Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hunt for Red December

November slipped by and now we are down into December. The season of low light angles from the sun catch my attention when it shines. I really enjoy this time of the year even though we have not had much snow to speak of yet.

The above image caught my eye yesterday afternoon.

Red is the color of choice for a lot of barns here in Wisconsin.

Friday, November 4, 2011


We live in a world with dust. Somewhere,quite some time ago, someone decided that dust was the enemy and we have been fighting it ever since. It tarnished our image of purity. So, devices like brooms, feather dusters, and air purifiers just to name a few were created to dispose of the particles.  When I was in college taking photography classes, dust on a print was unacceptable. I understand that the faculty was trying to teach us rigor  and dedication to the craft. I questioned a professor one day that Ansel Adams prints had spots on a lot his prints from dust on the negatives. No reply came. So Unless, I wanted to spend a lot of time fixing spots on a print with dye and a camel hair brush, I had to learn to keep the negative clean as possible. Today with digital photography and Photoshop dust is less of a concern but there is still a lot of money being made on removing dust from image sensors. Once, I scan an image on a flatbed scanner or negative scanner and it is turned into a digital file. Spots made from dust can be easily removed from digital images with Photoshop.
    The image below I made with my 4x5 camera, Printed on Ilford variable contrast paper, then scanned as is, opened in Photoshop only to resize the image for internet purposes.

Quinn. 4X5 Print 150mm lens f7.7 1/2 second exposure ISO 100 Film.

The question I pose here is, where does one draw the line on dust? What amount of dust on a print is acceptable in this day and age? I have looked and do not see many answers. Here is my opinion. Ha! You knew it was coming.
 The image above has dust on it. I have some control on the amount of dust on the negative. With the negative size of 4 inches by 5 inches, I can try to eliminate it but a certain amount is just going to be there. I can move dust particles from one place to another. By the time I get the negative into the the enlarger, dust  creeps in. I am certain dust is in the enlarger. There is no way around it. I have come to the conclusion that as long as it does not detract from the content of the image let it be.

Quinn. Enlargement from above image. This image was taken and printed with the same lens. A Kodak lens made sometime in the 1920's.

This lens also a Kodak made in the 20's.
This image is pure magic.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Omega D-2

Last month, I picked up a Omega D-2 enlarger off of Craigslist for twenty-five dollars. I already have a Bessler23c enlarger in my darkroom. The bessler is a great enlarger and works beautifully for 35mm and medium format prints. So getting this enlarger would allow me to make prints from 4x5 negatives. Several years ago I picked up a 4x5 camera and used the Polaroid back to make some exposures. Outside of making a contact print where the negative is laid directly on the paper with a piece of glass over the top of it,  So I was excited to get an enlarger capable of making enlargements from 4x5 negatives.
    Once I got the enlarger home I noticed that the condenser lens was missing. Overall, it would still be worth the investment to purchase the condenser lens set. I got a great deal on one from E-Bay for twenty dollars. There are plenty of enlargers still out there but getting parts for it can be pretty tough for some reason.  The D-2 has been around for a long time and widely used by press, military, and universities long before World War II. After doing some research, I was going to need an enlarging lens and board. The main use for this enlarger would be 4x5 and perhaps medium format(120 mm). The lens would need to be 150mm and their prices range from about fifty bucks on up to several hundred dollars depending on the quality of the lens. Also, I found out, I would need a lens cone to hold the lens. The reason for the cone is the bellows on the D-2 are pretty short so in order to be able to get all of the coverage of a 4x5 negative and bring the negative into focus so prints can be made an extension is needed.
    I will be the first to admit I am frugal and the websites that were offering these pieces I needed could charge whatever they wanted for them because they are the only game in town. Unless, I wanted to wait for what could be a long time to see if the pieces came up  for the right price on E-Bay or Craigslist, I knew there had to be another way. The lens cone I needed was priced from 50-100 dollars. Ouch! I am on a budget here! So after being discouraged for a week or two while waiting, a thought came to me one morning. This style enlarger has been around long before WWII.  How does one make enlargers with missing parts work without having a machine shop or immediate access to the parts I needed? Tin cans! The lens cone I needed was 4 1/2 inches tall. A twenty-eight  ounce can hit the mark. The diameter of plate that attaches to the bottom of the enlarger is 6 3/8 inches. A paint can or large coffee can is close enough to that diameter.  So off to the grocery store I went and for less than fifteen dollars including paint I had my lens cone.

This is the condenser lens set. It has two large glass elements in it separated by a corrugated piece of metal to keep them from touching. 

My 4x5 camera had the equivalent to a 150 mm lens that I needed. I just removed it from the lens board and mounted it on  the cone below.

This is the 28oz. can mounted to a paint can lid with JB -Weld epoxy.

Another view with the lens attached.

This lens came with my Graflex 4x5 camera. It was made by Kodak in the 20s or 30s. Quite sharp and the lenses were easy to detach from the shutter to clean.

My last post I named this piece of equipment Lucifer. I have decided to name it Vader instead just for its imposing size.
So, what happens now? Well, I have made a 4x5 negative carrier for it out of matte board. I had one tucked away in a box of supplies from  my college days. I need to get out and find a subject to take pictures of.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This month after having Verizon as a wireless cell phone carrier for five years we decided to go to AT&T as our provider. The main draw was for the IPhone4. I have used a simple cell phone and a Blackberry smartphone. I must admit I do like all of the bells and whistles of the IPhone. The phone allows me to do several things at once and I can say that is something that many phones do not allow. Not to mention that it also has a feature called facetime( a true video phone call).  A dream growing up for many kids and adults was to be able to see the person you were calling now no longer science fiction. Applications now shortened to Apps has made the IPhone very popular. Apps are programs that run on the IPhone that can be purchased for use on the device.
One popular App is Hipstamatic. A program that uses the IPhone's camera and processes them with a vintage look that seems to be very hip (obvious pun) these days.Many consumers today want image manipulation to look like a seventies McCall's magazine.  As a child of the seventies, I know what my family album looks like and Hipstamatic is on the mark.   Being optimistic, I think the program pays homage to the craft itself. One aspect of programs like this is people are making images.  I have been using the Hipstamatic App for a couple of weeks now and not worrying about film speed, f-stops, and exposure is a nice for a change. Just letting the photography universe be.

Below are some images made with the App which allows the the use different effects( referred to as lenses and film)  within the program to manipulate the image being made.


This is Lucifer and may be the death of me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Canning Day

This Labor Day weekend found Melissa and I, canning our bounty of garden tomatoes. Well, the first round anyway. The process is pretty straight forward. Scald the tomatoes first in boiling water. Then blanch them in cold water and remove the skins. The next step in our case was to half or quarter them and the place them into sterilized jars. We added lemon juice and salt to the tomatoes to help with the  preservation process. Once the jars were filled we put on the lids and boiled the for about 45 minutes in our large stock pot. We will be repeating the process again this week as the second round of tomatoes ripen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Garden Results

This year we put out a vegetable garden. The first time in many years we have leased a property with the prospects for gardening. We started our garden roughly June 1st. Nothing fancy Tomatoes, Radishes, Lettuce Peppers, Green Beans, Peas, Yellow Squash, Cucumbers,  Pie Pumpkins, and Watermelon.

Here are a few Images from the last couple of months.

The garden started small but grew quickly in a couple of months.

Green beans


Pickling Cucumbers.

Today, I pickled these peppers and can't wait to use them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gentle Evening

Summer is in full swing in central Wisconsin. I have not posted anything for a couple of weeks due to nagging knee injury (Meniscus tear)  that I am finally getting resolved in a couple of weeks by the way of surgery.We had a storm roll through here several weeks ago that took out several beloved firs around the house. Eleven trees in total were damaged. Some snapped off several feet above the ground and others were blown over. Straight line winds were the cause. It was worst storm to hit this area in years. With things getting back to normal,  I have  taken a couple of pictures of our garden that we planted at the beginning of June and will post those at a later time. A break in the humidity, allowed for very pleasant weather today. I found myself out this evening making a few images. I try to push myself to always make better images than I have taken in the past. While flowers make easy targets because of their own natural beauty as I was preparing to go inside I noticed a couple of small flowers growing around a spruce in the backyard. These little wild flowers were very small and only standing a couple of inches off of the ground. 

Last year, the apple tree out in the backyard did not produce any fruit. This year it looks like we should have plenty. I should start thinking about a cider press. The apples are not very large and making cider out of them would be the best use for them.

This apple and others had already fallen from the wind.

A gentle evening breeze makes these Brown-eyed Susans flutter in the wind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Unplugged 2011.

Summertime means camping, fishing, and unplugging from technology. We made a list of items and wrote them down on a  blue college essay test booklet.  These items would make roughing it more comfortable. When I was younger, all I needed was a Rambo knife. Everybody wanted to camp like a reluctant hero that was on the lam. The survival knife had a compass on the butt of the knife that unscrewed revealing the fishing line with hook and some waterproof matches. Our list was complete, we loaded the bed of the truck like that hollow handled Rambo knife.  The Wisconsin northwoods was our destination.

The campground was great. Only a handful of other campers were seen during our visit. No water, no electricity, and a couple of miles of gravel road ensured a quiet time.

The only sounds at night under the tall red pines were the calls of  loons, a crackling fire, and whippoorwills.

Starrett Lake, Wisconsin

Starrett Lake Campground.

Megan and I out in the canoe.
Starrett Lake, located within the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is a small lake and is perfect for canoeing.

This Smallmouth Bass fell for a buzzbait. Catch and release.

Another Smallmouth. 

Megan, my daughter, working a Zara Spook.

Everything unpacked and set up to find the tragedy of not having any sugar for my coffee! How could it have been missed from being packed. I bet Rambo wished he had a sugar cube in his knife to wash down the worms he ate for breakfast. Our front-country car campground breakfast included fried potatoes with onions, bacon,eggs, and strong black coffee.
The time we spent and the things we experienced was well worth every ounce of effort put forth on our expedition and memories that will last a lifetime.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The View From The Backseat

I normally do a lot of driving. So taking pictures sometimes takes a backseat to concentrating on driving. Yesterday, I had the privilege to be a passenger on a day trip with Melissa and some close friends to Green Bay and Door County, Wisconsin. The day started out nice and sunny but on the return trip home things became a bit gloomy and harrowing for a few moments. I post many pictures on Facebook. Some however, I feel need to be posted here.

Fox River and Green Bay.