Dec 16 2014

Instax Mini 90 neo classic


The Fuji Instax mini 90 is a fun camera to play with and because the final result is a physical object it opens up the idea of sharing beyond the posting of an image on the internet.  You can actually give someone a photograph.  The Mini 90 adds much more control over image making than is offered by older Instax models.  Things such as multiple exposure, bulb mode and exposure overrides, my favourite though is the ability to suppress the flash.  Instant photography isn’t cheap but if you consider the fact that you are also receiving a print it’s a lot more reasonable.  I recently brought the Mini along on an outing for a highschool photography club and they all seemed to love the novelty of it as they immediately took pictures of the pictures with their cell phones.

Here are some resent sample images from the Fuji Instax Mini 90



Dec 13 2014

Home Developing C41

As a teen I converted the family camper into a darkroom and even did some colour printing from slides, that was a long time ago, but the closing of yet another camera store that handled my film has prompted me to begin developing my own C41.  I’m glad camera stores havent determined that my stepping through their door is the harbinger of doom, but I digress.


After amassing 12 rolls of colour film, and all the necessary items I needed to process them, it was time.  There was no more ‘Oh I just need this’ there were no more reasons to procrastinate.  Here are a few things I learned.

  1. You really do need to have the temperature higher than you will process at when you mix your chemicals (The Blix powder did not dissolve easily at 102′F, I had been hoping that it would so that I only needed to use one temperature).
  2. Leaning into a tub for hours is hard on the back
  3. Squegeeing the film is necessary to reduce the chances of water spots
  4. Thermometers for film developing are slow to react to changes, the digital thermometer I also used allowed faster checks and setting the wash temperature.
  5. Be safe around electricity. All of this goes through a GFI outlet, the controller is fused and I have double sealed the heater because of its age.
  6. Developing your own film is time-consuming but awesome

What you don’t see in this picture is a critical component, my changing bag.  The film needs to be put onto the reals and loaded into the tank in complete darkness of course.

The key thing that made this marathon developing session possible though is my modified aquarium heater controller.  It works with a thermister that changes its resistance based on temperature.  It’s an inverse relationship, the higher the temperature the lower the resistance.  So to hack it to run at a fish cooking 102 degrees Fahrenheit I increased the resistance therefore changing the range it runs at.   This kept a bath of water and the chemical bottles floating in it at the required temperature by turning on the heater any time the temperature dipped.



While I had plans to make an Android app to assist with the timing I ended up using Lab Timer on my iPad which allowed me to easily set up 4 timers for the major processes I needed to do.


Here is the distilled water I used for mixing my chemicals coming up to temperature


Here you can see the heater keeping everything at the right temp, for hours.  As a side note it is plugged into a GFI outlet and I completely resealed the heater with new high temperature gasket goo for vehicles and topped it off with a silicone high temperature grease sealant. You can never be too careful around electricity and water.


After a few fumbles getting the film on the reels I managed to get pretty good at handling the film inside the bag… by the 12th roll.

Not having to worry about the temperature allowed me to concentrate solely on the timing so I was able to do all my agitation and chemical changes accurately and consistently.  There was far more variation in the film that I had used than in the processing.  The worst offender was some outdated Polaroid 400 that nearly turned my developer black.


To finish each pair of rolls I hung the film to dry in the shower, a very dust free location.

It was all well worth the effort and if you discount my time it was about half the price of the cheapest place I have available to me for developing.   I also squeezed in one more roll of Ektar 120 film the next day pushing it from 100 ISO to 400 by increasing the development time.  The chemistry may not be as exhausted as I was but I will start fresh the next time I have a pile of film.  That shouldn’t be too long.  Update: in the time since I first wrote this I’ve sucessfully processed another batch of 13 rolls.

I’m also planning to recover the silver so it doesn’t end up in the environment using the metallic replacement process outlined in Kodak j300 Environmental information from Kodak


And everything fits in a Rubbermade container








Dec 9 2014

Carolin Mine British Columbia

The Cariboo gold rush of the 1860′s is a seminal event in the creation of the province of British Columbia.  The idea of finding gold essentially laying within the gravels of an ancient creek bed captures the imagination even today.  Placer gold like that though is not the only source of the precious metal.  It is also found trapped within rocks elsewhere in British Columbia, mining of this type is refered to as ‘hard rock’ or ‘lode’ mining.


An example of the interesting geology found around the area


The Carolin mine sits in such a location near the Coquihalla river.  While small quantities of gold were removed in this area during the early 1900′s it wasn’t until the Carolin mine operated beginning in 1982 that a significant amount of gold was removed.  43,500 oz are recorded for the 27 month period of operation.  Since that time there have been a number of owners of the mine claims and small amounts of assessment work but mostly the mine buildings and tunnels have been left to decay.


The surrounding area is beautiful though marked by human hands through logging and mining. Of course without either it also wouldn’t be accessible.  It’s never a good idea to go inside an old abandoned mine but it’s clear that the tunnels here are quite stable and do not require any shoring aside from the portal area.


That being said I still left my motorcycle helmet on.

I have since learned that the different levels of the tunnels are interconnected which also explains the cool breeze traveling through the mine delivering fresh air.


The above image is from the New Carolin Gold Corp.

