DIY pocketwizard holder

photography by Markus Hartel, New York
DIY pocketwizard holder
photography by Markus Hartel, New York
DIY pocketwizard holder
photography by Markus Hartel, New York
DIY pocketwizard holder
photography by Markus Hartel, New York
DIY pocketwizard holder
photography by Markus Hartel, New York
DIY radio trigger holder

Pocketwizards are fantastic tools, but the little strap that comes with them to attach them to your light stand are atrocious, to say the least… I have resorted to rubber bands many times in the past and find them to be a little less annoying, but it still is a pain in the rear to deal with… stuff wobbling around… I like things to be simple, sturdy, and accessible and all you need to fit your pocketwizard (or any other device with a tripod mount) to your light stand is a 1/4″ machine screw, a bolt and a curtain ring (I would imagine it is a curtain ring, I dug this thing out of my tool box). Now I can just slide the pocketwizard on and off, no big deal.

of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat:

DIY pocketwizard holder II
DIY pocketwizard holder II
DIY pocketwizard holder II
DIY pocketwizard holder II

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lightsphere vs. ghettosphere

gary fong lightsphere
Gary Fong clear Photojournalist Lightsphere II

Markus Hartel Ghettosphere
Markus Hartel Ghettosphere

Lightsphere II
clear PJ Lightsphere II

Ghettosphere I
translucent Ghettosphere I

This weekend I futzed around with light modifiers for battery operated speedlites for an upcoming impromptu shoot at a live concert. Normally I’m an available light shooter, but I know that the light at the venue, or the lack thereof won’t help me tonight, so I’ll need some artificial light…

The good old small softbox isn’t cutting it, as it really cuts off too much light and doesn’t diffuse properly either, so I remembered the good old photojournalist’s trick of bouncing the light off of a business card, which is attached with a rubber band to the head of the flash, light bounced off the ceiling, or points slightly upwards and towards the subject. This normally works like a charm, but I heard good things about the Gary Fong Lightsphere, so I gave it a whirl.

The Lightsphere cuts about one stop of light and bounces all over the place, since it’s nothing much than a round rubber cup, covered by a plastic dome. with that being said, the sphere also throws light behind me, as you can see in pic. 1 – note the shadow of the fan.

The PJ-bounce-trick biz cards are a bit small for a proper soft-ish bounce, so I made a bounce card off a 4″x6″ postcard, which looked somewhat unprofessional – which led me to cutting a sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardboard stock in half and cut off some corners, just like so:

Ghettosphere I diagram
Ghettosphere I diagram – half a sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardboard

Ghettosphere I on Speedlite 430EX
wrap the whole thing around and fix with a rubber band or a piece of tape… Ghettosphere I on Speedlite 430EX

With the Ghettosphere I was able to turn the flash down from 1/16th to 1/32, which a) allows for more natural available light and b) will save on batteries and recycle time. Or in turn, I could leave the flash’s setting where it is and increase the shutter speed by one stop to lessen motion blur.

My comparison is not 100% fair, as the Lightsphere is the clear PJ version with an inverted dome and my ghettosphere is semi-translucent cardboard and the bare head bounced off a low ceiling – and that’s probably why the light is somewhat softer, but see for yourselves if it’s worth saving a few bucks… or if you need a bounce card on a whim… or if you just want to play around… or…

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Trick the DX sensor


A simple trick can override your camera’s DX reading – The image above illustrates how to trick the DX reading of a simple point-and-shoot camera to expose Kodak Tri-X 400 at 1600 ISO…
the process works with any DX reading camera and with any other exposure count / ISO combo:

ASA
1
2
3
4
5
6
ASA
1
2
3
4
5
6
Frames
A
B
C
D
E
F
25
400
12
32
500
20
40
640
24
50
800
36
64
1000
48
80
1250
60
100
1600
72
125
2000
no std.
160
2500
f-stops
A
B
C
D
E
F
200
3200
+1/2 | -1/2
250
4000
+1 | -1
320
5000
+2 | -1
+3 | -1

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Develop b/w film at home 101


There are only a few things you need to develop your black and white film at home. Against popular beliefs, you won’t need a darkroom, only a little bit of space and running water. The whole setup will cost around $100-$150, much less on the used market. In the long run you will save a lot of time & money developing your own film, not to mention full control over the quality of your negatives…

What you need – from left to right
1.) measuring cup (ideally one for each chemistry)
2.) storage bottles
3.) film developer, stop bath and fixer (brand of your choice)
4.) squegee
5.) darkroom thermometer
6.) developing tank & film reel
7.) small graduate
8.) funnel(s)
9.) scissors
10.) film retriever or can opener
11.) changing bag

now, let’s get started – you have exposed your b/w film and take it out of the camera… usually you would take it to the lab and anxiuosly wait a few days to get it from the lab. From now on you will get a hold of your black and white film within less than an hour or so.



First, you’ll want to retrieve the film leader out of of the film canister – old school shooters use can openers, I highly recommend a Hakuba film picker.


In order to load your film on the reel, you will need to cut off the narrow part of the
film


round the corners with scissors to make sure the film loads safely on the reel

It’s time to break out the changing bag – for the next few minutes, you’ll need the sensitivity of your fingertips only – yepp, basically you’re blind, everything is happening in the bag. Place your roll of film and the developing canister, including the lid, the film reel and the stem into the changing bag.

***film, canister and your hands are in the changing bag***


position the film in the first groove of the reel… I prefer to use the Jobo plastic reels


hold the film with your left thumb and advance with your right thumb, move forward until the whole roll of film is on the reel, rip the film off it’s spool and put the film canister aside (in the changing bag)


position the holder in the reel


place the loaded reel and stem into the developing tank



finally it’s time to get out of the sweaty changing bag – close the developing tank tight and take it out of the bag.

*** we’re out of the changing bag ***


it’s time to get the chemicals up to spec, mix the developer, fixer and stop bath according to the manufacturer’s specifications (the old dogs have ‘em prepared already :P). Get the temperature right – 68°F (20°C) is standard. At higher temperatures, more contrast and grain will develop.


1st pour the developer in the tank



Always agitate slowly. For right now, use the manufacturer’s developing time and agitate according to their recommendations. Later on, you might want to experiment with these times. Developing time controls the shadows and agitation controls grain and contrast. Different developers and film combinations give you a different look of your negatives. I prefer Kodak Tri-X as my standard film and develop it in Ilford DD-X @ ISO 400. For ISO 800 and 1600 I either use Ilford Microphen or Diafine, both are speed enhancing developers for push process.


Once the developing is done, you can dispose the developer – many developers are one-shot developers only, so they have to go after use. Some developers -like Diafine- can be used over and over, so that would go back in the bottle.
*repeat the process with the stop bath and the fixer (no pictures here)*


Wash your film under running water for 5-10 minutes, discard the water in the tank often.

an alternative method to save water: fill the tank with fresh water, invert 5 times, discard the water and fill the tank again with fresh water. Turn 10 times and discard, fill again and turn 20 times, one final wash. This process takes less time and saves gallons of water.


Take the reel out of the canister and spool your film off the reel, soak it for a few seconds in water with a drop of dishwashing liquid. Some people use Hypoclear, which does the same thing – both prevent water stains on the negative.


Wipe the water residue off your negative strip with a film squeegee


Hang your film on a line in a dust-free room (the shower is a good place – close the curtain) and let it dry for some time. Use a clip at the bottom as well, to prevent curling of your film.

After the film is dry, cut it in strips of 5 or 6 negatives and store it in archival sleeves. The negatives are ready for printing or scanning.

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