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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Magic Leap blaming COVID-19 for why it has to lay off 1,000 people is just a terrible bit of messaging. They have raised nearly $3B. And they can’t raise any more right now. And the FB deal fell through. So they have no choice regardless of this pandemic.

Finished Contact by Carl Sagan. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The horrific and avoidable loss of life notwithstanding I believe many will wish quarantine life to continue when things begin to open up once again. I know I may be among them.

I uploaded my first photo to Flickr in a very long time. I’m thinking of joining the community of film enthusiasts there. I chose this photo. So if you’d like to see a much larger size go here.

Taken with Ansco Speedex on expired Kodak Tri-X 400

Over the river – March 2020

I love how this tree hangs over the river. I’ve photographed it many times and assume I will many times more.

This particular image is a re-scan of a negative. I learned a slightly different way to scan and edit the resulting digital positive and I believe the above image is extremely good quality (though, the version I’ve uploaded to my blog is only 2,000 pixels wide).

See also; Studebaker, Sweeny’s Bench, Rail side. All of these being from the same roll of film.

What I saw somewhat recently #62: April 17, 2020

A few things I bumped into recently:

Taken with Ansco Speedex on expired Kodak Tri-X 400

Rail side – March 2020

I’d forgotten to publish this one. It is from the same expired roll I shot Sweeny’s Bench and the Studebaker on.

I may have to take back what I wrote about the iPhone SE. Without doing much digging I suppose I just assumed it was still a smaller option. I guess it isn’t. The iPhone 8 form factor is fine (I have one that I use for the podcast) but the SE should be smaller.

Common Merganser takes flight triptych – April 2020

Sort of a triptych I suppose. I wish I had set the camera to a much faster shutter speed but I just didn’t have the time.

It appears that some of my Gutenberg woes have been fixed in 7.9.0. I still think the latest redesign has a much steeper learning curve than the original UI – but at least some of the bugs seem to have been fixed.

Instagram’s TOS

Allen Murabayashi, CEO of PhotoShelter, regarding Instagram’s TOS:

The language is typical of many photo sharing sites (including PhotoShelter), so in that sense it’s unremarkable. The company needs the ability to redisplay images, and wants to be able to have, for example, an image appear in the app, within an Instagram Story, and on the website without having to regain consent each time it comes up with a new feature.

The post I pulled this quote from does a good job framing the issue with Instagram’s TOS and the Mashable case.

I don’t know why it is ever surprising to anyone that if you upload content of any type to a free platform that you likely relinquish some or all of your rights to it. If you don’t like that, get a web site.

The updated iPhone SE looks great. Kinda sorta wished I needed a new phone. Since I’m shooting mostly film these days I don’t really need my iPhone 11 Pro Max. But I am glad to have it.

Moved well over 20GB worth of photos in seconds yesterday using my script. MacBook didn’t break a sweat. I should have written this years ago.

If you use Trello for personal and/or business you may want to review this thread. Similar thing happened to me. The solution, for me, was to remove my work email from my account and keep it personal.

Quarantine project suggestion: Teach 1 person about RSS.

I don’t know what to feel or think about the I’m Back 35 digital sensor back for just about any 35mm SLR. But I think it is very cool.

Wolfram Physics Project

Stephen Wolfram continues to make me feel lazy:

Today we’re officially launching our Physics Project. From here on, we’ll be livestreaming what we’re doing—sharing whatever we discover in real time with the world. (We’ll also soon be releasing more than 400 hours of video that we’ve already accumulated.) I’m posting all my working materials going back to the 1990s, and we’re releasing all our software tools. We’ll be putting out bulletins about progress, and there’ll be educational programs around the project.

They are attempting to find the fundamental theory of physics, is all. See also.

I have two Instagram accounts. With Instagram on the web getting better I wanted to try it. But for the life of me I can’t figure out how to access the second account because they are “linked”.

Looks to me like a red and grey squirrel mix
Male Cardinal
Male Mallard
Sparrow taking flight
Freshly flowered Forsythia
Possible bilateral gynandromorph Cardinal (male and female)
Nuthatch
Chipmunk
Male Garter snake
Common Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Nutchatch

Wildlife from recent quarantine walks – March/April 2020

I’ve been shooting mostly digital during our as-often-as-possible nature walks near our home. We are really hunkering down at this point, trying our best to keep ourselves and those around us safe. So making these simple shots of nearby wildlife is a nice escape.

Programming is a super power.

My photo archive script has been updated to accept command line arguments for locations and help information. You can grab and edit a copy here.

Nearly all “phone” calls, both business and personal, are now video chats. I’ve always thought we should be using video chats far more. I hope this change sticks around when quarantine begins to subside.

Creating a bedroom camera obscura and making a paper negative

I’d been wanting to make my own camera for several months. Something simple like a shoe box pinhole camera. But then quarantine happened and I stumbled across Brendan Barry’s YouTube video about turning a room in your house into a camera obscura – and making a paper negative and positive print.

I thought with the quarantine and all that I had the time to figure this out on my own. So I decided to turn our bedroom into a camera obscura and, hopefully, make a paper negative from it. It turned out to be the most educational photographic experience I’ve had to date.

By blowing the scale of the camera up to a room-size, you learn how each individual piece of a camera plays its role. Reading or watching a YouTube video about how a camera works is not the same as making one yourself. Everything is exaggerated. The size of the lens, aperture, distance to the film, etc. This way, you can actually see how each of these things impacts the overall result.

