Category Archives: Photography

Developing Ancient Polaroid Pack Film Negatives

I got another pack film camera, a 100 with the Zeiss rangefinder from a 250. It had a pack of Polaroid Type 107 3000 B&W film in it. I pulled one on the very long odds that the developing pods might be good. Nope, dry as a bone. I put a battery in the camera and tried the shutter and it seems to work fine.

I pulled the shutter test frame out of the camera in a dark bag and tried developing it. I’d read somewhere that you could develop the negatives from pack film but I’d never seen an example or tried it. On one Flickr discussion group, someone suggested you could treat it like old Kodak Panatomic-X. So, I had to dig for developing info about one extinct film (according to Wikipedia, Panatomic-X hasn’t been made since 1987) so I could try it on another extinct film.

The instructions I got with the 107 film in the camera call for coating the prints. The coater-less version, 107C, came out in 1978. I don’t know if Polaroid kept making 107 after 107C came out but even 107C hasn’t been made since 1998. If I’d realized it was that old I might have saved a frame. Probably not, the first thing people do when looking at an old camera in a thrift shop is to open it. Any way, the instructions I found called for HC-110 dilution B (1+31) at 68F for 4.5 minutes.

I don’t have any normal tanks that can develop large format negatives. The Polaroid image (excluding the border) is 7.3 X 9.5cm. In one of those “buy the lot to get the one thing you want” purchases, I got a Cibachrome color processing drum (PDF manual). It was made to do prints without using a series of open trays. Cibachrome was an awesome process, direct to positive, full color prints. Sadly, I learned about it too late. It too is an extinct product.

This is the shutter test shot. Developed in HC-110, dilution H (1+63) at 68F for 9 minutes. I frequently use half the concentration for twice the time. It’s a little gentler on old negatives (old paper negative in this case) and it helps to have a little time leeway. The results are pretty similar to HC-110 B. This was a go/no-go test so getting anything was the goal.

Negative image taken with my iPhone.

Negative image taken with my iPhone.

No idea what it is but it’s not my target, the kitchen lights. I tried bleaching the negative but all I did was take off some of the emulsion.

A proper scan at 600 DPI after the bleaching attempt.

A proper scan at 600 DPI after the bleaching attempt.


The scan inverted.  Still no idea -- probably nothing.

The scan inverted. Still no idea — probably nothing.

I had nothing but variables: an unknown film, shot in an unknown camera, developed with an unknown process. I know, I’ll use a different camera I haven’t tested!

I pulled the remaining three frames out of the film pack and put them into a light tight box. Wrangling a Polaroid and a box in a small changing bag is an exercise in patience. Once that was done, I removed the extra paper, developing pods, and positives, leaving just the negatives emulsion side up (I think) in the box. The next magic act was getting a negative out of the box and into the test camera, a Kodak Autographic No. 3A (1918-27) which is nearly as big as the Polaroid.

I shot a test and then psyched myself out that I didn’t have the emulsion facing the subject. Just to be sure, I put the beast back in the dark bag, turned the film over and shot it again. I shot the same subject so I still don’t know if I had it right the first time.

My meter app doesn’t have ISO 3000 so I guesstimated that the film would have lost some speed and used 2500. I used the fastest shutter on the old Kodak, 1/100 second and f/16. That was really fortunate since the aperture on the camera is labeled in US (Universal System) units not f-stops. I have a screen grab of an old table comparing aperture systems somewhere. At least I didn’t have to stop everything and find it because I remembered that f-stops and US cross each other at 16

I was getting impatient so I used HC-110 B for 4.5 minutes this time. The framing is terrible but the blobs of dark on the negative are definitely the kitchen lights.

A negative!

A negative!

Fugly, but it's a photograph.

Fugly, but it’s a photograph.

Did I prove anything? Yeah sort of. I know old Polaroid negatives will produce an image. Is it useful information? Probably not to anyone but me but that was the point. Photography forums (fora?) are as bad as Apple discussion groups. There’s always some snarky little bitch who says, “Why waste time? Just go buy X”. That misses the point. I want to know. I already know I can go buy something — there’s no challenge in that.

52 Cameras: # 164 — Nikon N8008s (F-801S)




FPP Retrochrome (Ektachrome). Scanned at 4800, color corrected, and shrunk to 1024 on the long side for the blog.

Rio Grande

Rio Grande


Rio near Embudo

Rio near Embudo


My sweetie at the Rio

My sweetie at the Rio

Hard to balance. Ektachrome is way less sensitive to red and somewhat less to green than blue.
These are screen grabs from GIMP.

The top image above before any edits

The top image above before any edits


Decomposing to the individual channels gives some interesting insight. This creates a gray scale image for each color channel representing the strength of that color’s contribution to the image as a value from 0 (black) to 255 (white). Obviously, the amount of each color mostly depends on the subject matter.
Red:  very dark = low values

Red: very dark = low values


Green is a lot stronger but maybe not as much as you'd expect.  The line of trees behind the shore plants are juniper and piñon.

