Pinhole Day

Cherry Blossoms

Pinhole Day is only two days away! Well, technically, it’s three days away, but since the last Sunday of April this year is also Easter Sunday, they will accept pinhole photos taken between April 23 and May 1. You don’t get three days a week to come up with a pinhole photo to submit to every year, I can tell you that much! That’s why I urge you to participate. It’s fun, and you’ll be amazed with the results if it works out. Emphasis on ‘if it works out’ because sometimes it doesn’t, but you know, there’s always next year.

Last week I built myself a pinhole camera out of a smallish cardboard box for the body and stuck to it is a roll film back from a vintage press camera we won in a live auction in Paris (Ontario, not France) years ago. The pinhole is made from my favourite material: pie tin (the thin, disposable kind; easy to puncture). I meant to take it out for a test roll last weekend, but alas, the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. I’ll just have to guesstimate the exposure time this weekend.

Developing B&W film with Tea

UPDATE: I posted my very own tea developer recipe here!

After searching the web for information on tea-based film developer and not finding much, except for this rather inspiring forum thread, I decided to just bite the bullet and make my own tea developer based on what little information I had. I didn’t have black tea but I did have some orange pekoe, green, peppermint, and pomegranate green teas in my kitchen cupboard so I thought, what the heck, let’s get some water in a saucepan, throw some tea bags into it, boil it, mix it with vitamin C and washing soda, and see what happens!

While the teas were steeping, I shot a roll of Fuji Acros 100 around the house with my long-abandoned Chinese medium format SLR camera, the Great Wall DF. If the tea developer didn’t work, I wouldn’t be too sad because I can always re-shoot the same things all over again some other time if I want to.

While I was busy preparing the film for developing, Troy got home from work and insisted on going grocery shopping. I didn’t really want to wait until we got back home to develop the film. Originally, I thought I’d do a 30 or 45-minute development, agitating every 3 or 5 minutes, but since we had to go, I decided to do a 2-hour semi-stand development. I ended up agitating only 3 times in total. Then I washed and fixed as normal and washed again. And then, the moment of truth: did it work? It did! Yaaay!

I did notice the white spots on the negatives when I was hanging it to dry but didn’t think much about it until I started scanning and saw the many dark spots on the scans. It was kind of disheartening at first but then it grew on me. The dark spots actually give a vintagey feel to the shots which I find rather endearing. I hope that I’ll be able to replicate the effect the next time I decide to develop with tea again, which is going to be soon. I really can’t wait to experiment again with different combinations of tea!

If you’re interested, there’s a couple more pictures from the roll developed in tea (other than the one at the beginning of this post) in this Flickr set.

Dental Woes

No Picnic

I’ve probably used the picture above in another post in the past but thought I’d post it again because it just won me a new camera bag through a photo contest held by Book Depository! There were 2260 entries when the contest ended. Who knew I’d be one of the 10 winners. I only entered one photo (out of the three allowed) and just kind of forgot about it until they sent me a message about me being one of the 10 winners. It’s kind of nice to know that soon I’ll be able to put my camera with some lenses and a laptop in the same bag when I’m travelling.

Um, what was I going to write about again? Oh right. The sad state of my poor teeth. I’ve been having a toothache since Monday. Didn’t tell Troy about it until Wednesday morning when the pain got a bit unbearable. He then made me an appointment with his trusty dentist in Waterloo who was willing to see me the next day, i.e. today. The last time I saw a dentist was probably when I was still in middle school. It was that long ago. Ever since my trusty dentist in Indonesia (who had been my dentist since I was a wee little kid) died, I just couldn’t trust another dentist. But now I think I’ve found another dentist I could trust. Troy’s dentist turns out to be not scary at all!

Long story short, I have a tooth extraction, a root canal and a dental implant in a not so distant future. And the dentist’s only looked at two of my molars. Yup, serves me right for not going earlier. That dentist visit was super long overdue. If last year was the year of optometrist/ophthalmologist visits, this year is definitely going to be the year of dentist visits. Not really looking forward to it but I just keep telling myself that after this long string of dentist visits, I’ll be able to eat like a normal person again. Haven’t been able to do that for a while so that’s something to look forward to.

Anyway, this will be the first of two blog updates I’m supposed to make this week since it’s March already and the second step in the Operation Blog Revival’s 6-step program is to blog twice a week in March and April. Not sure how I’m going to keep with it since my life is not really all that interesting and there are only so many things I could talk about but we’ll see. I’ll figure something out. Someone told me once that I’m resourceful. :)

Live and Learn


I love learning to do new things. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I look back. This year I’m hoping to:

  • Learn to draw;
  • Learn to make cute shrinky dinks out of my drawings;
  • Learn to make negatives out of Fuji instant film;
  • Maybe learn to knit.

I said maybe to knitting because I still find it daunting, but I’ve got a couple of friends and my mother-in-law offering to teach me how to knit so we’ll see about it. I do have a big stash of yarn to burn from my venture into the wonderful world of crochet last year.

I just ordered three books to help me teach myself how to draw. They’re all by Sachiko Umoto. I like her drawing style. Troy also says that he has Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake somewhere among the piles of books in the basement that he’ll dig out for me. Quentin Blake is known for his quirky drawings in various Roald Dahl‘s books and I do enjoy his style.

As for shrinky dinks, well, I was first inspired by a blog post and then of course my new favourite TV show, Raising Hope, has to feature shrinky dinks in its fourth episode that I just watched last night. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something, and I’m listening! :)

I started shooting with a vintage Polaroid Land Model 100 last year. Polaroid no longer made the film for it but luckily, Fujifilm does. With the camera, I’ve been shooting Fujifilm FP-100C instant film, which is a peel apart film. I’ve always found the part that you peel off and throw away to be such a waste. But then I found out that you can actually make a negative out of it with a little help from a household bleach product! Of course I have to learn how to do it. Even more so now that I’ve got an instant film back for my Hasselblad. Having a negative to your shots is always a good thing.

Are you still awake? Good. I was worried for a bit there. :) And this is the part in which I don’t know how to end a blog post. I think I’ll just end it with a “Fin” a la French movies. Oh là là!


My First Book Cover

look what i got!

Photo by Jody Miller

No, this is not going to be a self-congratulatory post about how a photo of mine got selected to be included in a book by an awesome group of photographers and writers called Utata that I’ve been a member of for years, nor is this about how somehow it ended up being on the cover of the book. No. This is going to be a post about how the photo came to be. This photo:

Developing B&W film with Caffenol-C

Caffenol-C Results

I’ve been wanting to try developing film with Caffenol-C for awhile (the fact that it’s environmentally-friendly really appeals to me), and last week, I finally did. The first roll I developed turned out to be a dud since it came from a totally experimental pinhole camera. I had no more exposed roll to try to develop so I took Troy and my Holga camera for a walk downtown and shot a roll of Agfa APX 100 film. The result is what you can see above. It’s grainy, streaky, unevenly developed (the last two are largely my fault) but hey, it really works! Next time I’m going to have to try it on a roll of properly exposed film, as in shot with a SLR camera instead of a toy camera. Over- and underexposed negatives just don’t scan very well.

Anyway, if you’re interested in my Caffenol-C recipe, this one’s for you:

  • 5 tablespoons of Maxwell House Original Roast instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons of Arm & Hammer’s So Clean Super Washing Soda
  • 2 Redoxon Vitamin C Effervescent tablets (I used the lemon-flavoured ones)

Mix with 500ml water, or use two glasses with 250ml of water in each to dissolve the coffee and the washing soda separately. Once the coffee is dissolved, throw in the vitamin C tablets. It will get frothy on top but I’ve found that once you mix it with the washing soda solution, the froth disappears. Develop for 15 minutes, agitate every 60 seconds, and then stop bath and fix as normal. I use tap water for stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fixer for fixing. If you know of a source of sodium thiosulfate (the active ingredient in fixer) that can be found in supermarkets, please do let me know! I’m almost out of fixer.

Another green b&w film developing solution I’d like to try is the one with mint tea and baking soda. It’s supposed to work and smell better than Caffenol. People are complaining about how the Caffenol-C solution smells like death. It’s actually not that bad. It smells like tuna sandwich!

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