Community – short film

Sorry guys, I’ve had a busy few weeks completing final projects, writing papers, and all the other general craziness with finals week, plus playing a show Friday night.  Here is what became my final for my film scoring class, Community:

We did two video assignments in the class.  I wasn’t sure if the second was going to come off or not, but we ended up doing it anyway; we only had a week and a half to shoot, edit, and score the film.  Thankfully, the minimum running time was a manageable 1 minute, so I threw some stuff together using part of my final in my Alt.Process class (don’t tell the instructor!)

I was happy enough with my project that I entered it (unscored and not-quite complete) in my school’s short film festival, and competed against three other films in the Experimental Film category.  Needless to say, I didn’t win, but had fun being there again, and took the opportunity to talk a bit with some of the students and faculty in the filmmaking program.

The footage came from a roll of T-Max 400 and a roll of Tri-X shot at 800, and was developed in the Caffenol C-L recipe using my trusty Spotmatic SPII.  This was also the first time I was really able to put the 1.4/50 Super -Takumar through its paces and it performed really nicely, I think.  It was definitely nice having the extra 2/3 stop, as the light was quite dim in the room.  Unfortunately that lens has a screw loose (literally) and is in danger of falling apart at the moment, so I’m not using it anymore until I can get the thing fixed.

edit: Thankfully, it wasn’t that expensive (maybe $5 at Cameraworks), and the lens was back in commission 10 minutes after taking it in, so I used it a lot for black & white work over the next year.

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Pinhole Day pics – Alternative Processes

It was cold and wet that day, a sprinkling of rain/snow (it couldn’t decide which it wanted to be).  I ran around town with my camera on a tripod and just started getting shots, really.  Thankfully, it all just comes off as mist and looks quite good.

I was out shooting on Pinhole Day with my Spotmatic body cap.  I ended up with five images that I really liked, it was a bit hard narrowing them down to one to submit to pinholeday.org, and actually I read the rules wrong and ended up submitting all five.  Then later, I realized my mistake.  Anyway, there’s only one left, but it’s up there.  Click here to see my class’s group page at the gallery.

I used expired T-Max 100 that day, I don’t know if the film being out of date screwed me or not, but most of what I’ve found online suggested developing in Caffenol C-M for around 15 minutes, and it fogged my film!  Also, there are streaks which would seem to suggest too vigorous agitation.  This has definitely convinced me to stick with C-L for every film type, I don’t care how slow.

Happy World Wet Plate Day!

It follows quite close on the heels of Pinhole Day, doesn’t it?  Wet Plate Day has its own website, too.  Our Alt.Process class was working on wet plate/collodion all last week and the week before, so I thought I’d put some of the fruits of that labor up here:

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This is a tintype portrait of me taken by my classmate Ian, and then one of him taken by me (obviously he did a much better job pouring his collodion).  We used my instructor’s reproduction Civil War-era 8×10 camera, but the plates were cut down, less than 4×5 actually.  The lens is a vintage brass one made in England in the 1880s and I’d say it still takes a damn fine picture.  I documented the process on Tri-X as well, so you guys get a nice behind-the-scenes look:

We’re back out there today doing more of it and I can’t wait to see what we get.

Pinhole lens vs. macro lens comparison – Alternative Processes

Yeah, I was sure there would be a big difference, I just didn’t know how much!

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For reference, the top image was the 4/50 S-M-C Macro-Takumar, and the bottom with the pinhole lens which has a size somewhere between 1/3-1/4mm, giving it an effective f/stop between f/172-256. It was also my first time using T-Max 400, which I already knew was going to be way overkill for the pinhole lens.  I noticed that the grain was about the same size between shots on T-Max 100 and Tri-X, and I suspect that even Tri-X is overkill when it comes to sharpness, which means there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be using the fastest, grainiest film I can find!

At least the Caffenol C-L concoction I’m working on doesn’t seem to be hurting me any.  Yet.

This makes me really want to make another pinhole lens, with a much smaller hole…

Caffenol ingredients – Alternative Processes

Finally people have found a good use for coffee!  In 150 years or so when no one is making film or developing chemicals (could be longer), or when you run out and need to develop something right away, at least these products should still be readily available in your area!  I’ve been assembling the ingredients and wanted to source as much of it locally, which ultimately ended up costing me more money and a bit of time, but it can be done, if one is using the Delta-STD recipe.

Instant coffee, the cheaper the better.  There’s this one instant coffee from Germany that supposedly is just the worst ever, I hear it’s perfect for caffenol.  I found it at my local grocery store, it’s the “Psst…” brand.  $3.50

Washing soda (not baking soda), Arm & Hammer brand.  It’s un-American to go with anything else.  $4.50

Vitamin C power needs to be pure Ascorbic Acid, with no additives of any kind.  I finally tracked this down at a health foods & supplements store in town.  8 oz/226g $22.00 (much cheaper online, I found!)

Potassium Bromide (KBr) is not used in Caffenol Delta-STD, but is useful as an anti-fogging agent and is found in the C-M and C-L recipes.  I had no luck tracking this down locally.  Every pharmacy I went to locally or in Colorado Springs said they couldn’t get it anymore.  I also went to my local veterinarian/animal hospital, they could get it, but wouldn’t sell it to me without a prescription.  Maybe if I make my mom’s dog watch enough Pokemon he’ll have seizures and I can get a prescription…?  I was defeated, and ended up buying some from Bostick & Sullivan, the dealer my photo class TA suggested.  250g for $18.00

This will end up being my final project in Alt.Process, but due to time constraints I won’t use caffenol for my Film Scoring assignment.  I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to find KBr locally.  I kind of thought that part of the idea of caffenol was that the ingredients should be readily available, and also affordable.  I’m having my doubts about that right now, but what I don’t know is how many rolls I can develop with what I have, but soon I will find out…

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Edit: everything’s been working out pretty nicely with Caffenol.  This T-Max 400 example is nearly grainless, and other films I’ve tried have reduced grain as well.

Tri-X and Caffenol is not a good idea – Alternative Processes

At least not the Caffenol-Delta recipe!  I jumped in headfirst on this, and should have done a bit more research before I tried it out.  Live and learn, I suppose, but I knew going into it that I was taking a risk, I just wish I had tried it with another roll of film, because I had some beautiful shots on this one, and this roll ended up looking like a reel of super-8 film using a super-grainy stock.  These were all with the pinhole lens, but compare them to what I was able to do in regular D-76.

We had a day of extremely heavy fog, so heavy that after making it 15 miles out of the 40+ down to school and narrowly avoiding 2 accidents in that time, I decided it was a safer bet to pull off CO-24, hang around Woodland Park, and take some pictures instead trying to tempt Fate once again (also, I had Jim Grey’s words rolling around in my head, I’m sure that influenced me).  It really was beautiful, and I love foggy mornings; sadly it’s something that doesn’t happen too much in Colorado, but I’ve been fortunate this year.

The last two shots were fulfilling the requirements of our pinhole assignment in Alt.Process class, which was to construct a pinhole camera and take some pictures of objects that relate to what object the camera was in its previous life (before being turned into a camera).  Since mine is a lens rather than a whole camera, I took pictures of my current film stockpile and collection of Takumar lenses.

This has a good chance of turning into my final in this class, plus I think I can combine it with my current film scoring class assignment, so I’m soldiering on.  I bought some T-Max 400 to try in the delta recipe, and signed up to the caffenol facebook group.  In fact, I’ve learned one rather important thing there just this morning: Tri-X works quite well in the Caffenol-CL recipe, which would really make my life easier, easier than trying caffenol and learning a new film at the same time…