Tag Archives: Lomography

Sardine Tin Camera: MKii

MKii_08_sml

My first attempt at making a camera from a sardine tin worked as well as I could have hoped, but there was plenty of room for improvement.

Read more about my first attempt here

One of the shortcomings of the original design [mk1] was that I was only getting around 25 exposures from a 36 exposure film. This I believe, is to do with the width of the ‘exposure chamber’. [might have just made that name up?] By this I mean each section of film had to travel quite a distance between the [light tight] unexposed film roll and the [relatively light tight\] take-up spool. This could  potentially leave the film open to light from subsequent exposures hitting the previous exposure before reaching the take-up spool. To remedy this I added a screen / flap between the ‘exposure chamber’ and the take up spool that will hopefully protect the exposed film and the take up spool from said light leaks. This also means I’ve had to move the aperture slightly off centre.

MKii_16_sml

The biggest and most exciting modification I’ve made is to the take_up spool. However, I must now confess that although my principal intention was to build a camera from things easily found around the house I have started to stray from this with a few of my modifications. My first attempt of a functioning  take-up spool broke half way through it’s maiden voyage and subsequently some of the film ripped. Also, the design of the take-up spool encouraged further light leaks that aren’t always desired.

MKii_10_sml

The first advance in design was to replace the former sewing thread spool with a proper 35mm spool and make wooden holders for the spool to sit in.

MKii_11_sml

Then I made a wooden peg [above] that slots inside the spool hub, allowing it to turn. Into one end of the peg I glued a piece of 5mm K&S brass tubing. This can be bought from most model shops where model train enthusiasts hang out. I found a brass radiator/ central heating key for the advance, as the beer top was a little clumsy which a piece of K&S brass tubing fit perfectly.

MKii_12_sml

In order to then connect the radiator key to the 5mm tube in the wooden peg I soldered a smaller 4mm piece of K&S brass tubing. I used silver solder as that’s what I had but lead solder that plumbers use is easier to get hold of from DIY shops and is much cheaper. Silver solder is much stronger too. This modification should hopefully make the camera completely light tight.

MKii_04_sml

Once it came to attaching the film to the take up spool I could have just taped it, like you do with the Holga. However, 35mm spools have a clever little hook thing on the inside of the spool hub which holds it in place. I thought I’d try to be clever and attempt to recreate this by punching a hole in the beginning of the roll…

MKii_05_sml

…but soon realised that the hole is a little off centre. I punched more holes in the film but made a right pigs ear of the job so just tapped the factory cut attachment from the old roll to my film.

MKii_06_sml

This time I’ve loaded the camera with 100 ISO film which will make the exposure time around 1.7 seconds.

MKii_07_sml

All in all I’m pretty happy with the modifications and the advance spool works perfectly. All I need to do now is expose the film, so please check back soon for my results.

Bob

pinbox

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

SLIM-WIDE: a summer romance

SLIMWIDE_07

The slim-wide is modest and understated but a true backyard shooter. It’s the reincarnation of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, which has a huge cult following but is now made by the guys at Superheadz.

At first it was quite easy to be underwhelmed by this modest little camera but is simplicity is what makes it so special; it does one job and it does it beautifully well. It partly to do with the lens which is pretty wide at 22mm, which considering fisheye lenses start at around 15mm and our own angle of view is somewhere between 35 – 50mm [relative to 35mm film] you can squeeze a lot in. It means that the angle of view is around 90 degrees or in other words, if you have your fingers to close to the lens then there’s a good chance your fingers will feature in the shot.

SW_FRONT

However, the wide angle isn’t it’s only trick. The Vivitar was know for producing lens flare, sharp and vivid shorts and heavy vignetting. I think this reincarnation delivers on all three. This was my first roll of film through the slim wide and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with the outcome. When put into perspective I don’t think a similar priced digital camera could produce shots anywhere as pleasing. It’s also important to bear in mind that like it’s contemporaries at Lomography there’s little quality control on these plastic lenses so each one will have it’s own personality. Some may give more lens flare and vignetting but I think this one’s hit it just about right.

