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Alan7140

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Everything posted by Alan7140

  1. Alan7140

    The New York Times Called...

    Excellent. It's difficult to buy publicity like that, but even better getting paid for it.
  2. Alan7140

    Red Back

    Australian relative of the American Black Widow spider. Of course, being an Australian resident, it's more deadly. Has a rather cruel habit of frequenting outhouse toilet seats, early outback settlers rapidly learnt to run a lit candle around the underside of the toilet seat at night before planting their rear onto it. Redback bites can occasionally be fatal if anti-venom isn't administered.
  3. Alan7140

    A bit of a fire yesterday

    Dry lightning strikes started it a week ago. Although some effort was made to kill the fire then, it was in extremely remote and inaccessible terrain which made fighting it on the ground impossible, and yesterday's high temperatures and strong winds caused a couple of smaller fires to join up and resulted in the monster blaze. Today the air was thick with smoke all day, and we're told that the fire will likely burn for weeks, so a further flare-up may yet happen. Thanks, Vivion. Wildfire is something that terrifies me.
  4. Alan7140

    A bit of a fire yesterday

    This blew up in about five minutes from the first pall of smoke to a monstrous bushfire that consumed 15,000ha of World Heritage Area button grass plains and eucalyptus forest within a few hours. While about 45km from here in a straight line, the speed with which this thing advanced before a wind change pushed it back on itself was a frightening 10km per hour. I just took the one quick pano shot as the thing grew before my eyes before withdrawing to pack important things into the car in readiness to evacuate as soon as the order was given. Thankfully this never happened, but huge bushfires are one of the not-so-pleasant things about living in Australia. A couple of hours after starting the smoke plume, longer than Tasmania is wide, was clearly visible to the weather satellite:
  5. Alan7140

    A bit of a fire yesterday

    Just the irreplaceable and those things difficult to replace easily. Most important: all my hard drives. My Claudet stereo daguerreotypes, Larriveé LV-05E, Maton T-Byrd (serial# 0003 media release & the 1st one sold retail) and Epiphone ES-345 custom guitars. All my main camera gear. 3 changes of clothes. Sleeping mat & sleeping bag, keys, wallet, cards, phone. It took just 10 minutes to gather this up and perhaps it would take five more to pack the car if needed (which it wasn't). Given my relatively open situation I have plenty of time to get this together and have clear escape routes to the north, east, south and west, depending on where the fire is coming from. This was a big factor in helping to decide on buying this place - my previous home was in the bush at Warrandyte with no view to the north or west (where the fire traditionally came from), and only one escape route to the south across the accident-prone bridge over the Yarra, which, if blocked, cut off all escape routes (this would apply to at least 3,000 people these days - trying to move that many over a single bridge even with the additional added lane quickly enough to escape a sudden bushfire is a politician's fantasy; the place is a death trap which needs another river crossing and a widened road). The Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 scared the crap out of me when I realised we could be trapped there and would have to take our chances in the river, and while thankfully the fire didn't get there, I swore my next place would have easy, safe egress with views that provided plenty of warning in all directions.
  6. Alan7140

    A bit of a fire yesterday

    I didn't see the sunset here - the smoke was something else after the change blew it in this direction.
  7. Alan7140

    Food chain

    In the past couple of weeks I discovered that a Long Beaked Corella chick had been hatched in my oak tree and had started to walk around the yard grazing on seeds (as its close cousins the cockatoos do) as it still couldn't fly. It had no trouble climbing into the tree, where its mother would drop in twice a day to feed it, regurgitated from her crop. The youngster had woken me up each morning with its simple, but loud two-notes call, but this morning it didn't. Having seen it cross the road before, I thought it might have been run over, but walking into the sun-room a while later showed a more grizzly scene on the other side of the fence. The chick had become breakfast for a Brown Falcon, which took off too soon for me to get outside and try to sneak up to get a clear shot, so the one above taken through the glass of the window and the fence in between will have to suffice. I found it interesting that the falcon had decapitated the corella to kill it (the head was a couple of feet away), and had totally eaten out the body cavity but left the drumsticks untouched with feet still attached.
  8. Alan7140

    Welcome To 2019!

