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Archive - 2016 July (Click here for current).

2016 July 31

Metal & Shop

New Article:  Shop Press
...with photos from the most recent C-41 roll (n=21).  Not a single digital photo on that page, unless you count the fact that they're scanned.  These scans were done with a quick method of color correction.  Not sure if the color balance is ideal on these;  maybe I'll mess with it later, but for now... read about hydraulic presses. 

Hydraulic presses?!  It began with that lawnmower that made a clanking sound when I tried to start it.

2016 July 30

Sunset July 26

Canon EOS 620 with EF 28-135mm
f/5.6 @ 1/10 or 1/20th sec., no tripod
Fujifilm Superia 200
Roll #21 developed in Unicolor C-41 kit, 7/29/16
Batch of chems mixed 3/21/16

Dev time 7:20, Blix 12:00 @ 102 F.


Twenty-one rolls from a one-liter kit that was mixed over four months ago! 

2016 July 28


July Thistles

Canon EOS 620 with EF 28-135mm


Canon EOS 620 with EF 28-135mm

These are from the twentieth roll in the C-41 batch.  Looks great, especially considering we're waaay past the 2 months or so that it was supposed to last.  This, to me, looks as good as anything from a minilab, even with fresh chems.  I wasn't super-picky about the color adjustments, so I'm sure that better-looking scans could be had from these.  Overall, the negatives look about the same in terms of color balance as they did on the first few rolls.

More scans soon, hopefully;  I just wanted to put one or two quick scans here, to illustrate how well the chems are still working.

2016 July 25

Film Developing

Roll #20 was developed in C-41 chems that were mixed on 3/21/16.  This was a roll that I completed a day or two ago. 

Dev time 7 minutes at 102 F; Blix time 12 minutes at 102 F.  Negatives look good so far;  scans to follow, as soon as I get the chance.  Just wanted to make a note here about the dev times, in case I forget.

By the way, just the other day I was talking about not leaving a camera in a hot car... so what do you think I went ahead and did?  Left the camera in a hot car this weekend, on what was probably one of the hottest days of the year.... I didn't scan the negs yet, so I don't know if it really impacted the quality at all, but just looking at them quickly I don't see any radical color shifts or fading.  This was 200 film (Superia). 

2016 July 23

New:  A Treatise On Practical & Applied Metallurgy With Special Emphasis On Rotary Mowing Devices Ya Got This Old Mower With A Bent Crankshaft.  Now What?

Fun with unknown alloys of steel, or maybe it's that iron with the flakey little specks of graphite... and it involves heat, big hammers, and hydraulic presses. 

There will be film pictures too, if Roll #20 develops in the batch of C-41 chems that were mixed over four months ago.  Just because.

2016 July 19

Konica C35

A reader from England says she just got a Konica C35 and wasn't sure about the batteries for it.  The original 1.3-volt mercury batteries are basically not available anymore (or if they are, I don't know where to get them.)  So, the modern-day workaround is to use zinc-air hearing aid batteries.  These are 1.4 volts, which is not quite correct for the camera.  They are very usable, though, if you know how to set the camera.  See this for more details.

Another possibility is to have a professional camera repair shop re-calibrate the light meter to take #357 batteries.  These are 1.55-volt silver oxide batteries, which are even more voltage than the already-too-high 1.4-volt hearing aid batteries that many people use.  The silver oxide batteries last much longer than hearing aid batteries.  In the USA, you might want to talk to this Konica specialist for the conversion;  I don't know who works on Konica cameras in the UK.

Film Developing

Wondering just how long the C-41 kit can last after you mix the chems?  This is an important question if you develop color negative film.  Otherwise, having no idea of when the solutions might be depleted, you could ruin the negatives.  . 

New ArticleC-41 Kit Shelf Life Brand-new, based on a recent experiment that wasn't even expected to work.  If you develop C-41 yourself, or if you're even remotely considering it, check out the article.

See also:  How Many Rolls From a C-41 Kit? 

2016 July 15

Wood Shop

Mid-July is "high summer", the height of the season.  It's not always miserably hot, but often it is.  And sometimes, it creates a near-paradox of high humidity and drought... a muggy wasteland of brown grass, awful heat, and thistle plants gone to seed.  Where did all the moisture in the landscape go?  Into the air!  Days like these, the film camera is sitting indoors instead of at the ready in my car, where it would otherwise get roasted in short order.  (If you're after creative effects, that might be OK, but don't leave a good camera or lens in a hot car; just the film.)

It's hot enough out there when you're just doing photography.  Why, then, would anyone think about making stuff out of metal or wood, when that's probably even more sweltering?

Well, actually I'm sitting in front of the computer at the moment, so at least it's not so bad.  Times like these you can draw up your diagrams for whatever it is you want to build, then actually build it when the weather cools down.

And speaking of building stuff... there's a great source of project materials that can often be had for nothing, or next to it.  That would be wooden pallets.

Pallets are great for making into stuff, from art projects to useful furniture... that is, if you can get the wood without splitting it.  There are several ways to (try to) do that.  I've put together a quick article to look at some of those methods.

New ArticleHow To Dismantle Pallets

2016 July 12

Amazon Prime Day

This morning I was working on other things and missed out on a lot of Prime Day deals.  Basically, if you sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime today, you get access to a lot of Amazon deals that aren't available to anyone else.  Those have a limited time span, of course.  By the time I got around to writing this, many of them have already lapsed, but there are still more deals to be had before the day is out.

Not that you'd necessarily jump in "right this second" on a big-ticket item like a Hobart Champion Elite AC Welder, but actually that's the way to do it when there's a deal like this.  That's how you get a brand-new $4500 generator-welder with over $2,000 knocked off the price:  sign up for the 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime and grab it before that particular deal expires in three hours. 

If you can't weld, no worries...  You can always have that option later (keep reading my site and we'll both learn)... and in the meantime you're prepared for the next Hurricane Sandy with your 11,000-watt generator that has 230-volt and 115-volt outlets.  Hobart is a top name in welders, so it's got the quality.

There are a lot of deals, with many coming on-line in the next several hours;  if you're going to sign up for Prime, this would be the time to go for it

2016 July 10
Sunday evening

Arc Welding

Panasonic ZS-50


Digital sensors cannot handle very bright lights like this;  if you photograph them too many times, the sensor will get ruined.  This is one type of photo where I'd definitely prefer to have used film.  (I am planning to try this with a cable release and some Kodak Tri-X 400, then maybe some color film if that works.)  Still, the overloaded digital sensor gives an interesting effect here.

The ZS-50, and its somewhat upgraded successor the ZS-60, is a very good compact digital if you just want to get a picture and it doesn't have to be Canon 6D quality.  What sets the ZS50/60 apart from most other compact cameras, including smartphones, is that it has a viewfinder.  That means you can actually see what you're composing, even if you're in bright sunlight. Get yourself a ZS50 if you want what's probably the most affordable travel camera that actually has a viewfinder.  Great little camera, for what it is.

The photo you see above is not a stock photo.  I put the camera on a tripod, cranked up the welder, and there you have it.  This little exercise was to test my theory that it's possible to weld a muffler with 6011 at ninety amps.  If you know anything about welding, you know how crazy an idea that is.  Get it wrong-- which you probably will-- and you won't have a muffler when you're done. 

People who try to stick-weld mufflers use 1/16" 6013 electrodes at what, like twenty-five amps?  There I was with 1/8" 6011 at ninety.  I figured out a way to do it-- albeit with some seriously ugly welds-- but if your muffler is acting and sounding like no muffler at all, and you don't have any 1/16" electrodes handy, and you have more ingenuity than wisdom, this method seems to fix it.  (More about this in a later article... possibly.)

Now, while we're on the subject of arc welding...

Review:  Forney Easy Weld 100 ST.  An arc welder offered by one of the oldest names in welding, but at 120 volts is it good for anything?  Read the article and find out! 

2016 July 7

A reader asks how to connect the Yescom 15-volt power supply to the Bellari VP-130 pre-amp.  Looks like I didn't cover that in the original write-up, so here's a new article that has the basic idea.

The orange wire goes to the positive terminal on the power supply... but does it connect to the center of the barrel connector, or to the outside conductor of it?  The answer depends on the polarity required by your phono pre-amp;  read the article to find out more.

2016 July 6

Deal:  Canon Rebel T6S body, $705

Even lower price:  this one, though supplies will probably run out quickly Price changed to $714. 

With deals like this, I would grab one, because you just never know what the price will be next week or next month.  Oftentimes I've made the mistake of assuming the camera price would always decrease, but that doesn't happen with DSLR prices.  It didn't happen with the Canon SX50, either... the one with factory warranty was about $300 for a while, but now it's about five hundred bucks, new.  (Get the no-warranty version of the SX50 here, for less.  Still my favorite bridge camera, ever.)

