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Archive - 2016 August

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2016 August 29

DEALYost 4" Stationary Machinist Vise - Made in USA out of ductile iron... at the moment, the price is lower than the 3" machinist vise!  In fact, it's only about half of what the same 4" vise usually goes for.  It was marked down low, but now it's even lower.  I don't know if it's a promo, a sale, or what, but I wouldn't waste any time... get one of these. 

Probably 90% of vise work does not involve rotating the vise, so you could easily do with a stationary-base vise.  If I hadn't already put the time into fixing up a cracked, old vise, I'd have just gotten the Yost 104.


New ArticleChoosing 7018 Electrodes for a 120-Volt Welder.  Shares what I've learned so far;  I'll be updating this one as time progresses.

2016 August 29

While repairing a bench vise (upcoming article), I decided to use the Canon T70 with a roll of Kodak 400.  A shutter-priority & program-auto camera requires a little bit of acclimation after using aperture priority and manual modes for such a long time. 

For the project, I was using the camera on a tripod with shutter speeds of 1/2 or 1 second much of the time.  It would have been easier to select by depth-of-field here, but it worked out alright... simply adjust the shutter speed and look through the viewfinder until the little red LED numbers show an aperture with reasonable depth of field.  At almost-macro ranges you might pick f/11, f/13, or something even narrower.

Right now I'm trying to decide whether to make this be Roll #23 in the same batch of C-41 chems, or wait until I mix up a fresh batch. 

In the Easy Weld 100ST Review I mentioned that it works with 7018's.  Not all 7018's are the same;  recently I tried some Lincoln Excalibur 7018 MR electrodes while repairing an old bench vise.  These 3/32" electrodes were a bit tough to start on the Easy Weld 100ST, even at max amperage.  Once started, the welds were OK-looking, though I think they might be a bit cold.  I think 100 amps would have been much better for this use.

I do think these electrodes would work better on 1/8" steel or something;  welding a bench vise is beyond what a little inverter welder is even supposed to be able to do.  Mild steel to ductile iron... dissimilar metals, no less.

2016 August 24
Wednesday evening

Thoughts on Metal Shop, Film, and Large Format
As you may well have figured out, I'm heading in the direction of tangible art, and the photography of that whole process.  This is not at all a departure from film;  in fact it's yet another reason to use film

Film is a type of tangible art, so of course it will be along for the journey.

The making of things, and the tools and materials used to make those things, can be art unto itself.  This is quite fascinating.  A while ago I decided to start scrounging up a backyard metal shop from the dirt. Not from dirt, literally, but starting on the dirt, with a rusty old piece of scrap metal as the work table.  It couldn't stay on the dirt, because who wants to work all hunched over like that?

Film photography is a tradition that involves more attention to the process, more participation in the making of a picture.  There is a sort of alchemy there, especially if you develop your own film.  This same idea translates to the making of other forms of tangible art, I think.  The ultimate in film is to coat your own plates, make your own emulsions, which I haven't even gotten into yet;  the ultimate in making other stuff... is to make your own tools... or find ones that were discarded or worn-out, and restore them to usefulness.

Some of you are contemplating, or taking your first steps into, large format photography.  Absolutely, you will enjoy this like no other type of photography.  This is all part of a larger field that includes other crafts.  In any of these, you really become immersed in the process.  I don't even know if that makes sense, but it dawned on me while I was figuring out how to repair an old Made In USA bench vise that needs some serious repairs.  The end product is often important, but as they say, "getting there is all the fun", or at least much of it.

C-41 Kit Update

"I" Is For Industrial

Fuji Superia 200 film (35mm)
Aug. 6, 2016
Developed Aug. 23, 2016
Dev time 8 minutes @ 102 F;  Blix 14 minutes.
Chems mixed on March 21, 2016

Five months!  This is from roll #22 developed by the same one-liter kit that I mixed up so long ago.  It's still able to develop color film after all this time.  To me that is incredible;  the Internet says it's not even supposed to be possible. 

In this roll I think I noticed some blue-shifting, which means the negatives appear just a little bit more tan-orange-brown than usual.  I wonder if there could be some bleach-bypass happening, because by this time the Blix solution is probably getting spent.  Twenty-two rolls could be the reason, and of course because the chems are five months old.

You might not know that by looking at the photo, because I adjusted the colors.  This scan took a little bit more color-correction than usual.  Soon I'll sit down at a light pad and compare these with the earlier negatives that were developed from this batch.  That's really the best way to know for sure.  I know from experience with scanning that the shadows and deeper midtones had more blue than usual.

This photo, and several others from this roll, are for the Metal Shop Workbench article.  Will update that article with these new photos when I get the chance. 

