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Archive - 2016 September

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2016 September 30

Early Autumn

By this time of year, there are already plenty of trees turning color in some places.  For us the weather's been rainy for a couple days, and I haven't had the chance to get out there and photograph. There were also those unusually warm days, which have a tendency to slow the autumn color change. 

Here's a quick post from last year's early autumn. 

Early Autumn Foliage, 24 September 2015

This year I've still got a roll of Kodak E200 in a camera that I was toting around last year.  For this one, I'm waiting for peak foliage in my neighborhood.  Choosing a focal length for landscape photography is no small consideration;  see Autumn Lenses for more details. 

2016 September 26

Blue Sailors In The Orange Light Of A Sunset

Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 6400
f/7.1 @ 1/40th sec.

This was just an incidental photo that made use of the orange-colored skylight from a sunset.  It's sometimes this light that alerts me to the fact that I've either missed a good sunset, or one is happening and there's very little time to grab a camera and photograph it.  Although we can easily predict the weather a day in advance, predicting a sunset is much more difficult.

These flowers are chicory, by the way.  Many people make a coffee-like drink out of roasted chicory root. 

I haven't yet tried chicory-root "coffee", but this stuff looks like a good place to start.  Another popular one seems to be this one.  I would like to try one of these cold-brew pots as well.  I know with coffee that hotter brewing temperatures draw more of the bitter flavors, so lower temperatures are better if you want to avoid those kinds of flavors.  Not sure if that's true with chicory.  I do know that some people eventually prefer straight chicory with no coffee at all. 

Who knew the USA had its own coffee substitute that grows so abundantly?  Chicory is all over the place!  In the withering heat of July when the lawn was more brown than green, chicory was one of the only things that was flowering.  And earlier in the season, there's dandelion.

One nice thing about chicory (and dandelion) is that it doesn't have caffeine.  Great for someone like me who prefers decaf varieties of coffee.

"Blue sailors" is an alternate name for chicory flowers.

2016 September 18

More Moon Photography

UpdatedHow To Photograph The Moon  There were a couple things I wanted to add or change.  I didn't get around to photographing the harvest moon of 9/16/16 until the sky was too dark.  Without photoshopping, you get a bright area in the sky with no distinct circle.  Either that, or a photo of just "the moon" on a black background.  I photographed both of these;  maybe I'll post them just for kicks, but it wasn't anything like the slide film photos that are in the article.  (I added another one of those.)

2016 September 16

Harvest Moon

Tonight is the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon occurring nearest the Autumn Equinox.  If you want to photograph this moon at its best, get ready around sunset.  Moonrise is about ten minutes after sunset tonight.  The moon always looks largest when it's nearest the horizon;  it also tends to look more orange-yellow-red.  If you have a telephoto lens for your film camera, this is a good time to use Fujichrome Velvia.

New ArticleHow To Photograph The Moon.

Metal Shop

If you're reading this site for the [film] photography articles, you may wonder what's all this metalworking and woodworking stuff.  Slowly evolving is my Artist's Statement which will incorporate these things, but for now:  one day I realized, while photographing rusty stuff, that I wanted to work with rusty stuff, not just photograph it.  Actually that might not even be how it went;  I've been interested in metalworking for a long time, but lately it's really kicked into high gear.  A little while ago I pounded out a couple of full-sized blacksmith projects-- okay, modified pieces of scrap metal scrounged up from the dirt-- with an extremely rudimentary (i.e., dirt cheap) blacksmithing kit... but that was enough to seal the deal.  I don't just want to photograph stuff;  I want to make stuff to photograph. 

The trick is, to make stuff that is photogenic enough that it doesn't look like something out of my Ugly Welds article.  But this is art, and I like rusty pieces of iron that have been sitting out in the rain for a long time. So my "photogenic" might not be everyone's, but it's cool, because we're still going to talk film-photography a lot here.

Then there's the fact that sometimes, creating something is an end in itself.  Most of what we do in this world involves some type of cost-benefit analysis, which often takes the fun out of things.  Think back to when you were three or four years old, and you built stuff that was preposterous and had no real use.  It was beautiful, it was your creation, and it was magical.  It could do anything you wanted it to, regardless of what old man Isaac Newton had to say, because you said so, and that was that.  There was no cost-benefit analysis.  There was no jaded sophistication. 

A bit of this inspiration briefly occurred to me as I was photographing a heap of rusty, twisted scrap metal that I had just welded together when testing out a 120-volt welder.  There it was: the preposterous construction, no cost-benefit analysis in sight... it was complete "form over function".  Of course, to see photographs of these things, you'll have to wait until I develop that particular roll of Kodak 400TX.

Suspense, I tell ya;  perfect to get you ready to photograph the Harvest Moon.  Bring along yer Canon 6D or other digital techno-wonder, but you know you want to shoot film also.

2016 September 12

Early Autumn?

