Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rapidfire 6 Week Update

I've had this needling feeling in the back of my mind reminding me that I was behind on blogging, but I didn't realize it has been over a month.  I wondered how I could have possibly fallen that far behind, then I scanned back through my photos for my recap and realize I truly have been quite busy, and I've accomplished quite a lot over the last 6 or so weeks.  So here is a rapid fire update:

Cherry Creek Falls - pinhole shot
In early June, D and I participated in a couple of weekly step challenges, so we opted for hikes instead of trips to the gym.  One hike brought us to Cherry Creek Falls, where we paused for about an hour so that I could grab some pinhole shots of the falls.  My original goal for this year had been to collect enough color images to do my 2018 calendar in pinhole shots, however as the summer is now halfway through, I have my doubts that I'll have 12 good images to use for this year, so I'm contemplating another theme for 2018, and perhaps 2019 will be pinhole.  It all depends on what kind of outings I can get in before October.

LOTR and embroidery
I've been taking advantage of the longer days to be outside in the yard for as long as I can, which leaves me less time for evening crafting before I'm too wiped and need to go to sleep.  When I do sneak in an evening or two, I have fun with it.

Around the end of June we finally finished planting all the plants.  For now.

Lake Union Panoramic Pinhole
I made it to the June meetup with my pinhole photography group, which took place around Lake Union in Seattle.  It turned out to be the hottest day we've had this year (and is still the record thus far for the summer) and I found that my whole "I don't feel like shooting much in 95 degree heat" feeling is as strong in the states as it is in Jamaica, so I didn't shoot the volume that I thought I might, but I'm pleased with the images I did grab.  I finished up the roll from my panoramic pinhole camera, and my fisheye plastic camera (which had 9 year old film in it!) and ran my first roll of E6 through my Graflex pinhole.  With the help of a new app I found that calculates reciprocity failure I managed to get my first roll of E6 exposed correctly!

4 YEARS, so many changes, so many new ideas, so many "oh, look what the fountain store has in stock now!" moments.... I have a difficult time finding the words to describe how elated I am that they are DONE.

Embroidery on the deck
In honor of my mom's birthday, I parked myself out on the deck to work on my bird quilt (from the pattern I inherited from her mom, using the thread I inherited from my mom)  It was a lovely evening.

Photo Editing - this is from Kauai in January 2017
Due to having to drive G around to various things this summer, I've had some "sit in the coffee shop with your laptop" time, which I've been using to catch up on photo editing.  I'm nearly through with our winter trip to Kauai, which will almost bring me up to speed with all my DSLR because I've hardly shot anything this year outside of birds in my yard.

The garden is coming along nicely
Most of the vegetable starts that I bought from the local super-fancy-expensive nursery either wilted away or have simply been stunted.  The big plants you see are all from other plant stores... so next year I won't bother with the super-fancy place at all.  

A view from the back side of the garden
It might be difficult to see, but I have three laser-cut hummingbird sculptures on the wall of my garden... I bought these in the summer of 2012 and have been waiting to find the right home for them ever since.  The pots in this shot are home to three of my tomato plants that I started from seeds and thought would not survive, but these guys just didn't give up... so here they are, caught up to my other starts in height and starting to show signs of bearing fruit.  

Plant markers
I had the idea for these plant markers back in May, and didn't finish them until last week.  Unfortunately the hot glue didn't hold on the markers that were hit directly by the sprinklers, so perhaps next year I'll figure out something that lasts longer.

In scrapbooking, I just have one or two photos to add to my 2011 digital album, and my 2012 photos are nearly all edited.  I just got back to the 2004 ephemera album last night, where I'm working my way through a set of vacation photos from late October of that year.

These are the highlights of how I've spent my crafting time over the last month and a half, in between end-of-school-year events, hosting out-of-town family over holidays, and helping to teach G to drive. I've also enjoyed some much needed meditative down-time in my yard, fitting in yoga in the mornings and lots of sipping coffee while bird watching.  Sometimes I get more than birds in the yard... like this morning's visitor...
Most mornings I sit on my porch with my coffee in one hand, and my camera with the big zoom lens in the other.  As a result, most of my photo shooting this summer has just been of wildlife in my own back yard.  With the combination of busy week-day schedules and a great desire to just... *be*... in the yard, we've had relatively few excursions outside of this immediate view this summer.  On the one hand that means I probably will not fulfill my goal of having a large enough variety of pinhole photos to create a calendar this year, but on the other hand I'm hoping this means I might catch up on editing and posting to flickr, and if I don't collect enough images by the fall then I'll be well armed to come up with a different theme using my digital shots this time around.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Project Updates in Gardening, Stitching, Scrapbooking