Due to quarantine delaying some deliveries, and the lack of resources we have by not allowing much material to enter our home, it took me about a week from start-to-finish to get a paper negative that I thought of as “good enough” to move on from the project and give my wife our bedroom back. I could definitely see doing this project again, or at a smaller scale using a box.

Here are the steps I took and a few things I learned along the way. This is, by no means, a how-to blog post. For that I urge you to watch Barry’s video linked above.

I started by using a cardboard box to block the window in our bedroom. I was surprised at how difficult this turned out to be. Light is extremely good at finding its way into and around objects. This was in and of itself a lesson. If I were to do this again I’d start with a larger piece of cardboard that wouldn’t rest inside of the window frame but would, instead, rest upon it – covering the entire window. Ideally I’d also have black gaffer’s tape, some sort of foam seal that I could use in odd areas, and other materials. But, I was working within my constraints.

The window, boarded up, and mostly light leak free

I cut out a rather large aperture in the cardboard to begin with, like in Barry’s video, and for the life of me I was never able to find a focal length that worked with this set up. By large I mean a few inches in diameter. It might have been due to the fact that Barry was using a large magnifying glass as his lens and I wasn’t in the beginning. The moment I created a much smaller aperture, around 3/16″ or so – was when the world came into focus. It was still a little fuzzy, but it was in focus enough to be passable for a few digital captures.

A simple aperture projected directly onto a diffuser.
Black and white digital capture, flipped.

After playing with several different set ups and attempting many different apertures – I decided to grab a simple 2x lens filter from a 35mm camera and place it in front (on the subject’s side) of the aperture. Boom. It made an immediate and marked improvement in the focus. I believe it was at this point that it really dawned on me, I was actually building a camera. On a camera the order of elements is glass lens, aperture, some amount of distance, film or digital censor. I don’t know why it took my brain this long to lock into that concept but once I did things really began to speed up.

I employed several different types of “canvases” to project the image onto. I started with a light diffuser – which worked great to show the scale of the projected image. I could make the image as big as I wanted to. But then I eventually built a simple “stage” using a tripod and a white scanner bed cover. This too reinforced the notion that the surface upon which you project the light impacts the overall look of the image greatly. With the diffuser it was, well, diffused. But on the canvas it was much sharper.

The lens. Which sat in front of the 3/16″ aperture.
The canvas.
Using my iPhone, I captured the forward-facing side of the canvas
A digital capture, flipped horiz and vert.

With this set up; a 2x lens filter, 3/16″ aperture in cardboard, 8×10 white surface about 10″ from aperture – I was able to produce a sharp enough image for my liking. Now I all I needed was a way to capture the image without using digital (though, this was fun too as I created several exposures using my iPhone).

I have a bunch of film laying around and I almost considered throwing a few rolls of medium format 120 into my changing back and “building” a film surface to use. Perhaps by taping a few sheets together I could make a large enough negative. But I figured that’d be a huge waste of film. Even of the expired film I have. So instead I decided to follow Barry’s direction in his YouTube video and buy some Ilford Photo Paper (I used 5×7″, he used 8×10″) to create a paper negative. I thought it’d be fun to develop a paper negative since I had never done anything like that. So I picked up some paper, a few developing trays, and researched how to use the chemicals I already have (in my case, Kodak D76) to develop the photo paper immediately after exposing it using my bedroom camera obscura.

And that is exactly what I did. After 4 exposures on 2 separate days, here are the results.

First two: Day one, Second two: Day two.

I could go on and on about why the first two look the way they do and why the second two look the way they do. But rather than bore you, this is the short of it; on the first day I was using my iPhone’s flashlight option inside of a red transparent folder. It didn’t work. It exposed the entire paper so the whole exposure looks washed out. The second set I did completely blind. Which makes the composure not-so-great but the contrast much better.

The bedroom darkroom
Day one exposures hanging to dry
Day two exposures hanging to dry

Ironically, the exposure I did first – 4 seconds – was the very best shot I took. I just ruined it with the iPhone flashlight. Here is what a digital positive of that looks like.

A digital positive, made from a 5×7″ paper negative

The second-best exposure is this 3 second (it was much brighter day) exposure. It is blurry because I was hand-holding this in the dark. I should have been more patient. You can even see my finger marks from where I was holding the paper.

Blurry, due to motion.

This was a really, really fun project. I learned an awful lot. Thanks to Brendan Barry for helping me via Instagram Direct Messages to make tweaks to my set up.

Airdropping files from Macbook to iPhone is lightning fast. Airdropping files from iPhone to Macbook takes several minutes to begin and almost always performs the action twice creating duplicates. Am I alone?

What I saw somewhat recently #61: April 9, 2020

Some links for your edification:

I’ve now published 15 episodes of my photography podcast. I have at least 9 episodes still to publish. But I need to get back to recording new episodes soon.

My friend Carl, painting plein air oil, on 35mm

Seven Tubs in winter on 35mm

Recorded January 13 2020.

In spring 2018 Eliza and I walked Seven Tubs and I photographed the area on my Google Pixel 2 XL. On that visit I created a vivid, punchy set of photos that showcased the pop of color we saw that day.

Visiting Seven Tubs in winter, and shooting on expired film, results in a much more subdued set of images – but still very interesting.

I hope you enjoy this episode and these photos.

All images taken on expired Kodak Color Gold 400 on Canon Rebel G.

I still think blogs are the best.

I’ve crossed a big milestone with my photography during quarantine. I’ve moved on from the how, and am now focused on the why.