2016 August 22

Work Tables

Fujichrome Velvia 50, photographed a little while back:

The Journeyman's Day

What you see here evolved into the most useful work table that I've ever tried.  (Or, at least one of them.)

New ArticleEasy, Useful DIY Metal-Shop Workbench

2016 August 21

Cold Shoe Flash Connector?
A reader who recently bought a Smena 8M camera wants to know, "What is a cold shoe with PC sync connector?"

That is a good question, because it's something you won't see on a modern (digital) camera. 

First, we have to understand what a "hot shoe" is.  That is a flash mount with the electronics to couple an external flash to the camera.  A hot shoe lets the flash unit "know" when the shutter is opened.  That triggers the flash. 

A "cold shoe" does not have the electronics.  It is just a place to hold the external flash unit.  Basically, a cold shoe is just a bracket.  Without some way to communicate between the flash and the camera, there would be no way to trigger the flash.

That's why we need a "PC sync connector".  This lets the flash unit know when the shutter has been triggered, so the flash can fire. The PC sync connector transmits a voltage through a cable, instead of through a hot shoe. 

If you use film cameras, sooner or later you'll have use for a PC sync cable.  When you need one, it's something that cannot be substituted.  They can be purchased inexpensively here.  The end that connects to your flash unit has to be the right kind for the flash unit.  Check the manual for your flash, if you have it.

2016 August 19


In the next week or so I'll be developing roll #22 with C-41 chems that will be about five months old.  It took some care to get four months and 20+ rolls out of a single one-liter C-41 kit... but that's part of the fun.  Before I tried this kit, I thought it would max out around twelve rolls.  Pro labs are still worth it when you want the service and the repeatability, but it gets rather spendy if you shoot a large number of rolls.

That lawnmower photo is from the July 29th color film developing session;  the chems were prepared over four months earlier (3/21 I think).  The mower photo was from was roll #21 in this batch.  At this rate, we should be able to hit 25 rolls quite easily.  Realize that you won't necessarily get this many rolls out of a kit unless you know how to mix stuff very carefully and avoid cross-contamination.  So, if I were the boss at a company making C-41 kits, I wouldn't price this kit assuming everyone would get 20-25 rolls.  That would be more of a "power user" feature, an incentive for buying a kit that was designed for maybe half that many rolls.

Grab a C-41 kit through this link, read this article and maybe this one, and have at it.

The Best You Can Get

I like to use toy cameras and other cheap 35mm cams, because art doesn't have to be about the cost of your gear.  Even so, there is a lot to be said for having the best possible camera for the job, so that your equipment doesn't add friction to the whole experience. (Speaking of which, my cheap laser mouse keeps auto-selecting and clicking on whole blocks of text, seemingly by its own will... deleting text spontaneously.  Time to fix it up...). 

Some of you-- I'm sure quite a few-- use and enjoy the Nikon F6.  From what some of you have told me, it's a very satisfying camera.  If you develop your own film, a camera like that could really start to live up to its potential.  That's because a camera like that tends to increase the number of shutter-presses... not so much because it's easier to take random pictures, but because it's so enjoyable to use a good camera.  (Yes, sometimes I guess it really is about the gear.)  You can get a lightly-used (or sometimes even almost-new) F6 through here

Canon's F6 counterpart was the Canon EOS-1V, a camera I've also been wanting to try. 

Metal & Shop

New:  Nicholson Files:  A Review.  Are they still any good in 2016?  I wondered this, too.  You've got to have good files to do photographic art involving metalwork... that is, if you also happen to be doing that metalwork yourself.  I've done quite a bit of messing around with metal over the years, meaning I've had to use files numerous times.  (Recently I've been hammering out a couple of things from larger iron, using full-size hammers 2.5 to 3 lb.  More about that soon.)

So anyway, why is this file rusty?  Find out.

2016 August 17
Wednesday evening


July 21, 2016
Canon EOS 620 film camera with a used EF 28-135mm IS Lens
Fujifilm Superia 200
f/5.6 @ 1/500th or 1/750th (have to double check)

This is the mower that had a broken-off cylinder head bolt.  Extensive re-drilling and tapping required. 

After a lot of work the mower runs great, but it would be better with larger back wheels (maybe these?  Just a guess.).  I like the Briggs & Stratton engine and the metal construction, but the stock wheels are sort of cheap.

Mower decks should be made of metal, like this one.  Some are now made partially of plastic, which they shouldn't do.  Metal has a higher initial energy cost I suppose, but it lasts such a long time.  You can weld it, braze it, file it, machine it... metal is awesome.  I wanted to say that a block of metal has within it the possibilities for a whole civilization, but that's not quite what I mean... though it sort of is. 