SW_01

Nevertheless, I think I underestimated the wide angle slightly and I possibly could have got a little closer to my subjects. For example, with the photo below I possibly could have stood where the drain cover is and still got the building, phone boxes and bloke on the phone in shot. Or better still, just the guy and the phone boxes would have made a much better photo.

SLIMWIDE_01

I think this really highlights why I continue use and get excited to use cameras such as this. Primarily for the level of chance or imminent failure when using ‘toy’ cameras that often leads to many a happy accident. But secondly to reenforce the fundamentals of photography. Cameras with such limits of functionality [like the slim wide, if not all toy cameras] the strongest tool we have in our toy camera box is composition. Since there’s no way of influencing the exposure you just have to keep you eyes pealed for that killer moment, aim to be in the right place at the right time with the knowledge your slim-wide is instantly ready to go [as long as you’ve advance the roll!] I think that purity is something to embrace.

SLIMWIDE_06

Finally, I think it’s important to know what conditions the slim wide performs best in [same with all toy cameras] and thus play to it’s strengths. The slim wide is a true backyard shooter that loves the sun. So take it to the beach or to a festival. Don’t worry if you get sun lotion on it or spill a bit of beer over it and most of all encourage lens flare because that’s what it wants. So now you know it loves the sun and how wide the lens is so I implore you to use this to it’s full potential. If you’re after hipster status then you might find the slim wide a little underwhelming. But if you want to bring your photography back to basics then I think the slim wide is a great addition to your quiver.

SLIMWIDE_04

HAPPY ACCIDENT

Bob – pinbox

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

GOLDEN HALF: roll one

GH_FRONT

Yep, just another toy camera but this one makes me so very happy. It’s a half frame camera meaning it cuts a regular 35mm frame in half, so a 36 exposure film gives you 72 half frame photos.

GH_08

See full set here

It pays attention to the details; it looks cool, it’s small, the viewing frame is directly above the lens making framing adjustment a little easier and it’s got a hot shoe. However, best of all it’s got two apertures: f/11 for sunny days and f/8.5 for cloudy days. Although it only has the one fixed shutter speed [1/100th of a second] the two aperture settings give you that extra bit of tolerance to keep shooting in lower light conditions [EV12-13]. This means that if you’re using ISO 100 film you should potentially still get a decent exposure on overcast days and push a evening sunset shots with ISO 400. It coped well on a dull winters day [above] and produced some lovely colours.

GH_11

The start of a great night in Amsterdam

But the real charm of the camera is the dialogue and discourse that is generated by the two little half-frame photo’s per print. Having two shots of the same subject or moment offers up a conversation and if you happen to leave your camera a few weeks half way through a roll of film you may get some interesting conversations going on. A great example in black & white here from the dude on the bike.

This was my first roll through the Golden Half and there is plenty of scope for creativity and experiment now I know what it can do.

If you want to see more from the set just go here

Bob – pinbox

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

35mm and the Holga

HOLGA35

FULL SET HERE

I found my Holga! I had this terrible thought that it had been accidentally taken to the charity shop or left behind the last time I moved house. But there in a inconspicuous box lay the most precious and brilliant piece of plasticky tat I own. If you’re unfamiliar with the Holga then is a very ‘affordable’ no frills camera that takes film.

I’m sure there are many that would stick their noses up at these very modest cameras but this is probably because there comparing the Holga et al to super fancy digital cameras. Well STOP that right now! For me the Holga isn’t about if its better of worse than another camera but rather a creative tool; a means rather than an end. For example, when I went to art college we pretty much spent the first month drawing things with sticks or  with our left hand or with our eyes closed etc. This was simply to get us out the mindset that we all had to be classically trained sketch artists. These exercises helped us learn to let go and maybe tap into or find something that we didn’t know was there.  This is something you’ll ever or very rarely achieve with digital and this for me is why film is still relevant and worth using.

UNDER THE BRIDGE

UNDER THE BRIDGE

So the Holga is a simple camera. It has a shutter with one pre-set  shutter [1/100th of a second], a maximum of two apertures [post 2009 models have two f/13 & f/20]. You have focus although limited [here’s proof http://bit.ly/13mcRj2%5D. Finally, it’s up to you which film you load the camera with and how you develop it which are possibly the two biggest factor in the end result. But in short these limitations force you to approach and think about what you’re pointing your camera at in a different way which can be quite liberating. Also, it makes you really appreciate light metering and auto focus when you do use your digital camera.

