World Pinhole Day 2018

To celebrate and promote pinhole photography World Pinhole Photography Day is on the last Sunday of April every year, with this in mind, I am going to post some pinhole related material over the next short while, I shall be taking part in the event too as a fan of this type of photography. To take part you need to take your photo on the 29th of April and you have until the 31st of May to submit it, please see the links below for full information on participation. You can make your own pinhole camera, which is both easy and fun or you can use a bought camera, it really doesn’t matter, just as long as it is a lensless camera that can take photos.

The photo below is taken through a window in Stephens Green Shopping Centre, during December a couple of years ago when the Christmas Market was being held around the perimeter of the Park, you can see the red roofs of the stalls from the market to the left of the arch. This was shot with an Instax Mini back that I have for my Diana F+ camera.

If you would like to know more, please follow the following links:
http://pinholeday.org/

https://www.facebook.com/PinholeDay/

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World Pinhole Day 2017

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Instagram Algorithm Changes

This post has been on my on my to-do list for an age and is going to be the first of a short series of posts relating to Instagram. Instagram like all Social Media Platforms keeps changing its algorithms, for users of the platform, keeping up with these changes can be tricky. Instagram wants to encourage human interaction on their platform and they also want to remove as many of the bots and spam as possible, so they have made changes that mean it is more difficult to get engagement on the site. I appreciate what it is they are attempting to do, but, it does require more effort to get people to see your feed than it did previously.

The present algorithm settings mean that when you publish a post, only the most active 10% of your audience will see your post if you get enough early engagement, Instagram will release your post to the remaining 90% of your followers. When they refer to engagement, Instagram means comments of a minimum four words in length and they do not mean someone liking your post. Any account that uses emoticons only or less than four words may be treated as a bot, and the suspected bot account could be shadow banned. Should someone leave a comment on one of your posts, you have to reply within an hour or Instagram could decrease your visibility to other users.

The same loss of visibility could result from a lack of engagement with your posts.  One of the main methods people used to use to get as many views as possible was to use up to thirty hashtags, Instagram have also changed the rules in relation to hashtags too, now, they want you to use no more than five relevant and focused hashtags, but, you cannot use the same ones all the time, as, yes, you guessed, it could lead to been shadow banned or to decreased visibility on the platform. This is the trickiest part for me, as I have three Instagram accounts, one of which is a specific topic, which makes trying to find unrepetitive hashtags for it a little problematic. Any more than five hashtags could lead to your account being marked as spam, which we do not want to happen. I have tried only using five hashtags and the numbers of people looking at my feed plummeted but rose again when I reverted to more hashtags so I may ignore this suggestion for a little longer. Speaking of Hashtags, only add them as you are preparing to post, and do not post them later in the comment section, as they will get ignored and will, therefore, be of no use whatsoever to you.

Instagram want people to use Stories more, by doing so you will enjoy increased visibility on the platform, as you have proven that you are an engaged human and not a bot. If you realise that you need to edit a post after you have posted it, it is best to just delete it and repost it as editing posts will lead to less visibility.  Instagram is using the threats of decreased visibility and shadow banning in an effort to increase organic growth and to remove as many bots and spam accounts as they can, as these accounts have proliferated on the platform in recent times. You are not meant to use comment pods anymore, as Instagram knows about them and does not like them, and the use of these pods could lead your account to be shadow banned. Adding a description of your post will help to get people to see your feed, as will promptly replying to peoples comments on your post. Other things that will assist you are, consistent posting, using stories, and engaging in the community.
In case you did not know, Shadow banning means that your account looks perfectly normal and acts as it always has done, apart from the fact that Instagram has blocked your content from the community, and you don’t know it. The only way you find out is when you see a drop in peoples engagement with your feed. As I said at the start, I understand why the network needs to do this, but, trying to work around it, is a bit of a nuisance.

My Instagram feeds can be found at https://www.instagram.com/gallagherphotos/ and https://www.instagram.com/street_art_found/

Manor Kilbride Long Exposure

Manor Kilbride is an incredibly photogenic location during the Autumn months. This year, a group of us from Offshoot Photographic Society visited the area. I used some long exposure techniques to blur the water and to catch some movement in the leaves in the trees. On this particular day, the sky was flat grey, so I tried to make sure that the sky did not feature in the images. This location is always worth returning to as it is one of my favourite locations for Autumn colours in Wicklow. Next time I go I will venture further upstream to see what I can photograph there.

 

Robinsglen Organic Farm

Yesterday I went to a Sunflower field in Kilkenny and took some Macro and close-up photos of the flowers. The first photo, below, is a macro photo, the second is a close-up photo. I used a 100mm lens for the Macro shot and a 50mm lens for the wider shot. I was unable to use a tripod due to the lack of space available to me, so both photos are handheld. I intentionally did not show the entire flower, as we all know what a sunflower looks like. I will post about macro photography in another post.

