Friday, July 21, 2017

Back in the Fray with My Blog...

  A few years ago, 2012 to be exact, I started this blog with high hopes. That year was a difficult one, my health deteriorated and my spirits were way below the basement. It took some effort but I turned things around and now I’m as active as ever with a bunch of plans ahead. 
My last posting in this blog was in January of 2013 and much has happened since then. Though I’m not as active as I used to be I continue working with my photography and have finally organized an archive that looks like one. It still needs a lot of work, but I’m certainly getting somewhere. Which brings me to one of my pet projects: digitizing my negatives and slides. This has its roots in the time when I was living in Soho and one of my business was duplicating slides for the artists of the area, something I did with a contraption I built myself from a different parts, some bought at Canal Street (a heaven of a flea-market then) and some, literally, picked up from the street. The set-up worked wonderfully well and it was an excellent money-maker.
So, jumping back to the recent past, I was not really satisfied with the results I was getting with the commercial scanners I bought at different times, so my mind went back to those Soho days and I started thinking along the same lines. Now I had a Nikon D300 and the same 50mm Nikkor lens I used then. On eBay I bought a bunch of stuff, including some that did not work out. Then I used cardboard, wood, plastic, metal, glue, screws and whatever was necessary and ended up with my present set-up. 
After a little tinkering with the camera and a few software programs I ended up with Sofortbild and Lightroom. Since Sofortbild does not work with the newer Apple OS's, I mostly use Lightroom. For longer runs I restart my Mac with Yosemite and use Sofortbild. It's terrific program and I only wish it was updated. Anyway, right from the beginning I saw that I had found what I was looking for. The resolution was as good as the films and the tonal range was far superior than anything I had achieved with the commercial scanners. I was in heaven. As a bonus, a real one if you consider the number of negatives and slides I started with (over 100,000,) it is fast, really fast. Commercial scanners can easily take more than ten seconds per frame, the D300 only a fraction of a second. Also, by adjusting the exposure, something I couldn’t do with my previous scanners, I am able to get the best posible result, even bracketing and using the HDR feature (which I absolutely hate in regular photography) of both Photoshop and Lightroom. This all means that I can do hundreds of scans a day with fantastic quality. And, as another bonus, I’ve been able to save quite a few overexposed and overdeveloped negatives and slides (with slides it works in the opposite direction.) I’m in heaven, archival and digitizing heaven. I’m seeing some photographs for the first time and doing better versions of others.

So here are some photographs, with an iPhone, of my set-up. Works just fine. Life can be good.

A general view of the digitizer. Not a scanner since it doesn't san the photographs, but simply photographs them. A flat field lens is a must for this work. All parts were acquired in eBay and the total cost, including unused parts (and not counting the camera, of course) came for under $US150.-

A closer look. The microscope unit can be seen and under the half of the Omega 2x2 slide carrier used is the Besseler negative carrier. The focus has to be readjusted whenever the medium is changed. Under everything is a Lazy Susan (a turntable) that allows for minor adjustments.

       And that's it for now. I'll be back!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Mayas and Palenque

      This blog was supposed to have been published long ago, as measured by blogging time, but I was sick with the flu for a month and nobody remembers the whole thing about the world ending in December or about the Mayas and their calendar supposedly announcing the end, so I'll just skip all the writing and just show the pictures while I think about the next blog.

The Temple of the Count, one of the many unearthed in Palenque. According to some estimates there are thousands of temples buried in the jungle surrounding Palenque. Early morning, just before the sun comes up. All photographs taken with a Nikon F with a 28 mm and a 50mm lens on Kodachrome film. 1983.

The  first rays of the sun start to appear in Palenque. The Temple of Inscriptions is seen at right, 1983

The early sun rays bathe the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque. This is the site of King Pacal's tomb. 1983.

Early morning in Palenque as the sun begins to make its presence felt. There are dozens of these Mayan ruins in Palenque, plus thousand yet to be unearthed. 1983.

The great Palace of Pacal in Palenqque. One of the most extraordinary archeological finds in Mexico. 1983.

Some of the temples in the Palenque area. The mounds indicate a probable pyramid and are one of the enduring mysteries of the Mayan ruins. Photo taken from the top of the Temple of inscriptions. 1983

The tomb of Pacal deep down in the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque. First one climbs the very steep steps outside the temple and then climb down equally steep steps downwards to the tomb using a very claustrophobic stone stairways. But the carvings on the lid make the effort more than worthwhile. 1983.

The jungle is ever present around Palanque, here seen from the top of the Temple of Inscriptions. An already partially covered building can be seen in the center. 1983.

      So that's it for now. I'll be back soon...