    "You're mad for moving there" they said. "You'll regret it", they said. "You'll miss the hustle and bustle", they said. "Hah!", said I, and have gone on to live in peace and quiet for 24 years and counting, not regretting or missing a thing. OK, the log trucks can be a bit tedious at times, but their days are numbered.
  9. Alan7140

    Spidey

    Nothing other than available light. The spider spun its web between a shed wall and an earth retaining wall on the south side of the shed, so in the Southern Hemisphere that means shade all year around. Thankfully it was an extremely still morning which is rare here at this time of year, it is usually windy during the day. This particular brand of Orb Weaver spider likes to make its web more horizontal than vertical, so the dark background is the earth, and the white wall of the shed probably provided the fill-light to make the web itself highly visible.
  10. Alan7140

    Spidey

    ...behind the shed this morning, a large-ish orb weaver spider. X-T2, 65-shot hand-held auto focus stack, put together with Zerene Stacker.
  11. Alan7140

    Welcome To 2019!

    Didn't hear a thing here. Not even so much a possum fart.
  12. Alan7140

    POTW #2.12 Spidey

    Ed's note: What's most remarkable about this shot from @Alan7140 isn't so much the sharpness, it's that it is a focus stack made hand-held! Great image originally posted here.

    © Alan Lesheim

  13. Alan7140

    Spidey

    Zerene stacker's inbuilt retouching facility allowing selective parts of one image in the stack to be revealed by hand (I use a 9x12 Wacom Intuos which makes that function far easier than using a mouse) where the stacker may have included a less appropriate part of another image makes having an external stacking program worthwhile, although in this case everything worked well enough to not have to use it. I also prefer to set my own raw processing parameters which an in-camera stacker can't really do, however it's horses for courses, each individual's needs are different.
  14. Alan7140

    Spidey

    Fuji have the focus shift thing set with the BKT mark under the shutter speed dial, and then in the menu of the X-T2 under "Drive Setting" -> BKT setting-> , which needs two further settings, firstly "BKT Select" -> "Focus BKT", then back off to the "BKT Setting" -> again, and to the bottom of the next list "Focus BKT" ->, which then gives you a choice of how many Frames (up to 999), the Focus Step (1-10) (i.e. the distance increase between shots) and "Interval (1-10 sec) between shots, presumably when tripod mounted for reduction in vibration as well as giving the buffer enough time to clear during the sequence. I shot this at 1/100sec, f/4, 1000 ISO, with my left elbow braced against the shed wall to help keep the framing reasonably steady and chose 65 shots after a couple of practice tries to see what was needed. I set Focus Step at 9, and Interval at 0. You just have to press the shutter button the once, and the camera starts the sequence firing extremely quickly at the 0 Interval setting until it hits the buffer, which, even with my Lexar UHS II 300 mb/s card happens around 50 frames, although that clears pretty quickly and a few shots later the camera picks up speed again. The stacking itself I do with Zerene Stacker, the camera has no facility to do that part of the job, and I haven't investigated Fui's own software to see if that can do the stacking - I'm used to Zerene and the way it works so I'm sticking with that. As the focus shift thing arrived about half way through the X-T2 model life via a firmware update, later cameras might have a better dedicated menu for the function - at first I found the X-T2's addition confusing, but like everything familiarity comes with repeated use.
  15. Alan7140

    Meet Walter

    Yeah, well of course I looked that up when I found Dad's meticulously orderly "exit" photo album - at auction during 2018 one went for US $386,000. 😧
  16. Alan7140

