Monday, December 3, 2012

A bellows camera made by myself

I started making the bellows, the most difficult part. I didn't know whether I could pass this step successfully and perhaps would need to buy one at ebay. But it did work satisfactorily. Then I took a wooden box and transformed it to the camera body. The cover of the box served as lensboard. With aluminum profiles I made the sliding rails for the plates and the monorail focusing system. Here a paper spring holder cares about the necessary sliding friction and position fixing. As a separate piece I made a guilhotine shutter using also a ring from a broken Konica as lens adapter with 3 screws to fix the 55 mm lens tube. The lens were taken from a binocular.

I also made a ground glass, a plate holder (I am using paper) and a pistol grip to prevent flickering during shutter operation. The shutter may be operated trough a normal shutter release cable and we may also use a timer like shown in the film bellow.

If you have interest in the plans of this camera, please leave your contact.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Following the past of photography

The first successful photographic processes used metal or paper as base for the negative image that resulted directly from the exposure of their surfaces to light. On the case of the daguerreotypes, the positive was a result of the mirror effect of the negative image on the copper silver plated surface. The copper was polished until you could see your face reflected on it and then plated with a very thin silver layer which was then sensitized by exposition in darkness to iodine vapours. The sensitized plate was exposed for some few minutes to light and developed with mercury vapours or, latter, with the Becquerel method of exposition to sun light through a red filter. I don't know much about Talbot's methode but it used paper for the negative, like we can read here. And John Herschel made the first transparent negative on glass as early as 1839 but its general usage started some time latter on the 1850's. The first transparent plastic film was produced in 1889.

What I want to say is that transparent negative film is an invention that follows the opaque bases for negatives, metal or paper. Even the first flexible photographic roll film made by Eastman Kodak in 1885, was actually coated on paper.

The need of transparent bases for the negative was primarily to allow reproduction by the same methode used for the negative. A paper negative, due to the structure of the paper, gives worst positives than those made with a transparent support. This is more or less obvious. What is difficult to understand is that film remained a standard until today, even tought that the reproduction techniques such as normal scanners are not conceived to give good and fast reproductions of a transparency. They can reproduce paper prints and daguerreotypes much better than transparencies.

The photos below were made with a bellows camera made by my self, using a lens from a cheap binocular, on Ilford paper, Multigrade IV brilliant. Exposisions between 10 and 30 seconds at a 20 W fluorescent light at home. No shutter, just a cover which is removed and placed back manually.

The paper has some advantages over film. It is less delicate, can be handled without extreme care. It does not attract dust as easily as film. It is also more resistent and can be archived in shoeboxes or in albuns. I think that it would be a great thing if some manufacturer offers 'paper film' at least in medium format.  The paper should be thinner than the regular photo paper and can do more photos than the film because it will consist on just paper and not paper + film like the 120 rolls.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paper roll film, why not ?

«Early photography in the form of daguerreotypes did not use film at all. The light-sensitive chemicals were formed on the surface of a silver-plated copper sheet. Beginning in the 1850s, thin glass plates coated with photographic emulsion became the standard medium. Although fragile and heavy, the glass used for photographic plates was of better optical quality than early transparent plastics and was, at least at first, less expensive. The plates continued to be used long after the introduction of film, and are still manufactured for scientific use. Eastman Kodak marketed the first flexible photographic roll film in 1885, but this original "film" was actually coated on paper. After exposure, as part of the processing, the image-bearing layer was stripped from the paper base and transferred to a glass support to facilitate printing from it. »
In Wikipedia

The need of a transparent support for negatives is not necessary anymore, since scanners can reproduce images by reflection and the negatives can be inverted by means of software. In some of my uncontrolled experiments I also obtained positive images instead of negative and I could scan the film reflexive, instead of transparency. Now that I am involved with large format, I am using paper for the negatives and they are very easy to handle and store, not so fragile like film. There is also a direct positive paper that is used mainly for pinhole photography, a product from of the Ilford house, very expensive by the way.

