There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Century Studio No. 5 shots

I don’t know why I clicked on an old friend’s link on my blogroll tonight, but I did, and I noticed that she’s blogging! Don’t see her much on Twitter these days, but yay blogging! So here’s a blog post.

My photography is going deeper and deeper into the weeds. On a visit to see my mom over Thanksgiving, I bought a camera. It’s roughly 116 years old. Near as I can figure, made in 1902, dated by the shutter for the lens, which I think is probably original. The lens and shutter are identical to one shown in the Rochester Optical Company catalog for 1902 on page 71.

So anyway, I bought it. It’s a 5 × 7 camera, so a new format for me, one I'm not set up to develop film for yet. The shutter kinda works, although much slower than its marked times. No matter, I've been shooting with very slow material, specifically Ilford Harman Direct Positive Paper, ISO 2, and J. Lane 5 × 7 dry plates, also ISO 2, both of which I develop in trays under safelights. So I just use the T setting on the shutter and keep it open for a week or two. The dry plates are actually historically appropriate for the camera; that would largely be what whoever bought it in 1902 was using.

dry plate shot of a Zenith radio dry plate shot of a Polaroid SX-70 camera

I found some more 5 × 7 film holders this weekend, and I have a daylight tank winging its way to me from China, so hopefully I’ll be putting some actual film through the camera soon. Although I have to say, I love the dry plates and the way they look.

Oh, and thanks, E, for the inspiration to actually compose a blog post.

Posted at 3:54 AM
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

52@52 Week 52

With this shot, I (successfully) complete my 52 @ 52 project, having shot, developed, scanned, and posted a shot from a unit of film shot in a given week on every Thursday for the past year. I didn’t miss a single week, and in fact posted on Thursday every single week, even when I was out of town or the Internet wasn’t working at my house.

Boats in Harbor

This shot was made with the Pentax 67 I described in last week’s post, this time with the 80mm f/2.8 lens, again on Ilford Pan F Plus developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes. I shot this on Sunday when Laura and I went out for breakfast in Avon-by-the-sea, a nearby shore town. I’m pretty happy with this one. I like the composition, and the exposure seems good to me. I’ll be sending the camera off for repairs and a CLA soon so I can make full use of it.

I’m glad to have done this. I’m also glad to be finished.

C’est fini.

Posted at 12:25 AM
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

52@52 Week 51

One of my colleagues in San Francisco is a talented photographer who does professional work, Hamish Reid. I had worked with him on a previous project out of our office in New York, and we had discussed our shared interest in photography back then. We picked up that conversation when I was in San Francisco. He used to shoot medium and large format film, but has moved to digital and doesn’t use his film cameras any more. Knowing that I shoot almost exclusively film, he offered to give me one of his cameras, a Pentax 67 medium format camera, along with three lenses (55mm f/4, 80mm f/2.8, and 165mm f/2.8). I knew there was a reason I left empty room in my suitcase for this trip (and here I thought it was for music or beer...).

Boats in Harbor

The camera needs a bit of work, as the speed selection dial has come off, but I figured out how to figure out what speed the shutter was set to, set it to 1/125 of a second, and went hunting for bear. I put a roll of Ilford Pan F Plus in the camera and visited the harbors on Raritan Bay near my house. I was stunned by the quality and sharpness of the pictures when I developed them. Holy cow, this camera is amazeballs. Sweet lenses. I wanted to know if it was worth sending off to be fixed and for a CLA. “Hell yes!” is the answer I came up with.

This photo was shot with the 55mm lens set to f/8 on the aforementioned Pan F Plus, and developed in my standard, Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes. I’m really happy with how this one turned out. There were a couple of other keepers on the 10 image roll I shot as well.

Thanks, Hamish.

Posted at 6:07 AM
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

52@52 Week 50

As I noted last week, I was in San Francisco on a business trip. I brought a few cameras with me, including my Wanderlust Travelwide.

The weather in San Francisco was not wonderful while I was there. It was 55 degrees and foggy most of the time. Thursday afternoon there were a couple of hours where the temperature got up to 63 and you could see blue sky, but I was working during those hours and couldn’t photograph anything at that time. I had arrived in the city on July 4th. There were fireworks on the bay right outside my hotel, but since it was foggy, any fireworks that went above a certain height were attenuated by the fog. I shot some color film, but I wasn’t happy with how any of that turned out. Black and white seemed much more suited for the city of fog.

Fishing (and surfing) at Fort Point in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge

I shot this at Fort Point in the Presidio National Monument, right at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday morning as I was heading to the airport to come home. It was so foggy you couldn’t see the bridge, which was what I was hoping to shoot. I’m pretty happy with this shot anyway. This was shot on Tri-X TXP-320, expired in 2008, with the usual Angulon lens, and developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 14 minutes.

Posted at 8:50 AM
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

52@52 Week 49

I’m in San Francisco this week for work. That makes it difficult to develop and scan regular film, so this week, I brought my Doxie Go Wi-Fi with me so I could scan some Impossible Project film shots I took with my I-1 here and not lose my perfect record of posting on time every week for a year in the 49th week.

Cable Car

This is perhaps as hackneyed as a San Francisco shot can get, a Polaroid (well, not Polaroid, but Impossible) snapshot of a cable car. I waited in line for a half hour to ride a cable car from Fisherman’s Wharf, where my hotel (and my company’s office) is, to Union Square, where I went to the new Apple Store to purchase a charger for my Apple Watch, because I forgot my charger at home in New Jersey. It seemed fitting to take the trip to the Apple Store in an archaic form of transport.