On a photography note, when deciding what camera gear to take I had to balance weight verses capabilities.  Choosing to use the Pentax K-3 for its resolution and low light capabilities was easy but I had a more difficult decision with what lenses to take and which to leave behind.  In this case I opted for the lighter weight Pentax DA 18-55 WR and HD DA55-300  WR lenses as opposed to the faster and better optics of the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135 but with their greater weight.  (The DA* lenses together weigh 608grams more. If the differnece was gold it would be worth about $26,000 CAD).  608 grams may not seem like that much but it can be the difference between carrying an additional lens or a couple small film cameras or the difference between a sore back or not.


After 35km of riding around on some pretty rough roads I was pleased with my choice though I did miss the wider angle and the extra light gathering ability especially being without a tripod (those are pretty heavy too)


Dec 5 2014

Braun Super Paxette Images August 2014


It’s no secret that this is one of my favourite little blocks of steel.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that this camera is nearly 60 years old when you see the results.  My favourite characteristic of the images though has to be the film mask with its wavy edges.  It gives each image a postage stamp like look and proves that you didn’t crop your image.  More images and information about this camera can be seen here Super Paxette Photographers dont crop Paxette More Images Braun Super Paxette (Part 1) Braun Super Paxette (Part 2)

Because of the number of images I will break this into two seperate posts as well but here are the first 20.  There was a lot of smoke from forest fires so many of the landscape images relect that.


Dec 2 2014

Not for walkers


I may have discovered the worst place in Canada to try to go for a walk.  The area around Toronto’s Pearson airport is a wasteland, the sidewalks are littered with holes and obstacles besides the fact they lead to nowhere. The obstacles seem to be primarily signs telling you to use a different non-existent path and unidentifiable  flattened metal things that have come off of vehicles.


My favourite non helpful thing though was the cross walk that led to an island in the roadway with no other exit other than to push the button and wait to go back the way you had come. Later I discovered a less palatable frogger style run across a highway offered but I declined.

I think that the Cab industry must be in charge of the sidewalks


Some of the images from my survival of this pedestrian dystopia can be seen bellow but the most colourful thing and people happening there was the Jem and the Holograms convention that was meeting in the hotel I was staying at. (Ah the 1980′s what joy you continue to give the world)  All of the images were shot with the Pentax Q7.



Nov 29 2014

Braun Super Paxette Let the light shine on you.


After rewinding this film  for what seemed like twice as long as needed and it also becoming much easier, it seemed reasonable that it was time to open my Braun Paxette. I was wrong.  The light came streaming into the back of the camera like someone opening the blinds at a seedy motel.  The worst part of it was the not knowing what was damaged and what was lost for the entire rest of the trip.  Well it turned out that not that much was lost and a few of the images might have been improved.  Someone is bound to ask me what app I used when I post them to Instagram.   I might tell them I used the ‘Open the back App’.


Nov 26 2014

Signs with the Pentax Q7


The full-sized SLR lens is just there to give some scale for the Q7 and the 02 zoom lens.  There may be some overlap with my film shots mostly because I use my Q7 as a lightmeter as well as a camera.  These pictures are just some fun snaps of signs from a trip earlier this year.  For many things the Q7 is perfectly adequite as a photography tool and there is no denying it’s diminutive nature can be a real advantage both in size and inconspicuousness.


Nov 24 2014

Polaroid P-15

That means there are only 14 possible chances at Polaroid Spectra awesomeness and if the poor distribution of the chemicals in this one is any indication the time is running out on these.


Nov 22 2014

The Swap(s) (Olympus SP35 for Canon AE-1 and Minolta X700)


It would have been a lot better story if it had ended as the simple trade of my Canon AE-1 for this Olympus SP35 Rangefinder but things never seem to be that easy.  I suppose I should back up and start from the beginning.  Back as a teenager I bought my first brand new camera a Minolta X700 (Yes the story goes back that far)  Saving you from further boredom I will  jump ahead to this year.  I acquired a Canon A-1 which made my Canon AE-1 superfluous so I decided to sell it and a few others at the local flea-market.  A fellow approached and was looking at the cameras, he too had a camera in a case around his neck.   After a brief discussion it turned out it was an Olympus Sp35 a model which I had never seen before.  It also turned out the wearer of said camera was a photography student and wasn’t happy with it for several reasons one of them being the rangefinder focusing.  He wanted an SLR and I love rangefinders so we did a straight trade, the Canon for the Olympus, and that’s the point at which the story should have had a happy ending but unfortunately didn’t.  I think he hardly got through the first roll before the Canon jammed which isn’t conducive to completing photo assignments. He happened to be taking the photography class with a friend of mine so he contacted me and I met with him to exchange cameras back but I also offered the alternative to keep the Canon and also receive a Minolta X700. A camera which may have been that first camera I ever owned but I can’t be sure because I had two.  He took the Minolta and that’s the last I heard from him.

Well that’s the story of the camera swap at the swap meet.  Fortunately the Olympus SP35 is a fine camera and it’s my new favourite, well until something else comes along.


Nov 18 2014

Ricoh R1 great camera design


What can I say about this camera that hasn’t already been said? Apparently not much, It just works well with no fuss and looks great doing it.  The new Ricoh GR digital camera derives a lot from it despite the nearly 20 years that seperate them.


It’s not just a retro thing like some camera manufacturers are doing there is a continuum of design with Ricoh’s cameras.  Good design doesn’t require radical changes.