Taken with a manual Nikon 1.4 lens

I’ve been getting cards from friends and family ever since this process started, and I’ve kept them together in a stack so that I can write back and thank everyone for their love and support.

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I shot the photo above with the f/1.4 Nikon lens I bought a couple of years ago, and as much as I want to love it I’m going to just retire it. Pretty much everything I’ve shot with it looks fuzzy, foggy and out of focus. I’ve got an f/2 manual lens I got with an old Nikkormat camera that shoots cleaner, clearer, and sharper stuff more reliably, and honestly I think I’m over the razor-thin depth of field thing now in favor of better composed photos. I’m leaving the manual lens on Jen’s D90 from now on, as I’ve traded her my D7000 in the hopes she’ll like it more.

Date posted: November 5, 2017 | Filed under family, friends, photography | Leave a Comment »

I don’t have a selfie of me in a gown today; that’s probably getting old. Radiation is pretty much the same; I avoided mooning anyone, which is good. No bowel exodus to speak of, appetite is normal (Shake Shack for lunch!) and no soreness or swelling.

Fun Fact: I now weigh more than I ever have in my life, give or take a few pounds.

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I got the proofs of all my film back this afternoon, and I’m THRILLED. I sent five rolls off, one from the Rolleicord, two from the Yashica, and two from the Minolta 35mm.

The Rolleicord roll turned out to be ancient, and did not hold up well in the camera. Which is a shame because there are some beautiful shots of Finn in there, including this one:

That dates back to September 2011, when we were down in North Carolina with Mr. Scout.

The two Yashica rolls turned out better than I hoped, including these two shots:

These were metered by using my digital cameras to approximate the aperture and ISO settings. I could not be happier with these pictures, and I’m going to have them both blown up and printed.
We also got these shots from the family portrait session:

Looking carefully at the edges, there’s some circular distortion around the edges at wide aperture, which makes for an interesting bokeh effect in the leaves behind our heads. I don’t see it in the portraits at the top but it’s visible in these two. These bottom two were taken with the now-operational light meter, which means I’m on the right track.

Finally, the Minolta had some interesting shots, from years ago and the new:

The first one dates back to probably 2010 or so. The B/W shot is from our vacation this year.

Is shooting with film expensive, tricky, and slow? Yes. Is it rewarding? Hell yes.

Date posted: October 13, 2017 | Filed under cancer, photo, photography | Leave a Comment »

Me likey: a T-shirt store for photographers. $28 is steep for a shirt but it looks like they have some stuff go on clearance for half price. I’ll take one of these and one of these, to begin.

Date posted: October 10, 2017 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


We hiked up to the park on Saturday to take some family photos before I start radiation and chemo treatment. I brought the Fuji and the Yashica, loaded with a half a roll of black and white film. We walked down to a wooded, open area beside the river and did some tripod shooting with the timer, which was difficult due to the sun going in and out of the clouds; none of the shots metered the same. Then, based on some advice from a nearby hiker, we walked up a nearby trail to a beautiful waterfall and shot some more.

I’ve been having problems getting consistent color with the Fuji and I don’t know if it’s how I’m working with the camera or how I’m importing and processing in Lightroom. I want to love this camera more but it feels like the results I’m getting are regressing the more I shoot with it. I’m also concerned that my skill level is regressing.

The Yashica is a crapshoot and I have no idea if anything I’ve shot will come out, but that’s been the fun part. I’ve got two rolls of 120 dating back to our vacation that I’m keen to have developed, two rolls I shot with the Minolta, and another roll I found in the Rolleicord I’d forgotten about. Most of the stuff I shot with the Yashica was guesstimated by using the meters from other cameras, but I’ve been working on getting a Gossen Super Pilot light meter to work for the past couple of weeks. After some confusion with the replacement battery I purchased, I got it working relatively well. I’ve still got to do some testing with a modern camera to see if the readings are correct.

All of the film is getting sent off to thedarkroom.com, who developed a handful of mystery film for us back in April. My fingers are crossed for a couple of good shots from each roll; I’d love to get some blown-up silver gelatin prints of us from each, if possible.

Date posted: October 8, 2017 | Filed under family, photo, photography | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a current map with drone laws for every country (and even at the state level for the U.S.). Turns out all drone operations in Paraguay need to be authorized by the Air Force. Ooops.

Date posted: September 20, 2017 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Happy girls

As usual I shot a ton of pictures on our vacation. The lion’s share were taken with the Fuji, although I did bring the Nikon out to the beach one day. The runner-up was a Canon Powershot a540, an 11-year-old point and shoot that I inherited from work with a waterproof dive case. Proving the adage the best camera is the one you’ve got, I took this into the ocean with us every day and just kept pushing the button whenever I saw something. Almost every shot taken from the water was with this camera, and I don’t care if they’re only 6MP; they’re all good.

