Posts Tagged ‘Chemistry of Photography’

I am used to any number of hits, on any given day, for Viggo Mortensen and his girlfriend.  Half of the world is hoping that there is no girlfriend.  The other half is wishing they were his girlfriend.  He is a popular guy, and I refuse to say which camp I belong in. 

The other big searches, for my blog, involve my series on teaching Chemistry of Photography, pinhole cameras, etc.  I also oversee my mothers poetry blog (see link on side bar if you are interested) and once made the totally innocent post of putting a poem up about After Holiday Sales on the day after Thanksgiving.  Honest, I was not trying to inflate her numbers, but it sure did.  That day she had over four hundred, probably frustrated and angry hits, by people who thought they were going to find a bargain, but found poetry instead. 

Here is a recent high day for my blog:

Title Views  
Have we all learned our lesson now? 48 More stats
Viggo Mortensen – 99.9% perfect 5 More stats
Top 100 Hit Songs of 1966 4 More stats
Film Canister Pin Hole Camera 2 More stats
FLDS-Freedom to Abuse 1 More stats
Pringles Can Pinhole Cameras 1 More stats
We have an exciting future ahead of us! 1 More stats
Let’s Play: Boys Rooms! or DID YOU KNOW 1 More stats
Do brother-in-laws have the right of fre 1 More stats
I get attached to television news people 1 More stats
The difference between boys and girls 1 More stats
Butt Ugly Running Shoes

However, on May 8th, searches for the same terms, just worded a bit different, lead over thirty people to my blog.  Or, one person landed at my blog thirty times and I just cannot figure out if this was the result of something like a treasure hunt, or question on a radio station, for tickets,  or what.  Because why would thirty people have the overwhelming urge to search for “….a rock,  song 1966” or some version of that, on the exact same day?  What is it with that??? 

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the stop-bys, it is just a bit strange .  So, as a public service announcement, I am putting a link to I Am a Rock – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, where you can learn a lot about “I Am a Rock.”  This is a is a cool song by Simon and Garfunkel.  But then, most of their songs are.

This is a what my search terms for that day looked like:  Wierd!

a rock 1966 hit song 6
a rock, 1966 hit song 3
1966 hit song ” a rock” 3
” a rock” 1966 hit song 2
– a rock, 1966 hit song 1
writing a speech from brother to brother 1
chemistry of photography 1
1966 hit song rock 1
1966 hit song “..a rock” 1
1966 hit song ” a rock 1
“? a rock” 1966 hit song 1
” hit songs of 1966″ 1
” a rock”; 1966 hit song 1
1966 hit song, ____a rock 1
beatles songs vietnam war 1
“i am a rock” hit song in 1966 1
song “. . . a rock” 1966 hit 1
what is a 1966 hit song with a rock 1
a rock: 1966 hit song 1
” a rock;” 1966 hit song 1
1966 hit songs a rock 1
1966 hit song ….of rock 1
like a rock a 1966 hit song 1
“——–a rock” 1966 hit song 1
chihuahuas go out rain 1

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Ahhh, I love the smell of the darkroom in the morning or at night for that matter. However, I do know it is not an environmentally friendly hobby. Alas, I had to leave my beloved enlarger behind in the last move, so have not done any darkroom work for five years now. But, one of the things I tried to show my students, in the Chemistry of Photography class, was that there were a few environmentally friendly alternatives. One was to develop using fresh Mint leaves. The ones from the store do not work nearly as well as the leaves right out of the garden. 

Chemical developer, Catechol, can irritate your skin, respiratory and digestive tracts and can be replaced with an alternative of mint leaves and Bicarbonate of Soda. I did not do any in-depth experiments with it and can only find one photo that I did develop with Mint leaves. It is very light.

Boy on a swing print developed with mint leaves and soda.

The mint and bicarbonate developer must be used while it is still warm, or kept warm. You do need fresh from the garden mint leaves. You boil approximately one liter of water and add a large handful of fresh mint leaves. Add two rounded Tablespoons of Bicarbonate of soda to this and boil for approximately twenty minutes. Even though you must use it warm, I have read that it will keep up to 24 hours.

