Printaphilic Phorum

November 13, 2017

B&W Challenge “Eight Days A Week !”

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 11:19 am

I’ve more than seven distinct eras since getting Viewmaster stereo disks and a projector for them in fifth grade. The projector was my first enlarger, cannibalized to print onto 2 x 2” war surplus glass plates. The endless string of cameras came later…the bakelite Hawkeye, my sisters Samoca 35mm, the Nettar bought with proceeds of six weeks shelving books in the public library after school.

I’m quite aware of, and basically agree with the precept that only the message of the picture matters…that whether it’s made with a Leica or a cell phone is irrelvant. But in some ways it’s not irrelevant at all. The science and mechanics (must* I say ‘technology” ? ) of the camera and sensor (film !) define the universe of pictures possible with that hardware. What a fight we had to get film and lenses fast enough to take pictures indoors without flash. Now it seems like nothing…you just throw enough dollars at equipment…”the Mind of Minolta”… and you get 50K ISO. I do mind if you don’t mind ! This is why I remember and acknowledge the film, cameras and darkrooms that made my pictorial retrospective in these selections. I know it’s a kind of snobbery… the ubiquity of imaging devices has brought a great democratization to pictures,  but those who’s image making starts with an i-phone and becomes B&W entirely in software just haven’t paid their dues. My dues, in the National Press Photographers Association, haven’t been paid in quite a few years.

Here are some explainations.

Eight Days A Week ! I-855-12AuldeStonesAtOdessa©WEB The mission is just to make sense of it all. Odessa, NY 2017. The stone mason here truly grokked the mystery of this place. The further up the hill you walk, the deeper you go into mystical space.   It’s been an era of massive computer hardware problems.  Creative Suite demands upgrade. Authentication issues w/WIndows7 migrate to Win10 and no drivers for legacy hardware….it nearly destroyed ALL digital image access…took weeks of reinstall from backups. Digital printer dies. Microsoft is not my friend. Adobe is not my friend. Life makes other demands! Film cameras ! These I understand: Ensign 820 from UK, $20…an idiosyncratic beast… Hungarian ISO 200 film @125. Ilfotech HC developer. Flea market treasure..Mint genuine Zeiss 6×6 , one dollar ! …keep shooting…darkroom, keep printing. Anne Becker

Seventh Day: I-669-16DrydenVFWtankInSnow©WEB Sometimes, I have to take a cold look at the negative.  Nikkormat EL, 35-105mm lens, Tompkins Weekly. Built real darkroom in Slaterville. Deadlines, deadlines. First serious digital cameras. Canon G-12, Nikon D-80 Battles with digital printers. Small success showing in art fairs. There doesn’t seem to be any way to earn a living at this; people like what I do but no one wants to pay what it costs to do it. Maybe that’s what make it “art;” it doesn’t pay but you got to keep doing it anyway. Peggy Brent

Sixth Day: BV018-15DeflectionShotBull©WEB Return to the womb…Ithaca ! Ithaca Journal…shoot, shooot shoooot…never give up. A small town bullfight somewhere in Bolivia, Aug 1993…Pamplona in reverse as a terrified teenage bull chased down the street by sub-teen humans…dude steps out for grab shot…’gringo fotographista con huevos !’ Nikon S-2 rangefinder, re-spooled Tri-X…no time to focus. 76 Rolls of film. (mostly color) Sells one picture. ‘Three Nikon bodies…only the rangefinder S-2 could stand up to daily use in the Andes…dust, second class buses. Peru. First digital camera, Apple 100, was crap. Photoshop ver. 2.5. Forced migration from 8-bit Atari to Mac SE-30, to unix mainframe to Dos to Windows…more crap. Life scatters to the winds of change. My little haven…studio/sales office downtown…never made two nickels. Ben E-F

Fifth Day: M806-07HungAshore-©WEB Aug 1992. Portland, Maine. Attempts to go-Pro. Lee’s Boat Shop, Spruce Head Marine, Harbor Builders, Maine Coast REPORTER, Maine Times, National Fisherman. Midcoast Photo Service attempts to fly on its own two wings. Deadlines, deadlines. Experimented with many cameras in this era, but Nikkormat El with genuine Nikkor 35-105 mm lens became my personal sidearm and remains so to this day.  Eight bit Atari computer and classic Macs: invaders from cyberspace. Steve Cartwright Nancy Griffin

Fourth Day: M498-38Priorities©WEB Knox County, Maine 1983 Too busy living to do much photography. Skipping an era. East Hill School (search Facebook for alumni association ) , the Chateau, then The Weird Years, ( every body must get stoned ), grandpa’s fiddle…nothing to show here…move right along ! Blueberry Cove, Renaissance time with Eve and Maine homesteading… get Priorities in order…market garden 6700 ft^2. Seed Savers. MOGFA. Violin untouched in case for a decade. Ed Emsh’s Exakta VX w/58mm Jena Biotar…lost overboard at a schooner launching….recovered, but lens sandblasted on harbor bottom. Nikon F, totally manual SLR w/varying lenses. Still have it, still works. Production wet darkroom shoehorned into 45 ft^2 bathroom including toilet.”What do you think about Art?”…”Oh, Yah, Man, Art blows the most!” Marjorie Strauss, Myron Jay Dorf, Susan Emshwiller.

Third Day: Minus018-17YachtClubDogsGreenPointHoboken©WEB Nothing whatever remains of my Lafayette college era pictures from the yearbook. Fortunately I destroyed them, kept shooting. Hoboken NJ. 1971 These are not junk yard dogs. Very friendly, they were the mascots of the Green Point Yacht Club  while I was studying PhotoJourn with late Joseph Brieghtenbach (“fotograph must make Schtatement !”) at New School for Social Research. Leica IIIf, Retina lla with it’s fatal design flaw…when dropped always landed on irreplaceable film transport lever. Handspooled TriX, Acufine. Staying in sleazy rooming house…midnight insurance arson fire…got my ass out… Leica perished. nominate Gene Z’bear Endres

Second day: Old020-22HonoluluStreetNames©WEB 1965-6 studied with Japanese photo/Buddhist teacher Lawance Hata. Almost all pix from this era are of people. Documented Waikiki Wobblers barfly culture. Camera Hawaii, freelance Waikiki Beach Press. One published Photo CD, another someday, maybe. Minolta Autocord. Canon IV rangerfinder…used to jam below 40 deg F. but OK in Hawaii. Zeiss Jena 85mm…rangefinder out of sync with lens…traded out. nominate Rick Bernstien.

First day: Minus098-10DL&W-rrMontclairStationNov’58©WEB. Began doing photography in B&W in 5th grade in a darkroom in my grandma’s fruit celler using WWII surplus glass plates to make B&W slides from Brownie Hawkeye 620 negatives…the process has never lost it’s magic. This photo of the former railroad station where I grew up was taken about 10:30pm of frigid November in 1958 with a Zeiss Nettar 645 camera on Panatomic X film F/11, 2.5 minutes exposure, developed in Microdol. I still have the Nettar 645; it still works ! nominate Ted Orland

 “Eight days a week” (?Lennon?McCartney?) Caveats about the whole thing. “No People…”… my editor on Maine Coast REPORTER once said “There are two kinds of photos….those about people, and those that don’t matter!” Only the byzantine legal situation about pictures of people make me acquiesce to this stipulation. No People, OK. “No explanations.” ? Where did we take that wrong turn? Explanation is context; the vast majority of pictures cannot be understood properly out of context.  H. Cartier-Bresson kept long pages of notes that were seldom published with his pictures.  In deference to the spirit of the challenge I’ll post the explanations only at the end of the week. Finally, due to copyright issues, (Facebook’s terms of use,) I’m posting my pictures on my regular blog site. 

RE: 7 day B&W photo challenge I’ve very nearly seven DECADES of being a B&W photographer.  Eight Days A Week !

I now return this blog to it’s regularly scheduled erratic activity.




November 12, 2017

B&W Challenge Day 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:23 am



November 11, 2017

B&W challenge, Day 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:53 am


November 10, 2017

B&W Challenge 5th Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:39 am



November 9, 2017

B&W Challenge 4th Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 8:55 am



November 8, 2017

B&W day 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:30 am


November 7, 2017

B&W Challenge, day 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 10:13 am



November 6, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 11:42 am


June 21, 2017

#156 Another Report From Obsessional Behavior

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 7:04 pm


Obsession:   The starting point is violins…That’s a long story for another page….   This obsession is my first more or less successful foray into the process of French polish.  This particular violin was a flea market find at a VERY low price.  There are no “before” pictures.  Take my word for it; it looked TERRIBLE.  It appeared never, in maybe a biblical age, to have been cleaned.  All the pegs were split from over torque when decades stuck.  The bass lower bout was damaged beyond my skill to repair by scores of years with an over tight chin rest.  The overhangs were split and the back appeared as if it had played for  generations of square dances of the sort in a Lillian Beckwith novel…drunks and mayhem when fishermen are in harbor…and then simply thrown in the back of a pickup truck along with the chains, bait bags  and scallop drag.

Never the less Something made me buy this fiddle.  The vendor  threw in a quite decent case, a few antique strings …gut…and a genuine pernambuco bow by a respectable early 20th cent. German craft shop.  The bow was fairly well ruined…most camber gone and having a wicked sweep side to side.  It all set me back a little over a weeks grocery budget.


I wanted a second fiddle to keep in alternate tunings, so I got it stung up as quickly as possible to hear what it sounds like.  They say that a long disused fiddle needs about six weeks of daily tuning and playing before it will reveal it’s potential.  I started by fitting a set of new pegs…viola sized because that was what I had in my parts box.  The strings were all used, salvaged , and I had to hunt for almost an hour before I discovered I didn’t have a decent D string…I had to use one of the antique gut strings that came in the case. I tuned and played it every day for a month and a half and decided it sounded pretty decent.  It hasn’t the brightness and clarity of my late grandfathers pre 1908 violin. It had been un-played since he died in the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 when I took it up in the early 1970’s. This second fiddle is maybe a bit newer. It has one advantage in tone over my grandfather’s instrument; it’s very even voiced and consistent from the bottom of its range to as high as I can play accurately.  The wood choice and workmanship indicate they may be distant German cousins.

Addendum:  Another advantage of this fiddle over the one I’ve been playing for 40 years is that it has power overall and sustain of the tone of the open strings that shows real potential if I live long enough and practice enough to learn to employ it.


Once I decided that the instrument is worth saving I ordered setup parts and striped it down to the box for cleaning and repair.  I wasn’t able to undo the damage of the old chin rest, but re-glued the area to stabilize it and re-fitted with a proper ‘over the tail block’ chin rest. The split overhangs were an easy fix.  I wasn’t able to completely re-camber and un-sweep the bow, but I was able to steam bend a usable camber.  The sweep is only partly corrected.

The obsessional part started with an evening of cleaning…alternating rubdowns with garnet paper, denatured alcohol dampened rags, turpentine rags and water damp rags getting finer until 400 grit…pretty course…but I didn’t dare go further.

Addendum:  part of the obsession about cleaning comes from a view that a clean and lovely instrument promotes the mental attitude that helps produce clean and lovely playing music. I don’t buy this 100%…but certainly some

Usual descriptions of the French polish process are way insufficiently informative !   I wanted to use this finish because it produces a lovely low loss luster surface that enhances the figures of the wood grain.  They say that a French polish once a year will have your violin looking like a genuine Stradivarius after a few score years.    They tell you to rub on an incompatible mixture of shellac and oil varnish using a bunched cloth or chamois pad in a circular motion on small areas at a time.  Well, yeah…but….


I put two coats on the back alone, sanding and rubbing between each coat before I discovered that things were not getting any better. I’d get a tacky, streaky mess before I could rub out more than a third of the area. I had to dry it in the sun before I could sand back to where I was before.   I don’t know about poly-urethane varnish , but natural oil varnishes will not cure completely without exposure to infrared and ultraviolet light.  It doesn’t take long in full sunlight, but you can’t proceed without a full cure. (Grow lights and heat lamps cost money…the sun if free when it isn’t raining).  I then discovered that the shellac straight from the can is way too thick; it takes about a 2:1 dilution with alcohol (ethyl, not isopropyl) before it will spread well.  The oil varnish likes to be cut a little too,  (turpentine, not mineral spirits.)

This emboldened me so I tried two thin  coats on the belly of old girl which seemed to please her.  She is not ready for a royal concert ball, but she’s prettied up some considerable since her square dance days.  I tried the newer,  thinner technique on the back and ribs. There are now five coats.  It helped but the back is still somewhat streaky and rough.  There’s time to work on that.

Addendum… A few things learned:   a.  you’ll have to experiment to find the right proportions of the shellac and varnish and their solvents; it only works when you find the right combination for the surface…which changes as you progress.  b.  It goes very slowly when you’re doing it wrong…it’s amazingly quick when you get the right proportions. c. You’ve got to develop a sense of when to stop !

After a full setup with all new student grade synthetic core strings it will need another play-in period.   The cleaning seems to have made the tone louder and more sensitive to the touch of the bow.  The timbre is what many describe as “toothy”… not as much as “sandy” but with an edge on it.  I suspect a higher grade of softer toned strings might help it, but for now…

‘Nuff Aw’ready:  Time to play with this lady…see if she can dance a bouree or gavotte as well as a hoedown.

Next Post:   I’m so over scheduled right now I can’t promise when I may post here again.

The photography:  natural daylight.  Nikon D-80 w/ 18-70mm AF-s-ED  Skylight filter.  Auto white balance.    PhotoShop 6.0 used only for cropping, level adjustment and image resizing.   Color balance and saturation are un-altered and are quite accurate on a calibrated monitor. 



January 1, 2017

#155 A Retro New Years Eve…What Survives of the Past ?

Filed under: Thematic photoessay — printaphilic @ 4:58 pm

#155  A Retro New Years Eve…What Survives of the Past

Evidence of the first World Wide Web…radio




For New Years Eve, to put paid to 2016, I was under house arrest following a supposed routine cardiac catheterization that went unexpectedly awry. I spent the evening listening to this radio whose resurrection has been a several months long basement project. If the occupational specialty “Marine Radiotelegraph Operator” still existed…(phased out in 1986) this radio in working condition would be proof that I earned my ticket. It was made sometime during the Second World War by Radio Manufacturing Engineers, Inc of Peoria, IL. There’s a well documented story of the service of an earlier model from this company with the Dutch underground throughout the war years.

No serial number gives a clue of exactly when this one was built during the period 1941 to 1945, but the radio is perhaps slightly younger than I am.

I got this radio from a very elderly gentleman who was dispersing his life collection at the regional Elmira NY fall hamfest last autumn. It looked terrible, but intriguing. The price of a six pack and a fancy pizza changed hands and the radio came home with me. I am truly glad there are no “Before” pictures to show its condition as received. It apparently had been stored for years in a barn, had serious surface rust, hay and mouse turds and an awful black paint job that seemed at least partly of roofing tar. A preliminary inspection showed that at least two different technicians had been inside. One was a real crude hacker, but another had carefully done a lot of replacement surgery of failed or deteriorated parts. I almost gave up when I discovered that the radio used “7-series Locktal Snap In” tube types, an historical technical dead end by the end of the 1950’s and quite rarely found today even in radio flea markets.








Two factors made me persevere. The radio has a very unusual mechanical bandspread based on anti-backlash gears. They feel “Classy” under your hands. Tuning such radios is an analog pleasure difficult to communicate to the digital generation.

When I pulled the chassis out of the steel case I discovered that the black paint covered up a lovely light blue gray original finish that I can only describe as “RAF light camo blue” like the paint on the underwings of Royal Airforce Spitfires and Hurricane fighters from the Battle of Britain. I got to thinking that this radio could have been produced during the war by “The Arsenal of Democracy” on contract with the Brits or Canadians. The radio was offered to general public during the war in the USA at $110. (almost $1700 in 2016 money.) I have no real evidence to support this fantasy. I do know that the heavy hitter intelligence radios made for Atlantic allies during the war were Hammerlund Super Pro’s, National HRO’s and various Hallicrafters. The RME-43 is quite a good radio, but not in their league. It would have been highly serviceable in, say, squadron ready rooms or unit liaison.   The colors I could find in my local Lowe’s home store are not the original color at all.

It was not my intent to create a museum grade restoration of the original radio. I wanted to getting it working as well as possible given my highly limited shop instruments, deteriorating eyesight and shaking hands no longer suited to fine under chassis surgery. I do want to leave it working well so that some other techie later on can continue the project.



Imagine my surprise, after preliminary safety checks, when I plugged the sucker in, turned it on and it made noise ! At first it took a local right wing hate/talk politics station to blast a signal through the front end and innards out to a loudspeaker…but from that point on I knew roughly what to do. Maybe I’ll tack a technical addenda on later for the few who might care.