    Meet Walter

    Makes me thankful we left when we did. I can't even picture living in a place like Joburg these days, and haven't even the faintest desire to revisit that place ever again, even though I was born there. Number plates have always held a fascination for me given the different parameters various jurisdictions place on them. Here in Australia it's strictly chronological, and if the registration expires or the car changes the State it's registered in, the new registration will have current plates, not those of the year of the car or its first registration like in some other countries. Each State has its own plates and numbers, so that's as far as you can tell as to the actual location the vehicle is registered to. I guess this number-plate nerdiness is directly due to my mechanic Father, who had a thing for details like this. Speaking of number plates, here's one of my Father on the day he left home for good in his new BMW 315/1 (or 319/1) in July 1936 with perhaps the simplest number plate, and no prizes for the location of the photo (that's the pre-war Brandenburg gate, Berlin), and also how an enterprising 20 year old got his money out of Hitler's Germany and onto a boat in Turin, Italy, having driven it over a few days via Switzerland and France to Italy, and thence by ship to South Africa. Note the degree of planning - he bought a right-hand drive one specifically so he could sell it for the best return when he finally reached Joburg via Capetown. (It's also how he later ended up in the South African Army fighting the Fascists through East Africa and Italy, and thus avoided the gas chambers and crematorium ovens of Auschwitz that took the rest of his extended family in 1942.) His successful plan was copied after a fashion (but without the life-threatening urgency) in a similar way when we left South Africa 28 years later with an Austin A55 in a ship's hold and as much cash as he could stuff into a false chassis member he made up for the car, which my mother drove around for two years prior to avoid authorities noticing a big withdrawal of cash over the R2,000 emigration limit just before departure, and which Dad always referred to as the "Rolls Royce" for reasons that were lost on my innocent pre-teen ears. Nor could I understand the paranoia that accompanied every decision as to where to park the car when out shopping or visiting. I believe he used an old car this time to avoid heavy import duties at the Australian end.
  17. Alan7140

    Meet Walter

    Thanks, Dallas, I was wondering about the plates simply because six numbers after ND really limits the options somewhat. Even little old Tasmania has one letter, two numbers then two more letters, and that's the second change in the 24 years I've been here. It says something about our society when a State with just over half a million people in total runs out of vehicle registration numbers and needs a sequence of potentially nearly 2 million to cope, and is over half way through just 9 years after it started afresh. I also remember the road game us kids used to play in the car on the old two-lane track from Joburg to Durban for holidays working out from where the oncoming cars originated - the South African number plate system was good for that , keeping the kids occupied in the back seat for what was an eight hour drive back then.
  18. Alan7140

