There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Thursday, May 26, 2016

52@52 Week 43

I mentioned last week that I had gotten one of the Impossible Project’s new I-1 cameras. This week, that was all I shot with

Beach badge booth in Asbury Park one week before the season opens

I took the camera to the boardwalk in Asbury Park last Saturday, loaded with a pack of their latest black & white film. One nice thing about the film for this camera is that it doesn’t have any batteries in it. The camera carries the battery, unlike old Polaroid cameras, which were powered by a battery within the film pack. That solution made sense 40 years ago, but with today’s understanding of environmental impacts, having a permanent battery in the cameras makes more sense.

The viewfinder on the I-1 is the best take I’ve seen on a sports viewfinder. I got something similar with my Wanderlust Travelwide and found it so useless that I replaced it with a Linhof large format viewfinder. Wanderlust didn't provide any instructions on how to use theirs; they have a site that will supposedly someday include instructions and tips on how to use their camera, but it’s been “coming soon” for many months. Impossible does a much better job on the education front. Impossible’s viewfinder has some clever touches. The mechanism for framing with the silver circle inside the silver box is very good, and Impossible even has a video explaining how to frame shots. That said, it’s still a sports viewfinder, and framing is never going to be exact with this. I find that what winds up on the film is about 10-15% wider than what I see through the viewfinder. Impossible recommends that your eye should be 4-5 centimeters from the viewfinder. It seems to me that this roughly corresponds with jamming my chin up against the back of the camera. Basic physics and optics dictates that if I wanted to see everything that would show up on the film, I would have to get even closer, but that’s not really possible. The viewfinder is attached to the camera with magnets, and is easily removed. I hope that either Impossible or someone else takes the opportunity to create a replacement viewfinder that provides a more accurate, and more reproducibly accurate, viewfinder for the camera. I know it’s not an SLR like my beloved SX-70, but the viewfinder could really be better.

The camera is being widely reviewed. I’m reasonably happy with mine. I’m still figuring things out. I haven’t done much with the iOS app, just a couple of manual shots, but it shows promise. Ray Liu, for example, has been doing some really neat work with his I-1 and the light painting function of the app to capture long exposure light trails. I hope to try something with this in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, you get this snapshot.

Posted at 10:04 AM
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

52@52 Week 42

We went to Washington, DC, last weekend. We were actually mostly in northern Virginia, attending our nephew’s college graduation, but we spent an afternoon in Our Nation’s Capital, where I shot this.

U. S. Capital building in Washington, DC

I took the Wanderlust Travelwide with me, and shot two frames on Kodak Portra 400. The first was of my nephew and his family (and my wife, his aunt) after graduation. The second was this shot of the Capital and reflecting pool. The area around the reflecting pool was filled with state troopers from around the country marking National Peace Officers Memorial Day. I also had my new Impossible Project I-1 with me, which provoked the usual questions about do they still make film for those things. People were surprised that not only do they make film, they make cameras now too, and that this one was less than a week old.

I shot this at f/22, 1/100 of a second, and gave it the usual 3.5 minutes in C-41, which never changes no matter what film you use. The exposure was spot on based on the histogram when I scanned the negative.

I suppose there’s nothing new about this photo. It’s shot from the place where millions of photographers shoot the Capitol building, where the lines of sight are more-or-less preserved and you can see most of the building and its surroundings. But this one is mine.

Posted at 8:41 AM
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

52@52 Week 41

I think I finally figured out how to make a decent photo with New55. All the shots I see New55 posting on Facebook and to their blog seem to have one thing in common; they’re all shot against a dark background in a studio. None of this shooting landscapes outdoors; things get washed out, the prints look blah. So I grabbed my Foldio2 and put the black backdrop in it.

Multimeter

This is the new machine-coated version of New55, and I developed for the recommended 2 minutes instead of the 3 minutes I was finding was needed with the hand-coated version. I shot this with the Intrepid and 150mm f/5.6 lens, well extended to be able to focus close up, and tilted somewhat to get the entire face of the multimeter in focus. I shot this at f/45. The light meter app on my iPhone said exposure should be 8 seconds, but I figured there might be some reciprocity effect at that length, so I exposed for 12 seconds. That appears to have been the right choice.

We had a power outage on Tuesday around 5pm. The power flickered and came on and off a couple of times, then went completely. It came back about an hour and a half later, but had done some damage with its earlier dance. Everything seemed fine at first, but our Internet (and phone and TV) service failed around 11:30 Tuesday night. Bleah. I looked at it Wednesday morning, and the battery backup unit on our Verizon FiOS setup had the “replace battery” light lit up. I tethered my Macbook to my phone and Internet chatted with Verizon tech support and landed on having a tech come out and look at it. But I know how to change the battery if that’s all the problem was. So I went out and bought a replacement battery and dropped it into place. Bang, Internet (and phone and TV) were back. I cancelled my tech visit for the next day.

Until 5pm, when the battery ran out.

I tested the voltage on the battery when I brought it home just before lunch Wednesday with the multimeter shown in this photo. It was 12.78 volts. 5 hours later when the system failed, I tested it again and it was 6.88 volts. The light on the plug indicated that there was 120 VAC going into the battery backup unit, but it doesn’t appear to have been charging the battery at all. If I let the battery sit for a few hours, it gets back up to 11.5 volts or thereabouts, but it’s basically dead. I can put it back in the BBU and get about a minute of service, but then it shuts down. At $30 a pop, I can’t afford to replace the battery every five minutes. And I would think that if the BBU is plugged in, it should power the Optical Network Terminal outside even if the battery is dead or removed, but I opened the ONT up, and after a minute, there were no lights lit up. So I need to get Verizon out here after all, and probably replace the BBU (and maybe the ONT, but I doubt that one; the ONT seems to work okay when it’s provided with enough power.

