donderdag 22 januari 2015

A camera is a camera

curtains, flashed
All cameras have some qualities of its own. A nice camera doesn't even have to make images at all. For example the collection of Jan Boettcher contains a lot of dummy cameras which are made for other purposes. Not all cameras are designed to take perfect images. At least since the introduction of the Brownie box as a cheap mass product for everyone - cameras received a different status. 
adjusted and cropped b/w image
They weren't anymore the sophisticated machines to make detailed images of all family members in a studio. The new purpose was to make "memories" of million people. You could make photos quick and easy and wherever you wanted with this cheap and portable device. The quality of the images was obviously secondary - a trend that rules the world of photography for more than a century by now. 
black and white conversion inside camera (software)
But why bother? It's a sort of introduction, as my new portable device has a so called front and a main camera: a VGA for mug shots and a 5 Mp camera in the back with a built-in LED flash. No focussing and minimal choices for adjusting inside the menu. I honestly didn't bought the smartphone for its cameras, because I have already seen some sample images on websites that have tested and reviewed the thing. So I was warned on forehand.
color version
adjusted black canal from LAB mode
I had not really high no expectations. The images that came out have more pixels than a Nokia camera I had years ago, but the colors and the whole image quality are pretty similar. - But hey, isn't it the photographer - the human behind the device - who creates the images? And what do you think of the Lomography movement or the Mobile Photography Awards? Isn't it hip to have a rudimentary camera in your pocket?
contrast adjustment inside camera (software)
I am sure my new digital Diana's have their own potential. They make images with - let's say  - an own flavor. I was even a bit surprised by some images. The lens has severe color shifts, at least outside in cloudy weather., but the black and white setting is quite okay. I haven't found yet the optimal distance for the best sharpness. It is possible between 1,5 and 2,5 meters. Despite the little imperfections, I made already some unforgettable images.
adjusted and cropped b/w image

vrijdag 16 januari 2015

fotograferen met gekleurde lenzen

Afgelopen week heb ik twee kleine stukjes bruin getint acrylglas gevonden. Blijkbaar waren dit de allerlaatste restjes van een of ander deksel uit de jaren zeventig. Maar er was voldoende materiaal om enkele kleine lensjes mee te maken. Het plan was een soort zonnebril op sterkte voor de camera te maken. 

Ik vroeg mij al een tijdje af of het niet mogelijk was om een getinte groothoeklens te maken, die zo geslepen is dat er automatisch de lichtafval naar de randen toe gecompenseerd wordt. Als ik mij voorstel dat het midden van de lens meer materiaal heeft dan de zijkanten en de schuin invallende stralen een iets kortere weg door de gekleurde lens afleggen, dan zou het moeten lukken. 
Voor deze test wilde ik simpele planconvexe lenzen slijpen. Het stukje acrylglas heb ik met dubbelzijdig plakband op een afgeslepen fitting van een waterleiding gemonteerd, dat wederom op mijn boormachine vastzit. 

Een tweede boormachine heeft een ronddraaiend schuurpapiertje, dat de lens zo zijn ruwe vorm geeft. Ik heb helaas nog geen precisiegereedschap om alles direct met machines af te werken, daarom ga ik de lens verder met de hand slijpen. Met wat messen, schuurpapier en polijstmiddel kom ik een heel eind. 
Door het slijpen met de hand hebben mijn lenzen iets meer afwijkingen, maar ze leveren al meteen wat bruikbare resultaten op. De eerste lens geeft al redelijk gedetailleerd beeld en dat zelfs op de digitale camera, die slechts een kleine uitsnede van het totale beeld laat zien. 
overbelichte opname zonder diafragma en zonder kleurcorrectie
overbelichte opname met diafragma en kleurcorrectie
de eerste opname in duidelijk oranje-bruine tint
De kleurafwijking is echter drastisch. Alles is oranje-bruin. Aan de andere kant zou dat ook het voordeel hebben dat ik met deze lenzen wellicht met kunstlichtfilm overdag kan fotograferen. Dat zou gunstig zijn, ook omdat het beeld op het matglas in de avonduren erg donker wordt met een kleine diafragma.
fomapan 100, f64, +/- 120 mm lens
Mijn eerste "echte" opname was een zelfportret naast het raam, dat ik helaas volledig onderbelicht heb, omdat ik de absorptie van de lens en de bijkomende verlengingsfactoren verkeerd had ingeschat. Voor de tweede foto heb ik meteen door de lens gemeten en dat resulteerde in een perfecte belichting.
Fomapan 100, f16, +/- 120 mm lens
Of de gekleurd lens nu precies dat doet, wat ik wil, weet ik nog niet honderd procent zeker. Ik zie in ieder geval geen noemenswaardige lichtafval naar de randen toe en dat terwijl de gebruikte lens een brandpuntsafstand van 120 mm heeft en het formaat 13 x 18 cm volledig uit vult. Dat de scherpte naar de randen toe iets minder wordt kan je een enkel kunststof element haast niet kwalijk nemen.
text and all images © Norman Beierle

woensdag 13 augustus 2014

SLR - prototype update


I have build a rotating shutter and a contraption to lift mirror into my life size wooden model camera. On the image above you can see the lens that will be mounted on its front: a lens from my Durst enlarger with an aperture of f 5,6 and a focal length of 210 mm. I put off my previews plans of making the camera usable for architecture photography as the length of the uncut mirror tile together with the back of the camera were too long to allow a short wide angle lens.