    Meet Walter

    Still using ND prefix on the plates? So are Joburg plates still TJ as well, or have they changed the T to G?
  19. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    Like all printing paper, developing it as soon as possible after it's exposed is best. The finer the grain, the slower the emulsion, and the quicker the smaller negatively charged (i.e. exposed) silver halide sites reabsorb the consequently fewer number of liberated electrons whose absence marked them as exposed. I wouldn't plan a week-long expedition with the stuff, in other words. At least it's not as bad as the wet collodion process, though. As for format, having seen the results from half-plate size (actually just under 4.25" x 6.5" in the metal film inserts that came with this glass plate camera) I'll be happy with this size from a handling point of view for the Thornton Pickard half plate field camera I have coming in January as well. This photo as displayed is reasonably heavily cropped as well to a squarish horizontal from the original full-frame vertical shot (using "full-frame" in its proper sense, not garbage ignorant Internet "reference format" sense). 10x8 would be fantastic, of course, but handling is anything but and would probably lose some of the appeal after a while. I think part of the success of using printing paper aside from the large format DOF advantage is the almost complete lack of grain which results in that collodion-like appearance in the final image, aided by having left all the dust marks and imperfections as well, I think, as they render so perfectly and aren't chopped up by grain as with normal developed film. This trial was also to establish the veracity of using the TP camera outdoors with lens-cap exposure as the original behind-lens shutter that comes with the camera is inoperative. This will also open up a better selection of lenses, like the 4,5/240 Heliar that I used for this shot, which is way too wide to fit on the TP shutter. Instead I'll make up a ply lens board for it and use that instead, and also means that the front-of-lens open/shut only shutter you can see in the studio setup shot above will work with that lens, and hopefully with the right width of hard rubber inserts I can make up will also fit any other lens I use - which will eliminate the wobble that removing a lens cap can cause.
  20. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    ...and to satisfy a long-term desire to produce authentic-looking images on my ancient Görlitzer Werke wooden studio stand camera with its equally ancient Voigtländer 4,5/240 uncoated triplet lens, I loaded some long expired Ilford Multigrade glossy paper cut down to half-plate size into the two film holders that were included with the camera at auction some 35 years ago, set up both my Fomex HD1000 monblocks belting all 1000w/s each through softboxes pointed directly at, and just 1 metre, from me. With and additional 200w/s Multiblitz bounced off a brolly as a token hairlight (not really necessary these days ) and guessing at the focus (which I missed by a sliver, but that only added to the authentic look), I opened the in-front-of-lens accessory shutter with cable release in my left hand, triggered the flashes with the remote in my right hand, and closed the dark-slide and headed for the darkroom while floating through the amazing residual image of 2,000w/s of flash having blitzed my optic nerves from arm's length (I had guessed the paper's speed to be about 1 ISO, so plenty of light was needed). Processing the paper neg, I fixed, rinsed and dried it, then digitally copied it and headed for the computer to invert and adjust levels. Looking at the result up large, complete with all the bits of dust and crap that float around the inside of a 100+-year-old camera, along with the missed focus and the leather-for-skin the blue-light sensitive printing paper renders, the smooth and creamy emulsion looks every bit like that from a 19th Century Collodion wet plate. Toned to mimic albumen paper after gold toning, I think the image works well. As I don't have any 19th Century clothing here, I thought no shirt would also help rather than hinder in not dating the photo as modern. If I were to print this unresized at 360dpi, it would be 28" high, and absolutely grainless, which is also something of antiquity. I didn't bother about background as I figured everything would be well out of focus, so I just set it all up in my long closed-down gallery, but here's what this selfie setup looked like (the chair was just there for me to back up to to my guessed focus point - I was standing for the shot): No matter how fast the lens you slap onto a digital camera is, the "look" of an old triplet lens and half-plate format on really slow stock can really only be achieved in this way, I reckon.
  21. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    It's not a watermark problem, it's the fibres of the paper itself that cause the image degradation when contact printing (and if using RC paper, the milkiness and texture of the plastic coating). Henry Fox Talbot tried using the best and thinnest writing paper he could get back in the 1830's, and further attempted to clean the image up by waxing the paper for added transparency, but that still never got close to the clarity and rendering of fine detail that the rival Daguerreotypes achieved. Once the wet collodion process arrived with its ability to stick to glass the problem of texture interference went away, which also spelled the end of Daguerreotypes as a commercially viable thing owing to the ease of multiple copies from the same collodion neg, and a consequently enlargements from those negs also being possible. If only the fine grain, blue-sensitive "ordinary" commercial sheet film that I used for some copy work in the 1970's and early '80's were still available the problem would not be so bad in physically copying these paper negs onto film for traditional printing, even though that commercial film still produced grain that was many times larger than printing paper did. The only way to truly duplicate the look of the collodion process is to actually use it, but I'll have to be content to live with this