Respect the light

IMG_1194

Today’s image was taken this past Monday while out on a fun photo outing with two other women pinhole photographers, Gretchen and Donna (do go check out their photography. It’s stellar.). We went up to Trillium Lake and had a fantastic time. I even swam in the lake. I haven’t gone swimming in a lake for at least 10 years. It was awesome. Lots of pinhole photos were shot, including this one. I took this with my Zero Image 45, a large format pinhole camera. Arista 100 4×5 sheet film was used.

I am still struggling with the wide angle on this camera, but every time I use it I warm up to it. I want to really get to know this camera. I want to become one with it and feel comfortable with it. I have almost talked myself into starting a “sheet a day” project in which I shoot one sheet of 4×5 film a day. I am pretty certain I am going to do this, it is just a matter of deciding when I want to start. I probably won’t post all of the photos I take, though. This will be for myself, so I can learn. Hopefully I will be able to shoot a few things worth posting.

Midway on life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood

20140803-085533-32133287.jpgThis was taken with a Canon EOS Elan ii and Fomapan 100 film (I think. It might have been Fomapan 400).

I am taking a Coursera class on literature and online video games and am really enjoying it. I was a literature major in college and at the time was addicted to video games. It was a fun way to let my brain relax. As I played through the various narratives I realized that video games were a form of literature and thought that this might be an interesting area of study. It never pursued it because I moved on to other things. So when I saw this class I jumped at the chance to take it.  I will blog more about it in a few weeks, after I am finished with it.

During last week’s lecture the first line of Dante’s Inferno was quoted and it made me think of this photo. The quote just felt so appropriate for me, being middle aged. This idea of facing one’s demons at this time in your “life’s journey.”  This might be the subject for yet another future blog post. :)

There are several translations of Dante’s Inferno and in my internet searching I couldn’t find one that used the exact words that I used here. I like it though, and I am keeping it. It works.

 

Find the others

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
― Timothy Leary

Blue (a cyanotype tutorial from a cyanotype newbie)

BlueI spent some time last Monday doing more cyanotypes. I made them 4×6 so I could use them as postcards for the postcard swap.

I am really enjoying this printing process. I am learning all kinds of things about printing in general, and specifically contact printing (which I am finding myself interested in).

In case anyone is interested in how this is done, here is how I made this particular print:

1. Find a photo that you think might make a good print. I am still trying to figure what kinds of photos make good cyanotype prints. I have read a few things about this but I learn best via trial and error. Her is the original shot I used. I took it last year in Vacouver B.C. at the farmer’s market on Granville Island.

Sunflowers

2. Invert your photo in your favorite image editing software. The idea is to make your photo into a large negative, as cyanotype is a contact printing process. I use Adobe Lightroom so for me to invert my image I had to adjust the tone curve (using the instructions here).  I created a develop preset for this function.

3. Make your digital negative printable. This, oddly, was the hardest part of this whole process for me at first. Then I discovered Lightroom has a printing module . It makes this part really easy.  I save my file as a PDF.

4. Print digital negative onto transparency paper. You can buy  transparency paper at office supply stores or at Amazon.

5. Mix chemistry. I use the Photographer’s Formulary liquid kit. Mix even amounts of A and B. You will not need very much of each. A small cup used for cough syrup works well to measure out your chemistry. I mix it into a small glass jar recycled from the bin. Once the chemistry is mixed it is photo sensitive so you must mix it in a darkened room. I have a safelight, so I keep that on so I can see. I don’t think the room has to be pitch black dark. I’ve done this in the bathroom with the lights off and light streaming in from under the door and everything turned out fine.

6. Apply chemistry to watercolor paper. This is the part I am still struggling with, so I am not sure I can give much instruction here.  At the moment I am using an art sponge brush and it seems to work OK. I brush it on in horizontal strokes, and then go over it again using vertical strokes. The idea is to get it on evenly and just the right amount.  After you have applied the chemistry let it dry in the dark.

7.  Place your transparency negative on the paper and put a piece of glass on top (sandwich the transparency between the paper and the glass). You want the transparency as flat as possible  on the paper.

8. Place your paper/transparency/glass sandwich in the sun. When your image turns army green it is done.

9. Rinse in running water for 5 minutes. You will watch it develop before your eyes like magic.

10. Place in a hydrogen peroxide/water bath of  for a second to bring out the deep blue color. 50 ML of hydrogen peroxide to 500 ML of water.

11. Let dry.

If I can do this anyone can! It’s fun and easy and a great way to learn about making prints. It would probably be a great thing to do with kids.

 

 

Foolish Gibberish

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