It was actually interesting to see how manual the process of running cable cars is. There’s a wooden turntable that the car rolls on to. Then the conductors lean heavily into pipes sticking out of the turntable to turn the car around so it can point in the proper direction. It seemed only right to shoot such an archaic procedure with an archaic technology. It would have also been a good idea to get this shot with my large format Wanderlust Travelwide, but since I’m away, you wouldn’t get to see that shot this week. Maybe I’ll try to get that shot for next week in my remaining days here in the city of cold and fog.

Posted at 1:33 AM
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

52@52 Week 48

Another possibility opened up by being able to do tray development is shooting on Film Washi’s 4×5 fllm W, which uses Japanese rice paper as its base rather than something more traditional like cellulose.

Belford Harbor on Film Washi type W film

I shot at Belford Harbor again, since it’s a mile and a half from home and I didn’t have much time to shoot this week. The film is not easy to handle; it’s very thin, and gets slippery in the tray. And it’s fragile when drying, as you can see by the rip in the lower right corner. But it really lends an interesting texture to the photograph. This looks like it could have been shot 120 years ago. I think I can make some use of this.

Posted at 11:18 AM
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

52@52 Week 47

Now that I’m set up to do tray development of paper, it opens up a few more possibilities. This week, I shot my project shots with the Intrepid on Harman Direct Positive paper. No negative, just a print. Amazing stuff.

Belford Harbor

This is Belford harbor, where one of the ferries to the city docks. It’s also the home of a number of working fishing boats. The creek behind our house empties into this body of water, Compton’s Creek.

I rated the Harman Positive Paper at ISO 3. This stuff is usually used with pinhole cameras, but I couldn't find the pinhole that came with the Intrepid, so I used my regular lens, a Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm, stopped down to f/45. At ISO 3, the meter said 5 seconds. Because of the way the bulb setting on my shutter works, I forgot that the way you close the shutter is by turning the shutter speed wheel, so this was actually more like 8 seconds. And that was cool; the other shot I took that day was actually exposed for 5 seconds, and it looks a little underexposed. This one looks a little overexposed. But they both actually look pretty good.

I developed this in the Adox Neutol Eco that came with my Enfojer. It was developed by inspection, so I’m not sure exactly how long, but I think it was in the developer for about a minute and a half.

Speaking of the Enfojer, I’ve heard from Fojo that there actually is a negative holder made from aluminum that I didn’t receive, and that something may have happened to my base in transit, so they’re going to be sending me a new base and the negative holder. So for now, experiments with printing on the Enfojer from negatives are on hold. I did purchase some light diffusing paper from; it will be interesting to see if that lessens or eliminates the pixelness of the prints from negatives that I was noticing.

Posted at 8:09 AM
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

52@52 Week 46

So I managed to shoot a roll of film, develop it, and print a photo from it with my Enfojer on silver-halide paper in the space of the past week, fitting it all into the constraints of this project, just like I said I would try to do last week.

Laura and her mom wait for the parade

I shot this with the Rolleiflex on Rollei RPX25 film, which is a clean, high contrast film. I think that’s reflected in the shot. There’s not a whole lot of gray in the sky. Developed in it Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes.

The Enfojer as it’s delivered can be a little difficult to use. The top and bottom of the frame that holds the photo paper that you print onto is supposed to be held together by magnets, and in my experience, that doesn’t work very well. More often than not, I found that the frame separated, that the hinge part of the top of the frame didn’t stick to the bottom, which made printing a lot more difficult as I scrambled to place the paper properly without triggering the beginning of the exposure from the phone, which turns on at the signal of a loud sound (the recommend snapping fingers, but my finger snaps aren’t loud enough, so I clap). I’m still trying to get an answer from the team in Croatia about negative holders (it looks to me like the negative holder is a couple of holes in the side of the print head, which does nothing to keep the negatives flat and makes printing from the edges of a negative strip next to impossible; I’m hoping that my package was just missing something that does a little more to support negatives). I solved the frame issue with a little bit of Elmer’s Carpenters Glue and a couple of clamps. The frame stays together now, and printing is much easier. The negative strip issue might be a little more difficult, but it should be possible to design and 3D print a negative holder that would slide into the print head if Fojo doesn’t provide one.

Oh, and I found a bug in the iOS app where if you select the button to print from a negative, the phone immediately starts exposing the shot and never stops. My workaround for that was to create an entirely black photo on my iPhone, then use that as a source to print from. When the phone prints it, it reverses the entirely black photo to entirely white, producing the light needed to expose the photo.

This shot is of my wife Laura and her mother at the parade last weekend celebrating 100 years of their home town, Elmwood Park, New Jersey. The parade hadn’t started yet at this point.

When I look really close at the print, I can see the pixels from the light source, my iPhone 6. I don’t think there’s any way to avoid this at full size with phone-generated photos. I haven’t tested printing at smaller sizes yet to see at what point this ceases to happen. For printing from negatives, I might look for some light diffusing material to place between the phone and the negative to try and solve this issue.

All in all, I like the Enfojer and am having fun using it. Having to hack it to get it to work the way I want it to is part of the fun.

Posted at 8:42 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2021, 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 ]

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