I brought the whole construction of the shutter mechanism back to its simplicity of my first cardboard model. The handle to fire the shutter I made on the right side of the camera. A pistol grip as I announced in a previews post I will make in another model. For now it is more important to concentrate on the synchronization between the mirror movement and the shutter rotation.

video

In the video above you hear a clicking sound at the end, which was made by a green pushpin that fell off from the mirror lifting mechanism. In the second video you can see how the mirror get lifted and how the shutter opens for around 1/30 of second.

video

The camera didn't got any cosmetic improvements yet. In a later state I will cover the rotating shutter with a front door that holds the lens and the ground glass will get a hood with magnifier. I am almost sure that I can post the first photo made with this camera within this month!


all images © Norman Beierle

zondag 10 augustus 2014

a lucky day


Last month I found a strip of negatives while walking the dogs. Although sandwiched between shoe soles and concrete tiles, that left heavy marks on it, the subject-matter was still strong and clear. The five photos, made with a pocket camera on 110 film, shows a special bandage in different states. 


Somehow it doesn't look like that the person with the bandage is injured. All the images together gives the impression that we look at a demonstration of this special bandage rather than a follow up of some terrible accident. 


This gives me a better feeling about posting these images and the luck of finding the negatives in time, before a heavy rain was coming in the evening that probably would have destroyed the vulnerable and already scratched gelatin layer. 


Another miracle is that these images must be at least twenty, more possibly thirty years old, as pocket film had the high days in the early 80s. I haven't seen any trace of more film material nearby, so this must have been the only strip of images that was meant to me ;-)


woensdag 6 augustus 2014

SLR - next step: the mechanism

new components for the SLR
This week I made (and collected) some new parts for the SLR camera: a wooden box that will hold the back I made earlier, a mirror tile and an improvised lens board with an old ICA lens, which I bought once on a photographica fair. The lens is far from crispy or sharp, but it has a focussing mechanism and a working iris aperture.

the inner life of the camera
In the last week I also made some new sketches on how the mechanism of the camera should work. I decided to place the lens in an already upwards shifted position on the lens board for landscape and architecture photography. I also have chosen to make this a (relatively) fast action camera with an kind of pistol grip on the bottom. This means that the camera could be used handheld with an shutter speed of 1/50 second. Perfect for bright weather conditions.

working of the mechanism
You might wonder why the mechanism for lifting the mirror is that complicated. I wanted to make the rotating shutter in the front (not seen on this post) less prone to vibration, as my original idea was a separate, spring loaded mechanism to close the shutter. I got the idea to close the shutter by rotating the front disk just a little further. The new inner mechanism should do this in an accurate way.

all images © Norman Beierle



vrijdag 1 augustus 2014

SLR - life size prototype

components of my new back for "modern" sheet film holders

Time has come to construct a first model in life size. One of the things I don't make myself are the holders for the 4x5 inch sheet films. As this part, with its specific measurement is a given fact I have to deal with, I decided to start the 1:1 version with it's back, which I made for usage in horizontal and vertical position. 

almost ready for use

This was not the first back I constructed and I already knew some of the issues that will need special attention, like: the film holder has to go in and out easily and in the same time it has to get enough pressure to hold it firmly against the opening where the image will appear. And it don't have to move while handling the camera or pulling out the dark-slide etc. In a former project I bent for instance an old spring of an alarm clock to give the right tension.

it fits like a custom made jacket: easy and smooth

My new design is even more practical, minimalistic and easy to use. Two rubber bands are strong enough to secure the holder on its position, pulling the holder in and out goes smoothly and of course without damaging the holder. At the end I will give the inside a lick of black paint.

a simple but effective design
My next step is to construct something like a box, where the back can connect to. This will be continued soon.

all images © Norman Beierle


donderdag 24 juli 2014

SLR follow up

video

This and last week I worked on the improvement of the shutter mechanism. I made several sketches with sophisticated solutions, but most of them where quite time consuming to make and allow only precision parts for a supple movement. The best way to keep this operation simple - in terms of a minimalistic, but functional design - was to make a model with a single rotating disk. 

shutter mechanism - before and after pulling the trigger
I have chosen for an oversized wooden model, which could easily placed in front of a future 8x10 inch or ultra large format (ULF) SLR. Another advantage of enlarging the shutter was that I could adjust all parts quickly and tight with just some screws. The tension of the (closing mechanism of the) shutter is regulated with an elastic band.