Darkroomist Photographic culture of the analog variety from the fresh coast.

19Mar/150

The Armatar 100

Sunpak 120j Barebulb Flash

Here is the pride and joy of my location lighting kit. It's an armatar 100. Back in the 1980s a TV repairman in New Jersey I believe churned these out (Joseph Armato IIRC). It's essentially a Vivitar 283 with a bare bulb added, the stock battery and flashbulb compartments stuffed with extra capacitors, the stock base removed and replaced with a HH sync connector and a metal cold shoe with 1/4 20 threads in it. On this one you can see I replaced the stock (surprisingly accurate) auto thyristor with a varipower module that lets me set a specific power output. Max on this is approximately 100ws and it can still use the standard Vivitar sync cable. The parabolic reflector is removable and you can use any Norman/Quantum accessories with it that attach with a twist lock and clamp base. I have a Norman mini octobox that works great on it. The biggest drawback is that it must be used with a quantum turbo battery pack or compatible packs (JTL makes one too). I have a Sunpak 120j and a Quantum T5 and this is still my fave even though it looks like an abomination. It's straightforward and extremely versatile.

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19Mar/150

Photostock 2015 Earlybird Registration Open!

If you live anywhere near one of the Great Lakes and you shoot film, this is THE annual event to be at! Produced by Bill Schwab, it is truly phenomenal. It's reasonable to expect around 100 attendees most of whom shoot and print film photography. There is also a high concentration of alt process photographers doing wet plate photography (there are also platinum/palladium printers, gum over bichromate, and others). It's a ton of awe and inspiration as you get to see so much work that is off-the-charts good, as well as off the beaten path. Evening portfolio sharing is a fun part of the experience and guest speakers share their passion for the art throughout the day and night. If you enter in the print exchange you get to randomly swap your entry for another's. After the sun sets there's plenty of merriment and story telling with the occasional acoustic guitar accompaniment. All this occurring in the spring splendor of Northern Michigan. There's so much scenery to explore. Shorelines, man made forests, lakes, abandoned buildings, dunes, lighthouses a couple hours away in the UP, there's so much to see and shoot.

While most participants are involved with some aspect of chemical photography, digital enthusiasts and photography collectors/curators are celebrated as well. Registration is reduced through March 22nd and the event itself is June 18-21st just north of Harbor Springs, Michigan.

Photostock2015

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18Mar/150

Some good ideas from Lightstalking on Street Photography

Lightstalking has some good tips for people considering street photography. Street photography is taking pictures of people as they go about their daily lives generally in an urban environment. Street photography is usually not, or sometimes minimally posed. One name strikingly absent from the article is Vivian Maier. The Posthumous discovery of her extensive work made her a big name in American street photography almost instantly. Another fun name to look up is Weegee. Weegee did a lot of his street photography at night with a 4x5 press camera. That deserves mad props IMHO.

I have dabbled in street photography but it's been some time since I've tried my hand at it. Last year in Chicago I snapped a couple quick shots of a protest I passed. I'll have to find those. I think I developed them but haven't printed any yet. If you want my $0.02 a great film camera for starting street photography is a Konica BigMini. They are two models of the camera. One with a zoom lens and another with a fixed 35mm. Both are great considering they're point-n-shoot cameras. another good one is the Olympus XA. A tiny 35mm rangefinder it's great for keeping tucked in a pocket though focus and aperture can be a bit fiddly. Best to preset and just wing it. If you want to stand back and shoot, any old SLR with a Vivitar Sieries 1 70-200mm zoom will server you well. With a beast like that someone will notice you eventually. It sticks out like a turd in punchbowl.

Lightstalking's tips for street photography

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16Mar/150

Rollei up for auction.

The factory that made Rollei's venerable twin lens reflex and SLR cameras is up for auction. The article notes that, while the company name may live on like Polaroid's has, this is most likely the end of the line for a great name in camera manufacturing. I'm lucky enough to have one of their cameras a 1960s T3 F3.5. It was my grandfather's. Though the article doesn't mention it, Rollei also made (or at least distributed) film. If I had to venture a guess I'd say that product line has also come to an end.

Rolleiflex factory to be sold at auction.

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12Mar/150

Digital Cameras Are Creating Impotent Photographers

I could write pages about this but the kernel of my quasi disagreement resides in the statement "Photography is art." No. Photography can be art, but not everyone uses it for that purpose. "Yay!" acceptable photography is easier for everyone, "Boo!" that there is more chaff to separate the wheat from.

Digital Cameras Are Creating Impotent Photographers

To dig into this a little more, the digital photography revolution has enabled photographers to learn more faster by essential charging for all the images up front. See film cameras were relatively inexpensive. Maybe a couple hundred for a pro-sumer model. With film every frame costs money, up front with the cost of the film, and after shooting with the cost of processing and printing. Comparable digital cameras cost approximately ten times as much, they have a lifespan of around 50,000 images or 4 years which ever comes first. Essentially photographers went from being cautious to being extremely explorative. This paradigm shift has exploded the creativity of image making into dimensions that were nonsensical with film. Conversely there are elements of creative film photography that are lost in the digital realm. Very much has been gained, but it's not without a cost. If you still create, learn, and explore with film as well as digital you can really enjoy the best that both worlds have to offer.

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11Mar/150

Brought back from the brink.

