El Tracks Revisited

I wasn’t happy with the images I showed in this post, so I decided to rescan them on my new/old Epson 4990 in 16 bits, and processed in Darktable to bring out detail in the shadows. The negatives are the same, but the difference, I think, is appreciable:

Coming up next, I’m going back to my public art theme with the Picasso on Daley Plaza.


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WTF America?

Damn I’m angry. Not so much at the Fascist Orange Clown who has been president of this country for the last 12 days,

but at the stupidity of his supporters, who are apparently willing to overlook any vileness for a doubtful feeling of security. People who wrap themselves in the flag seem to love the idea of Trump’s crew of Neanderthals trampling the very thing that makes this country a place where people want to live more than others, all in the name of safety.

It’s the liberty from persecution, stupid!

Yes, I know – the Indian genocide, yes, slavery, yes, the Chinese Exclusion Act, yes, Japanese internment camps. Yes, I know all that and more. Still, shockingly perhaps despite all that, in terms of respect for individual rights, the United States has done better than most world powers throughout history, especially during and after World War II. That’s mostly why we, or our ancestors, ended up here.

As a sailor in the US Navy during the first Gulf War and a National Guard soldier during my first stint in college, I can make some claim to having sacrificed a bit of my freedom for the common cause of liberty. The witless buffoon who became president on Jan. 20 is making a joke of that, and whether they realize it or not, of the much more serious sacrifices made by past and current members of our services. The fact that their flaunting of the Constitution appears to have the strong approval of the American public only shows me that perhaps the time has come when Americans are ready to give up their rights that so many have fought to preserve. And that really burns me up.

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Flamingo Fever

Calder’s masterpiece, unwrapped three ways:

I think this is a good start to a series about Chicago’s public art. There is certainly plenty to work with, not only in the Loop. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be visiting the Flamingo, either.

On the technical side, I’ve started using film, which gives me much better tonality than the paper negatives I’ve been using until now. At the same time, the film is much less reflective, which results in fewer internal reflections in the camera.

For the entirely geeked out among you, the film I’m using is Arista.EDU 400 ISO, developed in Rodinal 1:100 for 12 minutes. The Arista film is made in the Czech Republic, which with near certainty means it’s repackaged Fomapan. Fine by me, I’ve always liked the stuff, and the 2.6×10 inch negatives don’t suffer very much from its manly graininess.

Let me know what you think.

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Under the El Tracks

First sun we’ve had for a while, but since I wasn’t downtown, I had to settle for el tracks. I’m making progress – my improving ability to plan the framing has made the images somewhat easier to read, and the exposures are within some reasonable range. The subject matter isn’t quite as all-enveloping as Loop architecture, but shooting under the tracks has allowed me to fill the frame much better than I would have been able to in most of the city.

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New cameras

I got out to take the first batch of images with the new cameras. The smaller pinholes (around 0.2mm) are clearly sharper than the last batch. I’m getting a bit more vignetting due to the lower ratio between hole size and stock thickness, but it’s still pretty manageable.

Just for grins, here are cameras 1 and 3 in action:

Testing… #chicity_shots #chicago #pinhole #pinholephotography #pinholecamera

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Red on red #chicity_shots #chicago #pinhole #pinholephotography #pinholecamera

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In terms of images, I’m not too elated about the results. I’m most disappointed about the third one, shot under the Calder sculpture on Federal Plaza. I was hoping for a more monumental view and a more recognizable Flamingo. Then again, a big part of the fun with these images is that they surprise me. The curved geometry of the negative makes it very hard to previsualize anything, especially that I’ve decided not to consciously control where the frame begins and ends.

Tomorrow I’m going to test out yet another, more complex camera. Stay tuned.

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