There is a cohort of radio cookoo’s who maintain a tradition for New Years Eve called “Straight Key Night.”  when Olde Tyme operators talk with each other in Morse code and listen to their old radios as the old year goes out and new one comes in.  I had to push the envelope a little to get the RME-43 ready for this occasion. There is a terrific difference between the performance of an un-aligned radio and one that’s been properly “tweeked.”  Think of the difference between road a Chevy that’s been four years of stop and go traffic without an oil change or tuneup  and one that’s been stripped down to the crankshaft, blueprinted, polished and race tuned by a team that intends to win. I was unable to get all six bands of the RME-43 up to spec, but the four that I got working are quite good.  I made to see what might still be pulled in from the ‘ether’ as 2016 took it’s leave.  Tuning up from the bottom of the AM broadcast band a strong station in Buffalo NY was happy to report a hockey victory over Boston. Nearby Binghamton NY had really good country music with few commercials.  At 900 Khz CHML in Hamilton Ontario had an interesting hour long interview with a athlete who rowed a 24 foot boat from San Francisco to Australia…SOLO…NON_STOP.  It took him seven month rowing and average of 15 hours a day.  This was followed by a re-run of a 1948 episode of DRAGNET…Jack Web…”just the facts, mam. ”

I got a real surprise tuning at the top of the AM broadcast band where the stations all seems so crowded together. Unlike your average transistor radio, the RME-43  has the performance to separate these stations and pull them in clearly. There is now a bastion of local  ethic stations from 1560 (formerly WQXR, NYC) up to 1700 Khz where I heard Bollywood pop music, Jamaican funk and music in languages I can’t even identify. Cool stuff is there if you’re interested.

The real tests began as I moved up the bands.  The ham radio amateurs were out in full force and you’d be surprised at how many people consider Morse code a living language.  Religious station spend enormous power and money spreading different versions of what they all believe is the only truth. Radio Cairo, Egypt has wonderful music, but it’s hard to get their take on the news.  The same is true of Radio Hellas from Athens, Greece. The age  limitations of the RME-43 begin to show when you try to listen to modern single side band traffic in the military, marine and aviation bands. It can be done, but takes real skill and a while to pull these stations in clearly. I spent almost a quarter hour listening to gale warnings for the western Atlantic region from the National Hurricane Center in Miami transmitted by the U.S. Navy in Norfolk VA.  I finished the evening off with a 1949 episode of  “Nick Kelly, Crime Photographer,” but decided I needed bed more than listening to “Fibber McGee and Molly.”    “T’Aint Funny McGee !”  (My dad quoted that often.)   Sometimes olde tyme radio was really terrible.  If this is what making America Great Again means…I’ll pass on most of it.

Radio has always been a part of my perception of the universe and I even got to thinking of the historic roster of my life between headphones.  It started with a black bakelite Zenith I inherited from my little big sister Ivah “Bazzoir” rip.    “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?   the Shadow knows….bwahahaha”.

Next came a Silvertone three-bander my dad and I rebuilt as a bonding project. It worked. I built a Heathkit AR1…it was always squirrelly. I’ve had sequentially an NC-88, NC98, DX-28 (now there was a radio !)  an NC125, an NC 183,  A Halli S-43 (a true challenge), a Sat 800, an s-38C, S-38E  a S-86,  a 1943 Army Air Corp  BC-348Q (will go to a museum soon.)   A TS-440S is still in service.  Now there the RME-43.   Sometimes I think  when I die that it will just be the noise floor coming up in the headphones and the audio going down until there is no signal at all.

I sent out the old year as a marine radio telegraph operator.  I bring in the new one as a writer and photographer.  ? Are these occupational specialties already as obsolete as the rest of me ?



Technical notes:   The good prior technician had replaced the power supply filter capacitor and quite a few under chassis in locations that must have required considerable dexterity to install.  The Auto Volume Control capacitor had been replaced with a very large one to slow down the AVC action, but that capacitor died of heat exhaustion and leaked oil. I replaced it with original spec.  I replaced the old power cord with a three wire grounded type required by current safety codes. I had to replace two precision caps in the alignment section that perished of old age. In the process I broke a fine coil wire that normally would have been repaired under a microscope. I did the best I could with 2x magnifiers and got lucky.  I’ve downloaded the DOX for the post war model 45 which is almost identical expect for the addition of a VR150 voltage stabilizer.  I completely re-tubed this radio and so have a complete set of spares. It can live on.  I’m still unable to diagnose why the top two bands will not align properly but for now I’m going to leave them for the next guy.   It’s an awfully nice old radio, but I still covet a GPR-92…outta my league…



 Next Post:   It’s been a very long time since I’ve put the work into one of these efforts.   “#154, the Riddle of Batsto'”  is still in the pipeline. Eventually it will emerge.















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