Green is a lot stronger but maybe not as much as you’d expect. The line of trees behind the shore plants are juniper and piñon.


Blue is as strong or stronger than green, even for the green plants.

Blue is as strong or stronger than green, even for the green plants.


Blue is about what I’d expect a conversion to black and white to look like. It’s that overwhelming in this film.

Phound Photos Volume 10

Found photos sort of. I didn’t actually get any images that I can be sure of (stare at them for a while and you start to “see” things) but the scans are kind of cool.

I got a box camera recently and it had three film holders in it — 4X5 inch glass plate holders with dark slides to be more precise. One of the holders had plates in it.

There isn’t much info out there about processing old glass plates. Tons about scanning or making prints or preserving glass negatives that have already been processed but not developing old negatives. I processed them with Arista B&W paper developer from Freestyle, Kodak stop, and Ilford Rapid Fixer. The developer did the job — the exposed silver in the emulsion converted to metallic (black) silver. The trouble is, it was all exposed. Somewhere along the line, the dark slides had been removed.

This is a positive from the scanned negative.

This is a B&W positive from the first scanned negative.

I had to scan in two passes since the light source on the CanoScan 9000f isn’t wide enough. The exposure wasn’t quite the same but I was able to play with the levels and get it pretty close. I glued the half-images together in Photoshop Elements 15. Version 15 is kind of a POS (not point-of-sale if you know what I mean). It only has panorama stitch in “guided” mode and it doesn’t guess very well. It lined the images up OK but I could not get the exposure of the layers right. I ended up doing it manually with a huge blank canvas and two layers. I made one layer semi-transparent and picked a dot as my alignment point. Nudge, nudge, too far, back, SWEET! It’s not perfect but pretty close for moving the plate on the scanner manually without a straight edge. Once the layers were aligned, I set the transparency back to opaque, picked one layer and tweaked the mid-tone level .01 at a time until I couldn’t see the seam. Since it’s a gray scale scan, .01 would be one hundredth of 255 (0=black and 255=white).

I got a wild hare (hair?) and did the second image in color. I had to scan one half twice to get the exposure close. The Canon software “snaps” to an exposure level depending on how much light or dark is in the selected scan area — move the selection area in or out and the exposure varies in a huge jump. With the color information, more overlap, and using a straight edge this time (an SX-70 print), Photoshop did a much better job stitching the halves together and I didn’t have to do it manually.

This is a color positive from the second scanned negative.

This is a color positive from the second scanned negative.

Images of the camera and slide holders will have to wait until I feature the camera on 52 Cameras. I have some big film (not 4×5″ big, but big), print paper like I used for the cardboard box pinhole camera, and some Instax wide so it’ll be a fun project.

Note: Not my fingerprints — I used gloves. I’ve read enough to know gelatin emulsion on glass is really fragile and LOVES fingerprints.

Phound Photos Volume 9

These were on the memory card of a Sony DSC-H7. I’ll review the camera shortly since I know I can power it up and get things off of it. I scored the camera from Goodwill Central Coast in Salinas, CA.

There were 350 images total on the card, from June 2011 to November 2012. As usual, when I review the camera, I’ll link to this page so if the people run across the blog or YouTube channel, they can get their pictures.

They have a bird.

They have a bird.


And a water dog.

And a water dog.


Who also likes to hike.

Who also likes to hike.


Sometimes the dog hikes with mom.

Sometimes the dog hikes with mom.


Dr Mycology makes a determination.

Dr Mycology makes a determination.


I think that's Mt. Ranier.

I think that’s Mt. Ranier.


Yep, that's Ranier.

Yep, that’s Ranier.


I love the light in this one.

I love the light in this one.


Thanksgiving dinner?

Thanksgiving dinner?


Dogs need Thanksgiving treats too.

Dogs need Thanksgiving treats too.


It still feels weird posting other people’s images. Really old ones are easier. So far I’ve been lucky. No Jimmy Hoffa or Loch Ness monster but also no porn or wrecks or other creepy stuff. Maybe someday I’ll actually reunite someone with pictures they thought were lost forever.

Super Blood Wolf Moon — 20 January 2019

“Super” because the moon is close. “Blood” because of the eclipse. “Wolf” just because the January full moon is called a wolf moon. Some icy clouds so I wasn’t too optimistic but it turned out OK. The clock on my camera was about 20 minutes fast so the image time stamps are a little off. Images are shrunk to 1024 on the long side. Most with the Canon 60D & Sigma 18-250mm.

Moonrise over the Sangre de Cristos.

Moonrise over the Sangre de Cristos.


Icy clouds are beautiful but not great for astrophotography.

Icy clouds are beautiful but not great for astrophotography.


No eclipse yet but the clouds cleared for a while.

No eclipse yet but the clouds cleared for a while.


Near the beginning of the eclipse.

Near the beginning of the eclipse.


