First attempt using New55’s R3 Monobath Developer


That didn’t go well.

This was my first time using the R3 Monobath Developer from New55. Other people have great results with it but I’ve obviously done something wrong.

The image above is a scanned 4×5 negative (HP5+) shot using an ancient Crown Graphic. Many things can fail when shooting large format film that I’m certainly not ready to blame the developer. I’ve never seen this sort of ghosting effect before so it’ll be fun tracking down what went wrong.

Another thing I learned is that I’m finally going to need an exhaust fan in the darkroom. The R3 contains ammonia and phew it’s strong. Probably not good for me to stand there for six minutes in the dark just breathing it all in.

I love the idea of a monobath developer, especially for large format so I’m going to keep trying.

A briefcase containing the chronicles of an affair between a man and his secretary

Álvaro Serrano on A briefcase containing the chronicles of an affair between a man and his secretary:

Next time somebody complains to you about how social networks and the Internet are destroying privacy and marriages, just point them towards this article.

(Via Analog Senses)

I’m not sure I’d compare an affair exposed by material found after 30 years of being stored in a briefcase to broken security or privacy issues on social media, but I am fascinated by the degree to which Günter documented the thing.

I write in one (paper) journal or another nearly every day, and while I’m not having an affair or doing anything illegal, I know it’s likely someone will read them someday. I’m a little careful because of it. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much. I’ll just toss them in a briefcase and let the archivists have their fun at my expense later.

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
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
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!

Skilcraft U.S. Government pens

20140921 DSCF0343

There are so many glowing reviews of the Skilcraft pens that I had to try them. They’ve been around forever and have a great story. A box of 12 costs $15, so the risk was pretty low.

My experience is that they’re pretty lousy pens. For a buck apiece I shouldn’t expect much, but they feel terrible in hand and the few that I’ve actually tried using have skipped regularly. They’re not supposed to do that. I’ll never know if they write in the rain or not because I’m not willing to go that far. Outside of nostalgia I can’t think of any reason to recommend them.

Mailing a letter

I pull the chair up to my desk and prepare to write another letter. She likes to receive letters and I like to send them.

I choose an appropriate stationery and just the right pen; this time a nice Pelikan fountain pen with dark green ink. I write, slowly and deliberately. I want to say the right things. Also, my penmanship is terrible. But it’s mine. I’m careful to finish before reaching the bottom of the page, so there’s still room to sign it.

“Love, Jack” it says.

I fold the page carefully and insert it into a matching envelope. I write her address on the envelope, even more carefully, as I want the post office to get it right. I affix the perfect stamp; something cute, but not too cute. Satisfied, I seal the envelope and walk it to the end of the driveway. I put the letter into the mailbox, leaning it against the side, just so. And finally, I flip up the little flag so the mailman knows there’s something waiting.

I walk contentedly back to the house and smile. It’s on its way.

Technology Failures this Weekend

People wonder why I like old, simple, manual, mostly analog devices and tools. This weekend served as a pretty good reminder of why I sometimes hate technology.

Bluetooth Headphones

I have a rather expensive pair of Bluetooth earbuds so I can listen to audio books while I ride my bike. I bought them so I could ride without worrying about tangled cables or the buds falling out. I charged them up (which is required before every ride because battery life is pretty bad) and drove to the bike trail. The headphones wouldn’t pair. They were paired yesterday, but suddenly nothing. I tried for 20 minutes and gave up.


After failing to pair my headphones, I noticed that the battery meter on the iPhone said 29% even though I’d charged it overnight and it was only 10:00am. I shrugged, fired up Runkeeper, killed all other apps, and took off for my ride. 20 minutes later the battery was dead. This happens pretty regularly and is maddening.


I wanted to try using the Remote app on the iPhone instead of Apple’s horrible aluminum remote. Somehow I ended up unable to control the AppleTV with either the phone or the remote. Required a reset and some time on Google to find a fix.


I’ve been using DEVONthink for years. One thing they still don’t have nailed is sync. There are all sorts of configurable sync options but I’ve not found one that works consistently. If I didn’t hate using Evernote I’d switch back to it just for its flawless sync. After an hour of fidgeting I’ve gotten things working again, but sheesh.


My iMac has been getting worse and worse. Very slow, very flakey. I’m almost positive it’s a hardware problem but Apple had it overnight and found nothing. A reboot takes up to 20 minutes before things are usable. Half the time only some of the startup items actually start. Time for something new I think.


Sonos on my phone wouldn’t connect to any of the speakers so I couldn’t control my music. I tried updating to the latest 5.1 version via the desktop app but after it downloads I get a message saying that there was a problem with the update and to “please try downloading the update again”. Maybe later.

I think may just put on a record and read a book.