The week of smoke goes on. We now have the worst air quality we’ve ever had, almost like a good day in Delhi. Despite the smoke from the fires in Washington, life goes on. The good news is now everyone owns a filter mask! I have a whole collection of them, mostly blue surgical types, but just the other day I scored a real N95 in white (China), that fits great. So stylin’ too. Now I can parade the town with my mask on and not appear to be afraid of that little virus thing. It does make smoking difficult however. Just joking!
With my trusty filter mask I went out on my rounds yesterday, Saturday, and attended a birthday party for a friend, then later hit some thrift shops. I intended to buy an nice enlarger I’d seen, but the lens was gone. I did see a nifty painting of the Last Supper, however, which I was tempted to buy but didn’t when I realized it was not Leonardo’s, just a copy. My son and his wife are waiting for the baby to arrive at any moment, too. On the way home I saw a neighbour whom we had supposed had vanished. All this and more was later immortalized in a round of haiku typed on the Olympia Traveller, while M used her new favourite toy, the Oliver.
What is my philosophy? Do I have one? I must. I just have not thought about it enough to be able to describe it. What indeed is a philosophy book? I’ve never read one, and barely comprehend anything about philosophy, or philosophers. Knowing what I have learned in life, would I be able to go back and change anything that happened to me, or do things differently? That indeed is the essential question here. I can look back at my life and see some mistakes, but were they really mistakes? Perhaps they were the only thing to do, the right thing to do, under the particular circumstances at the time. Perhaps it was my fate to make mistakes and then have to deal with it. Would I change my past mistakes, assuming they were mistakes, knowing that it would change my life and that I would now be in some other circumstances? Could my exploration of my philosophy conclude that my philosophy was wrong, or perhaps the correct one? Can one have the right philosophy and yet end up in the wrong place entirely? Can I espouse one philosophy and live by another? Can a philosopher be a hypocrite and yet have a valid point to make? When is truth invalid? Can a lie be valid under the right circumstances? That I believe is certain. Sometimes the whole truth is harmful, and must be hidden or forgotten in order to avoid harm to someone else. Motivation must be examined in that case. Motivation can be more authentic than ugly facts without context. Can there be contextual truth? What role does time play in any given philosophy? If life had a fixed length, how would that affect the decisions we make? How then does each of us think about our choices given our own personal conception of time? Do all people experience time at the same rate, or does the idea of time mean different things from one to the next? How does our understanding of time even develop? How does technological change affect our concept of time? In the absence of clocks and calendars, what would time mean? What if there was no mathematics or arithmetic? No counting. No writing, and only oral means of transferring information? What would the philosophy of cavemen be? It is almost beyond imagining. Without philosophical concepts of morality, can there be sin, right or wrong? Why were the Romans so immune to feeling the suffering of gladiators, and wild animals that died for their amusement? Did they have the feelings and emotions as I have? Could I have been a spectator at a battle between gladiators and not felt horrified? Had I been a Roman, what difference might there have been from who I am at this moment?
And now for a few photos of fire hydrants (film cameras only, caffenol development):
Yesterday I blogged about a Baldix 6×6 folding camera c.1950 that I found in a thrift shop, with an old roll of film inside. The film was Kodak Ektacolor 160, which has not been made since the late 1990’s, from what I can gather.
The film had been wound up to frame 3. After I figured out how to wind the film on, which requires winding forwards until it stops, then winding backwards until it stops, and then winding forwards to the next frame number, I wound it on to frame #4. The accessory on top is another odd bit I found at the same shop; a Voigtlander Kontur viewfinder. While not made for this camera, it fit onto the accessory shoe nevertheless. At first I had no clue what it was for. I then discovered how it works: you use both eyes!
This is what you see:
I went for a walk around the lake with the camera, my exposure meter, and wife. I rated the film speed at 100, to give it a bit more light, since it was so old. Last night I developed the film in caffenol, using this recipe:
600ml water at 20 degrees C/ 38 gms Arm & Hammer washing soda (monohydrate)/ 10 gms vitamin C powder/ 24 gms Maxwell House instant coffee/ 8 gms table salt.
I presoaked the film for 10 minutes and poured out the bluish water, then in went the caffenol. One minute of agitation, then 20 more minutes in the tank, agitating at one minute intervals. 21 minutes is longer than normal, but I wanted to overdevelop, again to compensate for the age of the film, assuming it had lost some vitality. Rinse, fix, wash. I was pleasantly surprised to see 9 images. The edges were fogged, but there was enough detail and contrast to get halfway decent results from the scanner (Epson V600) using a little backlight correction to brighten the images and compensate for the density of the colour film base. Ektacolor is a C41 film, with a slight brown tinged base stock.
I have another old expired roll of colour film in a 35mm camera, waiting to be processed. Time to get more coffee however, as my jar of Maxwell House is empty.
Oliver and Olympia are the names of the twins in my book The Magic Typer, so when I found a very unusual little Oliver typewriter for sale this week, I was delighted. The Oliver #4, as my research on the TWDB attested to, is mighty uncommon. This one dates from 1953, and is in such perfect condition that I assume it has been very carefully looked after for 67 years.
It works like a charm, but is a trifle loud. The design floors me; the round key-tops, gracefully curved top, colour matched spools, and the kicker – the punched thru logos on the top and feed table. They both have a red insert, but the feed table insert is transparent, and will glow under the right lighting. It will also cast its image onto the table!
This is one for the permanent collection, right up there with the Hermes Rocket and the Olympia Splendid. It reminds me very much of those two, more Olympia than Hermes, but having the same essence of quality in the design and build. I also picked up a fine old folding camera at the same time, a Baldix 6×6, along with a strange little viewfinder that was not with the camera. The viewfinder is a Voigtlander Kontur, a clip on device that was made for some Voigtlander 35mm camera, naturally, but which works with any camera that has an accessory shoe on the top. I had no idea what this was until I looked it up and discovered how it works. It has no view as such, but a black frame within which are some lines that let light in and create a bright frame. Keeping both eyes open, you will see the bright frame lines superimposed on the view from your other eye. Once I got the hang of it, the thing works like magic.
The camera dates from the early 50’s, like the Oliver, so they seemed like a perfect set. There was an old roll of Ektacolor Gold film in the camera, with only 3 frames exposed, so I shot the rest of it and will attempt to develop it in caffenol, which works on C41 film, albeit not particularly well, but it does develop. Ektacolor? That film was never sold here, and any I could find on line expired 23 years ago. Typewriters never expire however.
While I was filing my latest negatives I chanced to take a look at the first page of my files. I decided to scan that film, which I shot in 1970 in Montreal. There among other things were pictures of two different domes, built 120 years apart. The first was the Bonsecours Market, c. 1847, a building that was not only a market but briefly the Parliament of Canada.
Fortunately this building was saved from demolition in the 1960’s. Countless other treasure like it were demolished to make room for atrocious apartment buildings, etc. Another world class marvel was this:
The 1967 Montreal World’s Fair was the greatest fair ever held, if you count the attendance; over 50,000,000 visitors! I was there, lucky for me, and visited almost everything, including this building, the American pavilion. It was designed by Bucky Fuller, and is the largest and most spectacular dome of its kind ever built, and is still in existence – minus the acrylic skin, which burned off. The structure survived. They were planning to dismantle this one too, but somehow it was saved. I recall the fact that if they were to raise the temperature several degrees inside, the whole thing would have easily floated away like a hot air balloon.
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400, developed by me in unknown developer, probably Kodak D76 powder.
Here are some recent BW scans from several rolls of Kentmere film I shot in the past 2 weeks, using a Minolta SRT 101 and a Nikon EL. For those who care about lenses, I used a Rokkor 50/1.7, a Nikon 55/3.5 micro (reported to be the sharpest of all Nikon lenses @ $5), and a no name 28mm Japanese lens good enough that I can’t see any difference between that and the others.
The purpose of shooting film and developing it at home is to become frustrated, screw it up, and carry on until you finally get something decent, which describes how it seems to go every time. But the results can be fun, and interesting.
If you just want a good picture, find a Canon A510 or something like that for $10 in a thrift shop.
But if you want some excitement, combined with a way to waste some time using old and simple do it yourself methods, then Caffenol developing is the thing.
Sold another typewriter this week, a 1966 Smith Corona Sterling. In fact, just a Silent Super with a different name on it. Smith Corona was still making the 5 series in 1966, long after they introduced series 6. I have a 1959 series 6 to prove it! This one is a present for a youngster. Lucky kid to have a cool grandmother! I’m thrilled to see this going to a young writer.
1966 Sterling aka Silent Super
I got out my “Christmas” typewriter, a red Remington Rand (spray painted ). My grandson spotted it and immediately began to press on the keys. It’s never too early to start typing lessons.
11 month old typist
Another sign of the season is the abundance of raptors about. This eagle dove towards the lake and then we saw it fly off into a tree. When we got close, we could see it eating what it had caught. Then it wiped its beak on a branch. There were no napkins available.