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Archive - 2016 October

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2016 October 32

This should be the November 1st entry, but I didn't feel like switching over to a new page yet.  Happy October 32nd.

On the 31st the oaks were finally colorful.

The Oaks Are In!

Canon 6D with EF 24-105mm IS STM @ 32mm
ISO 200
f/16 @ 1/125th sec.

For digital landscape photography, this camera is really all I could ever imagine needing.  I think the really good sensors and colors, together with semi-acceptable dynamic range (using Highlight Tone Priority) started to appear around 2012.  The 6D has it.  20 megapixels, and I often shoot in Medium JPG, which is only I think 8.9 megapixels or something. 

Hey, what's with all this digital?  Isn't this supposed to be a film site?

Oh, don'choo worry none.  Lots of film being shot too.  It is still the main event, by far.  There is not much I like better than going out in the autumn with a Nikkor 70-210mm f/4.0-5.6 on a motor-drive Nikon camera, and trying to soak in as much color and composition as possible on a sunny afternoon. 

I've been kind of lazy about scanning all the film lately, but only because of the flurry of metalworking activity.  I have a bunch of metal / wood / outdoor related articles started, and also I promised one of you readers an article on how to troubleshoot amplifiers that make a loud popping noise.  I didn't shoot any color large format (yet) this season, but if autumn stretches out into the first or second week of November, maybe I'll get a couple.  I think I still have autumn color 4x5's from last year to scan.

Anyway, the oaks are in.  Yes, I take pictures of trees on purpose, to the exclusion of other things very often.  I love trees.  I love oak trees, and the outdoors.  There is not much better on earth, in my opinion, than to walk among the oaks and just see those leaves in their different hues, and experience the outside with all the quiet sounds of nature.

That, and contemplating all the cool things that can be made from the wood.

If these images are too big, let me know.  They should auto-resize to fit your browser window, though.  So far it seems you guys like the bigger photos, but if anyone really dislikes it, I'd like to know also.  Do you remember the days when 640x480 was pushing the limits of screen resolution?  Man.

2016 October 30
Sunday evening

The 2016 Autumn Season

October 28, 2016

The hickories are usually done by late October;  they might have been a few days later this year. 

What's even later is the oaks.  Other years, the oaks were usually done by the last week in October.  Maybe even the 20th.

This year, the oaks were still mostly green and leafy as of the 28th.  On the 29th there was more color change, but there was still a lot of green.  Was it that way in your area?  I don't think I've ever seen this before.  Was this year's weather really that different? I know it's difficult to generalize for a whole continent, but some of these things do happen across large areas, such as the Midwest, or the Northeast.

The warm autumn days make me think of dust.  I might be the only person who has ever managed to get a dust spot on the sensor of a bridge camera.  There were many times the camera was outside its protective bag while there was a lot of dust in the air. Maybe a camera bag wouldn't fix all that, which I guess is a good reason to get a camera that's sealed against dust and weather.

I still haven't finished stitching that camera bag yet, so it's not ready for this season.  In the meantime I'm always looking out for nice camera bags that have the right combination of material, pockets, and design.  It's tough to describe, and there's probably no fixed definition, but I know it when I see it.  Right now this one really looks interesting.  This looks as though it would be a great Christmas gift, though I haven't tried it yet.


Recently I had to do mini-blacksmithing to do a repair that I'd probably not have been able to fix otherwise.  So far I think it worked.  Article on the way, hopefully. 

This small blacksmith hammer, which is probably an old tinner's riveting hammer, is one of the most excellent sizes for doing mini-blacksmithing.  I have a couple handle blanks that I've set aside and have to square a little.  Just need to figure out how I want to shape the handle. The old one (chipped, loose) is kind of interesting and may have been hand-made too.

As for what's being made here:  don't even bother trying to guess;  even I would never have predicted having to make this type of custom part.  More later.

2016 October 26


Sometimes the colors are just the way I like 'em.  No other way to describe it.

October 23, 2016
Canon EOS Rebel T6S
f/5.7 @ 1/1600th
ISO 200
Medium Normal JPG (10.6 MP)


New Article:  Toolbox Drawer Knobs, Continued.  This article talks about the thread-cutting and welding phase of the project.  Nothing too fancy, and some of you guys might have been able to do a better job, but this is all part of the learning phase.  So it's all good.  (Besides, I kind of like the result.)

Article was actually ready a few days ago, but I wanted to get a picture of the iron with a black oxide finish. 

2016 October 23

Friday evening the temperature dropped and the weather was rainy again.  Cold drizzle, forty-some degrees Fahrenheit.  Every time that type of weather happens, I think of the hike that almost became permanent. 

When you hear someone else recount stories of camping out in the rain or something, it is very easy to see that as a "no big deal" type of situation.  And even if they had to walk down the road a few miles in the rain on a warm day, it might be tempting to say "Yeah, so what?"  But once you get soaked, I mean thoroughly soaked in cold rain, and you can't find your way to a road, and you have no means to keep warm.... that puts it into a whole new dimension.  If that ever happens to you and by some chance you live, it could change your approach to the outdoors completely. 

