Photographs by Frank

26 August 2013

Making Cameras, Not Photographs

Filed under: Off Topic — Tags: — Frank @ 6:00 PM

The language we use to describe photography is sometimes quite curious… most folks talk about “taking” photographs. “Taking”, in my view, is not the correct word. One implication of  “taking” is that something (maybe the subject of the photo?) is diminished in the act… if I take candy from the baby, the baby lacks candy, if I take a photo of the same baby, she or he looses nothing!

The proper phrase for the act of tripping the shutter is “making a photograph” as this is inherently an act of creation. I am not sure that I have been successful in convincing any of my circle of  photography acquaintances in changing their use of the language, but I’ll keep using “make”, not “take” in this regard. I’ll keep tilting at windmills too!*

Oh well… back to the main act.

I note that, again, have not written a blog entry in over a week. This is because I have been spending time making photographic apparati rather than making photos.

First, I decided that it might be worthwhile to stabilize the relationship between camera and lens in the apparatus I described a week, or so ago in “Experiments in Optics“. The result is show in the first photo below and the four photos following are test shots from around the yard. Now all I have to do is find some time and energy (it is heavy!) to take it further afield. (Kevin… I’ll definitely try some flowing water.)

In addition to this decidedly nonstandard photographic contraption, I also spent a couple of days constructing a classic sliding box camera for 4″x5″ film. I used another old lens I had lying around; an 6.5” f/4 doublet with an aperture but no shutter. I have no clue as to its former life. Instead of ground glass for the back, I used a piece of an el cheapo (2 for 99 cents at Ocean State Job Lot) plastic chopping mat. These are textured on one side and smooth and shiny on the other and one can form an image on it just like ground glass.

In action, the ground glass and its frame get replaced with a film holder that I forgot to take make a photograph of of this blog article.

The last two photos below show “Big Red”.

Now comes the big step…  setting up a darkroom. Fortunately I won’t  need anything too fancy if I stick to lith film. I figure that I’ll use the negatives to make cyanotypes and maybe, eventually, silver contact prints. We’ll see if I follow through. Setting up a dark room from scratch in the 21st century… I must be nuts! Stay tuned!

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*When I was teaching, I used to tilt at another, similar windmill.

Both students and faculty invariably use the word  “give” when it comes to grades. I gave Sally a B on the last test. Professor Jones gave me a B in biochemistry. Wrong!

On the first day of each semester, I would announce to my students that I had never, ever, ever, never given a grade in my teaching career. Invariably, this led to many puzzled looks. Only some of the puzzled looks disappeared when I continued by saying that the grades in my courses are  earned by the students.

For years, I would bring up this issue of proper language around grades with my windmills faculty colleagues. I never got very far there either!

1 Comment

  1. You weren’t attacking those windmills on your own as I, too, was not giving out grades. They were earned!

    Well, retirement has certainly given you a different outlook on life. Time to tinker around with photography in “making” images. What i see thus far looks very interesting. i do like the circular images you are showing.

    Continue on this road less taken and conquer those windmills that impede your path.

    Can’t wait to see the next blog entry. . .

    Comment by Just Joe — 26 August 2013 @ 7:21 PM

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