Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2008

Albumen Prints: An Overview

For a little background to these overviews, see here.

History: First introduced by Louis-Desiree Blanquart-Evrard in 1850, albumen printing was the dominant photographic process for most of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Negatives: A density range of 2.0 to 2.5 is good.

Preparing the albumen: 500ml of egg whites (no yolk or white stringy bits) + 1ml glacial acetic acid + 15gm ammonium chloride + 15ml distilled water. Stir briskly until it turns into a froth. Cover container and refrigerate for 24 hrs. Remove the froth on the top and filter the liquid through cheesecloth. Age in refrigerator for a week or more.

Coating the paper: Coat by floating for 3 mins and hang to dry. To double coat, the albumen needs to be hardened. This can be done by steaming, heating to about 150F with a hot iron under a protective board, or dipping in a 500ml 70% isopropyl alcohol + 15gm ammonium chloride bath.

Sensitizing the paper: Either float, brush or use glass rod to coat with 12% silver nitrate…

Using a DSLR as a Shutter-Tester

What good is a DSLR if you can't test the shutter of your Holga with it? Ok, I'm kidding, but there is a fairly simple way to use a DSLR as a shutter speed tester for any lens that has a leaf shutter. In fact, with a little care, this method can be used to test practically any shutter. Don't expect pinpoint accuracy or rush to put your lab equipment on eBay, but this method should be accurate to within at least a third of a stop - certainly good enough for average everyday use.

Think for a moment what a shutter does. It is simply a way to block the path of light falling on the film/sensor and then to remove that blockage for a certain known amount of time to let light fall on the film/sensor. It's a pretty simple concept really - a mechanized and repeatable version of the old hat-on-lens technique. Problem is, shutter speeds go off - they slow down, they speed up and do all sorts of funny things. Often, as in the case of mechanical marvels like the Holga, they are simpl…

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, or, Why I Miss Closeups

Every photographer should try shooting nature closeups sometime! Outrageous, I know. Might as well suggest that it is the sacred duty of every budding shutterbug to make portraits of domesticated felines, or shoot oversaturated sunsets. But bear with me for a second. When I started doing photography seriously I had no interest in insects, none! Not even the more conventional interest in pretty flower shots. My foray into macro photography was the result of circumstances. I didn't have a car at the time, and I found that nature's grandeur was somewhat limited on the regular bus routes. But there was a meadow and a small lake nearby with lots of lovely plants ... and butterflies - pretty butterflies. So I tried shooting some pictures with my new zoom, but strangely not much came out. Admittedly I was a beginner all around, and my portraits or street photographs, too, were not likely to be mistaken for undiscovered Karsh or Cartier-Bresson. But y'know, if I took a shot of my …

Film: A Beginner's Guide

An old friend just asked me for a film recommendation. She got a DSLR recently, made a few nice photographs, converted a few to black and white, got to wondering what real black and white film is like, dug out an old family Minolta SLR - and here we are. I thought that a lot of people who have started out with digital photography and never experienced film might be in a similar position. The terminology surrounding various types of films, formats and processes can be a little confusing and daunting - it was for me when I started, even though it was before digital photography exploded on the scene. So here's a quick rundown for the rank newcomer to film. Any advanced photographer will, of course, find this full of generalizations and simplifications, and the beginner should note that the techniques surrounding film photography are a vast subject. It ranges from the extremely precise to the seemingly mystical but is always fascinating. I hope you will find this little write-up an ad…

Gearing Up: The Equipment I Use

Anyone who has done photography seriously will tell you that it's not the camera but the photographer that makes pictures. Why bother with a list of gear, then? For one, I have found that the equipment I have used has evolved to reflect the development of my photography. It is not always about the sharpest or the fastest, but often about choosing the most expressive tool for one's photography. I find that even though I have settled on my main kinds of equipment, the entire lot is constantly in a state of gentle flux - constantly being tweaked, having minor changes and adjustments made. In other words, my gear, like my photography, seems to be a work in progress.

So, on this page, I will try to keep a more or less current list of the equipment I use for my photography. Hopefully you will find it interesting beyond the mere specs and the sharpness count.

Over the years, I have tried to do a few distinct kinds of photography seriously. Consequently my equipment has evolved to suit …

Leica 40mm Summicron-C vs. CV 40mm Nokton

So, I was getting bored working at home but didn't have the time to go out to do any meaningful photography. So I decided to do the next best thing - some meaningless photography! a.k.a. lens tests. Since I had newly acquired a Leitz 40mm f2 Summicron-C, I decided to find out how my usual street lens, a Cosina-Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton MC, matched up against it. So I drew up a plan and shot off a roll of film and here are my findings.

I tested for the factors that I find important in how I use these lenses - i.e. handheld street photography. Of course, all the standard caveats of informal testing of photographic equipment apply - sample variation, non-objective criteria, do-your-own-testing yada yada - but I hope you still find the review interesting.

Camera was a Bessa-T, with TMax 100 film at EI 64 developed for 6.5 mins in HC110B (.1 - 1.35 density range). Everything scanned with a Nikon Coolscan IV at 2900 dpi. Minimal or no postprocessing applied. Where I have applied even t…