So that’s why I shot a photograph of a 35 year old multimeter, which was very helpful in figuring out what was happening here.

Note that even with no Internet, I’m still posting this week’s photograph on time.

Posted at 7:49 AM
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

52@52 Week 40

May the Fourth be with you.

Cardboard cutout of Darth Vader in the secondary lobby at Razorfish, New York City

I work with a bunch of geeks. We have a mannequin dressed up as a storm trooper in the office, but for this pun-filled day, they brought in a bunch of cardboard cutouts.

I have been very busy with work lately. My new project is run out of the west coast, and has daily status meetings at lunch time, so I don’t have an opportunity to get out and about at lunch like I used to. So I brought the Travelwide to work yesterday, and when I saw the tableaus go up, I figured I would shoot it, especially since I hadn’t shot anything else this week.

I keep a tripod in the office, which came in handy for this. I shot this on Tri-X TXP 320, f/22 at 1 second. I didn’t have a cable release, so I couldn't go any longer than that, since the only shutter speed longer than 1 second on my shutter is bulb.

Posted at 2:30 PM
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

52@52 Week 39

Well, I really screwed this one up.

Asbury Lanes being ruined

I shot this last weekend with the Intrepid and some of the New55 from the automated coater. I developed for three minutes instead of the two that they recommend, which is what I started doing with the hand-coated stuff. This came out overexposed, so I think I’ll try two minutes for the next attempt. The print looked a lot worse than this, very blown out.

But worse, the angle looks awful. I leveled the tripod, thought I levelled the camera, but I must have bumped the rotator on the back of the camera slightly when I was putting the Polaroid film holder in place. Crap. Oh well, it’s not like Sandy Hook, where I shot this, is a million miles away.

This is week 39, which means I’m three-quarters done with this project. It’s good to have this to spur me to shoot, but some weeks the results are less than inspiring. I guess that’s okay; the idea is the keep shooting and get better.

I did go out last Sunday with my Supersense 66/6 pinhole camera (built on top of the Impossible Project’s film processor unit, 500 of them in the world) for World Pinhole Photography Day. But the film I used, Impossible Project Color 600 Beta from December, didn’t work very well. I got lots of weird orange spots on my shots. I suppose there’s a certain charm to them, but I didn’t feel like using one of them for this project.

Posted at 3:26 PM
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

52@52 Week 38

It’s “Roid Week” on Flickr this week, where people make a special effort to post Polaroid-style instant film photos (no fakes, thank you, only real pictures). So I’ve been shooting a lot this week. I decided to return to my experiments with New55 4×5 film.

Asbury Lanes being ruined

I shot this last weekend with the Intrepid and some New55 from the last batch that had hand-coated paper. They’ve automated the coating process to try to make the product less painful to make and more economically feasible. So this is the last of a breed. And as I’ve seen before, there’s a big difference between the negative and the print.

Asbury Lanes being ruined, New55 print

The prints aren’t without their charm, but they’re not high fidelity. I recently got my two packs for backing them on Kickstarter. I look forward to seeing if the automation makes a difference on that count. They announced the other day that they’ve completed fulfilling the Kickstarter backing orders. Congratulations to them! I hope this means that the production is financially viable and continues.

One of the pictures I posted on the first day of Roid Week got picked up for Flickr Explore, their page where they post photos they think are worthy of more attention. It was shot outside the parameters of this project, so I didn’t make it my photo here, but I’ll include it as a bonus shot here.

Surf's Up, LBI, NJ

I shot this with my Polaroid 250 on well-expired Polaroid Chocolate pack film. I was very happy with how this turned out. Looks like other people were, too. I had to turn Flickr app notifications off on my phone the morning this was posted to Explore because my wrist kept buzzing every 30 seconds. I wound up with 16,998 views of this shot on Flickr and 232 people favorited it. Feel kind of weird.

Posted at 7:33 AM
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

52@52 Week 37

I went out at lunch time yesterday with the Travelwide and went to the Leonardo marina. I noticed this house at the time. But the light was wrong, so I went back after work, around 5:30.

House, Leonardo, NJ

I’ll probably have to go back to do this subject justice. When I saw it at lunch, the flags were unfurled in the wind, and you could see what made them distinctive; the US flag was upside down, and there is a Confederate flag at porch level. I don’t think you can see that clearly in this shot. You also can’t read the No Trespassing sign, and don’ get the sense of chaos from the yard. Maybe I didn’t get close enough. The wind being wrong kind of made that moot. I’ll go back to try to get this right. Maybe. It’s kind of a scary place. The marina wasn’t very picturesque otherwise at this time of year. Very few boats in the water right now, unlike Belford, which is for working boats instead of pleasure boats.

Just like last week, self-developed Velvia 100. Last week, I rated it at ISO 50 and it still came out underexposed. This week I rated it at 100 and it was worse. My spot meter is still broken, so I’m using my iPhone as a meter. It hasn’t been a problem on other shots, which give me histograms of perfect exposures when I scan, but for Velvia, it doesn’t work so well. Next time I’ll bracket the other way. Took me a while to get the hang of Kodachrome, too, when I was shooting it.

Posted at 2:12 AM
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Thursday, April 7, 2016

52@52 Week 36

I went out at lunch time yesterday and shot two frames of Velvia 100 with the Travelwide in Keansburg. I developed them both this morning. They both sucked. This one sucked less.

Amusement Park, Keansburg, NJ

I like the colors, but the framing leaves a lot to be desired. Feeling better, but still not 100%, so this was as much as I felt capable of shooting this week. Hopefully next week I’ll be back in the office and shooting in the city.

Posted at 2:10 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2016, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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