In more ways than one! Today I found a link that gave me some good photography feels (you'll find it in the previous post) and thought I'd dust off ye olde trusty blog and breathe some new life into it. I ventured over here and saw stuff in quite the disarray. Stuff was broken, updates hadn't been done, blerg. I logged in and figured the first place to start was updating to the latest and greatest WordPress code. Unfortunately the update failed and the blog was completely not working as a result. I was tempted to use this hosting company's WP tool to nuke my whole web directory and start over from a database backup. Remembering I'm pretty geeky and fancy myself proficient at WordPress I hopped on a shell to the server, downloaded the new code and quickly realized I had hit my quota for disk usage. After some deleting, cursing, and research I finally got WP back up and running, thinned out all the stuff I don't use, got rid of some redundancies and here we are. Hopefully running better, leaner, awesomer than before with more features and whatnot.

Lately I've been encouraged by a couple of sources to write. It's my hope to take on this challenge and use Darkroomist as a platform for that. I think I've worked out ways to keep this blog fresher and fun to return to. Time will tell.

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11Mar/150

The 1970’s everyday life in color.

I was born in 1975 so I was 4 when the 70's came to a close. Still images from that decade, especially color ones, conjure up such ghostly thin but vibrant memories in me. Flashes of recognition of knowing what it was like to be in that time but without the latticework of language, circumstance, reason, or opinions that "normal" memories are stretched upon. It's mostly wonderful with just a tinge of sadness.
vintage everyday: 30 Incredible Photographs That Capture 1970s America's True Colors

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28Jun/130

The Bromoil bug is biting. Again.

Over the years I've played with the idea of doing Bromoil prints but it never got off the ground. After this year's Photostock I feel it might actually happen. See there's a lot of Alt process at Photostock and I happened to casually mention that Bromoil is pretty much the only alt process I'm interested in. The response I got was pretty much "YES! YES! DO IT! Here are some resources." So I came home, watched some how-to video, refreshed myself with the book Bromoil, a Foundation Course by Derek Watkins and I'm ready to start the first phase of this project: gathering the supplies necessary to try the process. In order to do this in some orderly fashion I thought I'd compile a list of needed items so as not to haphazardly tread into unknown territory.

Stuff I need to start making Bromoil Prints:

Bromoil soft developer (Amidol or Kodak 163)
Plain hypo (or non-hardening fix)
Hard black pigment ink (Litho Black 1796 or Crayon Black 1803)
Bleaching kit (Copper sulphate, Potassium bromide, Potassium dichromate, Sulphuric acid 10%sol)
Chamois leather
Palette knife
Brushes (usually round, shaving brush or stencil brushes)
Palletes (can be white ceramic tile)
blotting paper (may be skipped by using paper towel instead of chamois?)
Stiffening powder (? gotta read up on this one more)
Extra 16x20 tray (if I'm going to make 16x20 Bromoil prints)
20x24 thick plate glass with ground edges (to ink on, turns out plexi is an option)
Watercolor fixative spray
Erasers (incl fancy small art ones)
Lighter fluid (for brush cleaning)
A well lit location I can perform a rather messy inking process

David Lewis offers a Beginners kit that covers most of this for $350-ish shipped but I can't really afford to plop that down right now. A lot of these are sub $20 items I can keep an eye out for. I think the biggest expense is going to be the 20x24 plate glass with ground edges (which isn't in the beginner's kit). Where lewis might really help out is with the chemicals which he does offer a la carte. If you want to help support this endeavor please check out my Etsy store in the right hand column or click "My print store" at the top of the page. Thanks!

This is my list of things I need, I happen to have a ton of different kinds of paper and other darkroom printing supplies. To make your own list (I'm sure many things will correlate) watch the how to videos, pick up the above mentioned book and start diggin in!

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20Apr/130

Wow, I was surprised, and touched.

The stats on my Etsy Shop default to weekly and look relatively unimpressive when viewed day to day. "Favorites" trickle in, sometimes one user will go on a faving binge. Shop favorites are more infrequent. Last night I noticed that the reporting time for the stats can be changed and that one of the selections was "all time". I was interested in that and was not prepared for what I saw. Over the last couple years I've amassed 403 item favorites and 63 shop favorites. O_o I was touched and surprised and humbled all at the same time. You plod along and not much exciting happens and it feels like failure then one day you step back and see how many people you've touched in some way. It's an odd feeling. Obviously on a smaller scale than say It's A Wonderful Life but of a similar ilk. 466 faves might seem like a lot, but when you've felt like your swimming upstream for 2 years, it's amazing.

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17Apr/131

Everything old is new again.

Well, not everything. Just a couple things are renewed. The first is that I've been made an admin of the group "Darkroom Portraits" on flickr dedicated to depiction of darkrooms old and new. I haven't been too active on flickr in a long time. I've let my absurdly cheap "Pro" status lapse for about 2 years now, though I'm thinking of getting it back on track. As far as the group goes, I've cleaned out the photo pool that was rife with non-darkroom pictures, invited scores of new images, and we have a few new members as well. Currently we're at 435. I know there's been rumors of Yahoo/Getty dropping flickr but I have a hard time believing they'd do that. I will admit the site is overdue for a complete overhaul. It's loo, feel and functionality has remained stagnant since I joined in 2006. Come to think of it, my profile there really needs to be updated so I'm not linking to it! :-P

Second is JPGmag.com. I haven't uploaded anything there in two years, and then it was sporadic. I'm going to make an effort to get that back on track as well. I always loved that magazine in print form. The site I thought was a little clique-y and I'm rarely in the clique. Who knows, maybe this time I'll get noticed. Likewise, my stuff there is ancient so no link to it for the time being.

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Filed under: doin what I do 1 Comment