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Category: peripherals

Car cabinet

I have a Honda Element, which is a pretty good ride for camera trips. I’ve always wanted to build a cabinet in the cargo area to hold gear. What motivated me to do something about it though was the thought of making an extension platform that will allow for taking quick photos right from the tail gate, without a lot of setup/breakdown. Continue » Car cabinet

Ground glass / focusing screen

A ground glass focusing screen is something I usually rush through because when it’s time to make one  I’m usually at the end of a tedious camera build and want to hurry up and use the thing already. But I wanted to take some time and make a decent one- after all this is the one thing I spend the most time looking at on a camera. Usually I don’t bother to seam the edges so the little chips along the cuts refract light into the image area and generally looks pretty crappy, so I spent the time to carefully cut the screen, smooth out the all the edges, and bevel them before getting on with grinding the surface. I did this for a recent Arca Swiss CLA, and it turned out well so made another one for my shop made camera.

grit Continue » Ground glass / focusing screen

Gitzo G1320 center post hack


I never really liked Gitzo-styled tripods, but needed an indoor tripod as my homemade one has spiked feet and is usually dirty. The twist legs locks on Gitzos are bad enough, but the center column on some models is especially egregious. I didn’t realize this at the time I bought a used one off Ebay, but it’s impossible to tighten the center lock down enough to keep the column from spinning, or at least it is on the version I have.  Markins has (or used to have) a hub retrofit to replace the the yoke entirely, but decided I would try to modify it before spending an extra $180 on a tripod I wasn’t wild about to begin with.
Continue » Gitzo G1320 center post hack

Darkroom sink



9/15/16. I  need a new sink. I made this one about 12 years ago and used polyester resin, which as it turned out never really bonded with the plywood substrate. It’s started to crack and flake badly. The finish on the sink was never really even substandard- the resin went on like molasses reclaimed from a sandy bog. At least I tinted it black, which helped mute the ugliness a bit. But for the past two years I’ve had to trowel on silicone caulk to help make it last just a little longer. I can’t stand another year of this. The weather’s turning cool so need to get started on a new one. This will probably be the most tediously detailed diary that I’ve posted here. I have no memory of how I (mis)made the last one, and if I ever have to repair this new version, the details may help to isolate what I’ve done wrong.

Continue » Darkroom sink

Epson V700 scanner 5×7 negative carrier

After spending so much time making cameras, film holders and sundry other crap, the irony of taping a negative to a plain piece of glass for scanning is not lost on me. Glass does work surprisingly well considering the minimal expense and effort, but I’ve missed working in the shop so thought I would try to come up with a decent carrier for my Epson scanner. I though about modifying a standard enlarger negative carrier, but in my experience those need the tension supplied by the closing of the negative staging on the enlarger itself to keep them closed and flat. Not to mention good ones are difficult to find and expensive in the 5×7 format.
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Light cork


DIY convertible darkroom window block

A cheap way to black-out windows in a multipurpose room is to make a panel out of rigid insulation and masonite- a cork essentially- which fits by friction into the window jamb and can be easily removed.  My old version is about 10 years old now and getting pretty beat up. It’s also too heavy and thick due to the masonite and 2″ foam board construction.  I thought about stepping up to a Indow Window panel, but at roughly $30 a square foot means it would cost close to $350 for my single 26 46 darkroom window. I decided instead to just make a new lighter one using 3/16″ plywood underlayment and thinner 1″ RMax foil-faced rigid insulation (polyisocyanurate) sheathing. Both materials are very lightweight- this one is 14.5 square ft overall and only weights 5 pounds. Continue » Light cork

Kelty P1, updated

It’s been a rough year so far, but at least the frequent colds and injuries have given me more time to print and to catch up on projects while I’m recovering. I’ve make a few improvements to my 5×7 pack since the last version here.

The bag itself is great and fun to modify. Outside it’s essentially the same. Different tripod but it still attaches to the side with a compression strap at top and a leather loop hooked to a carabiner at the bottom.  It has a decent suspension and very roomy at almost 60 liters and it’s very durable. And the main compartment is full access due to full-length zipper, the main reason I bought it over three years ago. Continue » Kelty P1, updated




Another simple but important accessory. This is a very lightweight, compact, comfortable, and dark view camera focusing cloth.  Quite simple to make with a basic sewing machine in about an hour.

Continue » Darkcloth