Category Archives: photography

Build Up

Things I’m thinking about:

  • Antarctica
  • The ridiculous face Kirk is making right now (he’s napping in one of those sprawled out poses)
  • Coast Trip, July 2010 Coast Trip, July 2010 Coast Trip, July 2010
  • Documentation for unconferences, code sprints, and other tech activities, and how much time it’ll take to produce the docs I want to use
  • This report (PDF) on personal income gaps between Oregon and the rest of the country, and in particular the parts about lower proprietor incomes, and lower wages in higher paying industries (like technology)
  • Pondering whether tech workers getting paid lower while working in Oregon is a conscious choice (maybe it’s a partial choice, but then the workers getting paid below the median don’t realize they’re paid less, so they think they’re making a smaller trade off than is actually the case?)
  • Nonprofit regulations (we wrote bylaws for Stumptown Syndicate over the weekend). There’s so much good information for nonprofits in Oregon I wish I had on hand a few years ago.
  • Stuff.

Expired Film and Grain

Recently I finished and developed a couple of rolls of expired 120 color film. I was expecting some effect from both age and heat exposure, but surprisingly, the result was uneven, and varied as I progressed through the roll.

Here’s a shot from the start of the film roll.

In My Neighborhood

Here’s one about 6 frames in, taken a day later.

In My Neighborhood

A similar thing happened with a roll that sat for a couple of years (!) from the first shot taken, to eventual development a few weeks ago. One of the first frames:

Route 66

A shot from the end of the roll (note that the blurriness here isn’t grain, it’s camera shake because I accidentally switched the Holga to bulb mode):

Lone Fir

A (slightly less expired) roll of black and white had the opposite progression. Here’s a shot taken last November:

J.K. Carriere Winery

Followed by one shot in January:


My theory about the color film is that the outer layers of the roll, which are used first, had more exposure to heat and thus more color effects. I don’t know why the black and white roll seems to get grainier toward the end, though. It only sat in the camera for a couple of months, and wasn’t exposed to any extreme temperature changes in the meantime. Just a fluke, perhaps?

This Week in Experimental Photography

It’s Monday, so I should be writing my week-in-review dealy (some other people doing this are calling them weeknotes), but I’m pissed off because I ruined a picture I was really excited about when it jammed coming out of the Holgaroid, and I didn’t have tweezers to pull it out properly, so I had to open the camera, and now I’ll never get to see how the photo came out.

Things you don’t learn about photography when you only do digital: it’s sort of like Schrödinger’s Cat.

Cameron's Books A Few Minutes Later

I’ve been getting some nice results with the Fade to Black film in my SX-70, though. And Lucas dug up a OneStep camera for me, so when they start making 600 film again I’ll have three different Polaroid cameras to play with.

Laurelhurst Theater

It’s fun when it works.

Fade Out

Here’s the first of my experiments with the Polapremium Fade to Black film.

A few minutes after taking the photos.
Fade to Black

About an hour later.
Fade to Black

The first photo, a day later. You can just barely see the remains of the image. This one is now taped inside a window, trying the suggestion that Fade to Black photos can be bleached out to reveal more of the image again.

Fade to Black - Day 2

The second photo, finished. This one I peeled open and let dry for about a day before taping it back together and scanning the image. The front image and the back foil don’t quite lay flat now, giving the image the appearance of depth. It’s a neat effect, and one I’d like to play with more. Maybe I could reassemble the photo with some sort of spacer keeping the layers apart?


I really love the colors of this film. It’s a bit more work to capture the result at any point in the development, and if you open the photo to stop the development process, that’s it, no going back. But I like that photography can still be this hands-on, messy thing, not completely measured and precise. It feels good to muck around and see what happens.

In a Blur

Last week happened. I think. I had a sinus headache on Saturday that made everything from earlier in the week seem vague and hard-to-remember, so I’m stuck looking for pictorial evidence.

This is a sketch I made on my phone (using Brushes) at the pdx.rb meeting while Igal was talking about why he uses rcov. His code example involved kitties, so obviously kitties love rcov too.

In My Neighborhood

This is a polaroid I took while walking around my neighborhood on … Thursday? I finished off the Artistic-TZ film pack I had in the SX-70, so next up is a pack of Fade to Black film, which does exactly what it sounds like, over a 24-hour period after the photo is taken. The scans I’ve seen online are pretty neat, so I’m excited to try it out for myself.

I also did a few things like go to the Open Source Bridge work session, and fix a couple of setup instructions in OpenConferenceWare that I found confusing. And I watched the Superbowl with friends, though honestly I’m a much bigger fan of Puppy Bowl. I think the mass appeal of watching puppies and kittens run around in circles must say something about human nature, or western civilization, or something like that. But I don’t know what.

How to Use Your New Holgaroid Camera

1. Get at least two packs of film to start off with, so that you’ll have plenty of chances to learn what you’re doing.

2. Squint at the included directions for attaching your new Polaroid back to the Holga camera. Squint even more at the directions for loading the film. Make a guess as to what the photos are indicating, and fiddle with it until everything appears to be in place.

3. Take a picture of your cat in what you hope is bright enough light for the film ISO. Pull the photo out of the camera in a complicated process involving a little paper leader strip, and a film door that’s hard to pry open even with fingernails.