Contrary to what a lot of people expected, the Rebel T6S did not really go down in price;  it's a very strong performer with many of the features of a 70D, yet lighter-weight and somewhat higher resolution than the 70D.  Canon's not going to give that away, unless there is a special deal going on for a limited time.

Those links are to grey-market imports, so there's no factory warranty.  If you need that, get your T6S through here.  These are body-only, no lens. 

Wildflowers of High Summer

July 6, 2016
Canon EOS Rebel T6S with Canon EF 24-105mm IS STM
ISO 200
f/6.4 @ 1/1000th sec.
No adjustments


If you've read my review of the T6S, you know I like this camera a lot.  The video AF is pretty good-- actually stunningly good, compared to most other DSLR's-- and the touchscreen allows you to change the focus zone while you're recording.  That, and the still-image quality is stellar (for a digital camera.)


New Article:  The "sed" Command:  how to replace a text string across multiple files without opening them.  Or:  How Not To Wreck Your Files With sed, Part One.

Replacing text in several files at once has to be one of the most useful things an editor can do.  Unlike the "other operating system", Linux includes it as a standard feature.  I believe Mac OS also has it standard;  and if you want, you can install the GNU version of sed known as 'gsed'.  (Linux already has GNU sed, but usually it's just called sed, not gsed.)

Article includes a section on "how not to mess it up beyond all recognition"... based on the fact that many people copy-paste and run scripts they find posted by Internet experts.  I, uh, might know someone who did that once...

2016 July 4
Independence Day

Fujichrome Velvia 100 (35mm)
AF Nikkor 35-135mm set to f/8
Shutter set to Bulb


The Revolutionary War was not officially over until 1783, but this day in 1776 marks the day Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence.

The first known Independence Day celebration with fireworks was actually in 1777, long before the Crown (or much of anyone else) recognized our right of national self-determination.  It would be almost another hundred years before the US Government marked Independence Day as an official holiday. (Reference.)

As for the photos:  fireworks still look best on slide film, far as I'm concerned.  It's a challenge to get the right number of bursts in the right portion of the frame, without too much or too little space around them.  For this, you might use up a whole roll of 36 and get perhaps three or four really top-notch photos.  Worth it, though, for a good fireworks photo.

The AF 35-135 isn't even one of Nikon's better lenses, but it did well here.  To be able to zoom is almost not optional when you're trying for your best fireworks composition.  For many subjects, composition and color are much more important than lens sharpness.

Some towns and events will be putting on fireworks displays well past the 4th, so get ready with some slide film!

2016 July 2

Fourth of July Weekend, USA

At least several readers-- hopefully many of you-- will be shooting slide film this weekend to photograph the fireworks.  One reader asked about camera settings for this.  I'm going to assume 100 speed slide film;  the currently-made choices are ISO 100 (except for this of course). 

Short answer:  use Bulb, with the aperture set to f/8.  (Use f/5.6 for ISO 50.)  For more details, see Fireworks On Film

Canon Rebel T6S

This camera may not grab headlines now that the impressive Canon 80D is available, but the T6S is still a really fine little camera.  In fact, it's pretty much all the digital camera I'd ever need, unless for some reason I wanted to shoot full-frame, then I'd be wanting this.

Canon Rebel T6S (see also full review) with EF 24-105mm IS STM


Work Tables & Saw Horses

No matter how many worktables and how many variants, it seems there is never going to be a substitute for the good ol' "sawhorse work table".  Quite simply, that is a pair of sawhorses with a piece of plywood, particle, or even an old door set across them.  I like the idea of building my own sawhorses, which over the years I've done at least a few times;  even so, folding sawhorses like these are quite useful. 

Actually, though, plastic folding sawhorses have a tendency to go bad.  Even just sitting there in the sun, the UV will eventually degrade them.  This is why I've started looking for a better alternative to the plastic fold-up ones.

I'm highly intrigued by these and really want to try them.  Made in USA, too.

Here's another type, also made in USA, which actually fold up.  These kinds of sawhorses might seem expensive at first, until you realize the plastic ones really aren't that low-cost to begin with.  A good pair of sawhorses will last you for decades, if not a lifetime.

A pair of sawhorses, together with two or three big C-clamps and a bench vise like this one, and you have the core of an affordable workshop.  Probably I'll do an article on that sometime.

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