The other day I noticed some trees changing color.  Sometimes when I see leaves turning yellow or orange, I think perhaps they're just in the early stages of withering to brown from some drought shock.  But then I saw a blackgum tree (Nyssa sylvatica) with its leaves beginning to turn the characteristic red color.  That's got to be seasonal, not random.

Here's a quick photo taken on 9/10.  That's at least ten days before I noticed anything like this last year or the year before.  And I was sure out there looking.

It could just be some of that local microclimate effect;  not sure, but this is a great time of year to get out there and photograph nature. 

When you go on your photo adventures, don't forget to bring some basic survival gear.  If you didn't see it yet, here's an article on how a short hike went very wrong, and how it could have been a lot better.  Be sure to read Part Two, as well.  There are some further comments about wool, synthetics, and avoiding hypothermia. 


As I've mentioned before, I think the Canon T6S is highly underrated.  In fact it's one of the best video DSLR's out there for the money.  Its only real drawback is the rather cramped viewfinder, which isn't even a concern when you're shooting video anyway.  The real-time video AF is good, certainly worlds better than anything else that existed before the T6S... except the 70D, which still costs more.

The T6S brand new, without a lens, hasn't dropped in price from what I can see.  You can get a new one with warranty here.  Price is the same now as it was in the spring of 2015 when the camera hit the market.

That said, if you don't care about warranties and want to take your chances, you can buy a new Canon T6S through this link sometimes for less than $650, with free shipping.  Having used a T6S quite extensively for both stills and video, I don't ever say "Man, wish I had a better camera".  The quality is there, and it even has most of the control buttons that you'd expect from an upper-tier DSLR.  19 all-cross AF points... more than enough for 90% of uses.

Recently I was talking to a lady who said she has a 5D Mark III, but she can't figure out how to use half the features, and it's a heavy camera.  Not that the 5D III and IV aren't pure awesome;  however, here's the way I look at it.  There I was, out shooting photos and video with the T6S, while her 5D MkIII was sitting at home.... 

2016 September 10


Sometimes when we find these deals on stuff, it's easy to look at the prices and think they'll always be the same. Or, perhaps to think the deal is not really that significant.  I used to think that, until I started really paying attention.  Very often the deals really are incredible deals... and they don't last long. 

Good example... that Yost machinist vise, which has now gone back up in price.  The original deal was incredible, maybe only half the price it is now.  Just like that, it changed. 

Another example: a Hobart generator-welder was selling for something like $2500 a little while ago.  Now it's back up to around $5000.  These kinds of deals don't last long.

Film and Metal

Here's a 35mm film photo of that backyard metal-shop workbench, made from reclaimed materials.

Soon, hopefully, I'll post some photos of things that I've been making with this stuff.  Right now it's leaning toward function over form, but gradually I expect to work some more craftsmanship in there.  As with film photography, it's not simply about the end result, but also about the whole process of making things.  Also nice about metalworking is that you can make custom parts to repair stuff when the companies don't even sell it anymore, or whatever the case may be.  (Just an example here:  I picked up a 1/6 hp motor for a few dollars, but it needs a motor-mount strap that I wasn't able to locate anywhere... so perhaps I'll make one.)

Film Developing & Scanning

If I were doing something that required perfect results, I wouldn't be messing around with a C-41 kit that's already developed 20-some-odd rolls and was mixed four or five months ago.  I'd be using fresh chems, and making sure to develop the roll in the first ten or so of the batch.  Even so, the somewhat blue-heavy image was easy enough to correct with post-scan adjustments. Beginners may find this confusing, but given enough practice, you can practically do this stuff while not even paying attention.  If you're new to film scanning, just start working on the techniques and pick an inversion method that works for you (specific ones are discussed in the book, mentioned on that page).  Then, get proficient at it.

For my own reference, the colors I liked the best (so far) involved using a layer set to Mode = Color, HTML = f3c688, and Opacity = 10. 

This is about art, so adjust the colors as you prefer. 

Again, this roll is from very late in the shelf-life of the C-41 chems, and somewhere (I would guess) close to exhaustion of the Blix. 

2016 September 8


Sideways rain... you've probably seen it.  Everything gets soaked, and this time of year it stays that way in the high humidity. That happened recently, and though the camera didn't get soaked, everything was such a damp, muggy mess that I didn't have the inclination to take photographs. Okay, I did manage to get a quick digital photo, which I'll post soon, but it wasn't of everything rained upon; instead, the clouds.


The continuing question of "blue shift" is something we should probably figure out for sure, but it's sure a lot easier just to scan the negatives and post-correct them for the blue. I don't know just how blue-shifted they are (yellow-shifted, actually, if we're talking about the negs);  what I do know is that the photos manage to have enough yellow and red that they look quite alright when post-scan-corrected.

There are several photos on that most recent roll that I've already scanned, one of them being for the Metal Shop Workbench article.  Will try to get a photo up here soon.

2016 September 3

New ArticleRepairing a Vintage Bench Vise.  How I fixed up an old vise with welding, brazing, and a shop press.

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