It is possible that some day, we will have film manufactures offering paper film, 35 mm, 120 and so on. For the very small formats like APS or 110 it may not have the same detail as transparent films but for 120 film and maybe 35mm it can work very well. I will be trying the next with 6x6 cameras using paper as negative. Below you find two pictures, both shot with a 9x12 camera using Ilford Multigrade IV Paper as negative and scanned reflexive and inverted via software. The Ilford paper was used as ISO 25 in the first picture. In the second photo I don't know, it was exposed with fluorescent light (20W) during 30 sec. at f/5.6. It is underexposed, giving this black/blue when inverted and thus the daguerreotype look enhanced with finger prints during development.

Example I

Rxample II

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New acquisition

Last weekend I travelled to Oporto, a town in the North of Portugal to meet someone who offered me an old camera he got from the parents and manufactured about the 1926. It is a nice piece from the house Zeiss-Ikon, in very good working condition, 9x12cm plate size. And it costs me just a 'thank you'. Ok, I had to pay the train and taxi to get to the person's house, but a lot less than the same piece costs at ebay, I already searched a similar one. It has a 135mm lens on a Compur shutter that works like a clock. A german clock.
9x12cm Zeiss-Ikon from about 1926

Photo made with the camera above

I bought some photo paper of the size 13x18, I cut it to 9x13 and feed into the plate holder that came with the camera. The picture above was made at 1/50 s and f/11. This means that the photo paper must be considered as having as much as 25 ASA because at f/16, the speed would be 1/25 (the f/16 rule). I was a little surprised with this, never expected that high but it is like this. I was thinking about purchasing film but I don't need anymore if the paper is that sensible. Increasing speed to 1/100 s allows the use of f/8 or larger for less iluminated scenes. At this speed no tripod is needed. Difficult is to get the image foccused, every small difference is important. The marks of distance on the camera don't give a sharp image, I had to use a ground glass and a magnifying lens to achieve a more or less sharp image. But can be better, I think. Next time, I hope. I need more practice.

The paper was developed in 1+10 dilluted parodinal made with paracetamol, sodium metabissulfite and sodium hydroxide. Development takes 2 minutes only. Fixer of sodium thiosulfate. The sepia tone was given by the software used.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A new 2-bath developer for black and white film

Discussing a topic at the Flickr group «The new Caffenol Home and Other fun of Alchemy», the member Giorgio suggested a 2-bath developer where the first bath was a mix of parodinal and vitamine C and the second bath the alkali borax. I started trying and came to the conclusion that the following recipe works very well and I am using the same bath A since one month now.

Bath A:

100 ml Parodinal
30 g Vitamine C
WTM 1 liter

Bath B:

50g/liter solution of Sodium Carbonate
1g/liter Potassium Bromide

PS - This recipe will be added to my collection of experimented recipes here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Horseman sharpness with Wollensak 135mm

I don't have yet a ground glass to adjust focus on my Horseman medium format camera. I have to measure focal distances at home, improvising a ground glass with translucid paper, putting marks along the rail and then going outside and using these marks. As first, I was testing the mark of infinity, letting the others for a next time. I think it is almost done, but a ground glass and a veil opaque to light is necessary for shorter distances in order to get sharper pictures, I think. I never used such kind of cameras and I might beeing telling nonsense. The camera has a side viewer that looks like a telemeter, but I need instructions on how to use it. I see two overlaped pictures which overlaping disadjustment depends on the object distance and this may help to estimate the distance of the object, but I need a rule for that, I am trying to find it. And here are two photos of the last roll with the Horseman:

Example 1

Example 2
The roll was developed with Dignn's 2-bath method, in the meantime this method is giving better results because I decided to extend the developing times to about 10 minutes each, developer's bath A and bath B. You need also more time for bleach or blix at room temperature, about the same 10 minutes or more, depending on the freshness and room temperature.


When I see a nice camera at flee market, normaly I can't resist. But I need to gain space for new acquisitions. I am selling a lot of seven, packed in a new aluminum case:

For sale
More information...