My blogging has waned as the weather turned for the better this spring.  The sunshine and promise of warmer temperatures has been inspiring me to keep my desk time to a minimum so that I can maximize time outside to wrap up the largest parts of our now 4 year long yard renovation.  I'm happy to report that I met my goal of getting my properly built vegetable garden area in place as of Mother's Day Weekend.  
I had a tomato garden last year, which sort of tapered off from the boardwalk/patio path down to the yard below.  D finished building up a retaining wall for me on the far side of the garden earlier in the spring, so that by May 13th I was able to amend the soil and put my vegetable plants in the ground.

Tomato, cucumber, snap peas, eggplant, jalapeno, strawberries, and several squash is how we started.

Over the last couple weeks, while the plants stretched their roots in their new home, I worked on tidying up the final details of the surrounding area while also completing some larger projects involving the water feature and planting several pots around the yard.

My original intention had been to put at least some of my herbs into the garden space, however we overbought veggie starts, and I'm also not sure of which end of the garden I want to put perennials, so for now the perennials will stay in pots around the yard.

Herbs and strawberries on the left form an arch around the sprinkler control boxes, which covers the boxes but leaves easy access.  This weekend I'll be adding the drip lines to the pots.  The garden box against the brick wall houses our lettuce and fennel... I've been calling this the salad bar.  I might consider moving the strawberries into this box if we decide to put the lettuce in the big garden next year.

About 3 weeks of growth in the garden, the strawberry pot is protected from birds with a pop-up bird net, the tomato, cucumber, and snap peas have supports to grow, and my decorative rock and lavender is in place along the wall.

All this extra time in the garden has left my hands tired by the end of the day, so my embroidery has slowed.  I have completed two of my 4 Eastern Bluebird blocks, and am close to finishing block#3.  

As the yard work turns from projects to maintenance, I should have more time in the evenings to get in some stitching.

In the world of scrapbooking... my project room has been overlayed with short projects and supplies which need to be straightened and put away before I can get back to progressing on my ephemera albums. My digital scrapbook for 2011 is nearly complete (I need only to pull one still photo from a video clip and then spell-check the whole album and it will be done)  I've begun collecting and organizing the digital photos for the 2012 album.  The process is a little slower for this year because I  began shooting more film in 2012, and including photos from those cameras involves a bit of digging through and organizing old scans.  My current plan is to proceed with the standard annual albums until I am "caught up", then go back and do the vacation albums.  I should have more consistent blocks of time this summer to work on them, as I plan to find a cozy coffee shop where I can plug away at it while G is in her driving school.

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Unexpected Mystery Envelope #5

I received another mystery envelope on Saturday, which was again at the 2 week mark from the last envelope.  Photos and summary are after the jump to help avoid spoilers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Clunky Pinhole focus and tilt/shift test - and additional photos

When I went out to do my first field test of the Kodak Six-20, I also brought along Clunky, the Graflex pinhole, to do a little testing and shooting.  All of my pinhole images thus far have been on the soft side, and while I enjoy the dreamy look I'm getting, I was curious to see if adjusting the focus might make a difference on sharpness.  Up until now I had been shooting with the lens set to the infinity stops, and the infinity symbols lined up on the rails:

The next image was shot with the above infinity setting, and the image below that was shot with the arrow at the top pointing to the number 10.
Shot at infinity
Shot at "10"

While the second image is zoomed in slightly compared to the first, I didn't see any significant difference in the overall focus.  Here is a side-by-side comparison of a section of each image.

As I don't see a hugely significant difference, I will likely stick with the infinity setting in future shooting.

In addition to the focus, I was curious to see what result I might get from using the tilt-shift features on the camera.  I set the camera in a static position with my tripod and made three exposures of the same scene using each of the possible settings on the camera;

Straight shot
Shifted shot
Tilted shot
Shifting the lensboard to the highest position brought the view much higher, but it also cut the corners of the bottom of the film frame slightly.  The shot also came out lighter, which could either be because I lifted the pinhole out of the shade into more direct light, or the light reflects differently inside the camera body at this angle.
The tilted shot did not change the framing significantly, but it does seem like the foreground is in slightly sharper focus in the tilted shot as compared to the straight shot.