4. Remember that using peel-apart film probably means that there’s an optimal length of time to let it develop before opening, and fumble for the film box to find out what that is. Glance at the time. Try to guess how long it’s been since you removed the film from the camera. Give up and open it a minute later.

Holgaroid Experiment

5. Wonder why there is no cat in this photo.

6. Decide that low light levels are probably the culprit, and sprint outside as soon as the gloomy winter weather breaks into sunshine.

7. Fail to pull the film out smoothly, feeding it instead into the little slot the paper tabs (which tell you what number print you’re on) are supposed to come out of. Open the camera to clear the jam, crossing your fingers you haven’t exposed the entire film pack to light.

Holgaroid Experiment

8. Hope that aggressive cropping will be enough to keep the picture from being a complete waste.

9. Spend some time reading Flickr forum threads for tips. Decide that you’ll just try to get over the minimum development time and not worry after that, since it’s the only way you’re going to be able to take pictures outside (needing to let the opened prints dry flat on a clean surface is kinda limiting).

10. Go outside and take more pictures.

Holgaroid Experiment

11. Conclude that no amount of wishful thinking will convert “bright overcast” into “direct sunlight”.

Holgaroid Experiment

12. Watch the weather forecast anxiously, hoping for actual sunshine to occur.

13. Run outside during the next available sunbreak. Finish off the pack of film.

Holgaroid Experiment

14. Admire the imperfect, unexpected results.

Holgaroid Experiment

UFO House in Yucca, AZ

UFO House

We drove past this a couple of times before finally giving in to curiosity and stopping to check it out. A few sites I’ve found label it as Golf Ball House, but given the alien figures in the windows, it’s clearly a UFO.

Desert Landing

Right on Highway 40 in the otherwise abandoned-looking town of Yucca, the house is surrounded by a number of metal saucers and other sculptures. And a mini-mart in a trailer, if you need to get something to drink or a package of beef jerky.

Alien Road Trip

Plus a couple of aliens on a road trip. Though I think they’d be creamed by the trucks out there.

Post-Vacation Chaos and Fun

Re-entry from vacation is always a little tricky. There’s work to return to, at the same time you’re trying to sort out all of the photos and memories and ideas from the trip. After last week’s trip, I came back to a client project launch, Calagator’s birthday, rapid-fire CrisisCampPDX planning, new photo equipment to play with—just to start.

Calagator Birthday Party

We had about fifteen people come out for Calagator‘s 2nd birthday party at Bailey’s on Friday night. Low-key, casual meetup, with brownies from Joe Cohen, lemon bars I made with the roadtrip lemons, plenty of beer, and food from the taqueria across the street. I’m sad that Igal, who has been instrumental in keeping Calagator going, was sick and couldn’t be there with us.


On Saturday, about 60 people met up at NedSpace for the first-ever CrisisCampPDX, a quickly-organized branch of a project that’s been bringing people together around the world to provide support for relief efforts in Haiti. This wasn’t just the regular Portland tech scene at work—we had a wide range of participants, from developers, to GIS specialists, to French and Creole speakers, to people who helped with data entry and sorting. I was really impressed with the energy and focus everyone brought to this work day. I helped with a hospital data project using Sahana, a disaster-management system. We hit a few bumps as people tried to get up to speed on different projects, but on the whole I was really impressed with how much we were able to do, for such a distributed set of projects.


And now for something completely different.

I have a small but growing collection of cameras, which has now expanded to include some Polaroid equipment. The middle of winter in the Pacific Northwest is not the best time to be running around shooting ISO 100 film, but I did manage to get a few shots off last week with my new SX-70 Sonar camera. (This is not the only new camera from the last couple of weeks, but you’ll have to wait to hear about the rest.)

You may be wondering, “didn’t Polaroid stop making instant film a while back? Why would you pick that up now?”. There’s a group known as The Impossible Project which has spent the last year and change developing new instant film for Polaroid camera formats, and they’re expected to release the results of that work next month. So I just have to pace myself with my existing film supply for a few weeks.

Last but not least, I updated the blog’s header with a new photo, from the road trip. Click through and have a look if you’re using an RSS reader to view this. I have a habit of leaving the header picture the same for long periods of time, but once in a while the blog design changes, and there’s often new links in the sidebar to check out, so it’s worth taking a peek.

Hackberry General Store on Route 66

Route 66 through Arizona is a fascinating mix of tourist nostalgia, run-down and abandoned buildings and towns, and open desert. The Hackberry General store is the best of the first category, a gas station-turned-gift shop and collection of curiosities.

Hackberry General Store



Uncanny Valley

More pictures from this visit (and a previous one, in 2007) on Flickr.

Photos and Food Carts

Saturday I got out and took a few pictures around the new Mississippi Marketplace cart cluster, as well as my own part of town. Good timing, too, because today has been torrential downpours and I don’t want to go anywhere.

Mississippi Marketplace Wolf & Bear's Lone Fir Cemetery Cartopia

I have 12 out of 16 pages figured out for I <3 Food Carts now, which seems like progress. It's looking something like this:

iheartfoodcarts-no1.indd @ 82%
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I’m in that middle stage where I have no idea if this is working or not, but I know I need to finish so I can move on to the next thing. That’s the trick. Keep moving.

Things I do know I like right now: Dark Night of the Soul, Machinarium, and this talk by Matt Jones about how time works (and what that means for design).