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A Brief Introduction to Insanity

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The rabbit hole is often pretty shallow, just deep enough to break the ankle.  It grabs you, shakes you about, and leaves a lasting reminder.  This blog is my rabbit hole, my vast network of scattered obsessions, the work of a disorganized artist careening out of control and barely in touch with normalcy.
My primary obsession: Typewriters.  Perfected pieces of ingenious mechanical engineering.  I have alienated myself, becoming a social recluse so that I might be able to harbor more nerdish knowledge about these machines.  It’s not healthy, but neither are Oreos with double cream filling.  Some things are just good for the soul.  I’m not quite sure what drives my passion for these single-purpose, clunky, mechanical devises.  Perhaps it’s my love of beautiful words (can guys like that kind of stuff?), or maybe my strong affinity for mechanics (sounds more masculine).       I began collecting these pieces of history a several years ago, but my interest had begun way before.  It’s become m…

Manual Telephoto - zoom or prime?

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I thought I’d take a moment to go over two general range telephoto lenses.  First defining “general telephoto” as a 300mm, mainly because 400 gets you into the “pro-domain” or “super-tele” and they’re really expensive.  Manual focus lenses are generally more affordable, and the two I have here are both Nikon lenses.  The Nikkor 100-300 f5.6 AI-s and the Nikkor 300mm f4.5 ED-IF AI-s.  All sample photos were taken with the Nikon F3 on Kodak Portra 400.





Both lenses are roughly the same size and weight, the 5.6 has a 62mm filter thread, and the 4.5 has a 72.  The zoom lens covers 100-300mm and has a close focus on the 100mm.  The 300 ED lens has Nikons secret sauce glass for sharpness.  This lens has a close focus of 8 feet, which isn’t very close.  The prime also has a tripod collar, which the zoom didn’t, and with a teleconverter this is an issue.  I’ve shot at least a roll on both lenses with and without a 2x teleconverter, and noticed hands down, that at 300mm the prime ED lens is sh…

The Nikon 70-210mm E series

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To start, this is a massive beast of a lens.  It’s got a sturdy metal construction and it feels good in the hands.  I borrowed this lens from a buddy a couple weeks ago, and if I recall correctly it’s an 70-210 zoom lens.  The E series lenses were manufactured by Nikon in the mid to late 80’s and consisted of about 7 budget lenses.  Budget meaning cheap.  I’ve shot my 50mm prime almost exclusively, and it cost me 40USD.  It’s cheap, low quality, skimpy lens coatings...but for the price it’s a super powered rocket on its way to mars.
I liked my little 50, though it wasn’t sharp, it surprised me time and time again with close focusing.  Stop it down past f4 and you’ve got something pretty darn decent.  The 210, another E series worth about $80 seemed like it should be of similar quality.  I’ll cut to the chase, it looks impressive, it handles like a Russian tank powered by a golf cart engine.  The focus and the zoom is really smooth, and the out of focus areas are buttery soft, but the…

1939 Erika 5

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I regrettably didn’t take as many photos of this machine as I wanted to.  This machine was another repair, and it needed some escapement tuning and a bell tuning.  The bell was easy, the skipping escapement was not.  This machine doesn’t have a star wheel like most other typewriters, instead it has two teethed pieces that move in and out of alignment with the carriage rack, one of which is on a small compression spring that regulates spacing.  This makes the machine pretty sensitive.




The escapement was eventually fixed by reforming a section of the spacebar linkage over a torch, the same with the letter spacing leaver.  The rest was polishing.  That’s that, a very short story for a very interesting machine.  Wish I had more time with it!  I do want to note the level key top action, which does not cause the keys to shift forward or back more than a fraction of a millimeter.  Very remarkable!  The Coronas tend to lock up if you don’t let the keys travel a few millimeters forward.  The…

First time using C-41

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Never developed C41 before, I’ll admit I was intimidated to begin with.  It’s actually quite straightforward.  So I’ll cut to the chase.  I purchased the Unicolor
C41 2-liter kit.  I gathered three liter containers and a gram scale, and cut all the powders in half.  Exactly in half.  I took hot water from the faucet, within 5 degrees of the target temperature and mixed everything up.  Things spilled, things got cold, things happen.  It’s okay, as soon as they’re mixed they’re on a highway to hell.  They won’t last long enough to be anal over.


After that, I loaded a roll of Ektar 100 and things got dicey.  I broke my UV filter and replaced it with a faint magenta 1a filter, I dropped the tank and exposed the finished roll, and I dumped chemicals everywhere.  Roll one was a bust.





Not to mention the fact that the developer was eating away my storage carton.  Okay, so I had a major disaster.  Several, actually.  I pulled together a roll of XP2 on my Nikon L35AF and shot it.  I took a pa…