Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just a few experimental Polaroid shots today, using Type 88. The camera is a Square Shooter with the front end (lens) of a Colorpack, for the glass lens and ability to switch between 75 and 3000 ISO. I like to abuse the heck out of Polaroids to see what they do, as you can screw with them quite a bit while they are developing for the 30-45 seconds. Bang them around, press on them, slide the print around on the goop...all kinds of stuff.

Who says a photo has to be a picture of something?

I like the intensity of colors with Type 88...and a low light situation makes the shutter drag nicely.

Faux vintage, beat to hell and back. Remember whan I mentioned lightleaks on Polaroids? More on that later.

Check out other experiments with Polaroids at Polaroid Abuse on Flickr.

Anyway, off to Cali tomorrow, with a bag of cameras in hand! Taking...a Holga, two Dianas (just in case one stops working), a Polaroid, the Lark, and a Fujipet. Plus my digital and a Spongebob Squarepants disposable. I think that's it. Should be plenty enough to annoy the girlfriend.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One of my first attempts at the homemade lens thing... nothing too exciting, but it actually worked! Done by stacking a few things that shouldn't work, but work well together! I'll mess around a bit now that I know I can get an image (most combinations yielded nothing but blur). The camera body was a Banner (Diana clone).

And this shot was achieved by just holding a lens in front of the (lenseless) barrel with my hand. Again, not too interesting as a photo, but the idea merits some future experimentation.

Found out a bit more about the Lark camera (see last week's post) from a friend on toycamera.com. Made around 1939, 3x4cm format on 127 film. Valued at $25-$40 US. Pretty funky looking camera...looks like something that should have been made 15 years earlier. I'll take some shots with it later this week.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lightleaks...You can screw up your film on purpose!

You can also create lightleaks on film after you have shot the roll (or, theoretically, before, but I haven't tried this). When you see really strong, overpowering lightleaks, chances are it's not the camera, but the handling of the film. This can occur as you pull the film out of the camera if the film is loose on the roll, exposing the edges to light...or you can leak up your roll manually. To do so, you want to make sure the film isn't rolled tight. It doesn't have to be really loose, though the more loose it is, the larger the leak, typically. What I do is squeeze the loose roll and hold it up to a light.

You can do this as many times as you want, to both ends, for as long as you want, depending on how much leakage you want. And it really is a crapshoot. I've leaked the film for what seems like minutes, to find almost no leaking, and flashed a roll for a millisecond and ruined the roll.

Leaks are pretty much completely random, and you pretty much just have to hope for the best:

...and expect to lose your image quite often:

One of the niftier effects of leaking film is the burning of numbers, images and text from the paper backing:

These waves were actually from rerolling new film with really old paper backing.

Again, this is completely random. You kind of have to not take things so seriously to do this. If you think you have a one-of-a-kind, this will never happen again shot, you may not want to chance ruining it by leaking your film. It definitely requires a "jump in head first" attitude. You will have plenty of photos like this Fujipet shot, where the leaks are cool, but add absolutely nothing the image, other than to make it messy:

So it requires a bit of faith...in the random nature of whatever. I go through phases where I leak everything, then I don't intentionally leak anything. People tend to like leaks, or they hate them (kind of a toycam attitude, actually...some people think crappy cameras are just...crap). They really can make the photo, but I don't think you should rely on them to make bad photos good. I see a million photos on flickr that look like, "Hey, here are a bunch of pictures of my backyard, but look at the cool lightleaks!" You need a decent shot underneath the leaks to make a great photo that has leaks. Though a potentially boring shot can sometimes be made lovely with the perfect leak. This shot is a combo of natural and artificial leaking...

So give it a try! And don't be afraid to destroy all that you love to achieve a perfect leaked shot. Well, maybe not all that you love...just your small pets and youngest child.
kidding. I'm a kidder. I kid. Take the leap! Take a great roll of photos and then don't be afraid to ruin it! That's part of the fun of toy cameras...the unpredictability of it all.

I'll talk about lightleaks and Polaroids another day. True leaks? Mmmmm...could be (so said Bugs Bunny).

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lightleaks...natural style.

Lightleaks are a staple of toy/crappy camera photos. Not all cameras leak, and not all leaky cameras leak the same. A lightleak is just what it sounds like...light that has leaked onto the film, creating a streak or blotch, whatever. There are what I call natural leaks, which are purely dependant on the camera used, and artificial leaks, which are real, but come from manipulating the film after the roll is removed from the camera (or during removal, if the film isn't wound tight).
Holgas almost always leak...BUT if you are using a mask, you may not ever see them. The most common Holga leak are the two stripes at the top. This photo also has some leaking on the side, from an ill-fitting back...the second most common leak. This happens because the seal is broken, or non-existent (as on the Holga). Hard plastic on plastic doesn't make the best seal.

