What's New at 120studio.com

Site News Archive - May 2016  (Click here for current.)

2016 May 23

Blurry Pictures on a Yashica TLR

A reader asks why he's getting blurry pictures with a Yashica TLR.  The photo shown above is just one example from a whole roll of blurred pics. 

Apparently the focus looked sharp through the viewfinder, but you can see how blurry the photos are.  This time it doesn't look like a case of film buckling.  So I've put together a new article with some ideas on how to troubleshoot this.

The basic ideas will apply to almost any brand of TLR, not just Yashica.

2016 May 19

New:  Finishing a Laminated-Top Workbench.  This was originally going to be "Pounder, Mk.III", a bench for heavy "conformational adjustment" of various items in the workshop.  This time, however, I wanted to use something other than poly for the surface finish.  So let's talk about a great wood finish that's easy to apply and looks beautiful. 

Would this table be yet another junkyard project that proved to be too nice to pound on?  Read and find out. 

2016 May 14

Sunset 5/12/16
Panasonic FZ-70
Lens at 20mm equivalent
Some post-processing

A sunset like this would not happen if I were looking for sunsets.  It waited until I had black & white film, but I had the FZ70 along just in case.

Film Developing

It's taken a lot of experimenting and re-tries, but I'd say the results for Kodak Tri-X at 12800 are pretty good.  Any film can be shot at EI 12800 or any other EI value you want to try;  the question is whether the results will be acceptable to you.  To me, at EI 12800, the answer to that is definitely yes. 

Updated GalleryKodak Tri-X at 12800

By the way, I was looking to make a graph to compare diluted Rodinal with HC-110, just to give you an idea of the relative "developing power" of Dilution B versus, say, 1+50 or 1+100 Rodinal.  What I've found is that the published dev times for diluted Rodinal make even less sense than the published times I was finding for HC-110.  I've noticed that some people are developing for EI 3200 using shorter times than for 1600, or developing at 400 using longer times than 800, etc, at the same temperatures with the same dilutions and about the same amounts of agitation.  Either the details are not accurate, or maybe they're not shooting the photos at the EI they thought.  Or, they're unknowingly getting photos that are under-developed, which I think happens a lot with pushed film.

I don't plan to go on a Rodinal kick anytime soon, because HC-110 does everything I need a B&W film developer to do.  Either that, or Ilfotec DD-X, which is also a great developer and very good for pushing film.  Eventually I'll try some 6400+ pushes with DD-X. 

Probably there's nothing that could ever truly replace HC-110, but I'm also planning to try Ilfotec HC for extreme pushes, just in case someone doesn't keep producing HC-110 forever.  (We need HC-110!!) 

Through all this research and experimentation, I've read a number of comments that say "you can't push film;  film cannot give you any shadow detail when pushed beyond the box speed; etc."

Check out the gallery;  yes, you can push film, and yes, it's still possible to get shadow detail.

2016 May 12

Metal & Shop

New:  Tekton Bench Vise Review.  An affordable but still very useful little vise.

2016 May 11

You probably know I've been working out a process for Kodak Tri-X at 12800.  The first attempts ended up being 6400, not 12800, etc., etc.  Well, I think I've got it now, and the results are quite good.  They are even better than I expected.  I think this is significant. 

More to follow soon.

2016 May 10

Soon there should be some new articles related to metalworking, shop tips, etc.  First, though, I'm planning to update the 12800 photo gallery, as now I've got a roll of 400TX that was definitely shot at EI 12800 (metered carefully with incident meter).  The dev time was 140 minutes at 68 F.

Also for your enjoyment, especially if you shoot black & white film, is this article that's now ready:

New:  Orange Filters.

2016 May 7
Saturday Evening

New Gallery:  Ilford HP5+ 400 on 4x5.  This one has the four large-format pictures that I made during the past few days.  Four sheets of film + no light metering + partially-depleted developer = four keepers.  I knew the weather should be f/8 and 1/125th or the equivalent;  the dev times were adjusted for whatever the current capacity was for each sheet.  Two of the sheets were developed together;  the other two were in separate runs.

This time I was careful to make sure the Graflok back was seated properly before focusing;  forgetting to do that is a very common mistake, even for experienced 4x5 shooters.  On one of the gallery pictures, I noticed there was a weird blurry area near the middle of the photo.  I thought "Oh no, are we getting film buckling now??".  Turns out it was the mouse, which started going haywire and randomly activating stuff, such as the "Airbrush" tool, the Blur tool, etc.  When I looked at the original full-size scan, sure enough it was tack-sharp.  Fixed it;  now the one in the gallery looks right.

2016 May 6

Hudson Hornet
May 5, 2016
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 @ 400
1956 Crown Graphic with Optar 135mm f/4.7 lens and Graphex No. 1 shutter
1/5 sec.

Developed in Kodak HC-110 Dilution B at 55% capacity
10 minutes 54 seconds at 68 to 70 F

Larger version.

Photo made and developed yesterday evening;  I have two others from this photo session, also developed.  As long as you can load and unload the film in darkness, you could even develop 4x5 sheets from the trunk of your car...

A reader asks a very good question about the shutter speed and whether this scene used a tripod.  The Graphex leaf shutter is easy enough to release that you could probably brace the camera on something and take photos at 1/5 of a second. However, the whole process of composing the scene really requires a tripod, because after you get everything where you want it on the ground-glass, you then have to put a film holder in exactly the place where the ground glass was.  The Graflok back has to be shoved out of the way by the film holder, without moving the camera at all.  This requires some elbow grease and a lot of care so you don't have to recompose the whole scene.

In fact, I had to do that once or twice during the photo session.

