Drawing With Light
For the past few months, I've been taking a dive into film photography. It
started when I was hanging out with a friend of mine, and he mentioned that
he bought an old medium format camera. This sparked in me a great interest
which would start me on the path of yet another expensive hobby. Wit the
experience of one high school semester of photojournalism more than a decade
ago, I decided to take up the art of film photography.
Thankfully, the height of my expenses would not begin immediately. My
parents, being incurable pack rats, still had their old film cameras. I dug
them out of the closet and began to examine them to determine what kind of
repairs I might need to preform. My dad's camera, though in excellent
cosmetic condition, had a fatal operational defect. Though the exact cause
was not to be known, the mirror would catch on the back of the lens after
releasing the shutter. Try as I might, this camera would need a
professional's touch. My mom's camera on the other had, while having some
cosmetic damage and some debris in the viewfinder, seemed to be perfectly
functional. The light meter even seemed to work properly. So, equipped with
a functioning camera, I set out to buy a roll of film (a challenge in it's
own right in the current year)
And now to break with this weird narrative writing style. I don't know what
prompted that, but you shan't have to endure it any longer. The camera I
ended up with is a Minolta SRT201, a fully manual 35mm camera from around
the 1970s. The only electronic part in it is the light meter. As stated
earlier, the camera is fully operational, though I intend to clean the
viewfinder and replace the light seals after I'm done shooting the current
roll of film. Finding film to shoot in a brick & mortar store was a bit
rough. I ended up finding a 3-pack of FujiFilm Supria X-TRA 400 at CVS.
Walmart had a spot for Kodak UltraMax, but no film on the shelf. I've gone
back since then, and they just have the Supria 400 now. Unfortunately, there
are no camera stores in my vicinity, otherwise I would have gone there. I
also found a few rolls of expired Walgreen's branded film in my parents'
camera bag which might yield some interesting effects.
I've now shot one roll of the Supria 400 and one roll of expired Walgreen's
film. Being the way that I am, I decided to process the film entirely at
home. This involves two major steps: developing and scanning. The developing
process is actually quite straightforward. It's a little different for color
vs black and white, but it's well documented and not too difficult at all.
Since I've been using color film, I decided to purchase the CineStill C41
developer kit. I did not buy their temperature control system, because I
already own a sous vide machine. The equipment required for home developing
is pretty universal: a light-proof tank, a changing bag, a timer or
stopwatch, and nitrile gloves if you care about getting chemicals on you.
For color developing you'll also need some way to keep the chemicals at the
right temperature, like a warm water bath. I used the aforementioned sous
vide machine. Then it's just a matter of putting in the chemicals in the
right order for the right amount of time. Color processing technically has
an extra bleaching step vs black and white, but, in CineStill's formulation,
the bleach and the fixer are combined into a single "blix" step. Anyway, I
developed the roll of Supria 400 that I bought, and, as far as I can tell,
nothing went too horribly wrong. I did drop the developed film on the floor
a couple of times, but there was only a little damage. I'll try not to do
that next time.
For the scanning step, there are a couple of options for home scanning. The
Traditional method involves a high-resolution flatbed scanner. These tend to
be quite expensive, and they don't often play along too nicely with free
software systems. The other method, which I decided to employ, is called
DSLR camera scanning, and it's exactly what it sounds like. You basically
take a picture of you film with a digital camera. I read somewhere that the
amount of information in a frame of 35mm film amounts to between 12 and 14
megapixels, so you can get away with a pretty inexpensive camera. I bought
a used Canon EOS Rebel T2i which has an 18mp sensor. It also has mirror
lock up which is a nice way to reduce vibrations. You don't want to use
just any old lens, though. A macro lens with at least 1:1 image
representation (true macro) is best. You also want a relatively short focal
length. I made the mistake of buying a lens with a very long focal length.
It turns out that lenses with longer focal length also have a longer minimum
focusing distance, so I ended up with my tripod extended to its maximum
height and the film on the floor, a very difficult to use setup.
