What's New at 120studio.com

2017 March 31

Wood Chisel and Four-By-Four

March 2017
Ilford HP5+ 400 developed in Kodak HC-110

Assorted Stuff

There are lots of projects I've been working on; some of them are multi-stage "make" projects that I didn't want to post here until they're done.  So there's sort of a logjam of pictures and articles just waiting for the finishing steps on things.  Well, actually one of the projects was something I decided to change halfway through, but it's all good.

The blacksmith forge project should be starting up again, now that I got a couple pieces of angle iron and half an idea on how to weld them together into a stand.  For a while I puzzled over attaching angle to a cylindrical object so that the sides of that iron would be perpendicular to the ground. (Does that make any sense?) If you get it wrong, the legs will be angled, not straight up and down.  But then, sometimes maybe you want the legs to be angled outward, especially if the forge or table is rather narrow.

But then, if you have them angled outward, it complicates the cutting and welding of the cross-pieces. 

Were I not in the process of learning arc welding (SMAW), probably I would just get one of these wood forges and be done with it. 

Pallet Wood

A reader asks, "What's the best way to store pallet wood, vertical or horizontal?"

Actually a good question, because if you store the pallet slats horizontal and they get wet, they might warp.  Flat planks will "cup" because they take on more moisture on one side than another.

If you store them vertically and the ends get wet, they could also warp, though.

As long as they're always dry, it doesn't matter so much how you store them, at least in my experience.

Shop Tips

Just a reminder-to-self here, so I can bring you these soon:  among that logjam of articles I mentioned, there should be a good two or three "Shop Tips" articles, including Storage, Sanding, and The Vise.  One project I did a while ago was to build a "not-that-portable" vise stand out of pressure-treated 4x4's and a log.  Vise, plus a little strength training.


With the making of stuff that I've been doing, there are many things to photograph with film.  And I think it's time to start shooting slide film again after messing around with all this black & white and color neg film.  With many of you getting into medium and large format, good ol' 35mm may begin to seem quaint.  But for me, it's still the most-used format, because the cameras and the film size make it so convenient to get a number of different compositions, bracketing, etc.

By the way: one reason all this started was that I decided one day that I didn't have enough rusty steel to photograph.  Next thing you know, I'm looking into painting some of the rusty stuff that I've made into things.  And then I'm looking into enamels and "classic shop colors"... because you know you just can't get enough of battleship grey, hammered green, and "putty" (whatever that even is).

There will be slide film again.

2017 March 21

Bleach Bypass

An engineer or technician might look at a picture like this and say "Hey, you can't develop photos that way, your C-41 bleach is depleted!"  An artist doesn't care so much about that, as long as it produces a look that's somehow interesting, creative, or whatever.  This is what I like about art. 

On a similar note, I try to apply that thinking every time I make ugly welds and realize that arc welding is actually quite difficult... but technically-bad welds can make stuff that holds together for quite a while.  (Excuses... time to practice more.)


Added this new photo and updated the How To Dismantle Pallets article.  For some time there was a weathered, warped pallet that I didn't want to throw away, but I didn't think it was worth dealing with.  Finally I tackled it with the same methods I've used for other pallets;  this one was just a little more challenging.

2017 March 20

Woodworking & Metalworking

If you make stuff out of metal or wood, then you might know what a T-bevel is.  And I'm sure you know what a try-square is.  Well, this multi-purpose square has got to be the most clever tool that I've seen in a while.  It's like a T-bevel and a try-square rolled into one.  It clicks in at 45 degrees and 90 degrees, it can be used as a T-bevel for any angle, and you can even draw circles with it.  As if that weren't great enough, it's also made in USA.  Get one!

2017 March 19
Sunday afternoon

Metal & Shop

New Article:  Choosing The Right Extension Cord For Your Welder.  Extension cords are kind of boring, and nobody wants to spend more than ten bucks on one, right?  Well, if you use a 120-volt welding machine, you might want to read this.  Also give it a read if you're using one of the larger 120-volt air compressors, or anything else that should be on a 20-amp circuit.

2017 March 17

Film, Light Metering

Snowy landscapes are challenging with in-camera meters, because the snow will be at neutral gray (Zone 5) when you meter on it.  You probably know this, but the question is, how much is it actually off?  Sunlit snow should really be placed at Zone 7 or perhaps 8, which suggests that it's off by what, two or three whole stops?

But now here's a challenge question.  Even though I should know the answer to this by now, I decided to do a "let's just see what happens". 

Difference between what the camera recommends and what an incident light meter recommends... how many stops do you think it will be?

We're talking about bright snow here.

I don't think it's the same throughout the day, but this morning I found it was off by one stop.  This was for a direct photo of the snow, with a few small shadows to accentuate the terrain.

Here was one example, just for that scene:

Minolta incident meter set to ISO 400:  f/16 at 1/500th sec.

Minolta X-700 in-camera meter (ISO 400):  f/22 at 1/500th sec.

Sunny 16 setting for ISO 400:  f/16 at 1/400th, but most cameras don't have 1/400th, so you could use 1/500th.  But when I don't use a meter with 400 film, I usually use f/16 @ 1/250th on full-sunny days.

When you use a good light meter, you'll see that it often recommends fractional stops.  Halfway between f/11 and f/16 at a 500th was a recurring value today.  I took a number of pictures at this setting. 

Just remember, sunlight intensity changes quite a bit when it's early and late in the day.  Your light meter could give you different values within a short time, and I think that was happening here somewhat.

But that in-camera meter... often the camera wanted to use f/16 at 1/1000th+ (off the scale), unless it was looking at something like a stone wall, in which case it was accurate.

Get yourself a Minolta incident meter

Large Format

Because it's slower to change settings and angles, metering for large format works best on two kinds of days:  perfectly clear, and uniformly overcast.  Those intermittent cloud-sun days can be tough, especially when it's windy and the clouds are moving fast. 

2017 March 14

Weather:  Blizzard of 2017

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

Canon EOS Rebel T6S
March 14, 2017
7:24 AM
Zoom lens at 24mm
Program Auto mode chose f/5.6 @ 1/60th with flash

Fresh snow depth when I took this photo was close to 8 inches.  Almost twelve hours later it's still snowing;  we've got about twice the amount of snow now.  Some areas got 24-30 inches of snow.

Today I contemplated taking film pictures of the snowfall, and you know I could have developed the film and had it ready this evening.  But nah, I just didn't want to be outside in this, no matter what type of camera. 

Twenty-some degrees Fahrenheit might not be arctic, but a parka might have changed my mind today.  With wind and snow, my tattered canvas coat isn't all that great for photo expeditions.  Then again, it isn't all that great for welding outside when it's eight or ten degrees F, and that never stopped me.  It would be typical of me to wait until it's bitter cold, there's no power, and there's a foot of snow on the ground... and then decide to weld.  But I'd need a generator to run the welder, then.  (OK, don't actually weld while standing in snow.)

Those affordable 8,000 watt generators are tempting.  That power level would allow you to run a 230-volt 50-amp welder, including the ever-popular Lincoln AC225.  And I'm sure it's more than enough for running a little 120V welder cranked to the max for 3/32" 7018's.

Here's hoping you're staying safe in the weather and not going out on the roads.  Snow shovelin' time, if not now, then soon.

2017 March 12

Film Developing

Ilford HP5+ 400 is such a great film.  I still like Kodak Tri-X better, but it's close.

Dev notes, for reference:  Kodak HC-110 @ 60% depletion, temp 71 F, dev time 12 minutes 45 seconds. 


I found something perfect for welding at about 65 to 67 amps, anything up to 1/8-inch steel and probably thicker.  Who needs a MIG welder?  Article soon.

2017 March 9

New Article:  How To Make a Rustic Toolbox From Salvaged Wood 

This is not the common carpenter's toolbox that you've seen already.  Those are designed to sit on a table.  This one is free-standing;  it's based on a design that I've seen only rarely, but I think it was in common use a hundred-plus years ago.

Now let's build this!

2017 March 5

New Article:  Of Rabbets and 4x4's  (Or: How To Build STRONG Work Table Legs)

A while back I decided that I wanted to build and make things to photograph with film.  That's about when I realized just how important it is to have a solid work surface.  Or three.

I happen to like the photographic textures and colors of construction lumber, so there's that, too.


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