Here’s a good example of “crop factor” based on sensor size.The above image was taken with a Canon 60D, which has an APS-C sensor, and a 250mm lens. Because the sensor is smaller than a frame of 35mm film (“full frame”), the angle of view is narrower. For Canon APS-C, the factor is 1.6. You don’t magically get a longer zoom but the field of view is equivalent to the length of the lens times the crop factor. In this case, 250mm X 1.6 = 400mm.

Sony A7 (full frame) and an old Canon FD mount Kiron 400mm telephoto.

Sony A7 (full frame) and an old Canon FD mount Kiron 400mm telephoto.


Both images were resized to 1024 but no cropping. The size of the moon is the same for full frame at 400mm and an APS-C sensor at 250mm.

Back to the moon…

Nearing totality.

Nearing totality.


I switched from aperture priority to manual.  The moon sliver is too small for the spot meter in the camera.

I switched from aperture priority to manual. The moon sliver is too small for the spot meter in the camera.


Still exposing for the sliver so the moon isn't a white blob.

Still exposing for the sliver so the moon isn’t a white blob.


Going... This is a full second at ISO 400 & f/6.3 (as wide as the lens goes at 250mm).

Going… This is a full second at ISO 400 & f/6.3 (as wide as the lens goes at 250mm).


Going... This is about a minute later. They kinda look the same but I was stoked about how they were coming out.

Going… This is about a minute later. They kinda look the same but I was stoked about how they were coming out.


Still going...

Still going…


Houston, we have totality!

Houston, we have totality!


I tried a Canon 2X teleconverter with the Kiron lens on the Sony for a total of 800mm.
800mm

800mm


I even tried a Kiron 2x converter stacked with the Canon 2X converter and the 400mm lens. It worked but the loss of light from the converters, the not-quite-perfect alignment of the converters+lens, and wobbliness of trying to aim something that long on a small tripod (while freezing) wasn’t worth it. The black spot is dust I got on the sensor while dorking around with converters with numb hands. You can see green chromatic aberration at the top of the moon.
2X + 2X + 400mm = 1600mm of wobbly goodness.

2X + 2X + 400mm = 1600mm of wobbly goodness.

52 Cameras: # 162 — Nikon FM

    Things I forgot in the video:

  • The FM operates just fine without batteries — just with no metering.
  • The frame counter (36 max) is on the top deck just in front of the wind lever.
  • The LEDs in the viewfinder are used as a battery check.
  • Film speeds are from ISO 12 to 3200. Full stops are numbered (100, 200, …) with dots for 1/3 stop increments (e.g., 64 & 80 between 50 and 100).
  • Lift and turn the shutter speed knob to set the film speed.
  • The back can be removed for an instant or bulk film back.
  • The gallium photodiodes for metering are located in the eyepiece module rather than in the pentaprism. EV1 to EV18.
  • The meter is 60/40 center weighted — 60% given to the center 12mm and the remaining 40% to the rest of the image in the viewfinder.
  • No dedicated mirror lockup but it goes up when the self timer is used.

And… even reading the manual, I got the LED meanings wrong. + or means more than 1 stop off. Center dot and + or means 1/5 to 1 stop off.

From the manual.  Derp.

From the manual. Derp.


Film Photography Project’s “Retrochrome” is expired, cold-stored Kodak Extachrome. Ektachrome is pretty cool, color-wise, even when fresh.



Goober behind the screen.  Removed some blue.

Goober behind the screen. Removed some blue.


Dragon kite.  Removed some blue and bumped the saturation a little.

Dragon kite. Removed some blue and bumped the saturation a little.


Low fall sun through the leaves.  Color corrected and tweaked the levels.

Low fall sun through the leaves. Color corrected and tweaked the levels.


I added another image of Goober (2 versions) because it was a funny struggle to get the colors right. The white sheets were really cool (blue). I tried tons of different tweaks and it was either still too blue or over-corrected and orange. I played with filters while I decided whether to not use the image or just convert it to black and white. Most results were “meh” but I like this solarized one.

Solarized Goober.  Very black light poster.

Solarized Goober. Very black light poster.


Finally, just goofing around, I chose the “skin tone” filter. It’s supposed to correct skin tones that look wrong, usually because of lighting. I clicked the dropper icon on Goober’s face and, like magic, the colors in the image were right.

Goober's magical skin tone.

Goober’s magical skin tone.

52 Cameras: # 160 — Leica M7




All images resized to 1024 on the long side.
Fuji 400 – expired but frozen. Processing and scanning by the Camera Shop of Santa Fe.
Trinity.  Lousy composition but nice colors.

Trinity. Lousy composition but nice colors.


Random boots on the sidewalk.

Random boots on the sidewalk.


Kodak TMAX-100. Processed in HC-110 and scanned at 4800 DPI.
Aspens in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Aspens in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.


One of the strange sculpture/shelters near Aspen Vista.

One of the strange sculpture/shelters near Aspen Vista.


Gorgeous old Volvo by the co-op in Santa Fe.

Gorgeous old Volvo by the co-op in Santa Fe.