Popular Photography's information exchange where readers help readers solve problems
Easel on the Skids? Then Get Rugged
Darkroom workers know how annoying those sliding enlarging easels are-just as you get the composition perfect. you open the easel or bump it slightly and it slips out of position. The little rubber stick-on feet that come with many easels aren't much help-they're often the size of microdots and wear out in no time. John D. Whittaker was calling his dark room easel on the carpet one day when he got an idea: Use the antiskid padding made for throw rugs. The Roswell, NM, resident simply cut several square patches of the material and glued them to the bot tom of his easel. You may already have a patch of this stuff lying around your base ment or attic.
Oh, No! Not Another Film Can Idea!
Yes, it's true. Even though we have a mor atorium on I) clever things to do with film cans and 2) homemade flash diffusers, we just didn't have the heart to can an idea from Ralph Doyle, seeing how much of a flash of inspiration it was. The motivation for the Palatine, IL, resident was his daughter, one of those kids who turns (like so many others) into a red-eyed monster in flash photos. Doyle came up with a flash attachment that costs next to nothing and helps reduce red-eye substantially. The key component is a translucent film canister, such as those that come with Fuji and other films. The film can is attached to the flash head with transparent tape, or if you don't mind its being a permanent installation,
Discovered a shortcut, adaptation, gadget, or procedure that your fe/low photogra phers would find useful? Submit it, along with appropriate photographs and/or dia grams, to POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY'S "ideas!" column. If it's selected, fame and fortune (well, up to $250) will be yours. The address is ideas Editor, Po~u LAR PHOTOGRAPHY, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Please include a daytime tele phone number and your Social Security number (to speed up payment). If you'd like the material returned, send a self-ad dressed, stamped envelope. Allow a mm imu,n of 8 to 12 weeks for its return. in the event of duplicate submissions, we re serve the right to select the one most ap propriate for publication.
cemented with two dabs Irorn a glue gun. Now add your diffuser: a piece of white paper or a thin piece of cotton pad, such as bandaging. Make sure the diffuser isn't covering the flashtube on the inside. You lose one to two stops, depending
on material and thickness, hut the results are quite pleasing. And you can also use the "flash in the can" to hold small Ros colene or other-brand color filters or even just colored paper.
Band Together For Manual Focus
If you're tired of what are laughingly re ferred to as "manual-focus rings" on some of today's autofocus lenses (you know, those infernal narrow rings that you can't get a decent grip on), try the simple mod ification that reader M.L. Pan of Knox ville, TN, uses. Just put on several layers of those pho tographer's friends-rubber bands-on the focusing ring. If you want to keep the rubber bands from slipping off OflC an other, use a minute dab or two of silicon glue-mind not to get it on the lens. With today's very underdamped AF fo cusing helicals, Pan points out, you can now usually focus using merely a fingertip.
These Boots Are Made For Shootin'
Are you suffering from the heartbreak of gunk in your tripod legs and feet'? Setting up in water or mud not only renders your tripod unaesthetic but can lead to rust and corrosion and other yucky things. The answer, said William F. Asenjo of St. Petersburg. FL, is to get your tripod
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a pair and a half of boots. But shoe stores don’t routinely stock these items. Not to worry. Asenjo says, you can make them yourself easily. Here’s how.
From your local dealer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, buy some l'A-inchdiameter pipe and cut it to the appropriate length to fit over your tripod legs. (Asenjo suggests 18-inch-high boots, which look just about right to us.) Arc your tripod
legs too wide to fit into this diameter tubing? Just buy a bigger size. Don’t forget to pick up three end caps, too.
You cap the pipes and then drill a small hole near the open ends. Fasten a small hook and chain to each boot, as shown in the picture, and you can hook the boots onto your tripod so they stay put when you pick the whole rig up. If you don’t mind a slightly less elegant method, we’d say a length of sturdy twine could be used to tie the boots on instead.
Speaking of elegant, Asenjo even spraypainted his boots flat black to match his ’pod. Cowboy, them’s boots!
Negative Attitude? Just Let It Slide
You’ve got negatives, and you've got slides. The negatives go in negative sleeves, and the slides go in individual mounts that go into slide pages. That’s the natural order, the way things arc supposed to be, right?
Bunk, says Larry Beckerman of San Francisco. What if you’re the kind of person who wants to file his 35mm negatives—black-and-white or color—by category, the same way you do with slides? You end up cutting all those negatives, some into single frames, and you know how miserable they are to handle like that. What if you chemically alter a single frame—say, intensify or reduce a b&w negative—and want to store it safely?
The answer, Beckerman suggests, is to store your negatives like slides. Pick out the good ones you know you’re going to print, cut them into single frames, and put them in slide mounts. (There arc numerous brands of plastic slide mounts that are easy to use.) Not only can you sort your negatives by category, you avoid fingerprinting or otherwise mishandling them. They’re easier to get out of slide pages than those confounded negative sleeves or pages. And most enlarger makers produce a 2 x 2 slide carrier.
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Beckerman notes one other advantage: "It's a good way to dump lousy negs."
Keep in mind that this is best done by a home darkroom worker—many labs won't acept single frames. Also, a slide mount may not keep your negative quite as flat as a standard negative carrier, and the mounts do obscure frame numbers.
Get a Grip on Long Exposures
We've all read those exhortations to steady your camera on some firm surface when you're shooting at slow speeds and left the tripod at home. But have you ever really done this? An awful lot of firm surfaces—fence posts, rocks, stone walls— are quite uneven. And they're murder on camera bottoms.
Walter Burton, our inveterate do-ityourselter m Akron. OH. made himself a "cat's paw" to steady a camera on those unsteady places in the field. This is a simple. rectangular sandwich of ‘/2-inch
cushiony plastic foam, a piece of vinyl siding, and felt (Burton used some from an old. unwanted hat). These pieces are cut to a size a bit larger than the camera bottom and glued together with Pliobond or contact cement. There are two felt strips glued to the camera felt to keep the attachment aligned. Holes are cut through the sandwich layers so that a 'A x 20 slotted-head bolt (turnable with a dime) can fasten the cat's paw to the camera via the tripod socket.
Downward pressure helps hold the camera steady during exposure, and Burton suggests photographers try different thicknesses and degrees of hardness before final assembly.
The ideas printed here are offered as suggestions only and have not all been tested by POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY. The editors advise caution and common sense, especially where electricity and/or expensive equipment is involved.