You still need to fix the print. I could never find an environmentally friendly alternative to fix.

Beside getting students to think about environmental alternatives, and this was about seven years ago, there was a certain satisfaction in the “Ehew” factor. For some reason, mint leaves floating in warm water seemed to gross them out.  I never took the time to strain it.

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Thursday in Chemistry of Photography was a day for making prints without a camera.


We used Nature Print paper. Nature Print Paper – BLICK art materials shows a sample of what the end product looks like.  This requires only the sun and found objects, including negatives, to create designs. Using the darkroom, we placed found objects on the paper and then exposed them to the sun. While some students were doing this, others used my enlarger to create photo-montage images by placing objects on print paper, exposing and developing.


This is a good lesson in design and what makes a good picture.


Friday was a good day to have fun using up any extra developer and fix and have. We did Chemistry Photographic Painting.


Designs can be painted right on photographic paper with developer solution, stop bath and food coloring.


 Chemistry painting image

It’s a good idea to set up several separate trays at different stations. I was using 5X7 print paper so I was able to use a lot of small trays. Painting with fix can contaminate the Developer, so I had developer trays that were labeled “developer only.” These were at the sink and students were instructed to do a quick wash of their print, or at least let it drip off, to get rid of excess fix before developing.


They used q-tips, string, shish kabob sticks and any number of items to paint with water, developer and fix on their print paper.


Painting with fix causes a white image against a dark background. If you immerse it in clear water before developing, it will cause grays to blend into the black background.


There was one last experiment though, after their photo painting was exposed, developed, stopped and fixed and with a quick wash.  We mixed one tablespoon of food coloring to sixteen ounces of water. Then dip the print briefly into clear water to take off excess hypo. Paint the color on or dip it but let it get a little darker than the intended shade.


This was a very popular day and a great way to end a fantastic week of Chemistry of Photography

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Student loading pottery shelvesCeramic sculptures taken with a pinhole camera

Chemistry of Photography – Tuesday-

Film Canister Pinhole Cameras





These photos are pictures I took with a film canister pinhole camera. I actually have some I like even better, but I have placed them in a “special” place. One that I can’t find.


The photo on the left shows a person in front of shelves of pottery. On the right the images are of ceramic sphere scultpures.


Pinhole pictures are primitive and can be addictive when you find yourself looking at all kinds of boxes, going “what if.”


My Tuesday Chemistry of Photography class was pinhole camera day. I love to use a pinhole camera and, during KEY camp, I had a constant supply of loaded cameras at hand. The students made and used two pinhole cameras. One was made out of black film canisters and the other was made out of a small size Pringle can (which I will write about later).


A professional photographer friend saved his black film canisters. That might be a problem now, as the world moves to digital. Each camera took two canisters.


Canister one: The students paint a small circle or square of liquid white out on the side, centered, and put a pinhole in the center of it. This made it easier to find the hole. I think I had two sizes of needles that I used. The directions state an 0.4 mm pinhole. On the bottom of this canister they made a line with white out to line up with the hole they put in. This is the camera.


Canister two: The lid of this one was discarded. The bottom cut off and a steak knife was used to cut a straight line through the side. This is the shutter. It spreads enough, when you place it over the camera, that when you twist it, it will expose the hole, and take a picture.


I cut squares of print paper ahead of time and had loaded a bunch in the dark loading bag. I did not ration these out. They are so small that, a Jr High student will be bored before they reach their limit, unless they are so excited about it that you are thrilled they want more paper. 


When doing this with a class, the thing to remember is to put a black marker in the bag. As each student hands you their camera, you have them tell you their initials. Print paper in hand, you write their initials on the back of the paper and take the camera into the dark bag and load it in their camera. Put the lid back on tight and make sure the shutter covers the hole. It’s good to have one thumb over that hole when you put the camera in your bag. They can then check that mark they made on the bottom to see where the hole is on the side.


They have already developed paper from day one, so they can develop and leave their pictures in the stop bath and get back in line for a new paper. 


Images are a bit surreal and fuzzy at times. If you google pinhole cameras, you can find some fun stuff. Han Wolff took a pinhole pic of the Eiffel Tower that is a great design.



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