After you've got your film developed and scanned into your computer, you're
going to want to convert your negative into positive image. There are many
different pieces of software you can use to accomplish this. I chose to use
darktable since it's free software, and it's "negadoctor" module seems to
work quite well. There's also a plugin for Gimp for converting film
negatives, but I haven't looked too much into it. I'm not sure how well Gimp
handles raw image files, either. I'm not going to get into the ins and outs
of converting negative. I only know the basics, and I don't think I'm very
good at it yet. I've managed to get a couple of images to come out looking
right, but I don't know if that's due to poor exposure, poor developing, or
poor use of software. Time will tell as I get better at all three of those.
I plan on buying a better macro lens which will at least make the scanning
process easier, if not make my scans sharper. I also intend to switch to
primarily black and white film, in part, because the film and the chemicals
are cheaper than color, but also because I find myself artistically
attracted to black and white. I see a lot of things that make me think "I
want to shoot that in black and white," and I think there are many
situations where color doesn't really add to the composition and may even
hurt the final picture.
And now for the moment none of you have been waiting for: I've added a
gallery page to my website where you can view
selected images I have created. Don't get too excited yet; it's not that
good. This first roll in particular was mostly shot before I actually read
anything about composition, lighting, exposure, etc. I don't know if I'll
ever produce "good" photography, but I will at least improve, and my
progress will be visible in my gallery.
P.S. I don't read my blog posts before I post them.
Sun, 30 Oct 2022 22:18:35 -0500
Bottling my mead
A few months ago, I started up my first batch of mead. The process was
really simple; just honey, water and yeast is all you need. I also added
some yeast nutrient to help the yeast get started quicker, but that's not
strictly necessary. The specific ingredients are as follows:
- 1350g Orange Blossom Honey
- 5g Lalvin ICV-D47 Wine Yeast
- 1.5g FermFed DAP Free Yeast Nutrient
I mixed up the yeast and the FermFed in a little bit of warm water, and then
I mixed up the honey and the water in a gallon jug. It takes some effort to
get all the honey dissolved, but it will all dissolve. I then pitched the
yeast mixture into the honey water (this is properly called must). Lastly, I
put an airlock on the jug and put the jug in my wine fridge (set to 65F) to
let it ferment. After two months, the fermentation had stopped enough that
it seemed ready to transfer into another container for aging. You don't
really want the mead to be sitting on the sediment layer (called the lees)
since it can impart some yeasty flavors. It sat in secondary for three
months until today when I bottled it (this is generally considered the
minimum amount of time to age a mead).
The mead came out very well. It was a bit sweeter than expected. I had a
starting gravity of 1.094 and a final gravity of 1.010 which makes for about
11.2% ABV. I had expected it to ferment to dryness (FG < 1.000), and I
don't quite remember the ratio of honey to water necessary to achieve this.
More research is required. I ended up with seven 16oz bottles of which I
intend to draw out my consumption so I can see how it changes as it ages
Here's a low quality image for no real reason:
Tue, 19 Jul 2022 22:58:17 -0500
New and improved guestbook
The new guestbook is now up and running. Like the old one, it's written in
perl. This time I've put in captcha to help prevent botting. I also have
entries stored in a tsv file instead of going straight into the html. This
makes it much easier to do pagination which is another new feature in this
guestbook. It also makes it easier to delete rule-breaking posts. Later on,
I intend to implement a review system which will keep posts hidden until
approved. I've already got email notifications for the guestbook, and I
think I can make it so that I can just reply to the notification to approve
a post. Check it out and give it a signature.
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 13:24:13 -0500
Transmogrifying into a cyclist
Okay, so I've fallen into the trap which besets every aspiring "blogger" of
not actually writing ever. To address that, I'm going to significantly lower
my standards for what deserves to be written about. Instead of waiting to
have a real full article to write, I'm just going to write stuff in parts:
whatever's going on at the moment. That out of the way, I'll get on the
actual topic of this article.