Beyond the focus testing, this outing was also an opportunity for me to run a roll of B&W through the new film back for the Graflex to see if the spacing on the winder is accurate.  I did get 8 evenly spaced shots on my roll, with a good lead on the film that would allow for color rolls to be loaded into a C-41 without fogging the first shot.  So this camera back is now designated as my color film back.

With the testing done, I used the rest of the film, along with a color roll, to capture some scenes around the gardens.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kodak Six-20 First Field Test

We had a lovely break in the weather last week, so I took advantage of a long lunch time and headed out to a local botanical garden to field test my recently acquired Kodak Six-20.

The Kodak Six-20 takes 620 film (hence the name), which is 120 film on a 620 spool.  After having made a spectacular mess whittling down a roll of 120 for my initial focus test of this camera, I decided this method of film-spool-adjustment was not the best use of my time.  Also, that spool stuck towards the end of the roll, and I wasn't sure if it was my own uneven sanding of the roll, or a defect of the camera.  I turned to Film Photography Project's website for a better solution, and not only found their 620 spools, but my searching also brought me to a video demonstrating how to re-spool 120 film onto a 620 spool.  I'm good at loading film for development in the dark, so I thought this looked like the solution for me.

Re-spooling a roll of black and white took a fraction of the time that adjusting a 120 roll did, with no mess.  Thank you FPP!

The camera has a fixed focus, with F/stops ranging from f/8 to f/64, so in order to maintain maximum depth of field I decided to shoot at f/64 for the whole roll.  In my focus test I'd determined that I would meter scenes with my DSLR at f/22 (the smallest f/stop I have to work with) and then adjust the time by a few stops to reach the proper f/64 exposure.  I've since rediscovered my grandfather's light meter, and since it has f/64, all I need to do is meter the scene with it and I'm done.

No batteries required.

The viewfinder took some getting used to.  Rather than putting your eye up to it like a DSLR, you have to look through it from a distance and almost relax the focus of your eyes (similar to looking at one of those "magic" posters with the hidden pirate ship in the pattern)  The viewfinder is also rather square, so the end image is larger than how the scene lines up with the viewfinder.  In future outings I'll try to get a shot with my cell phone to compare to the end negative.

Another quirk to this camera is that the tripod mount is not flush with the camera body, so when trying to attach it to a standard tripod head the camera wobbles a bit in the horizontal position, and does not stay steady in a vertical position.  I'd showed this to my dad while I was visiting him, and he suggested I cut a thin piece of craft foam into a square, with a hole in the center for the tripod screw - the foam helps fill in the space between the camera body and the tripod plate. I happened to still have half a sheet of 1/4" craft foam leftover from making all those custom mouse ears, so I cut a large chunk to keep in my bag for stabilizing cameras. 

Craft foam and gaffer tape, I'm ready for anything! 

I loaded the camera with Ilford 400 speed B&W and brought it along with me to the local botanical gardens for a test run along with my Graflex pinhole (which will be written up later). My exposures ranged from 1/2 a second to 10 seconds, which I was able to do without camera shake thanks to my cable release. The film counter lines up well, and I have 8 neatly spaced shots on my roll of film.    The edges are a little burned from light leaks, so I might want to consider taping the edges of the camera prior to my next outing.  But overall, I'm very happy with the clarity of this glass.  I also noticed that the film became more difficult to wind right at the end of the roll, but didn't stick as badly as it did on the first test, so I believe the FPP spools should work just fine for me.

The closest fern was roughly 3 feet from the camera.  Given the sharpness of the ferns in the back, I think 3 feet is just on the closest edge of the focus for this lens at f/64.

Three heron statues, I cropped this shot in a bit to cut out a light leak in the lower left corner.

One of the many waterfalls in the botanical garden.

Using the hand held light meter made for a far more streamlined, and more relaxing, shooting experience.  It allowed me to concentrate more on composition and the other tests I wanted to run without adding calculations of exposure adjustments to the mental mix.  In my next outing I will be sure to tape the sides of the camera to avoid light leaks, and will probably play with varying the f/stops to play with the depth of field a bit.