Movie Club Transfers

When my grandfather left me the entire Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club library I promised I would work to preserve them and some day transfer them to digital. As you can see, there are quite a few films, in both 8, Super 8, and 16mm formats.

Cabinet containing most of the GRAMC films

A few years ago I made my first attempt at transferring them using movie mode on a digital camera pointing at a projection screen. This worked in that it created a digital version of the films but the quality was of course terrible.

I then tried a local company which did conversions. The quality was somewhat better but it took them too long and the cost was too high. I could send them out to something like ScanCafe which does a great job. The trouble with that is I don’t believe they return the films on the original spools, which is a requirement. They are cheaper, but transferring everything would still be expensive. Besides, I kind of want to handle everything myself. These films are important to me.

While researching Telecine options I ran into the Retro-8 frame-by-frame scanner from MovieStuff. I’ve decided that this is the way to go. I have a unit ordered and should have it in 60 days or so.

Retro-8 by MovieStuff

The plan is to get everything transferred and resell the unit. The problem with that plan is that if it works well I won’t want to sell it, even when all of my films have been transferred. I will probably want to transfer films for other folks who are in the same situation as me. Preservation of family and other histories is important and this is something that could help. Yes, I’m rationalizing a purchase, but my intentions are good!

Selling the Canons

Canon gear for sale

Eighteen months ago I asked myself if I should Keep the Nikons or the Canons. Turns out that I’ve kept most of both. Time to decide, so I’m unloading all the Canon gear.

This wasn’t an easy decision, mostly due to the EOS-1v, which I love. The 1D Mark III is also terrific, and would be perfect for any “serious” work I might do. Trouble is, I don’t do any serious work. I just snap pictures, and the Fuji X-T1 is totally capable of handling anything I might want to shoot digitally. Finally, a decision!

Here’s what’s for sale:

  • Canon 1d Mark III $750
  • Canon EOS 1v 35mm Camera $350
  • Canon Canon EF 24-105 mm F/4 L IS USM Lens: $700
  • Canon 50mm 1.8D: $100
  • Canon 50mm EF 1.4 II: $100 (autofocus not working)
  • Canon Speedlight 580EX II $250 if you’re interested in any of it.

Some of the Terminal Apps I've been Using

I’ve been all-in on the command line for a while now. I basically live in a complex set of tmux panes. If you’re interested in doing the same, here’s a list of the apps I use regularly.

  • tmux - tmux is a terminal multiplexer. Ties everything together.
  • Mutt - There’s no better way to handle email
  • Vim - The perfect text editor
  • VimWiki - I’ve fallen in love with vimwiki.
  • jrnl - The Command Line Journal. Writes to either plain text files or to Day One.
  • WeeChat - IRC client. I find it easier to use than irssi.
  • doing - Brett Terpstra’s simple app for recording what I’m doing. I use this for time tracking.
  • turses - Curses-based Twitter client. This is new to me and I’m not sure how often I’ll use it but it’s the best one I’ve found.
  • Remind - A ridiculously flexible calendar/reminder app.
  • Wyrd - Nice front end to Remind.
  • Taskwarrior - Manages lots of tasks without getting in the way.
  • Vit - Makes Taskwarrior feel like Vim.

Hobonichi Again In 2015

I got my first Hobonichi Planner in 2013 and it quickly became a favorite. I’ve carried one with me ever since, and I plan to continue doing so in 2015.

Hobinichi Techo Planners

I use mine mostly as a calendar and appointment book. Yes, the iPhone is better at those things but what fun would that be? I also like to draw quick sketches representing the day’s events. I try to do this every day but realistically it only happens a couple times a week.

A typical page from my planner

I find the Hobonichi Planner to be the perfect size. It’s small enough to carry, but large enough to work with. The killer feature is the Tomoe River paper. The paper is very thin yet never bleeds through. Using such thin paper keeps the notebook compact, even though it contains 450 pages.

I love it.

My Hugo Experiment

Hugo, by Steve Francia

I promised myself I’d never switch blogging tools again1. Then yesterday I ran across Hugo.

I’ve tried static blogs before using Tinderbox, Octopress, Second Crack, Blosxom, etc. They all work, some more easily than others, but they all took too much effort and could be a dependency nightmare. Here’s why I’m trying Hugo and finding it so encouraging:

  1. Speed. Octopress/Jekyll took around 7 minutes to render my blog. That was always a deterrent to publishing.
  2. No dependencies. Hugo is written using Go and comes as a single binary with no dependencies. A breath of fresh air compared to the spiderweb of ruby gems and versions required by Jekyll/Octopress.
  3. Live Reload. Hugo comes with a mini web server built in and renders the site locally each time any content or template is changed and reloads the browser instantly. This shortens the feedback loop so much that it feels like I’m editing the static files directly.

Speaking of speed…  hugo
0 draft content
0 future content
1875 pages created
96 tags created
3 categories created
in 579 ms

Rendering speed is no longer an issue.

The good news is that I don’t think I broke anything critical this time. There’s still a lot of theme cleanup I’d like to do yet.

Converting from Wordpress was surprisingly easy. I used a plugin by Cyrill Schumacher and had all of my 1800+ posts, images, etc. converted for use with Hugo in less than an hour. All links were preserved so I don’t need to create a bunch of rewrite rules in Apache like every other time I’ve done this. Every step was easier than expected so I just kept going!

  1. I am a liar [return]

Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club's "One Day" contests

My grandfather, Richard Baty, was part of the Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club for many years. He used to tell stories of the club’s “One Day” competitions, during which they would split into teams and each team had one day to plan, shoot, and edit a short film. This would be easy today using an iPhone and iMovie, but in the 1950s it was way more work.

Here’s a home video of my grandpa creating titles for one of his films:

See what I mean?

I recently found some photos taken during the filming of one of these One Day competitions: “Dune Dreams” shot during the summer of 1953. Looks like they were having fun.

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Richard Baty directs “Dune Dreams” (1953, photographer unknown)


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The cast of “Dune Dreams” (Richard Baty, 1953)


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George Bates as the Life Guard in “Dune Dreams” (Richard Baty, 1953)


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George Bates as the Old Man in “Dune Dreams” (Richard Baty, 1953)


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“…aaaand ACTION!” Richard Baty directs “Dune Dreams” (1953, photographer unknown)

I still have all of the original GRAMC films. One day I plan to digitize them.



I don’t like Instagram. Never have. Why?

Too mobile-centric.

I spend way more time with photos at a computer. Why shouldn’t I be able to post something from there? The instagram web app/site is basically useless.

Tiny photos.

Looking at photos on a tiny phone screen is the worst. And the app won’t let me zoom. I hate that.

Square format.

I shoot a lot of 6×6 film and I love the square format. I just don’t want to be forced to use it for every single image unless I want to cheat.

No access from other apps.

It seems the only way to post an image to Instagram is from the Instagram app or via way too many workarounds. Take a look at what Flickr offers. Everything can easily post to Flickr.



But I’m willing to reconsider using Instagram. For some reason everyone else uses it even though Flickr is now clearly better. And I suppose I’m not really sharing photos if no one is around to see them.

So I’ll use both. I’ll continue posting to Flickr from my desktop just like I have since 2004, then I’ll save the image from Flickr to my camera roll and post it to Instagram.

I’m thejackbaty on Instagram. I better see some likes!

Inadvertent Color

Cashews (2014). Olympus OM-1n. Fuji Pro 400H. Self-processed.

I had finished my usual end-of-roll plinking with the OM-1n. I felt like spending some time in the darkroom, so I shot a bunch of nonsense at random. When I opened the camera I discovered that it had been loaded with color film rather than my usual Tri-X or HP5. So I had an exposed roll of Fuji Pro 400H to deal with.

No way I was going to the local Meijer (they still to film processing) on the day after Christmas. I checked the darkroom and found that I still had C-41 chemicals mixed and sitting on the shelf.

C-41 chemistry isn’t complicated, but I’ve always heard that once mixed it has a very short shelf life. The bottles on my shelf had been mixed more than 8 months prior, so I didn’t expect much.

I hauled out the JOBO and used the old chemicals as-is, and was surprised to find that I actually had images on the roll. The color seemed shifted a bit but it still usable.



One of the things that’s kept me less interested in C-41 processing has been the shelf-life of the chemicals. I may shoot more color now that I know I can get nearly a year out of a single kit.

Clipper for tmux and the OS X clipboard


Clipper is an OS X “launch agent” that runs in the background providing a service that exposes the local clipboard to tmux sessions and other processes running both locally and remotely.

I’m trying this as a replacement for the “reattach-to-user-namespace” workaround when dealing with tmux sessions and the OS X clipboard. Seems to work just fine.

Leica Summicron on Fuji XT-1

Fuji X-T1 with Leica Summicron 50mm
Fuji X-T1 with Leica Summicron 50mm

I’ve never gotten comfortable using old manual-focus lenses on modern cameras. I tried a few times with earlier cameras like the Olympus E-P1 and Zeiss Biogon and the Fuji X-E1 with Leica 9cm Elmar but the experience was terrible.

Fuji recently released a major firmware update to the X-T1 so I was playing around with it while reading John Caz’s excellent Setup Guide. I learned a few things, and one of those was that the X-T1 has improved the way it handles manual-focus lenses, so I threw on the Leica 50mm Summicron and took a few quick test photos. The combination handles much easier than expected and the images look pretty good so far.

Gail and Ella

Gail and Ella – Fuji X-T1 with Leica Summicron 50mm


Ella with Doll

Ella with Doll. Leica Summicron 50mm


Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights – Leica Summicron 50mm


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