Second picture in the park


After I saw how that first picture looked, I moved the tripod closer to the sculpture and Kellee to get a bigger image of her. I saw that the chemicals weren’t spreading all the way across the film, so I composed with them in the right side of the frame and got lucky.

This picture wrapped up my first outing with the Speed Graphic.

Taken on more than 20 year old Polacolor matte 4×5 Polaroid film.


Soldering is complete


I used a RBBB (an Arduino runtime module, cheap!) mounted on a soldered breadboard. Also, two RJ45 connectors on SparkFun breakout boards. That will make a clean connection for a pair of cat5 wires going up to the ceiling. I had originally planned on using screw terminals, but then I decided to use twisted wire pairs (signal, gnd) and needed twice as many connections. There was enough unused space on the board for every other pin to be a ground with these breakouts.

Next, I have to finish wiring up the LEDs and mount them to the little hot air balloons.

Prototype complete

For my Arduino-powered flickering LED project, I finished the prototype with all the features I wanted:

  1. Light sensor to turn the LEDs off after the room lights are turned off.
  2. Button to set the room darkness threshold, since I don???t want to have to reprogram the chip in the future.
  3. Six LEDs with flickering brightness.
  4. One steady LED for a differently shaped balloon, which will be used for the status display as well (blink to indicate setting the threshold, as well as to indicate that it noticed the lights went out).

Flickering LEDs – proof of concept

My first project is to light a string of papier-m??ch?? hot air balloons. I was just going to light them with some LEDs, but then I heard about the Arduino and wanted to make something more exciting. I got a starter kit from and got to work.

This is the first proof of concept of making the LEDs flicker. Later I???ll add a light sensor to start a sleep timer that will turn the balloons off after a half hour.

Here???s the sketch that runs what you see above:

/** randomly flickering LEDs*/int ledPin[] = {5, 6, 9, 10, 11};              // pwm pins onlyint ledState[5];                 // last state of each ledlong randNumber;void setup() {for (int i=0; i<5; i++){       // set each led pin as an output  pinMode(ledPin[i], OUTPUT);   }randomSeed(analogRead(0));     // seed the rnd generator with noise from unused pinfor (int i=0; i<5; i++){       // init each led with a random value  ledState[i] = random(20, 201);}}void loop(){for (int i=0; i<5; i++){                   // for each led:  analogWrite(ledPin[i], ledState[i]);     // set the pwm value of that pin determined previously  randNumber = random(-35, 41);            // generate new random number and add that to the current value  ledState[i] += randNumber;               // that range can be tweaked to change the intensity of the flickering  if (ledState[i] > 200) {                 // now clamp the limits of the pwm values so it remains within    ledState[i] = 200;                     // a pleasing range as well as the pwm range  }  if (ledState[i] < 10) {    ledState[i] = 10;  }}delay(100);    // the delay between changes}

My First Real Picture


For my first time taking the Speed Graphic out to make a real photo, we went to Forest Park to find a good location. There was a traveling sculpture exhibit installed, and they looked neat.

Since I was still learning how to use the camera, I used a tripod and the ground glass to compose the shot. I knew how to do that from watching dad use his view camera when I was a teenager.

You can see Kellee there in those crazy coils, and if you look closely you might be able to see the dachshunds.

This was made on that super-old 4×5 Polaroid film and naturally made a cool look that people pay extra to do with Photoshop.

The First Picture


I found two packs of ancient 4×5 Polaroid film in dad???s studio. Having no idea what it would do, I tried one out. I assumed it was 100 speed, used the sunny 16 rule to set my exposure, and set the focusing scale to infinity. I stepped out the dock door at work and wished for the best.

When I say ancient, I mean my dad thinks he abandoned that pack in the early ???80s, so it???s probably been sitting for 25 years. So I was quite surprised to get an image at all. The chemicals didn???t spread all the way, and the color balance is way off. But the smell! There???s nothing quite like a Polaroid???s smell. And the look is pretty cool too. People pay good money for software to make those edge effects.

With this photo, I knew I had a working camera, and I was looking forward to making more pictures.

Next, using up this old film while researching what to use next.



In 2006, my friend Dave showed me some Polaroids that a former co-worker of his was making in California with his 4×5 Speed Graphic. We were thinking about how cool that must be, and I remembered that my dad had one. He had it on display in his studio for a few years, and never used it. A fellow photographer had retired and dad bought some of his gear, including this camera.

So, I asked my dad if he had a Polaroid back for the camera, which he didn???t. But he offered me the camera and gave it to me around thanksgiving 2006. I???ve been making large format pictures with it ever since. I???ll be posting pictures and stories as much as I can.