If you want to know more about the farm, please go to https://robinsglen.ie/

Holga Camera Guide

Originally Chinese in origin, the Holga is a cheap Lofi plastic film camera with a plastic lens with a focal length of 60mm that uses 120mm film, mostly, there are 35mm camera options too. They were originally used in giveaways until they became popular for photography students and fans. To focus, rotate the barrel of the lens to the icon displayed that best corresponds to the shooting situation. The icons are one person (3 feet/1m focusing distance), two people (6 feet/2m focusing distance), a group of people (3 feet/1m focusing distance), and a mountain. The One person is the closest focus distance (18 feet/6m focusing distance) leading up to the mountain(30 feet/10m to infinity focusing distance).

This camera is 100% manual, so you need to advance the film yourself. This, however, leads to creative options, as you can take multiple exposures, or panoramic photos or single shots, or you can overlap images. It is stupidly easy to forget to wind the film on, which can lead to happy accidents. You can buy Holga’s with a flash, or you can use an external flash as the cameras have a hotshoe fitting. The Shutter Speed is about 1/100 of a second, this can change depending on wear and tear on the spring inside the camera. You can use Bulb ‘B’ mode if you hold down the Shutter Release for an extended period of time. This opens up more creative options for you as well as night shooting. The Holga has two apertures, F11 by using the sunny day option or F8 if you use the cloudy day option. However, it is debatable if there is any real difference between the two apertures. You can shot colour or black and white film in Holga cameras. There are a large number of variations of the Holga camera, including pinhole, panorama, stereo, and TLR versions.

Due to the cheap nature of the Holga, it has features that give it a certain look. These include the light leaks from joints that are not light sealed, if you don’t like the light leaks you can use gaffer tape to cover the joints, in an effort to reduce light leaks. Holgas also frequently have a vignette on the images. Another feature is that the images are not sharp, this is due to imperfections in the plastic meniscus lens. The images will be low contrast and you may lose detail in the shadows. However, if you are using black and white film, you can expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights for an improved image. This is something I constantly forget to do. Bold me. Colour film can also find over exposure helpful.

When choosing a film to use in the camera, keep the shooting conditions in mind, with film you have to shoot an entire roll at one ISO, but, with 120mm that is only 12 or 16 images, depending on how you set up the camera, unlike with 35mm where you have to shoot either 24 or 36 images before you can change the ISO. For sunny days use 100, 160, 200 or 400 ISO films. In Ireland 400 ISO is a good place to start. On darker days 800 ISO is a good option, and sunset or indoors can mean 1600 or 3200 ISO. If you use C-41 film you can have it developed in your local Fuji Centre, or Harvey Normans.

You may wonder why in a digital world would anyone want to use a manual, cheap film camera, rather than a DSLR that helps you get as good an image as possible? For me, the reason is simple, the lack of options of the Holga and the challenges it presents are a great opportunity to learn and improve my photography skills. I think if you can get a decent photo out of a Holga, you have a grasp of photography basics. Using a Holga makes you see things differently and it slows you down, so you have to think more.

“Mechanically the Holga is simplicity itself. The nature of the Holga places emphasis on seeing, thinking, and interacting with the environment at hand.”
Joe Ostraff, Professor, BYU

Holga 120N & HP5
52 Rolls/366 – Week 1
52 Rolls Project

B&W Development

Following on from my post on Stand Development, I thought I would add my normal Black and White Film Development process. All the chemicals will be used at 20 Degrees C. The photos below were taken on HP5 120 on a Holga 120N.

Prewash:
A 5 minute prewash to bring the film up to temperature.

Development:
11 minutes in Rodinal at a 1:50 dilution. 50mls/1000mls
Agitate for the first 30 seconds, with 5 inversions every minute.

Stop:
1:19 190 mls/1000mls of Ilfostop for 10 seconds

Fix:
1:4 250mls/1000mls of Ilford Rapid Fixer for 2-5 minutes

Wash:
5-10 Minutes in Kodak FotoFlo

Rinse:
5mls/1000mls for 5-10 minutes

 

 

Stand Development

Moving Part Packs of Instax Film

If you have your only pack of Instax film loaded in a camera or printer and you want to use it in another camera or printer. You can of course, just take the pack out and move it to another camera or printer and you will only lose the top sheet of film, as the camera or printer you move the pack to will treat the top sheet as a dark slide and will expel that sheet. However, you can also safely take the pack out without losing any sheets of film. All you need to do is to put the dark slide back into the pack. I did this by turning off the lights and taking the pack out, I then slid the dark slide back into the pack and I did not lose any sheets when I moved the pack, because the printer ejected the dark slide when I switched the printer on. Obvious I know, but, I thought people might find it a useful idea.

If you have any Instax tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Thank you.