HOLGA_FRONTNow I’ve justified my existence I’ll get to the point.

There are 35mm Holga’s available but the model I use can be loaded with both 120 medium format film and 35mm and that’s what I did here.

LOADING CAMERA:

HOLGA_BK

Here I used some foam cut from a cheap sponge to hold the film in place. There are many way so do this but I like this method as the sponge can be squeezed into the gaps to give a nice snug fit. Once the film is in place you have to wind it onto the take up spool. As there are no sprocket wheel that will catch the film and help in advance easily we have to tape the film to the 120 sized take up spool.

The easiest way to do you is to take the spool out and slide the film through the slot in the spool. Then use some tape to stick it to the spool but making sure the film is still straight. Then put the spool back into place and turn the advance a few time to make sure it’s secure. That’s it, replace the back of the camera and tape it up as you normally would. Remember if your using colour film to tape over the red viewing window so not to let any light in.

ADVANCING THE FILM

Now because there no counter you have to work out how much to advance to film between exposures. Whilst you’ve got the back of the camera off mark the film and the advance wheel and see how many rotations it takes to advance the film on. It’s good to check this but it will be somewhere between 1 full rotation and 1.5 rotations. I find 1.5 is a little too much and I like to use as much film as possible even if there is some over lap so now I just do one full rotation.

UNLOADING CAMERA

Your Holga doesn’t have film rewind crank so you have to do this yourself and this has to be done IN THE DARK! If you’ve got a darkroom then your away but if like me you don’t, the easiest and cheapest way is to use a changing bag. These cost about £15 and are super easy to use. Simply put everything into the bag, put your hands through the arm holes and remove the back of the Holga. Once the backs removed simply take the film canister from its foam holders and start to feed the film back into the canister.

PROCESSING:

Well that another story for another time. You can obviously send your film off the the lab but it far more fun to process it yourself. If you are processing the film yourself then make sure you put you developing tank in the changing bag as well and instead of putting the film back into the canister just load it straight into the tank.

HOLGA35_02

I’ve skimmed lots of details here. I will hopefully make a video on the whole process soon but in the meantime please get in touch if you have any questions.

Bob

pinbox

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sardine revisited

Greenhouse

My greenhouse: Best shot

It’s been a while but I’ve finally got around to developing the film I exposed with the Sardine tin pinhole camera. Check out the results! Of course they’re not the best images; there are flaws but with a little refinement I think it’s the start for something beautiful. I’m just relieved and stoked that it bloody worked! Even with very meticulous calculations there are a plethora of variables and thus still an element of the unknown.

So Bob just how did you do it? Well, I’m glad you asked. Although, I might be going over some of the things I mentioned in my last post about this camera I think it will further highlight the challenges and limitations of making a pinhole camera from a sardine tin.

In principal you just need a sardine tin, make it light tight, put some film in it and expose it – easy aye! Well almost. Like I mentioned in my previous post, the sardine tin is very shallow which, intrinsically creates a handicap. Because the film sits at the bottom of the tin and the aperture in the lid means that it has a very short focal length, i.e. the distance between the film and the aperture. If we consider that the average pinhole is between 0.5 – 1 mm in diameter then having a such a short focal length means that too much light gets through the pinhole risking over exposure.

SARDINE_PINHOLE_09

Static caravan. I added a warming filter in Ps to try and bring some of the sky detail out.

For a while I couldn’t work out why the focal length affected how much light got to the film, surely that’s more to do with the aperture? This is true but as the aperture gets closer to the film it has to get smaller if you want to achieve an identical exposure. The way I think about this is to remember the aperture is the source of light. Now gather your mental imaging faculties and imagine that your walking along a dark road and there is a person say 300m away walking towards you with a torch. The torchlight appears as a dot or a very small source of light. As you get closer the torch light get bigger until the person is shinning the light right in your face and the source of light seem huge. The light isn’t any more powerful just bigger.

It’s the same with our pinhole cameras. As you move a 1mm aperture closure to the film it gets bigger in relation to the film.

So this means that for the camera to work I need a super smaller aperture or a shorter exposure [or both]. However, the smallest pin I could find was 0.2mm which was still to bit to big and thus would have required an exposure time of somewhere between 1/30 & 1/125, which is just too quick. Ideally you need an exposure time of around 1 – 2 seconds so you have a little room to manoeuvre.

SARDINE_PINHOLE_08

Farm house: possibly best exposure but upped the contrast in Ps

So what do you do? I can’t reduce the aperture and limited to how short I can realistically and reliably reduce the exposure time. One other option was to reduce the ISO of the film I was using. If you’re unfamiliar, the ISO is how fast the film reacts to the light hitting it. So on a nice sunny day then ISO 200 will probably do you fine. If you’re shooting in low light you might want to use ISO 400, which is more sensitive, and will react twice a quick to the available light. Equally lowering the ISO means the films reacts slower to the light available. The slowest film I could find was Ilford PAN-F 50 [ISO 50]. Nevertheless this didn’t significantly reduce my exposure time.

So I was stuck. That was until I got a great tip off a local photography guru: Bob Clayton. Acupuncture needles!

SARDINE_PINHOLE_05

I think that’s a massive light leak. I think this exposed well but just can’t see its a tractor front on

So I contacted my local acupuncturist who was lovely and more then happy to oblige to my bizarre request.  Turns out she drives past my house on the way to dropping her kids off at school so one morning she just pulled up and gave me a handful of needles. It felt a little dodgy but I got a collection needles with three different diameters: 0.2mm, 0.16mm and the smallest 0.12mm. [N.B. If you’re going to go this route PLEASE be careful and hygienic with the needles and dispose of them correctly]. The 0.16mm would have worked but using the 0.12mm together with the ISO 50 film gave me a ‘sunny day exposure’ time of 3.39 seconds. Spot on! So nothing left to do but to load the camera and get out and take some pictures.

LOADED_TIN

Loading the film. Once I had secured the lid I also put black tape around the film holder to stop any light leaks.

My method was simply: Wait for a good sunny day and due to the 3 second exposure use a tripod. Also this freed both my hands to gently operate the shutter. I also took multiple photos of the same thing with different exposure times just in case.

SARDINE_TIN_10

Camera held by a manfrotto super clamp mounted on the tripod

There were a couple of operational issues with the camera. First I had to guess how much to turn the advance between each exposure and the film did tear which also made loading it into the developing tank a little tricky. Neither were the exposures amazing but I think using a light meter would of help judge / calculate a more accurate exposure time. So, there are a few issues with the design of the camera that I will address these for ‘sardine camera – mk ii’ but considering so many things could have gone wrong  [even in the processing] I’m pretty happy.

SARDINE_PINHOLE_03

My Dad and my brother-in-law posing next to the tractor. Probably needed to be closer.

This entry is just an update and will hopefully get mk ii operational soon and start to produce some better images.  In the mean time if you have any questions or want to leave any comments I would love to hear from you [please keep it positive].

Please also check out Mr Pinhole’s website as he knows more about it then me and his site has been my reference book throughout this process.

Adios

Bob

pinbox

Tagged , , , , , ,

LOMOKINO Super35: Test One

1/4 frame

I’ve been staring at the Lomokino that has been sat on my desk for the past month waiting for favorable weather. Well, I got tired of waiting so one overcast Friday afternoon I called Chris to see if he fancied heading out for a skate and to test out the Lomokino; and that’s what we did.

Lomokino

Kinoscope

If you’re unfamiliar with the Lomokino it’s an analogue movie camera. Unlike other consumer film movie cameras, like a Super-8 the Lomokino uses regular 35mm film, pretty nifty. But this doesn’t mean that you can only capture 24/36 exposures. What’s clever is the Lomokino splits the conventional 35mm aspect ratio into four, thus capturing four times the number of exposures per roll. Therefore, if you are using a 36 exposure film, the ‘kino will capture 144 pictures.

The film is loaded in much the same way as any other 35mm camera and advanced using the crank on the side of the camera; each exposure signaled by a ‘click’. My favorite feature of the ‘kino is its continuous aperture, i.e. it has no step between each f/stop, ergo you can change the aperture whilst shooting. For example, if you’re moving from indoors too outdoors you can stop the aperture down avoiding over exposure, even though a little flaring looks cool on film.