I always found the trees, forests, and weather patterns to be rather interesting, but ever since then, those things have taken on a whole different aspect.  Basically, when it gets chilly and there's rain moving in, I don't especially want to be out in that anymore.  Not exactly big news, right?  Well, there was a time when such things didn't bother me at all, which is why I was able to trudge on into the woods and get totally soaking-wet lost in the first place.  Smarter people would have looked out the window that morning and said, "Ummm, yeaahhNo I don't think I'll go out for a walk today."

Soon I think I'll do some articles about the gear which could keep a person from ever having to get into that cold-rain-hypothermia scenario.  Partly because then, I can read the articles and say "Oh yeah, duh, this time I'm gonna bring the right gear."

Couple hours, sometimes even half an hour:  hypothermia becomes a terminal problem much faster than having no water or food.  And what do you think I did?  Yep, I went ahead and kept expending calories, when actually the survival rate decreases by doing that.

The whole reason I got hypothermic was that I got cavalier about it.  That's not difficult to do, since our technology tends to make things look easier than they are. 

After a while living in this modern culture, it's easy to have no concept of the amount of work it takes to make something useful.  Maybe that's why I decided to make those drawer pulls for that toolbox, and soon I've got an article on carving a hammer handle without power tools.  These may not be tremendously awesome things to a lot of people, especially if you've seen or tried them before.  But they can be awesome, when you first make something yourself, using mostly hand craftsmanship. 

Okay, maybe "craftsmanship" is for people who actually know what they're doing, but the skillset has to begin somewhere.

What Does It Mean?

That Shadow On Yonder Hill

Fujichrome Velvia 100F
Speed Graphic 4x5 with 210mm barrel lens

Do you know what this photograph means?  It means that if you're the one taking the picture, a gigantic cloud is rolling up behind you.  See that shadow cast on yonder hill?  That means you are going to be shooting black and white film for the rest of the trip, because somehow the weatherman was wrong, and now a cloud the size of Rhode Island has morphed out of nowhere so that it could add some tension to your nice autumn scene. 

It also means that if you didn't bring a rain coat, a compass, and maybe some means to build a shelter in case you get lost, this probably wouldn't be a good time to embark on an extended autumn stroll in the woods.

In the current season I did not (yet) shoot any color large format;  I have some 4x5 Ektar and may consider using it, if I can get out there and find some good scenery with the right lighting.  I hope you guys are having a great time with your sheet-film cameras.

4x5 Velvia is not cheap, but yes you can still get it, and I'd be buying early and often if I had any sense.  Large-format slide film is fantastic, even if it's too big to put in those little square holders that you could view in a slide projector.  But who needs a slide projector when you can hold one of those big transparencies up to the light by itself?

2016 October 21


Have you ever seen one of those rainstorms that's just cloudburst after cloudburst?  Just a whole series of them, where you have maybe three or four inches of rain falling in a short time.

The rain gauge is one of the simplest devices for keeping track of recent weather.  Because it's so simple, it can be purely mechanical with no need for LCD's, microelectronics, or any of that.

Thermometers, barometers, and hygrometers are a little more involved, but still there exist mechanical ones.  Some mechanical and electro-mechanical devices, such a cassette decks, really aren't made as well as they used to be... and may never be again.  I wonder if that's true for aneroid barometers?

You might have seen those really nice-looking weather stations.  Elegant hardwood case, etc.  Well, today it seems the measuring devices themselves are all made overseas.  QC may be a bit sketchy.  The easiest solution would be to order a nice vintage barometer or weather station.  When these things were made in USA and Europe, I think the precision mechanical portions were better.

The "wool-as-raincoat" question is something you may or may not have pondered.  Waiting until you're stuck in the cold rain a mile (or ten) from your car is probably not the best time to learn the answer.  I say this as someone who was dumb enough to find out what definitely didn't work, in a manner that was nearly irreversible.  (By the way, I do think wool is good, but it's not quite a raincoat.)

Photo Hike Essentials

Kodak Tri-X @ EI 1600
Developed in Kodak HC-110
Minolta X-700 with shutter speed accidentally set to 1/1000th when it should have been "A" mode

It's difficult to overstate the importance of a good-quality synthetic coat that's made to withstand rain.  Even in the 1800's there were raincoats that shed water.  They used materials such as gutta percha or tar-coated canvas. 

I haven't tried this North Face jacket, but it looks to be a good one.  An all-around jacket which keeps you dry in a downpour... priceless, when you're out on a walk and the weather turns rainy. 

Better Scan

That scan from yesterday was originally a little blurry (haste);  The one that's there now has better focus and was scanned in better lighting.  There are digital cameras that can auto-white-balance amazingly well, but the overall versatility of a full-fledged DSLR is still tough to beat.

As for the blackgum:  the U of Kentucky website says blackgum trees make good honey (yep, you need honeybees to do the work for you... the tree doesn't actually produce the honey).  That, and blackgum is occasionally used for tool handles.  Have any of you woodworkers made a hammer handle from blackgum?  This could be an interesting project.  Right now I've got one that's been carved out of a white ash branch (photos soon), and also there might be some elm handles in the works.  Both ash and elm are widely dying off, thanks to the emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease, respectively. 

Blackgum, though... it was those autumn colors that made me want to learn more about it.

2016 October 20


Lots of pictures to upload;  slide film to develop;  and here's some fun with Instax.  This is from yesterday, probably the peak of autumn colors this season.  I know, it's another Blackgum tree (I think).  With maples, hickories, and even oaks showing color, there I was seeking out an early-autumn tree. 


19 October 2016

Bigger film = higher effective detail resolution, so instead of the Mini, I would probably go directly for the Instax Wide camera. 

2016 October 15

Autumn Colors

October 14, 2016
Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 200
f/9.1 @ 1/30th sec.

Photos taken through Live View have a wider aspect ratio than the usual 3:2. 

October 14, 2016
Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 200
f/9.9 @ 1/40th sec.

Also working on a roll of Velvia 50;  when it's ready I'll post some pics.

2016 October 11

Autumn Color!

It's here...

Nyssa sylvatica, 10 October 2016

Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 200
f/9.1 @ 1/500th sec.

I also shot some Fujichrome Velvia slide film.  Figure that's two stops slower, so f/8 at 1/125th or f/5.6 @ 1/250th would be in the vicinity of correct settings.  I know some of the film photos were f/5.6 @ 1/250th.  Probably I should have set the EV dial to -1/3 for those.  Plenty more pictures on the roll, so when the foliage peaks (and if we have good weather) I'll try that.

This is a Blackgum tree, if you were wondering.  It's one of the first trees to assume brilliant colors in the fall.


New Article:  Mini Blacksmithing Part II:  Making Rivets or Drawer Pulls

2016 October 6

New Article:  First Attempt At Leather Stitching.  Quite a while ago I mentioned that I wanted to try leatherworking.  So I decided to try repairing my Canon camera bag. 

2016 October 4

Early Color

Early Fall Color, 3 October 2016

Parthenocissus quinquefolia is one of the first plants to change color in North America.  Many people mistake this plant for poison ivy or poison oak, but it's not.  When you see these leaves turning red up in the trees, the rest of the landscape will be changing color within a week or so.  If you enjoy looking for early autumn foliage, try looking also for Blackgum trees;  these also change to bright red.

Grab your camera, load up your photo vest with the stuff you'll need, and get out there on a photo walk.

The Camera You Have

Rainbow, 3 October 2016

This photo should have been on film, but I went out with just a digital.  That's because I didn't think I was even going to see anything worth photographing.  I almost never do this.  Usually I have at least some color negative film in the 35mm.  The DSLR is not a substitute for film, as I've said probably a million times before... but it's sure a lot better than nothing.  Thing is, though, the digital photos generally become just another file on a memory card.  Picking up the slides and viewing them on a light pad is a wholly different and better experience, to me at least.

The Camera Bag That Goes With It

Camera Bag, 3 October 2016

This is the camera bag that I was talking about fixing.  For some reason I can't think of what the fasteners are called... latches?  Buckles?  Anyway, the fake leather straps that hold them onto the bag have basically crumbled.  The one you see here is the only semi-intact one, but it's starting to go.  Here I'm measuring it to make a new strap.

That stitch pattern might be simple for an experienced leatherworker, but for a clueless beginner like me it seems rather confusing.  I think that's a saddle stitch, but it's got an "X" pattern in the middle, so I have no idea where to join which threads with what. 

Well, I went ahead and tried stitching a new piece of leather on.  Three more to go.  (Photos soon.)  When I started this little adventure I thought I was going to have to throw the camera bag away due to my super ugly stitching, but the end result was usable (I think!!).

Some people don't like camera bags, but I can't do without one.  If you do much of anything but walk on the easiest, flattest trails, then you probably need a camera bag as well.  Uneven ground has a way of unraveling the more careless carry methods, such as stuffing expensive lenses in your pockets, or rolling them up in your shirt.  The only thing more hazardous to your camera lenses is letting your two-year-old at them. 

And if you shoot large format, you might use a camera bag just for lenses, film holders, and accessories. 

Were I smart, I'd just get a Copper River "Journeyman Newport" or a Billingham "Hadley" camera bag right now.  The Copper River is USA-made, and the Billingham is made in UK.  I'm tired of cheap synthetic camera bags that fray apart at the stitching, and fake leather camera bag straps that auto-disintegrate.  Here's a novel idea... why not enjoy the photo walk as much as the photos?

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.

Kodak Elite Chrome 100

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.

What's New (& What Was)

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