I adjusted the scan colors a bit.  The original one I posted reminded me of old Star Trek or something, for some reason. (This one too, though.) Those old shows were all made with film, obviously, but I remember as a kid watching Star Trek episodes where they beamed down to some planet that was dusty and rocky, and... wow, their planet looks just like earth!  You could half-expect the camera to pan over and there'd be this lawnmower sitting there.

If everything is working correctly here, this photo should be 1200 pixels wide at the largest, resizing down to whatever your screen res might be.  Does this display correctly for you on a mobile phone?

2016 August 14
Sunday evening

Responsive Web Design

Starting today I'm trying this.  Images should resize as you resize the web browser.  Mobile phone readers should find this to be a lot better.

I still might have to mess with some settings to get the text-column width under control.  Right now it goes out too far, when at maximum.

There are probably going to be some other bugs to work out.  I used kind of a simple fix for this.  No idea if it will work on every browser.

Let me know if this enhances your reading experience, or not.  Still experimenting here.

Workspaces - The Photographing Of

This photographer has some great work.  It's not what inspired me to get into workbenches and worktables, because I was already fascinated with those for many years.  However, I really like his "Workspaces" photo series.

Often I photograph my own workspace works-in-progress, and many of these photos are on film.  I have to put a bunch of them up here.  To me, the ultimate would be to set up a large format film camera and go for some extreme depth-of-field.  Even if you don't use a front-tilt movement, you could stop way down and get pretty good DOF.  On a 4x5, that starts to be practical around f/32.  Some lenses even have f/45.  I have to brush up on bellows correction factors;  normally I photograph stuff outside 10x the focal length, so they're not necessary.  (With a 210mm lens that would be about 82 inches or just under 7 feet.)

Workspaces - The Building Of

Do you work on stuff?  Then you know how important a work surface is... even if it's just a fold-up table or an old door across a pair of sawhorses. 

I also like the concept of creating, shaping, and forming things by simple, old-yet-effective methods.  Since we're not using CNC lathes or whatever, the basic work table plays an important role.  And I like to see rust in there somewhere:  rust and oil.  It's that old patina of dark, oiled rust that you find in a machine shop that was built in the Thirties and somehow is still in operation.  There are not enough of those left now. 

The rudimentary, backyard types of workbenches actually fascinate me the most.  There are a couple reasons for that, I guess.

I like basic stuff that works.  Some technologies are already fine the way they are; no need to replace them.  Film cameras are a great example of that, but they're not the only one.

I'll write more about workspaces and workbenches, as well as photograph them.  Meantime, if you want a great old work table but don't fancy having to build it, look here and here

2016 August 10

Photography, Art, and Gearheads
With all the nice camera gear out there, it's easy to become a gearhead.  Maybe that's not the term I'm looking for;  I don't mean "someone who likes gear".  I mean someone who likes the idea of the gear so much that they don't actually use it.  They just spend their time obsessing about every technical detail, and arguing with other people about those details.

I don't know what term to use for that.  "Armchair gearhead", maybe? 

I can understand the interest in the specs, though, even if I prefer to use gear in the field.  The gear is very interesting, and there are seemingly hundreds of variables.  If you find joy in the gear itself more than the photography, then by all means, have at it.

Many camera reviewers, myself included, sometimes treat pictures as though they're just incidental test shots while they're busy reviewing cameras. 

"Oh, yeah, ho-hum, here's another test shot where the camera just took the picture itself while I was not even paying attention."  But the thing is, that's not really how it is.  Cameras and lenses are a way to do the art you want to do.  The gear is supposed to be incidental to the photos, not the other way around.

I think what I was trying to say here:  some of our "test photos" are photos that we liked.  We made an effort to get a picture that was well-composed, or had nice color, or something.  This is important, actually, because if you shoot big film, you normally don't just go out and take random pictures of nothing in particular.  Those test photos taken with digital, or smaller film formats, could be a warm-up for 4x5, 5x7, or 8x10. 

The Canon 6D

Did you ever just pick up a camera and really like the way it was built:  the heft, the design, the placement of the dials and buttons?  The Canon 6D is such a nice camera to handle.  Compared to the 5D III and also the 70D, 80D, and the T6S, the 6D autofocus is going to seem rather primitive;  but it's a fine landscape camera, a great pictures-of-rusty-stuff-at-sundown camera. 

There will someday be a Canon 6D Mark II, and like many others I will probably review that, even if I have to borrow one for a weekend.  But don't overlook the original Canon 6D.  What a nice camera.  Twenty megapixels... plenty.  (Review here.)

Red Painted Vise, Underside View

August 6, 2016
Canon EOS 6D with EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens
ISO 6400
f/5.0 @ 1/60th


This picture is for an upcoming "Shop Tips" article.  To make that point I was getting to, though... a good piece of gear helps you create more easily, or more conveniently, so it's worth it.