If your 4x5 camera has a rangefinder, and that rangefinder is calibrated correctly, then you probably could brace the camera and use slow shutter speeds.  I would say, though, with a 135mm lens, even braced I would probably use a 30th of a second or faster.  Handheld, you'd want to go with 1/200th or faster.

One thing I can never seem to bring myself to do is to use the wire-finder and just shoot scenes handheld.  Press photogs often did that, then cropped the photo to their liking.  Now that I know how well HP5+ can be pushed to 6400 or even 12800, I might try it.  On a cloudy day that would allow shutter speeds of 1/250th easily, with more than ample depth of field.  As mentioned in Graflex How-To, Part 1, you also have to make sure the focusing index marks are calibrated to real distances.  At f/32 there's some margin for error, though.

2016 May 4

Usability and User Interfaces

As a text editor, gedit is very useful because it color-codes the different elements of HTML pages.  This makes it great if you're doing content creation.  Problem is, on the new gedit, the scrollbars are too narrow and the slider is almost the same shade of gray;  you spend way too much time hunting for it when you need to scroll quickly.  This, even more than the loss of the File and Edit menus, makes the program almost unusable for the very thing it would be best for (HTML editing).

The scrollbar slider is basically invisible until you hover the mouse over it.  But if you can't see it to begin with, how would you know where to put the mouse over it? 

It's too bad, because the color coding and other features make gedit a fantastic program.  I just wish there were some easy way to fix the scrollbar problem.  So far I've spent about three hours trying to figure this out, to no avail.  Settings that affect the rest of the windows (file manager, browser, etc) do nothing whatsoever to gedit. 

I've learned that GTK-3.0 doesn't use gtkrc files the way GTK-2.0 did.  GTK-3.0 uses CSS configuration instead of rc files.  But where's the correct css file?  I found several empty ones.  There's no indication of which theme is even being used. 

Kodak Tri-X Push Processing, Revisited

Thinking about the film develop times and the results, I now believe the published dev time for Tri-X at 6400 is incorrect.  (That was 26 minutes.)  More about this in a couple of the articles, later.

I was also using a power equation, thinking the required time increases would taper off as you got to higher EI's.  I thought this because the increases would eventually yield very little difference anyway.  Well, the quality of the negatives would definitely taper off, but the required time probably wouldn't.  Power equations are common in chemical reactions, but I decided to try a different "best fit". 

The only one I hadn't tried was a 3rd order polynomial equation, a.k.a. a cubic equation.  And it fits almost perfectly.

Do you have to pay attention to all this tech stuff as a photographer?  Well, the really advanced people might make it look effortless, but there's an incredible amount of science behind photographic technology.  Unless you are using a one-speed, one-aperture camera such as the Ultronic Panoramic, you do have to pay some attention to the tech details.  And if you're developing film and trying to work out accurate times, the really nerdy stuff becomes very important. 

Then again, this is all fun stuff;  you're not even supposed to push-process film more than 3 stops, and when you do, there's a limit to the quality.  This is an ongoing fun project that some of you may find useful, hopefully.

If you're curious:  with the curve the way it's drawn now, 12800 would take about 140 minutes, and 25600 would take about 560 minutes (about 9.3 hours).  At some point you're not going to get developing increases no matter how much time you let the film sit.  But there is some portion of the curve that's worthwhile.  With Tri-X I'd say that's up through 6400 somewhere, or what I thought was 12800 until I checked the EV's and realized that the best pictures were really exposed as 6400.

One more thing... through about 6400, you could treat the progression as if it were linear.  In fact I made a linear chart for those.  Will update the Tri-X article when it's ready.

2016 May 3

Metalworking... and Film

The Mini-Blacksmithing Article has been updated;  I ditched one of the digital photos and replaced it with film.  Also added another film image, so that now three of the four pictures in the article are on film.  The two new film pictures were part of the massive C-41 batch developed with Unicolor. 

They're 35mm cropped in the "panoramic" style, in case you're wondering what format.  The other film picture, with the machinist's vise, is Velvia 50.

2016 May 2


When shooting test rolls to try various developing times and such, I'm always looking for good compositions and subjects.  The photographic process involves several aspects that sort of merge together; you have the tech, of course, but there's also that quest for interesting landforms, roadside architecture, and that sort of thing.  The film mystique adds another dimension to it. 

New Gallery:  Kodak Tri-X at 12800, Page TwoThere are definite improvements over the Page One photos;  read and find out why.   Page Two is going to be re-done, because the new Page One now has very good results.  See the "What's New" entry for May 14th.

Darkroom printing is a whole art unto itself, and eventually I'm hoping to add that to this site.  Digitally working on scans is an entirely valid approach, though;  with highly pushed films, especially, scanning and software adjustment can be helpful.  There are some negatives that I don't know if they'd print (well, maybe with the right contrast filters and the right paper), but they definitely scan well.  When I do some traditional silver prints of recent work, it will be nice to compare, though.  One thing that's really cool is that technology now allows for making silver prints from digitally-scanned images.  That means once you or your lab do the work to get a good scan, you can make it into a traditional-type of photograph-- not an inkjet print-- and hang it on the wall.  (Inkjet prints can look pretty OK, though.)

A little digression there;  take a look at the gallery.

2016 May 1

Kirlian Photography

Well, not quite.  There was static electricity when loading the film onto the Paterson reel.  This roll of 120 film was a bit stubborn, so it took two or three tries to wind it on the reel.  One way to make that easier is to trim the corners at 45-degree angles, ever so slightly.  Aside from that, the Paterson Universal kit works surprisingly well, even for 120 film.  The reels do get worn after a while, maybe with some working better than others for 120 film;  pick up a six pack of them here.

This was a 100% crop;  the rest of the photo is in a gallery that I'll be posting soon.

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