Archive for October, 2008

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Photographs: Streetwork, San Francisco

October 30, 2008

These are a series of photographs I took in San Francisco in the early 1980s. I believe the neighborhood was the Upper Haight district.

You may notice in this last that although I managed to get these cement forms square to the frame, because they’re resting on a steep San Francisco hill, the buildings are crooked. Oh well…

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Scanning Black and White Negatives

October 27, 2008

I’m a big fan of black and white photography, and have tons of negatives from pictures I’ve taken over the years. Unfortunately, the prints I’ve had developed were not well made, and I don’t have a darkroom anymore, so scanning the slides is my best option.

There are special scanners you can buy that have a light-source built into the top of them for scanning slides or negatives. This device lights the negative as the scanner passes underneath. I’ve managed to rig up a similar system using a regular scanner and just a piece of Canson Pro Layout Marker paper without any special lighting. Color slides or negatives, by the way, won’t scan properly with this system, only black and white.

Scanner with negatives

Scanner with negatives

To make a print a light source is projected through the negative or slide onto emulsion-coated paper. The reason a regular scanner is not recommended for negatives is it doesn’t have that back lit source, so you’d only be scanning the front and not lighting the negative properly. You could just scan a print, but scanning the negative itself directly will give you better resolution.

What got me started on this project was reading an article about a guy who claimed to get decent scans using a florescent light and a plastic cover to light the negative as it was scanned. The white plastic sheet creates a diffused light through the back of the negative that gave him a proper scan, sort of like how a projection screen works. Unfortunately, my first test of that gave me poor results. The light was too bright. What needs to be controlled is the amount of light coming through the negative. Too much light will blind the scanner and give an image that is too bright. Not enough light will make it too dark.

After trying a series of different screens from paper to plastic and different light sources, I found what worked the best for me was the layout paper and dim daylight. The room was dimly lit by sunny daylight through closed blinds. I left the scanner top open, and placed the negative on the glass covered by the paper. After scanning you’ll need digital software that can invert the colors in the image. My scanner only goes up to 1200dpi, and if I reduce that to 300dpi I’ll get a good 4 x 6” print. If your scanner has a higher dpi that’s even better.

Scanned Negative

Scanned Negative

The Negative Inverted

The Negative Inverted

Another problem you need to be aware of is negatives curl from the emulsion that’s on them which causes them to not lie flat on the glass, and that gives a blurred scan. The paper alone won’t be enough to keep them flat. Slide scanners come with a plastic frame holder that keeps the negatives flat, and to do the same with this customized setup you need to press down the paper and negatives flat, but not block the light passing through or cast a shadow over the negative. I found that I could only manage to scan one or two strips at a time this way but that was okay with me. Also make sure that everything is clean and dust free.

If you want to scan in color, you’ll likely have to get a slide scanner. There are light tables that have special lamps in them for photography (I assume the scanners use these too,) and you could then shoot them on the table instead of scanning. Those tables aren’t cheap though, and you’d need a high quality camera with a macro lens, so a scanner may be more cost effective.

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Brownie Camera Photos

October 24, 2008

Digging through some archived photos I pulled out a few that I haven’t seen in awhile. I made these using an old Brownie Target Six-20 model camera, when I was approximately six years old. I hesitate to say if I’ve ever shot anything better. My mother recently said she’s seen this camera somewhere at her home in storage, so I’ll have to hunt for it next time I visit her. Some of them on the web go for as little as $10-20 and the film is still available too.

The camera was marvelous in its simplicity with a fixed lens and point-and-shoot operation. One curious feature was you could hold it horizontally and look through a viewfinder on the side as well as one on the top. I also seem to recall having a printing kit for developing the film, but I don’t know what became of that. I even still have some of the negatives, which these images are directly shot from using my light-table.

Neighbor with BB-Gun

Neighbor with BB-Gun

Cowgirl

Cowgirl

Parents

Parents

Attention!

Attention!

It’s amusing that so many of the portraits have the top of their heads cropped, but give me a break. I was only about four feet tall at the time.

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Ink Drawing: Dying Soldier

October 20, 2008

Ink Drawing

Ink Drawing


Drawing Detail

Drawing Detail

This is based on an older drawing I made for an unpublished short story several years ago. It was a science fiction story where the dying soldier was wearing all this modern weaponry and a gas mask. I decided to do a retelling of it this time with him in Civil War dress and rifle. The original drawing was also done digitally in grisaille washes, so I changed that this time to all ink on paper. The finer lines are made with an archival ink marker, but the darker areas were from a steel nib, no brushing. My fingers are still a bit numb from all that scratching, and I think I may need to buy some more ink. The detail image is approximately actual size, and the whole drawing is about 10 x 12 inches.

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Long Goodbyes Painting: Final Update

October 18, 2008
Painting Update v.4

Painting Update v.4

I still need to sharpen up a few spots, and adjust some values here and there, but I like how this looks so far.



Read the other posts in this series:

  • Long Goodbyes, Part 1
  • Long Goodbyes, Part 2
  • Long Goodbyes, Part 3
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    Long Goodbyes Painting Update

    October 16, 2008
    Painting update

    Painting update

    Not as much progress on this as I hoped. Too many interuptions. Here’s the latest version, however. It’s starting to take shape. I can see that I’ll need to go back over some of these areas later and improve them some, but I’ll wait on that until I get the figures painted.



    Read the other posts in this series:

  • Long Goodbyes, Part 1
  • Long Goodbyes, Part 2
  • Long Goodbyes, Final
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    Long Goodbyes Painting: part 2

    October 12, 2008

    Here’s an update to the new painting, just the bottom foreground section. I normally work from the background to foreground, but thought I’d begin with the darker areas first this time, and save the figures for last. I should also darken the value on her coat a bit. Hopefully I’ll get the rest of the interior and curtains finished today.

    Painted Foreground

    Painted Foreground




    Read the other posts in this series:

  • Long Goodbyes, Part 1
  • Long Goodbyes, Part 3
  • Long Goodbyes, Final