You can see I like that 100mm focal length.  So much, in fact, that I think it's possible to use 40mm and 100mm as the only two lenses on a full-frame DSLR.

What are your favorite focal lengths right now?

Seventy Millimeters

I was all set to write an article on why 70mm is actually the perfect prime-lens focal length.  Wouldn't you know it... looks as though Sigma discontinued their great 70mm macro lens.  (You can still get them used, of course.)  Sigma, please bring back this lens!  If I were ever actually going to buy a new lens, this was going to be my first choice... but someone dropped it from their catalog first.  (I'll still review it one day, when I get around to it.)

Seventy millimeters.  Yes, I would use that even more often than forty, fifty, and a hundred millimeters... which is saying a lot.  I don't even think anyone makes a 70mm lens with full-frame coverage now;  Sigma was the only one I know about.  The camera lens companies are really missing out.  We've all been conditioned as to what lenses should be "normal" primes:  28, 50, 85, and 100 or 105.  On the outer edges of that range, maybe add 24mm and 135mm.  And perhaps we could include 40mm, since Canon and Nikon both offer those. 

But 70 millimeters?  Who could imagine?

I want a 70mm lens.  It seems whenever I look at the numbers on the zoom lens... I have it set to 70mm. Second place: 100 to 105mm, followed by 50-ish millimeters.

And on large format... 210 millimeters, which is equivalent to (you guessed it)... about 70 millimeters.

The 70mm f/2.8 DG EX macro is (er, was) one of the sharpest, flattest-field macro prime lenses available.  They made different versions of this lens for the major DSLR systems (Canon, Nikon, Sony).  Get a used one through this link and it helps keep my site on-line.  You folks are the best, and I think you will find this lens is the best in terms of image sharpness, or at least one of the best.

2016 August 8

Camera Bag Repairs?

There are two great reasons to repair a vintage camera bag.  One, you're not throwing away something needlessly.  Two, so many of the camera bags today are black.  Dark brown or tan would be a lot nicer, but today everyone seems to be making stuff that's coal-black and absorbs massive amounts of heat from the sun.  And these things have a very synthetic appearance, with lots of very modern, mass-produced-looking materials.  Maybe that's why some people hate camera bags.

Actually there are some classy camera bags out there being made brand-new (and they're not ink-black)... however, I'm still not going to throw away this old Canon bag.  I even like the color, which is a sort of teal-green.

As you can see in the photo, the closure straps are basically disintegrating.  It's that synthetic leather-substitute that gets kind of sponge-like after a while, then suddenly falls apart.  Time for some 1" wide, heavy-duty cowhide strap.  I don't know how to stitch leather very well, so this could be a good excuse to hammer some rivets.  Or... and I don't have one of these, but... it could be a good excuse to have to set rivets with one of those still-the-best arbor presses made, one of these.  I've been researching this some more, and a one-ton press is about the right size.  It's overkill for the smaller rivets, but some copper rivets will require it.

Still trying to decide upon the most effective way (outside of using an arbor press) for setting rivets.  Here's a page of possibilities.  But then, if I want this camera bag to look "original", it's going to have to be stitched, not riveted, and I have no idea how to duplicate the stitching that's on it now.  (Learning, though.)

Too bad I can't just weld it.

Metal & Shop

New Article:  Arc Welding a Muffler With 6011 At Ninety Amps
Simultaneously competing for the 2016 Olympics "Ugly Weld" event (what, you never heard of that one?), and fixing a muffler that otherwise would have been thrown away.  Lots of fun, here. 

If you metalworking readers were just starting to think I actually knew what I was doing... well, neither did I.  My philosophy is, "Hey, I'm gonna make awful-looking welds anyway, so why waste 'em on scrap metal?"  Farmers have been repairing stuff robustly with hideous welds for like eighty years.  It's an American tradition.  Check it out.

At some point I might actually start making art with metals-- that's the idea, anyway-- but I have to learn the methods first.  There could be an extended warm-up period while I weld, hammer, and press a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't even remotely look like art.  Well, fixing lawn mowers and stuff could be a type of art....

Film Developing

The photo in that new welding article is from a recent roll of C-41, developed on 7/29/16 when the solutions were more than four months old.  That's the 21st roll of film developed with this one-liter kit.

The subtle tonality of color negative film is still there.  Yay film! 

About two more weeks, and the batch of C-41 chems will be five months old.  I'm planning to try another roll of film.  I think we'll be up to roll #22 in this batch of chems.  See this article for a discussion of roll-capacity, and this one for storage life after the chems are mixed.

What's New (& What Was)

"What's New" Archive Index

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