modern workaround instead, I think. I just don't want to get involved to the degree of actually using the old process. Today I received a box of 25 Ilford/Harman direct positive paper which I'll try for its ability to render a positive image with standard B&W chemistry when processed just like ordinary printing paper. At least that will give me a result I can properly judge at print stage without having to digitally copy and invert the image. It also will have the same uniqueness as Daguerreotype or Ambrotype images as no direct duplicates can be made from the image itself, copying being the only way there as well, so there is potential to make and sell these as unique images, which may or may not be worthwhile. The paper is expensive, though - AUD $88 per box of 25 @5"x7", and it is fibre-base paper so washing times are much longer than the relatively brief rinse that is needed for RC papers. However it has the same spectral sensitivity as ordinary bromide paper (blue-green) and thus should maintain the look that my initial post rendered.
  22. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    Yes, Hugh, I've known Gold St Studios when they were still in Gold St, (Collingwood, I think it was, and from recollection it was Gold St Gallery at that time). Being so involved in such closely allied sections of the photographic industry it was inevitable that we'd be aware of each other's endeavors. My main client for many years, Neville Crawford of Recherche Picture Framing used to do work for them and that was how the connection between me and them was made. I always wondered how they'd get along moving so far from Melbourne, but obviously there is a big enough demand for their services from a place the size of Melbourne to have made it a viable proposition. They've drifted from display to technique, and yes, they charge like wounded bulls (coincidentally my supplier has berated me for offering to teach people B&W film photography for nothing, and cited Gold St as an example of what I should be charging! . Whispers I hear are that the staff there is a bit varied in knowledge and ability at times (the photographic industry is a bit like Hobart - everybody knows everybody else's business ), but of course I've had no recent experience with them one way or the other given our locations, although there was a conversation or two I seem to recall happening when they were starting out, but the actual content of even those I can't recall. This current drive of interest for me is not so much in reviving or engaging in old processes (although I do still have a quantity of mercury secured should I ever want to try making daguerreotypes), but coming up with images that are convincingly like those old processes without the hazardous chemistry and volatile nature of them. A Daguerreotype will always be unable to be convincingly done any other way than the original, though, but despite my flippant remark to Chris (above) I really have no desire to make a mobile collodion wet-plate darkroom; the whole process is messy, a bit dangerous, more than a bit flammable, the ether involved could result in permanent lights-out for the operator, and the guncotton is aptly named for its ability to turn things to ashes in short order. As well, and curiosity aside, the hazards of mercury for Daguerreotypes will probably have caution win over bravado and never see me access my contact for the stuff. The photo I posted is the closest I've got yet to producing something that could pass for an image made with any of the collodion off-shoot processes, so I'll work on that in order to progress to making a convincing photographic print as described in my answer to Chris.
  23. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    Thanks Chris. I'm waiting on a half plate Thornton Pickard view camera of as-yet unknown operating condition to arrive here some time in January to take care of the location side of things. I did have the camera I used for this shot adapted to use 5x4 film in the 1980's and I actually used it for portraits in my studio (the artsy folk of Eltham loved the theatre of focusing under the dark cloth and the shuffling of dark slides) but using modern film never had the same effect as using a slow, blue-green sensitive emulsion like photographic printing paper or the original collodion plates had. Using a primary blue filter also failed to get the effect properly, so I gave up until this week's brainstorming session. While this is easy enough to print with inkjet, I'm now trying to think of a way to get this grainless image onto a film base to print it photographically. There are no films I know of that will accomplish this without adding visible grain and thus destroy the creaminess of the tones, so it might well be that I'll eventually have to join the growing brigade of nut-jobs who drift around with their van darkrooms stacked with all the hazardous stuff needed to make up their collodion wet plates on the spot. Who knows where this retirement thing will take me?
  24. Alan7140

    What Did I learn In 2018?

    I don't think Sigma was an instigator of the 36x24 frame decision - Leica is the driving force behind this L mount thing, and it'll give Sigma a line into supplying glass to Leica owners which will be new, upmarket territory for Sigma's lenses, so the frame size of their new camera seems to be one that came with the partnership terms and conditions as much as anything.
  25. Alan7140

    For a bit of fun...

    I missed by a bit, though - the idea was to get my leading eye in focus, not the trailing one, but the upside was that throwing the forward detail out of focus the lens really demonstrated that triplet lens smooth, buttery edge effect that was so admired and identified large format 19th Century photos a hundred years before anyone even used the word "bokeh". With this format and lens I think it is even acceptable for much of the photo not to be sharp - another thing that really only gained manic importance in the sixties to the present. It was entirely unintentional at the time, but the result seems to channel a Southworth and Hawes Daguerreotype from 1848:
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