lean in to look at the screen. Ha :D)

I have now GOT to stop buying cameras. For a little while. So that I can afford to pay my phone bill, and buy christmas presents, and fuel my car. Things like that. Gah.

Finally, on a note fairly unrelated to this post, but relevent in general, I remembered that I have a Flickr, and that it’s a pretty good site, so I’ve started using it again. I can be found here.

For the Love of Film

8 11 2010

Finally, I have purchased a film scanner. A very basic, 35mm neg/slide copier, but since it’s purely for the purpose of digitising my film for web use, and not for lab use (if I want a quality print from something, I’ll either do it myself, or use a good lab).

I do appreciate digital photography. Don’t for a second think that I’m one of those people who refuses to release my grip on the past, and enter the 21st century. I love it’s instant gratification nature, I love it’s ease of use, and lack of ongoing cost (compared to, say, buying and processing film). I like that I can go out and shoot a portrait session, and have the images ready for viewing the same day. There’s any number of other things I like about digital. It’s a fantastic medium, and I adore my Nikon D5000 – bought for the inclusion of the flip out screen, coupled with live view, making digital waist level shooting possible.

But film cameras are a different story altogether. Yes, the ongoing costs mount up, but as with anything, when you love doing something, you find ways to deal with it. There’s cheap film available online, and you can very easily develop your own black and white film at home inexpensively, then either digitise it for the internet using a cheap home scanner (you can pick them up from about £50 new, much less if you’re prepared to scour Ebay for secondhand bargains, and take the risk), or have them printed relatively cheaply at any number of high street and supermarket photo services. For a higher quality print, if you can’t find a lab who’ll print direct from negative, there’s plenty that are able to create a lab quality scan of your image and output it digitally onto high quality paper stock.

Over the last year, I think I’ve been shooting film far more than I’ve been shooting digital, partly because my collection of film cameras has been steadily growing, from various thrift shop hunts, car boot sale finds, and Ebay bargain hunting.

So, let me introduce you to the family so far.

Alice, the Bronica ETRS
Bought from Ebay, for a fairly bargainous price, complete with Metz hammerhead flash, Gossen Lunasix flash meter, two backs (120, 220) and a few extra bits and pieces which slip my mind right now. Alice is what really reignited my film-spark, I think. I’ve owned another ETRS in the past, but at the time, financial troubles meant selling it on. I’ve missed owning one ever since.

Olympus Trip 35
Currently one of my favourite cameras, for it’s ‘take anywhere, shoot anything’ functionality. A little cheapy flashgun I picked up a while ago fits on it beautifully, so it’s good to go for any light conditions. There is an aperture ring, which I’m told is better reserved for flash, and a fully automatic system, by way of symbols and distance markers. This system makes it fantastic for street photography and shooting from the hip, since you don’t need to focus the lens, just set the distance (one of four ‘clicks’ round the lens) and fire. Absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Oh, and no batteries required, the meter is solar powered 🙂

Praktica BMS
A recent purchase, from a charity shop, for the princely sum of £10, including a 50mm prime lens, a 70-210mm macro zoom, a Cobra flashgun and a rather nice camera bag. I’m presently running a roll of Ilford 3200 black and white through it, and looking forward to seeing the results.

Minolta 7000
The very first SLR I ever owned, given to me by my grandad. This camera saw me nicely through college, and part of my degree, until a complete idiot of an ex-boyfriend managed to trip over it with a flashgun attached, ripping out the hotshoe. It still works just fine, thankfully, just no possibility for flash use anymore.

Minolta Dynax 5
Bought about halfway through my degree, since I already had plenty of Minolta dedicated equipment, and it was the first used Minolta body I found for a cheap price in my local photographic shop.

Agfa Isolette
This was given to me by my grandparents, in beautifully clean condition, with original leather cases, filters, hotshoe mounted manul meter and lens hood. It takes standard 120 film. I ran a film through it when I was first given it, and asides from some issues with exposure and correctly winding on (both faults on my part, rather than the camera) it came out just dandy.

Kodak Instamatic 133
Picked up today for £1, from a charity shop. No practical use really, since although 126 film can still be found on Ebay, it’s expensive when you can find it, and actually getting it processed would be the biggest issue. But for a quid, it’s something nice to have around for someone who appreciates vintage cameras.

I can’t see myself ever owning more than one DSLR, unless I ever decide to go the event route (unlikely), in which case I’d buy a second body as backup. Film bodies, though, I don’t really see myself stopping. I’m looking for a rangefinder, at present, to have a play with. It’s not just having different options on which to shoot, it’s also an aesthetic thing. Mechanical versus machine. Vintage, antique, old – things with history, things which, when they break down, are often very simple to fix, and which permanently and irreversably imprint your images onto tangible materials, versus the complications of circuit boards and solder, digital displays, images saved on a little piece of plastic and metal, so easily lost in a heartbeat. Professionally speaking, digital has made life so much easier, and far more cost effective, but there are so few ‘happy accidents’ with digital, and that’s both wonderful, and disappointing, in equal measure.

Hopefully, one of my next couple of posts will be reporting the results of this film scanner. I have a small pile of 35mm storage sleeves mounting up, some from as far back as June, so I’m probably going to need to dedicate at least a whole day to getting those scanned and uploaded somewhere.

120 Slides

6 10 2010

Had a pile of film from over the summer, which I had developed last week. It’s becoming apparant that I need to invest in some sort of film scanner in the very near future, because although rephotographing is great as an experimental technique, there are times when I’d like to maintain the colours and intensity of the originals.

However, for now, that’s all I’ve got, so here’s a few from the Eden Project, and Mevagissey harbour, in Cornwall, shot on my Bronica ETRS. The colours are tinted yellowish from my not-great lightbox, so the true tones are lost somewhat. Part of why I’d like a scanner, since the colours are absolutely unbelievable on the slides themselves. Tones that you just wouldn’t see straight out of a digital.






And one from the couple of rolls I put through J’s Lubitel, just to have a play about with a TLR.


The photo a day project I had planned fell off the radar somewhat, on account of uninspired shots and some degree of tiredness at the weekend. I managed to take a photo every day, but nothing I particularly want to post. So I’m holding that off for this month. I may begin it halfway through October, or leave it until November instead.

Rephotographed Transparancy

25 05 2010

After a few lazy weeks, in which my attention has wandered elsewhere due to frantically completing outfits for June’s Bizarre Ball, I’ve finally had time to get back to thinking in a photographic direction.

I can’t take credit for this idea, my other half brought the technique of rephotographig negatines to my attention, and after spending some time photographing and editing a roll of 35mm snapshops, taken at April’s Wendyhouse event in Leeds, I turned my attention to the test roll of 120 I’d run through my Bronica ETRS not long ago.

Being transparancy, rather than negative, it was obviously a lot easier to process for colour in photoshop. My little lightbox isn’t quite powerful enough to do a great job, so I’ll be borrowing J’s super bright monster of a lightbox for future rephotography.

Whilst I’ve since read a few articles and forum posts on the subject, and at least once per discussion, someone volunteers the opinion that it’d be ‘easier and yield better results to use a dedicated film scanner’, I offer the counter-opinion that, yes it would, but where’s the fun in that?


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