Tag Archives: Landscape

Problems solved!

With a LOT of help from friends, I have sorted out my fogging problem. I had planned to do a long post to explain the troubleshooting process, but the process has faded into the mists of time (or my mind).

My first and biggest problem was that my darkbox was NOT light tight. Once I gaffer taped all the gaps, voila! 90% of my fogging issues disappeared. Things were still not perfect, though, and so I tried Mark Osterman‘s developer formula. This works much better for me than the formula I have been using. Same ingredients, just different ratios. I also finally caved and bought some proper full-strength Everclear — no more 151 proof or denatured alcohol for me.

I still have some edge contamination problems, but I think that’s just a product of my holder, which appears to be almost unique. I can’t find a book plate-style holder that fits my camera back anywhere, and will probably see if I can get one made to replicate it. It is actually a genius design, holding tintypes on one side and glass on the other.

This is one of my successful plates after making all the changes. The spots are from a bad developer pour (I am still working on my technique).

I bought some sandarac varnish from Bostick and Sullivan, and I much prefer this over the polyurethane spray I was using before. It’s worth the extra money, and–bonus!–it makes the house smell like lavender. It’s terribly messy, though.

Yesterday I shot two great ambrotypes (upcoming as soon as they’re varnished), as John Coffer advised that perhaps my trophy aluminum was contaminated. It has happened to him before that a student couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get a clear plate, and it turned out to be the aluminum.  It may have indeed contributed to my problems but there were several variables.

I can’t wait to show you the ambrotypes.

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What a bummer

My second attempt was a bit of a failure. I set up the camera and my box, organised my chemicals, diluted some 10% silver nitrate solution to 9% (which requires a mathematical formula — V1 x C1 = V2 x C2, where V is volume and C is concentration), and was ready to go. I shot three plates, and they turned out cloudy, so I thought it might be the fault of my plate holder. It had warped a little after I coated it in polyurethane and left it outside in the humid Florida night to dry.

However, after drying, this is what the plates looked like:

One of my friends said that it’s a distinct possibility that the developer is the first problem, as it’s a month old, and apparently that’s too old. I’m also pouring badly, as the developer should be poured at one edge and allowed to flow over the plate so that the circle doesn’t appear in the middle where it first hits the plate.

The second problem may be that I didn’t keep it in the fixer long enough. I’m using Ilford Rapid Fix, not the potassium cyanide mixture that I learned with, and it requires more time.

Armed with this knowledge, I’ll be mixing up a new batch today and see if I have more success next week.

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Sunshine State

After readership figures reached an all time low, I thought I should post some more recent photos to get a bit more up to date. I’ve been dabbling in other photographic mediums and thus the blog has fallen aside a bit lately. I do pull my trusty Mamiya out now and again to go for an outing in my home state. Herewith, random adventures from the first half of the year.


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Koreshan State Park

Florida is strange. Some of the first settlers in Lee County, who homesteaded before the turn of the 19th century, belonged to a cult. The Koreshans are long gone, in no small part because they believed in separation of the sexes and celibacy. That, and the fact that they suffered crushing disappointment when their Dear Leader failed to rise from the dead as promised.

When I visited, one of the volunteer wardens explained that the Koreshans believed that the Earth is a concave hollow – in other words, our heads are pointing toward the center of the Earth instead of at the Universe. Cyrus Teed, the founder of Koreshanity, offered a substantial sum of money to anyone who could disprove the theory – “and you know what?” she said, “To this day, no one’s been able to claim the reward!”

Seemed a bit pointless to debate the matter with her.

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washed up on shore

Outside Hale’iwa


Super Pho

Noodle bar, Honolulu


Our condo

Hale’iwa. My friends said the structure was ugly.





Confession: I straightened some horizons.

UPDATE: More photos from the last roll.

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It was Ying that made me do it.

I’m nervous about a public blog. Who wants to read what I write? Who wants to see my pictures?

But I have to do something. So this is it.

Ying – I blame you.

Somewhere on the road, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India. July 2009. Stuck on a hairpin bend.

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