I picked Chris up, loaded the skateboards and headed to Micklefield. Micklefield, a former mining town, hasn’t much going for it other than the bizarre windowless corner-shop and an awesome skate-park! It was midday, and although Jeremy Kyle had finished we had the park to ourselves. The light was really flat and rather dull. I was worried I’d not get a decent exposure so loaded 400 ISO and attached a mono-pod for stability and to make the camera easier to hold.

The ‘kino takes a little getting used too; I struggled with the ergonomics of simultaneously using the crank and the viewfinder. Eventually, I stopped using the viewfinder and lined up the shop the best I could. It is also important to keep in mind the super wide aspect ratio that is captured. For this reason, in a couple of shots either cut Chris’ head or feet out of the shot.  This isn’t great if you can’t see the skateboard your mini skateboard film. Having said that these issues can be easily worked around and I feel the results outweigh any minor shortcomings. Regardless of my teething problems with the Lomokino, I am totally smitten with the results. The slight vignetting and soft focus gives the shots a much more tactile human quality. The results are more evocative of 1960’s southern California then Micklefield 2012.

After my outing I decided to get the films developed at a high street 1-hour photo. This was simply for speed and the fact that they will also scan the negatives. Once I got home I imported all the scanned images into final cut and made a quick edit. Ok, it wasn’t that simple but the entire story is too lengthy and boring, plus it might do for a future ‘how to’ blog?

To conclude; The camera’s design is reminiscent of early 20th century movie cameras but that doesn’t mean that it worth is that of mere nostalgia. Rather, the Lomokino is another creative tool that can be taken as seriously as you want. What I think is most innovative and exciting about the Lomokino is that it really gets you to think through the entire filmmaking process. The cameras inherent low fidelity and clear limitations allows you to be more dynamic and responsive to the conditions you’re working in; it becomes important to consider the film stock, rehearse shots, and deliberate how those shots will go together side by side. The potential of the modest camera will go as far as you wish to take it. It can be used to capture a few memories in motion, experiment with a few techniques or employed to make a short film.

Anyway please view the short film I put together from my first test rolls of film. It’s not much of a concerto, rather a little ditty but hope you enjoy it all the same. Click the image below or visit https://vimeo.com/43613608

Thanks for reading

Bob

Tagged , , , , ,

Finding the Drip with a Toy Camera

Polaroid shot by Geekchau.tumblr.com

…I used to put Polaroid’s in a container with seawater, sand and pebbles. I’d swirl it all around to get scratches. It’s this random element that I call ‘the drip’… My whole life is spent in search of the drip; it can change everything. [David Bailey]

During my relatively short career as an animator/filmmaker I have experienced what David Bailey refers to as ‘the drip’. It is what my tutors at Art College referred to as happy accidents or serendipity, and was pretty much what Art College was all about; losing control and removing yourself from prescribed notions of Art.

It is quite a leap to force serendipity upon your trade, in many cases for fear of getting it wrong. But as it has been said many times and in many different ways, “Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer’s daughter” [Julius Comroe Jr]. In other words mistakes can always render useful in the creating process and often go hand in hand with success, progress & discovery.

This picture it taken with a Holga 120CFN and a redfilter on from the BKS picture blog.

Serendipity, happy accidents, the unknown, whatever you want to call it, is for me what using a toy camera is all about: finding “the drip”. Simple construction, limited settings, inconsistencies and aberrations in the cheap meniscus lenses and other inherent flaws warp fidelity. These gives each camera a unique ‘personality’. This personality finds it’s way on to film and allows the Holga et al, to create unique, charming and indiscriminate photographs and make the ordinary extraordinary.

Awesome shot by Darwin Wiggett. Captured with a Holga 120 CFN.

Therefore when you use a camera with little fidelity and clear limitations, all you’re left with is your vision and sensibility for a great shot. With their jocular façade and a predisposition for inaccuracy our toy cameras assume a more spontaneous approach, nurturing naturalistic candid photography with a subordinate approach to technique. Thus increasing the opportunity of finding ‘the drip’.

Bob @pinbox

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: