CS PhD Reading Party 2012

Seems apt that I am only just posting photos from last year’s reading party considering that this year’s takes place 3 weeks from now.

Again with the trees/foliage because, well, TREES.

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Then some lesser-spotted computer scientists amongst the trees.

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It seems that age can’t hamper the gleeful happiness of playing in running water…

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…but others may have their own ideas.

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‘Spot the computer scientist’ 1/2.

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2/2.

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One paddle wasn’t enough, now everybody wants a go.

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Agfa Isolette V Test Roll

I’d wanted to try shooting medium format film for a while, but was put off by the price of buying into even a relatively cheap medium format system such as the Zenza Bronica ETR. But then I discovered that old medium format folding cameras & even some twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras go very cheaply on auction sites.

So for the grand sum of £20 I bought myself a late 1940’s Agfa Isolette V folding camera, which is completely different to any other camera I own as not only is it medium format, but it’s also a folding design with bellows spacing the lens & shutter assembly from the film plane.

As when buying any ‘vintage’ camera there are certain things to look out for, such as whether the light seals have degraded & disintegrated allowing light to leak onto the film. But with old folding cameras the bellows are the most likely source of problems. Because they stretch & compress every time the camera is opened & closed it isn’t surprising that 60 years on they might not be light proof anymore as cracks & holes appear. A good way to check is to unfold the bellows, open the back of the camera & in a dark room shine a powerful torch into the bellows from the back of the camera. Sure enough when I did this in my bathroom I found that most of the corners of the bellows on my Isolette had pinholes that would let light in & ruin the film.

Instead of building an entire new bellows from scratch, or buying a replacement, I decided to try just patching up the holes. According to several photography forums there is a certain brand of nail polish in America that achieves this very well, but I couldn’t find it for sale in the UK (& felt a mite silly asking about it in Boots). Instead I used a product called Plasti Dip, which is almost like paint but dries to form a flexible rubbery coat. So after 2 coats I re-did the bathroom check & all of the holes seemed to be gone! I don’t know how long the fix will last, but I have an entire tin of Plasti Dip so I can redo it many times…

The good news is that it seems to have worked, as the results back from the lab don’t seem to have any light leaks on them. The bad news is that my scanner doesn’t do medium format, so to digitize these I resorted to a somewhat low-tech approach – using my DSLR to photograph the negatives held in front of a white computer monitor using the cardboard envelope that they were posted in. Hardly an ideal solution, but an adequate stop-gap until I invest in a better scanner! (Sorry for the cellphone photo, but obviously I couldn’t use my DSLR.)

The Isolette V is a viewfinder camera, so there’s no focus assist whatsoever & you have to guess the distance to your subject & ‘zone focus’ by thinking about the depth of field at the selected aperture.

The viewfinder isn’t particularly great either so framing shots was a bit hit & miss. Of course there’s no light meter, so it was Sunny 16 all the way.

I know I shouldn’t be shooting an uncoated (or at least only primitively coated) lens into the sun, but it only seems to glare slightly.

Same bridge as in my recent Canonet post, though I think I should’ve rotated this one slightly more counterclockwise.

Same house as in the Canonet post as well. Quite different trying to frame it for a square mask.

Obviously the cardboard negative holder isn’t ideal & because they weren’t necessarily straight-on to the camera they’re skewed so impossible to crop properly. So I choose to crop loosely & leave the borders of the film in – all the cool lomography kids are doing that anyway.

CS Reading Party 2010, The Burn

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the annual Computer Science Reading Party again this year; I posted some photos from last year’s Reading Party (my 1st) which was just after I had taken delivery of the K20D. You would think that a year on there would be a noticeable improvement in my photos… but I still rush composition far too much!

It was raining a bit when we went out & whilst the K20D & grip are weather sealed, the 28mm Sigma isn’t, so I put the Helios 44-M (Soviet M42 58mm f2) on instead as it wouldn’t be the end of the world if that £13 investment got wet!

Should’ve rotated this one a bit more anticlockwise…

I didn’t even notice the threads of spider web here until I looked at the photo on my computer – guess I got the manual focus right!

Not sure what the deal with the pink stuff in the top corner is, could be some nasty chromatic aberration around spider web.

Now this bit of spider web I did notice at the time.

Didn’t get this anything like I wanted. Would’ve had to stop down more, but was already at the limit of how steady my hands are at f2.

And of course there were the taps!

Including these extra longs ones!

CS Reading Party 2009, The Burn

This is going right back to October ’09, literally days after I’d taken delivery of the K20D. All of these were shot on the 18-55mm kit lens whilst trying to get to know the camera.

The Reading Party is an excuse for the entire junior honors year group to go to a lovely old 18-bedroom house on the bank of the river North Esk, to give presentations & drink wine. Lots of wine.

The house sits in 190 acres of beautiful woodland, but unfortunately for us it rained for the entirety of the second day, when we had the afternoon to ourselves & could otherwise have had a nice walk.

Nothing of any particular photographic merit in here, just really shapshots with copious application of the rule-of-thirds when cropping.

Trying to get bokeh & retain subject sharpness with the kit lens…

Gorgeous interior decor in most of the house.

The taps in this bathroom were particularly nice.

I would quite happily have taken some of these home, if they hadn’t been attached quite so firmly…

Coastal Walk Wildlife

My parents are in town for a few days & this morning we went for a walk along the coastal path heading out of St Andrews from East Sands. Took a few photos of rocks & such & a few panoramas, but haven’t stitched any of those together yet. We were quite surprised at the number of butterflies about though, considering the weather – in fact, one of the reasons that they stayed still long enough to photograph was because they were too cold to fly! This was taken with the Pentax Optio A30 in automatic mode – didn’t want to risk it flying away whilst I was setting up the shot manually! Not bad macro capabilities for an ultra-compact.