Holgas are built cheap, and they play cheap. The longer you use them, the more they leak. They probably also leak when you twist the winder, as it puts stress on the body and creates gaps between the parts. Kaloosh, on flickr, has some beautiful examples of natural leaks, as her Holga slowly gave up the ghost and stopped working:

Aya Sofya Interior N° 5, Istanbul Turkey

The most common leak on a Diana is the triangle burn at the top of the frame (which probably comes from the bottom of the camera, but I'll talk about that another day).

The small leak at bottom right was from a crack in the barrel. It eventually turned into this (and worse) on a particularly cold day in Flagstaff...

I took the camera apart, sealed up the crack with black tape, and then taped the hell out the barrel. This camera has a great lens, so I didn't want to lose it!

I have another Diana clone called the Banner, which is a "true" clone. The Snappy has the same build and body as the diana. The Banner is a cheap knockoff of a cheap camera. It's like the gumball machine version of a Diana. Everything that should fit together, doesn't. That's what makes it so great! A good site that explains the differences with many examples resides here. Below, you can see the Banner was leaking while I was winding the film:

Many older cameras just leak around the edges, from being made cheaply, warping/dents, or from seals gone bad. This was taken with an Imperial 620 Snapshot camera. As you can see, color film usually yields red leaks.

A funny leak coming from the side on this Fujipet. Great green color! I think I cross-processed this film, which would explain the odd color. The seal on this camera was a little bent.

This leak came from running 35mm through a 120 camera. 120s have a red counter window on the back that needs to be covered up, as 35mm film doesn't have paper backing. I have a hard time getting the tape to stay on through an entire roll.

Some minor leakage from the side on this shot taken with an Argoflex 75...a camera that probably shouldn't leak, since it has a fairly solid build. The film is Perfect Pan, expired August 1968.

So, basically, any old or cheap camera can leak. If you have a camera that leaks, but don't want it to leak? Tape. Black electrical tape is the lightleak's enemy. You can use storebought tape, but there is a nice brand you can get on the internet that peels off and doesn't leave sticky residue. Don't know what kind, but a Google search should bring it up. I see it on ebay sometimes, too. Mine came with my Holga. I keep the pieces and reuse them as much as I can, to make it last.

To see many other examples of lightleaks, check out this lightleaks flickr group dedicated to the cause.

I will cover artificial leaking of your film another day!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Picked up a new (old) camera on ebay... the Lark by Irwin Corp. I couldn't find much (anything, really) about the camera or the company, other than that they also made a TLR called the Irwin Dual Reflex. Looks to be from the 1920s, with the Art Deco font, but I could be wrong.

The take-up spool winder was frozen from rust, but a little WD-40 and a Robogrip took care of the problem. It takes 127 film...there was also an old Kodak 127 spool in the camera. The guts couldn't really be any more basic. A shutter plate sitting directly on the barrel, with a metal lens plate screwed on top. It has a instant and time (bulb) settings. That's it! The shutter seems responsive, with a quick snap. A lot of old cameras have slow, sticky shutters.

The camera body is basically a sardine can. The back just sits on the body with a small screw on the top edge. I would be surprised if it didn't leak light from somewhere on the body, as there isn't any kind of seal along the edges and it is made entirely of metal. Did I mention how heavy it is? From the picture, it looks fairly small, but it's actually quite large for a 127 camera, and weighs more than a decent 35mm camera.

When I get some pictures taken with it, I'll post a few with comments. I like 127 film, but it is kind of expensive, and a roll typically yields only 8 rectangular shots, though some do 12 square shots. I'm not sure how many the Lark takes. Looks like maybe 12 from the shape of the frame.

This shot was taken with another 127 camera, the Ilford Sporti 4. The shutter on this camera is very slow, even after cleaning, so I've only used it once. Pity, since it's a nifty looking camera.

And this is another shot taken with the Kodak Brownie Holiday 127 camera, using expired film.

Has kind of a dustbowl era feel to it. Shot at Dreamy Draw in Phoenix, AZ.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day one...nothing much yet! A site to talk about photography or whatever I feel like rambling on about.

A shot from Phoenix, taken with a Diana camera and developed with Diafine. Not sure why the grain is so heavy, but I like it. The banding at the top happens a lot when I use Diafine. Need to get just the right amount of agitation. Fun developer to use, but it is quirky. Mostly a no-brainer, though, which is nice when I don't feel like dealing with specific developing times.

Diafine also works well for developing expired film. With other developers, a lucky guess on development time is required (sometimes up to 20 minutes!). With Diafine, I just add 2 extra minutes to each developer (5 and 5), since too long doesn't matter with Diafine. This was shot with a Kodak Brownie Holiday Camera, Using Rex 127 film that expired August 1965.

This is with a Snappy, which is a Diana clone. The film is Ansco Plenachrome, expired February 1952. That's 54 years old! I'm surprised it took an image so well. Again with Diafine.

More to come! Off to California in a week, plan to take lots of shots.
The plan is to post something every day that I am home ... at least one photo, if nothing else.