Bluffer’s Park notes

(click image for gallery)

Sights: water, bluffs, rock, birds, blue sky.

Sounds: water, redwing blackbirds, grackles, geese, falling limestone.

Smells: the lighting of BBQs.

Make your own 120 Film Cans

I wrote this ages ago, but it wasn’t in the easiest to find place. I discovered today that Ilford fit inside Agfa, and – with a bit of brute force – an Ilford will fit inside an Ilford. So I made a few more of these …
I’ve often wondered why the relatively tough little metal-clad 35mm roll comes in a neat plastic case, while the bigger and more delicate 120 roll has nothing more than foil to protect it. You can buy 120 film cans, but they are expensive after-market things.

Since I also (used to) shoot 35mm, I tend to end up with a lot of empty film cans. Some brands of film, I noticed, have quite different can diameters. Fuji seems to have the narrowest, Ilford next, and then Agfa the widest. A Fuji can slips quite neatly inside an Agfa can — in fact, if you bore a small hole in the bottom of an Agfa, fill it with water, and slide a Fuji can in as a plunger, it acts as quite an effective single-shot water pistol. But I digress …

But best of all, I discovered that a Fuji can is a tight interference fit into an Ilford can. Since I knew that a 120 spool is a smaller diameter than a 35mm roll, and is less than twice the length, I knew I could do something with this.

ilford and fuji film cans, knife.

You will need:

  • an Ilford film can. It doesn’t need to have a lid, as it will be acting as the base of the “stretch” 120 can.
  • a Fuji film can. I’ve only used the black kind you get with the faster films. I suspect that the clear cans that are used on the rest of the range might work, but won’t be light-tight.
  • a sharp knife. The pictured Opinel may not look much, but it has a razor-like carbon steel blade.

fuji can with end sliced off.

Slice the end off the Fuji can. It helps to poke a hole in the side of the can a couple of millimetres up from the end, and then start slicing where you made the hole.

fuji can jammed in ilford can.

Jam the now baseless Fuji can into the Ilford can, and push it down to the desire length. It really helps if you take the lid off the Fuji can, as otherwise you’d be working against air compression. It also helps if you have a spare 120 spool handy, to check that you haven’t pushed the two cans too far in to be useful.

120 film can in use!

And there you are! It might be rather rough and ready, but it works. I don’t know how durable or waterproof these things are, but they’ll afford considerably more protection than having them rolling about loose in your camera bag.

CleVR: half-bright

CleVR does allow you to produce animated panoramas with no user input, but it has its flaws. The biggest is that, even though it’s written in Java, it only works properly under Windows.

Here’s a panorama I made earlier: A boring day at Kennedy Commons.

all the cameras I’ve ever owned

In approximate chronological order:

  • Kodak A-1 — got for Christmas or birthday when I was about 8, probably after being insufferable that my sister had a spiffy little Voigtländer Vitoret. Took 110 film and those awful flash strips. Was disappointed when wildlife photos taken with it (fixed focus, fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed) didn’t work too well. Those tiny brown things were supposed to be sparrows, dammit!
  • Panasonic AF thing — I don’t actually remember having a camera through my teens, and I think I got this just before going to Japan. I took hundreds of pictures with it, but barely remember anything about it.
  • Pentax MX — my first serious camera, and one I really regret getting rid of when I discovered the realities of Negative Cash Flow when I moved to Glasgow G1 in the mid-1990s. I had three lenses; 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 135mm f/3.5. A very small SLR, it worked a charm; except, that is after coming back from Fair Isle when the salt jammed the innards. It was fine after a CLA.
  • Lubitel 166Jessop’s were selling these for £19. It acquainted me with the dreadful packaging and unique smell of Eastern Bloc photographic equipment. It also introduced me to squinty focussing and rampant vignetting that this camera is well known for. Sold on eBay before we left Scotland for about fifty quid; miracles will seldom (if ever) cease.
  • Minox 35GT — lovely, tiny, but too delicate for my ham-hands and careless ways. Bought on the recommendation of my sister’s then-fiancé. Managed to crack the top plate and focus ring; oops.
  • FED 5B — Think I got this early ’93; a spectacularly shoddy Leica-clone rangefinder. I’d heard about eastern camera copies whilst on Fair Isle, and tracked down someone in Russia on rec.photo who’d sell me one for £50. I sent off my cash in late 1992, and heard nothing for months. I really thought I’d been scammed, and gave up the money for lost. Months later, a small box arrived; it was the FED box with my address written on the back, still sealed. No wrapping. Manual in Русский (or perhaps Українська; my script-fu has never been strong). It worked fine for one film, then the focal plane synch went south. Managed to get it repaired in a magical old-time repair shop just off George Square (Peterson’s?) run by an ancient camera-wizard with a heavy European accent. In true magical ways, the store was gone the next time I looked for it. Sold on ebay for a derisory £20.
  • Fujifilm DX-5 — my first digital camera! All of 640×480 resolution, too! Wasn’t quite state of the art by the time I bought it, but cheap things from Morgan’s seldom are.
  • Yashica T5 — I probably most regret selling this of any camera. Tack-sharp and contrasty Zeiss Tessar T* lens; nifty waist-level finder. Only a so-so AF system, but very small and solid, like a budget Contax. Sold before moving to Canada. These have subsequently rocketed up in price, so my casual interest in them doesn’t warrant buying one.
  • Fujifilm MX-1200 — 1.3 megapixel; w00t! I still actually have this, and it amazes me how nifty I thought this was when I see how clunky and slow it feels now. Bought from Morgan in Brum; I seem to remember actually walking from Cobuild’s office to the store to get it.
  • Voigtländer Bessa-R— of all the cameras I’ve ever owned, I think I’ve had the most lenses for this one. Was a bit sad to see it go (trade-in for the D70), but I took many (good?) photos with it. The lenses I owned (not all at once) were:
    • Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/3.5 — a lens so good I kept it after selling the body.
    • Snapshot-Skopar 25mm f/4 — never got the hang of this one. Sold it very soon after getting it with the camera.
    • “Pancake” Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5
    • Ultron Aspherical 35mm f/1.7.
    • Nokton 50mm f/1.5
    • Color-Heliar 75mm f/2.5
    • APO Lanthar 90mm f/3.5
  • Yashica-Mat — an eBay purchase from a market trader in Hemel Hempstead. Was a bit beat up, and had the wrong size of case, and occasionally misfired, but a pleasantly solid unit. Took some early photos in Canada with it, but it mostly sat around. Discovered, on trading in in 2004, that the taking lens was a spider-web of fungus.
  • Yashica Electro 35GT — nice lens, and can meter down to almost nothing. Auto-exposure only, and handles flair, um, creatively. Really quiet shutter, but (on mine at least) the meter circuitry made a weird groaning noise. I used a Yashica Guy battery; you might want to too.
  • Voigtländer Vitoret 110EL — I actually had two of these. One was very beat-up, while the other was absolutely mint, complete with flash. It’s a shame that 110 film was almost dead by the time I got this, as it was an ultra-stealth camera and had great metering.
  • Olympus mju/Stylus Infiniti — I was carrying my Bessa-R everywhere wrapped in (what I thought was) an adequately-padded hat when I discovered that the rigours of the TTC had induced a ding in the top plate. Immediately rushed out to buy a 35mm compact that I wouldn’t cry over if it broke. The mju was my carry-about camera for years (even after I went digital). I think I still have an unprocessed film from it. Traded in mid-2004 as a (tiny) part of the D70.
  • Nikon CoolPix 2500 — first digital camera in Canada. Bought when I worked across the road from Black’s HQ in Markham, so got it at one of their tent sales. Not a bad wee camera, but a little slow so you sometimes missed a shot or photographed your feet.
  • Zero Image 2000 — beautiful wooden pinhole camera which I bought from Karen Nakamura. She’s too kind about some of the imagery I’ve made with it. It’ll get a good workout on the 29th of this month.
  • Pentacon six TL — a huge brick of a camera, but the lens was unspectacular, and the innards too fragile. Partly traded-in for the D70. I still have my info page on the Pentacon six TL.
  • Voigtländer Bessa-L — I never actually used this. I bought it from Stephen Gandy to use with the 15mm Super Wide Heliar (along with a Kaidan pano head), and sold it on eBay.
  • Zorki — an eBay purchase, but there was a spool missing. The guys at russianplaza refunded me without question.
  • Nikon D70 — you don’t want to know how much I paid for this, but I have had it since summer 2004 and had great use from it.
  • Sony Cybershot P100 — this was my first (and probably only) peacock-blue camera. Henry’s had this for $200 less than the silver model.
  • ThreeEyeFish digital minicam — makes a Lomo look like a Leica.
  • Panasonic Lumix LX2 — what a lovely looking camera! Shame about the operation …

his & hers superbes

Two Raleigh Superbes, on Yonge St

The small image doesn’t do them justice, but I saw two Raleigh Superbes locked together near Dundas on Yonge.  These were the deluxe ones with the locking steering column and the front dynohub. Lovely bikes, definitely sensible.

Vaughan Wind Turbine

wind turbine in vaughan

A modified AOC 15/50 wind turbine at a Honda dealership in Vaughan, ON. If you click through the link, you should be able to get to the full-sized image.

flash bang wallop

I’m rather taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2. Not merely does it look like a proper camera, it doesn’t handle like a gimmicky electronic toy. I love the wide-aspect images, and it stores all the EXIF information I need for panoramas. I could do without the proprietary USB/video connector, and it would have been really nice to have auto-bracket enabled on raw shooting for exploring HDR images, but it is not a huge deal. Neatest basic function is the ability to view your pics as a calendar, each day opening up the ones you took then. Nice.

Barnack’s ghost is probably troubled by the use of the Leica name on such a frivolous device. I will be able to claim the famed “leica glow” on my shots now, though.

I’m thinking that this camera is targeted towards the sophisticated grandpa. It’s able to track the ages of two children, so your pictures can be tagged as being of Baby X at age Y. Useless? Well, someone could use it.

Oh okay … some photos are here: http://scruss.com/gallery/v/lumix_lx2/

camerangst

I told myself that I wouldn’t upgrade my P&S until the pixel count doubled for an affordable price. I didn’t define ‘affordable’, though, leaving myself perhaps too much consumer wiggle room.

Anyway, 10+ megapixel compacts are here, but there are many contenders. The Panasonic DMC-LX2 has a nice lens, but is expensive and looks a little soft unless you shoot raw. The Canon SD900 is lovely and tiny, but maybe that’s all.

Do I really need to upgrade at all?

Things I Saw in Vancouver

Things I Saw in Vancouver – and yes, there are flowers in bloom. Beware of the cute sea otters, though they’re not quite up there with the Oh Noes! otter.

Update: Dave‘s photos are good – thanks!

a narrow escape

I narrowly avoided buying an old Speed Graphic camera on eBay today. I regretted bidding almost immediately; film is a pain, and I’m glad I didn’t win. It would have been a nice ornament, but nothing more useful.

fauxlomo

Portpatrick, with the Gimp faux lomo effect
Portpatrick, taken with a Fujifilm MX-1200 pretending to be a lomo

For probably no better reason beyond babbittry, I’ve always half-wanted a lomo. Half-wanted, that is, because of my previous experience with “Russian” photo gear (I’ve had a Lomo TLR, a Fed rangefinder, and a Pentacon six) and its legendary quality control. I’m also so done with film.
A while back, Donncha wrote about a  GIMP Lomo Plugin. While it looked handy, the link to the code is now dead. You can find what I think is the same one here: http://flelay.free.fr/pool/lomo2.scm (or a local copy here if that link dies: lomo2.scm). Just pop it in your .gimp-2.2/scripts/ directory, and it’ll appear as a filter. The original author‘s comment on Donncha’s blog contains good settings: Vignetting softness=1, Contrast=30, Saturation=30, Double Vignetting=TRUE.

I knew there was a reason I retrieved my old 1.3 megapixel Fujifilm MX-1200 from my parents’ house. And that reason is fauxlomo!

Costco Photo Centre, part II

So I got the photos back today. The service is pretty quick; I sent the order at 16:45, and had a ready-for-collection confirmation at 10:41 the next day. After braving the lines at Costco (no fun), I had a look at them.

The prints are pretty good; colour’s bright, everything’s sharp, and there’s no obvious digital artefacts. But I got a bunch of dupes (maybe those failed uploads didn’t really fail at all). If I needed pictures again in a hurry and cheaply, I might go for Costco, as long as it wasn’t for anything really important.

I’ll still thinking about a networkable photo-printer, though. CompuSmart had a demo HP Photosmart 8450 for cheap, but it had no cables or PSU, so was pretty useless.

Costco Photo Centre: cheap, but stupid

So I’ve got the holiday photos, and want to print them for those that like that. I’d used Future Shop in the past, but Costco is offering such cheap prints, I thought I’d give them a try.

Probably a mistake:

  • Their drag and drop uploader is an ActiveX control that only works under IE on Windows. Use any other browser, and you get presented with an old-school HTML form. For 94 pictures, that would get dull quickly.
  • The uploader transmits several images at once. It seems that if any of the uploads should fail, all the files uploading at that time also fail. Uploading a few at a time doesn’t seem to help much; around one in ten files will fail randomly.
  • While the uploader does warn you when an upload fails, it’s up to you to remember which files haven’t worked. Clicking Retry just takes you back to the uploader, and since it’s an embedded applet, there’s no browser history to take you back to note your failed uploads.
  • The albums store files in the order uploaded, and can’t be changed.
  • Long file names get truncated, and then get uselessly used as the title on the back.

Still, I’ll let you know how it all went when I get the prints in a couple of days.