Improving Holga 120 GN

Like I announced here, my Holga 120GN was 'upgraded' to make some 60 pictures with a nonperforated 35mm roll (brand General Photo). I made a mask that used the entire width of the roll (35mm) and about 24mm of the lenght. Because the normal lens act as a weak tele, 60mm focal lenght instead of the normal 50mm for a 35mm full frame, I thought about using a wide angle lens to turn the modified Holga into an almost normal camera. Yes, it worked, and I also used a fish eye lens but it distorts too much the pictures. The wide angle lens are 0.5 x, so, instead of 60mm we have a 30mm focal lenght which allows further reduction of the picture. I will use this possibility to make a smaller mask and let margins in the film. The new size will be then 30x20 mm with 2,5mm margin on each side. This is exactly in the same proportion 3:2 of the normal 35mm full frame but the 30mm focal lenght is still a weak wide angle lens, maybe 0.6 or 0.7.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3 - Fish eye distortion

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mini photo contest at Facebook

I started this mini contest on last Monday and there are more than 100 competitors. On Saturday we know who the winner is. This winner receives as price a camera Holga. Not much but it was a nice entertainement.

Link to the contest:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First time with color and the Horseman camera

I like this tree



A turn on the road

Public hand washing utility
I had not enough time yesterday to write something about these photos. But here am I, almost sleeping, to make a very condensed appreciation. I made a 2 mm in excess mistake in focusing the camera for the photos recquiring infinity. Depending on the aperture they are more or less out of focus. The last one is sharp because I preserved the same distance as the others.

The development was still Dignan's (I have to try caffcol again!) with Blix of ferric EDTA+Ammonium Thiosulfate. No problem with a cheap film of Lomography (I think it is Foma in fact...) 400 ISO. The colors are not that brillant but quite realistic, I like it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Professional film medium format

I allways wanted a versatile medium format camera like a Horseman. I found one that was beeing sold without lens and with some minor problems like very used bellows and a broken plastic lock button. But for that price I would have to wait some months or would never come again. So, I bought the camera and I have been studying how it works. On the other hand I have been busy making a lensboard to adapt a Wollensak-Rapax lens 135 mm, f/4.7. It worked very well, better than I expected.

Here is the camera:

Horseman 980 with a Wollensak/Rapax lens/shutter

1/100 s at f/22, developed with homemade parodinal and fixed with salt
One of the set with Fomapan 100 ISO
I must say that the photos of this first roll are almost good. Now, with the increase in the quality of the camera, it is not a Holga anymore but that is another story, I am missing the quality in the scan. In fact I think that these photo scanners are not a very good idea because they introduce many noise, reflected lines, durst (even with the anti-durst software) and they are so miserabily slow. I think I will return to my macros with increased quality, a better rig to digitize the negatives.

Today I exposed two color rolls with the Horseman and they are hanging now to dry. Tomorrow I will show some pictures of this batch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Digital single lens reflex camera and compact cameras

When I bougth my only DSLR, a Sony A290, I knew nothing about these kind of cameras. I only knew it should make better photos, something between amateur and professional digital photography. I am a little disappointed, however, I expected much better results than those I reached with the compact cameras.

Recently I decided to compare the Sony A290 with a compact one, the Olympus SZ-14. Both have about 14 MP sensors but different sizes and types. The Sony has a CMOS image sensor of the size APS-C (half frame) and the Olympus has a CCD sensor of the size 1/2.3", much smaller than the Sony A290 one and the same used in many compact cameras of other brands too.

Both cameras were adjusted to the same ISO setting of 100 and with the widest possible angle, pointing to infinity in a cloudy day but clear.

Cropped  image of Sony A290

Detail of the picture above (Sony A290)
The same detail of a picture shot with Olympus SZ-14
The Sony A290 was set to the best JPEG image (RAW was not better, I also tried), the same with the Olympus SZ-14. As documented above, there isn't such a big difference, the Sony image is smoother but the lens (standard with the camera) are a little unsharp, as shown. I would say, unless we use a better lens with the Sony, it is not a great advantage the use of a cheap DSLR camera in what picture general quality is concerned.

What then are these DSLR cameras for? Which advantages they have? The manual operation, the optical viewfinder and the shorter field depth, when this is wanted. If you like to have full easy control on the settings, like aperture, speed and field depth then these DSLRs are a good choice. But if you are looking for a much better picture quality, you must consider buying a full frame DSLR of more than 20MP but costing about 5000 euro or more.

The good thing in this compact Olympus SZ-14 is the 24x optical zoom and its elegant appearence and easy handling. The adjustable focal lenght (zoom) allows short field depths too, like shown in the picture bellow. The main disadvantage of it is the absence of an optical viewfinder and less manual control. If you want to see what you are shooting with a compact camera, you may adapt an extern viewfinder, that avoids the blending of the screen when the light is falling in it from back.

Using zoom it is possible to have a short field
depth with the compact Olympus SZ-14

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Colored B&W photos

If you scan a black and white negative in color mode, you will probably get a colored monochromatic image, the color will depend on the scanner settings. I got directly the image number 4 which was enhanced a little with Photoscape, increasing luminosity. Image number one was produced inverting pic. 4 and reinverted after aplying sepia to the negative image. Picture number 2 was a superimposition of 1 and 4 as layers in GIMP and finaly picture 3 was obtained from 4 filtering the reddish-yellowish spectrum with Photoscape.

Picture 1 is the cold version, picture 4 is the warm version and the others are in between. Personally I prefer picture number 2. Make your choice!

From a B&W negative

The original negative is a set of 60 photos made with an unperforated 35mm film in a Holga 120GN. This film was developed in a 2-bath developer of Parodinal+Vit.C and fixed with sodium chloride (table salt).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More than 50 pictures with a 36 exp. 35mm film in a Holga 120

As I already announced in another topic, I used now a not perforated 35 mm roll in a Holga 120GN. I reached 60 exposures, although this wil be not repeated, the frames have no space in between to divide clearly one photo from the other. I think that 50 photos is a good figure. In general the photos are OK, at the outer edges there are unavoidable marks of the reel of the developer tank. Another difficult issue is to scan the film without Newton rings, but I will make an adequate rig for that later on. Here is one of the 7 stripes with a total of 60 pics:

35mm Stripe
One of the 7 stripes of not perforated 35 mm roll in a Holga 120GN

And here is one of the photos of the stripe above:

The shepherd and his sheeps
Shepherd and his sheeps

The film is a 400 ISO but exposed as 100 ISO, compensated at development.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cropping 120 Holga's image

The focal distance of the 120 Holga is 60mm. Using the mask 4,5x6 cm is equivalent to a 35 mm lens for a 35 mm camera. This is clearly a wide angle lens, since the normal lens for 35 mm cameras are typically 50 mm. Thus, reducing the area of the image in a 120 Holga to the size of a 35mm camera (full frame) is like using 60mm lens in a 35 mm camera. This is almost a normal lens for 35mm cameras. And I must say that it is not unconfortable to use 60 mm focal lenght as the normal lens in a 35mm camera.

Further, if we wanted to use the Holga with a normal lens, that is to say, not a wide angle lens like it is by nature, we would need a lens of about 85 mm focal length.

On the other hand, we might think that cutting image information is not wise, but there are good reasons for that. All lenses are sharper at the center and the quality becomes worst with the distance to the center. The cropped image discards then the portions of the image with the poorest quality. This makes much sense when using cheap lenses like in a Holga.

Photo made with a Holga 120 GN
The other advantadge is that instead of just 16 photos you get 27 to 28 photos. Forget the numbers window, start at the second circle before pic. number 1 and count 15 clicks for the first 4 pics, after the fourth shot  reduce to 14 clicks for the next 4 pics and so on until 11 clicks as minimum clicks between shots.

But my last modification of the Holga will allow me to shoot some 50 photos, using a slightly smaller mask, 22x33 mm instead of 24x36mm and a special 35 mm/36exp. roll without sprocket holes, as I said already in another post.

Photoscape and chemistry

I am using the software Photoscape (not Photoshop), a free software that is working fine with me. It is fast and easy to use. Especially if your computer is not the ultimate, it will help a lot to tweak your scanned photos. The program has several modules, one of them I used to make pages of already treated photos. 

Holga 120 GN with a 24x36 mm mask
Holga 120 GN with a 24x36 mm mask
Konica Z-up 110
The second and third series were made yesterday. The second series is from a B&W roll developed with Parodinal-C 2 bath developer and served to establish the final version (see recipes). It is working very well and is recommended for medium or large format and not so demanding 35 mm pictures.

The third series was made to test a small point & shoot camera I bought at ebay. Developed in Dignan's 2-bath developer.

So, I am now working with 2-bath developers for both B&W and color. The bath B is the same for both processes. If you are looking for a minimal concept, in what chemicals are concerned, so here you have a suggestion. I am not advising, I am not an expert, I am a just a hobbyist sharing his experiences.

Color C-41
Black and White
Bath A1 – CD4+Sulfite
Bath A2 – Parodinal-C
Bath B – Soda + KBr
Rinse with water 3 times
Bleach – Betadine 10%
Rinse 3 times with water
Fixer – Ammonium Thiosulfate
Washing very well

This is what I am doing at the moment, I am using at all 5 baths to develop color and B&W films. Bath B and Fixer are the same for both processes. In principle, bath A1 will also be right for B&W films but I never tried it. Some other time I will try and maybe the baths needed could be reduced to just 4 for both color and B&W, where for B&W we bypass bleach.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Holgagraphy - 3

I received today some special 35mm B&W rolls that have no sprocket holes at all. This is perfect for the mask I made for the Holga 120 GN, slightly modified. In fact, if the film is 35 mm wide the image can't be 36. So I choosed 33 mm, leaving 1mm margin on both sides. For this width and to get a 2:3 picture, I choosed 22 mm on the other dimension. 22x33 mm instead of 24x36, the difference is small, 8,3% less. The roll is about 1330mm long, exposable lenght, so it is theorethicaly possible to make about 50 photos with this roll, what is fantastic. On the other hand, the rolls have a reusable cartridge and serve to be reloaded and turns the B&W photography really cheap.

Tomorrow I will be shooting with a Holga and with this rolls, to be developed in Parodinal-C 2-bath, one of the cheapest developers too.

The second 120 roll exposed, although I polished the mask, gave also scratches because I had a fels paper making too much pressure on the film. I hope this problem is now completely solved for this new 'technology'.

You may appreciate the quality of the photos that may be obtained in this way, by cutting the outer parts which are not so sharp. Also the developer is great, giving a very good grey scale.

Train station at Caldas

Houses of Caldas

Fruit market

Public water tap

Leiria Shopping

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Aluminum mask
I am very happy that I had the idea of making a mask in the dimensions 24x36 mm for my Holga 120 GN. Some posts ago I showed a paper mask but it was so successful that I decided to make an aluminum mask, something more solid. This mask replaces completely the masks used in Holga, it is another format and for me it has many advantages:

  1. The first advantage is that you expose 27 or 28 photos instead of the maximum of 16 provided by the 45 x 60 mm mask. So, it is cheaper.
  2. The photos are more sharp over the whole image because this is more in the center, cutting the less sharp parts of the image.
  3. The film has a margin where you may hold it without gloves and insert in the scanner or enlarger.
There are also some disadvantages, for instance:
  1. The lens will be used as a tele and not as the normal 60 mm. This disadvantage may be overcome using a wide angle. I am waiting for one I ordered to test. This wide angle will probably bring the image to its normal view.
  2. The image has no vignette at all. If you like the vignetting, you may put it with a free image software  like Photoscape.
  3. The counter of the pictures already exposed is more difficult because the needed correct numbers are not there. You may start counting 15 clicks spacement for the first 4 pictures, 14 for the next 4, 13 for the next 4 and so on, 12 for the next 4 and 11 for the rest.
The first roll exposed with this new mask suffered some scratches because the mask was not polished prior to first use. But it is already polished and the second roll is drying after exposure, today. I may post some photos tomorrow.


Arboretum vignetted with Photoscape
These two pictures have horizontal lines, scratched by the sharp edges of the mask, the problem is already fixed. In the second image I include a soft vignette with Photoscape tools.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Holga and Lomography

Like almost everyday, I took a camera, this time the same Holga I have been using for some days, I loaded it with a color film from Lomography and took some 25 pictures with a mask sized 24x36 mm. The weather was clear but it was late, the sun was going down quickly. Most of the pictures were made in shadow but none was lost.

I used again the Dignan's 2-bath developer, the same bath A I have been using and that already developed some ten or more films, it works like new. The second bath is only 5% soda and 0,1% KBr, Potassium Bromide. Classical C-41 process does not include KBr, and it is not recommended either. Only using this 2-bath allows to use KBr without spoiling the film.

Together with some very «lomographic» pictures I have got some good ones and both are shown bellow. So, I am now quite satisfied with Dignan's process which is very tolerant with times and temperature and works at room temperature. Well, but I am still looking for a homemade color developer. The issue with hair dye didn't convince me because it is unpredictable. But there may be a way to put it working.