I played around a lot with a cheap egg timer/photo turntable while we were at the beach, and had some mixed results. In short, I can see why it only got three of five stars on Amazon; what was supposed to revolve 360˚ only made it to 180˚ before crapping out. Still, what I got with a GoPro set to 5MP normal, and stitched together with a little app called Time Lapse Assembler wasn’t bad. I’m toying with the idea of taking it apart to see if I can wind the spring up tighter to make it work better; for a $14 investment I’m not too upset. Besides, the GoPro I’ve got isn’t good enough to really get excellent stills–I’d love to set it up for nighttime timelapses of the stars moving but the camera isn’t sensitive enough.

I definitely brought too many fucking cameras and spent too much time trying to organize gear. Next year I’m going to pare back and replace the two camera bags I lugged there with one good backpack. I’ve narrowed the field down to the LowePro ProTactic 350, which will carry two bodies, a couple of lenses, and a 13″ laptop with more room for gear than the model I’ve got at work. I’ll leave the Nikon at home and bring take the Fuji kit with me, as well as whatever manual gear I’m fucking with at the time. I did shoot two rolls of 35mm and one roll of 120 film, so I’m going to try and finish the 120 off this weekend and send it out for processing.

Date posted: September 7, 2017 | Filed under photo, photography | Leave a Comment »

From the weekend; stay tuned for a 360 video (you can see the Gear360 over Finn’s head in this clip).

Date posted: September 7, 2017 | Filed under finn, photography | Leave a Comment »


I recently acquired a Yashica-D Twin Lens Reflex camera, made somewhere between 1961 and 1973. From the number range I’d say about 1968 or so. It’s the Japanese-made brother of the Rolleicord I’ve had for a number of years. Both cameras have f/3.5 lenses, and both have their controls in the same basic places. They are identical in weight, size, and basic layout. Side by side, I’d say the aperture and shutter speed controls on the Yashica are arranged with better ergonomics: they are accessible by spinning the two wheels between the lenses and their values are visible through a window on the top of the viewing (top) lens.

I brought it on our beach vacation so that I could orient myself to how the camera works and shoot some 6×6 film of our friends and family. Looking through some online videos, I found one that describes how to load and unload the film, which was super helpful. This and a couple of other links were enough to get me up and running with the basic settings, and then I was off and running.

I brought along my Minolta X-700 so that I could use the built-in light meter to eyeball the basic aperture and shutter settings before switching to the Yashica, and to also shoot a test print on 35mm film of the same basic frame. If I had more time between shots I’d be taking notes on the technical specs but with an 8 and a 6 year old (and now a 2-year-old) as subjects I’m lucky if they’re still in front of me while I’m fooling with the second camera.

So far I’ve got one roll of 12 prints in the can, and I know I’ve screwed up at least two of those frames. It’s easy to forget, in this digital age, that one has to advance the film manually, and there’s no lockout mechanism to prevent double-exposures on the Yashica like there is on the Minolta. I think that I’ve got a couple of really good portraits on that roll though, and I loaded another roll this evening for tomorrow’s pleasant weather.

Date posted: August 30, 2017 | Filed under photo, photography | Leave a Comment »

Timelapse 2

(Click through to view on Flickr, which doesn’t allow viewable video embeds anymore).

Date posted: August 27, 2017 | Filed under photography, travel | Leave a Comment »

Having spent hours among my digital archives for the past two weeks, I’ve come to the realization that I have no proper catalog system to speak of.

On my server, I have folders organized by year, and the contents of those folders are roughly dependent on whatever ordering system I inherited from iPhoto, Aperture, or Lightroom. The organizing principle was whatever the application decided it would be. Thus, some years have neat subfolders organized by month, from 1-12. Others (from later iterations of iPhoto) are arranged in numbered sequential folders beginning with the word Roll; inside some of those years there are other folders of special events, like Ireland or Birth.

Cataloging them all with iPhoto or Aperture is useless, especially as Aperture has been put out to pasture and iPhoto is long dead. When I realized none of these apps were a long-term solution (careful testing revealed these applications got dog slow when cataloging anything over a year’s worth of photos), I backed up the files in the Originals folder Apple hid within the data package. I knew I would lose any metadata I may have carefully added (GPS data, captions, names, face-recognition information) unless I wanted to keep the XMP sidecar files with them, which I ditched.

My current solution is about as old-school as it gets: I’m making contact sheets. Photoshop has an action built in that batch processes folders of photos and lays them out in a user-configurable grid; another custom action I wrote saves them out in sequence. Anything over about 1000 photos (50 pages) brings my machine to a crawl, as Photoshop fills the hard disk for scratch space, so I’ve got to subdivide each year and work on it in chunks. So far I’ve got the first decade of the 2000’s done (2004 has an inexplicable gap, so I have to dig through my DVD’s to find those) and I’m working on 2011. Because I shoot in RAW format, the graph of the size of these folders looks like a hockey stick, so the going is going to get much slower as I get further into this decade.

The resulting JPGs are then combined inside Acrobat to generate a multi-page PDF. They are big files: 2009 is 990MB in size. But at least I don’t need a program with a limited lifespan to quickly page through my photos, and that catalog is quickly and easily copied from the server to my backup drive.

Date posted: August 12, 2017 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »