In this episode, Nick and Graham welcome back Ethan Moses from Cameradactyl to talk about his new camera, the Homunculus (don’t worry, we talk about why it has that name). This camera actually got its start on a previous episode of the podcast where Nick pestered Ethan to develop a camera based on Mamiya Press lenses and a 2X3 Graflok back (same as the RB67 back). Well, this is the result.
Most of the show directly relates to that subject but they also talk a bit about travel photography (Graham is just back from a 2-week vacation in North Carolina), a new 135 panoramic camera Ethan is working on for a friend of his and traipsing through the New England winter on a motorcycle and sidecar.
The boys talk about gum bichromate printing where a color image is created from three black photographs, each of which was taken using a different colored filter over the lens. There is an Instructables page on this process: (https://www.instructables.com/id/Tri-color-gum-bichromate-prints-from-digital-image/). B and H sell a kit from Photographer’s Formulary that supplies this process (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/123480-REG/Photographers_Formulary_07_0100_Classical_Gum_Printing_Kit.html).
Graham can’t remember Brendan Berry Photo’s Instagram name. He’s the guy who created the large format photographs in the skyscraper in New York. It’s incredibly compelling work. (https://www.instagram.com/brendanbarryphoto/)
Ultrafine Online have a line of paper that is panchromatic. (http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ilpapaforpic.html)
If you are in the Victoria BC area, visit the Butchart Gardens. (https://www.butchartgardens.com/)
Since Nick is in the middle of his busiest week of the year, we will not be doing an episode for May 21, 2019, so I decided to record a quick reminder about the zine we will be producing later in the summer. If you would like to contribute to the zine, go to:
We are looking for all kinds of homebrewed photographic fun. If you modified it, built it, or hacked it in any way, show us what you did!
Nick and Graham talk about the basics of making your own film, or other types of alternative photographic media. This can be done by coating a variety of surfaces, such as glass, paper, acetate, or regular film stock with ready-made emulsions, or with home-brew alternative light-sensitive solutions.
They talk a bit in a vague way about ways to make specialized film holders for plates. Making your own media means just about any format is possible, opening up the possibility of building cameras for novel, never-before-seen aspect ratios.
Speaking of alternative formats, they also discuss Ilford’s Ultra Large-Format special-order period, which is on now and runs through May 27, allowing people to put in requests for a large number of different odd and large format film sizes, available in 2 or 3 Ilford emulsions.
Graham recommends a movie on Netflix about Elsa Dorfman, who ran one of the giant polaroids for many years. http://bsidefilm.com/
Nick recommends looking at some of the many books on Alternative Processes that have been listed on past episodes, and points to the use of traditional photo re-touching oil glazes as a way to fine-tune colors on color prints, as well as to hand-color black and white photos.
Nick and Graham talk about what they’ve learned in the year since they started the podcast. Nick talks about cameras that get out of your way but also cameras that do get in your way. Graham talks a bit about shooting on a vacation with a Minox 35 GL zone focusing aperture priority camera.
Graham talks about the approach to building cameras that includes more parts (36:35) for better functionality and not trying to put as much functionality as possible into each part. He also rambles on about how the most important thing we do is take images and the image is way more important than the camera, lens or the film. (47:00). Nick counters that while it is true, he would rather have access to that information on others’ photos. The issue of the differences between cameras, lenses and film is much less apparent than the differences between different photographers’ abilities with post-processing tools.
The hosts lament the lack of a reliable shutter for homemade cameras are not readily available (55:00) and that lack of access is a major factor in keeping us from producing reliable cameras that use existing lens systems.
Graham stumbles around, trying to figure out what Raffaello Palandri’s name is, even calling him Franco Zeffirelli (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001874/) at one point. What can we say, Graham is an idiot, first class. They even talk about not editing Graham’s idiocy out of the episode. Instead, of sending the hosts hate mail, go to Raffaello’s PONF Camera website (https://ponfcamera.com/) which is way more effective and edifying.
Finally, Graham announces a new podcast he’s doing (1:12:35), Get Started With Film Photography Podcast (http://getstartedwithfilm.com/), a podcast that is focused on beginning photographers and people who are just getting back into film photography.
Nick and Graham again welcome Ethan Moses of Cameradactyl and Butter Grip (https://www.cameradactyl.com/) to discuss Industrial Design and the elements of a camera that make it “work” for the user.
The meat of the discussion starts after the first musical interstitial (7:45) with an overlong monolog from Graham. Happily, Nick and Ethan rescue him with insight and mockery. The Konica Autoreflex TC, a camera that has been noted as a camera that is not good for left-eye-dominant individuals but somehow works for people with larger noses. Somehow, Vera Wang works her way into the design. The Volkswagen campaign from the 90s, Fahrvergnugen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CESVgaeD-nI) works its way into the discussion as well.
The concept of the left-side shutter release is discussed (21:55) in a way of attempting to break the right-hand dominant design from running the world for lefties.
The concept of the Material Is The Message is talked about (51:30) along with the surfaces of cameras like leather, plastic, rubber, etc. Nick brings up the concept of authenticity of materials.
Sometimes a lack of leatherette is better than the original covering.
Durability of materials and planed lives of cameras designed today is considered (1:05:00).
The appropriateness of materials and form are discussed at 1:09:45 and the concept of the machine looking like other machines in the category is important for consumers to recognize what the purpose of the machine is.
Graham has a hammer and everything is looking like a nail and he tells us why (14:00). Nick tries to talk him down from his issue with materials by suggesting a variety of solutions for different usages.
Sometimes it’s better to think of a design as a series of elements that gets built up into a whole instead of a single element that is constructed for the single purpose (25:45).
Ethan Moses has come out with a new 4X5 hand camera, the Cameradactyl OG (cameradactyl.com) and Graham and Nick each have one from the first batch and they talk about its structure and materials (28:15) as well as how to extend its usefulness and functionality.
Graham comes up with the absolute worst idea for making an optical lens (31:15) while Nick talks about more difficult methods that might actually work.
One of the battles we have to fight as designers of cameras is keeping the film flat against the film gate. To help with that, Graham proposes reducing the area of the image size (49:00).
Nick brings up the concept of making mini bellows focusing mechanisms (58:00) as a method of saving weight through the elimination of the helical.
The Cameradactyl OG is discussed in length again (1:00:00). Please excuse the rustling in the background as both of the hosts have their cameras in-hand during this time. Graham harkens back to the Starship Enterprise for inspiration for a light-shading device for viewing the ground glass even though Nick doesn’t want to think about it.
Just like a cuckoo bird laying an egg in another bird’s nest, Nick and Graham discuss an interview conducted on the Classic Lenses Podcast (https://classiclensespodcast.podbean.com/) with Raffaello Pondri of the PONF camera (ponfcamera.com) project (1:24:30). The PONF camera is a design that features swappable film and digital backs on a 35mm camera. It is well worth a direct listen instead of relying on the shaky memories of Nick and Graham. The manufacturing process would use a metal 3D printing system like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igq8gQuXfR4.
One of the most interesting of the concepts that came up in the discussion of the PONF camera is the use of an LCD shutter (1:42:15). They are plentiful and cheap but that doesn’t mean they are right for film photography.
They move on to what they’ve been working on lately (1:51:00), including the adapting of lenses, more about lumen boxes and issues with Graham’s 3D printer. Graham incorrectly identifies the supplier of lenses as Surplus Shack while it is Surplus Shed (surplussed.com).
Shout out to Matt Melcher of the Box of Cameras podcast and poster on Flickr (mattmelcher) and Instagram (@mattmelcher and @box_of_cameras).
Graham has some cameras for sale on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/FrozenPhotonCameraCo) and thinks everyone should own one of them.