I bought a bike. For whatever reason, I've decided it's a good idea to start
riding a bike to work. Actually, it's not whatever reason; it's several
legitimate reasons. The first and most important reason is that I really
need the exercise. At this point, I'm not even sure I can make the 3.3 mile
trip to my workplace, and that's really bad. I'm going to work my way up for
probably a week or two and then start with riding to work once a week, then
twice a week, then thrice, etc. until I'm up to riding to work every day.
The second reason is gas. It's honestly not that much of a deal since the
bulk of my gas goes toward my weekly half-hour commute to church, but every
little bit helps, I guess. I did the math, and I would save about $400/year
at current gas prices if I were to bike to work exclusively. That figure
will increase with gas prices.
Ah, and I suppose you might like to know what bike I got. Since bikes are so
expensive these days I decided to get a used bike on eBay. I ended up going
with a Specialized Crossroads XP from about '94 or '95. It seems to be in
pretty good shape, but it will need a tune up. I'm also going to be adding
a rear rack for panniers and trigger style shifters. I rode it around a bit,
and the grip shifters are just a pain. I might need to get new wheels on
account of my bulk, but that might be an expense for a later date. My hope
is I'll be able to lose enough weight before the wheels become an issue.
My bicycle research also brought me down a rabbit hole of bike
infrastructure and urban planning. That may be a topic for a future article,
but I can sum up my feelings on the matter: I hate American cities, I hate
suburbs, I hate cars, I hate stroads. I really think the car-dependent
infrastructure of American cities is a major component of my disdain for
cities in general. Maybe cities wouldn't be so bad if they were actually
human oriented and people cared to make them beautiful.
Sat, 25 Jun 2022 03:09:04 -0500
New web button
Just a quick update. I've made a new 88x31 button for my site. I think the
new one fits my current stylistic preferences better. You can still use the
old one if you like, but if you want the new one, here it is:
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 22:38:42 -0500
In yet another step toward terminal neo-luddism I have greatly simplified my
website. I've removed a lot of images, simplified some structures, and
removed all CSS and styling. This is to several ends. I like the simplicity
of it; I want the site to look good in text-mode browsers; I don't think the
web should be titillating to any significant degree. Because I am a
neo-luddite tech hipster, I've decided switch to XHTML for most of my pages.
Supposedly there are performance benefits, but I mainly like it because it
requires strict and clean code.
I've also removed all of my Stray Thoughts blogs. The Stray Thoughts project
served its purpose to help me leave Twitter, but I don't really need my
immature, scatterbrained, unfiltered thoughts to be out on the web. I'd like
to give more attention to this blog and develop some writing skills.
I've made a couple of changes to my computing practices, as well. In order
to improve my sleep schedule and my attention, I've switched to a dumbphone.
I was spending way too much time listening to podcasts in bed, and I was
often distracted during the day by Twitter, messaging, and games. I picked
the Sunbeam F1 Orchid. Sunbeam is a small company, and they seem to have a
decent enough mind for privacy (cell phones are inherent tracking devices,
but every little bit helps). The Orchid model has navigation and weather.
I'm not sure if I'll use these, but it's the same price as the less
featureful models, and I like having the option.
Finally, I've moved my computer out of my bed room. I'm hoping this will
help me use the computer less. At the very least, It will make my bed room
a more focused space to be used for sleep, dressing, and prayer.
I'm hoping to take some more steps into minimizing my computer use. I may
even go back to living in the framebuffer on my laptop (I did this for a
time a few years ago with reasonable success, though web browsing is
difficult). I'd really like to use a web browser only when necessary. RSS
reader, email client, youtube-viewer, etc. Basically, the modern web is evil
and should be used as little as possible.
Mon, 21 Mar 2022 19:09:01 -0500
This site belongs to a Christian webring.
🌲 AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN