First View-Master Reel

Photos taken on View-Master Personal Camera, Fujifilm Velvia 50

Our vintage View-Master film cutter and personal mounts arrived early last week and I have made our first personal View-master reel.

The process was actually easy and I am very impressed with the precision engineering of the cutter and mounts.

All you have to do is load your uncut strip of 35mm film into the cutter by aligning the first pair of frames with the cutting holes. Then use the knob to move the film from shot to shot, it clicks nicely into place for each image.

Push down on the cutter and it stamps out the stereo pair of images you are currently looking at.  Take the resulting finger nail-sized film clips, slip them into the tweezers-like inserter, then slide them into open slots in the blank reel.

The only challenge is making sure you have the right side of the reel facing towards you (the one without blank labeling lines for each image) as you insert the film.  You also have to insert the film backwards as if you were looking through it from the opposite direction.

I goofed this up a couple times before I paid good attention to the circle and square guide marks put on both the film and reel.  I will post about this process in more details soon.

Putting my first reel together only took about ten minutes, and I bet with just a little practice it will easily get under five.

There is something magical about seeing yourself and your family in 3D via a View-Master viewer!

Seeing Double

(this shot of the film taken with) Nikon D300, Nikkor AF 105/2.8 D Micro

As my Dear Sweet Wife has mentioned, we have been bitten by the View-Master bug in our household.

In this day and age when our kids have done just about everything possible on our iPhones, it has been a pleasure to see them wildly entertained by our childhood favorite analog stereo image viewing device.

Our six- and three-year olds, their cousins, and a number of their friends have been amazed for hours by viewing wheels about Dora, Cars, space exploration, and other topics.

While we are happy to see the View-Master brand still alive and well after over 65 years, we are getting serious about making our own reels via a decidedly vintage approach!

We purchased a classic View-Master Personal Stereo Camera and have run our first roll of slide film through it.  I shot a number of exposure tests and everything seems to have come out well.

With this success under our wings we have ordered the accompanying vintage cutter device which slices out the pairs for perfect insertion into blank reels.  With luck we may make our first reels in a week or two.

Macro Lens Testing

Nikon F100, Fuji Velvia

My Dear Sweet Wife and I like to shoot macro or close-up photography, for our blogs and otherwise.  She picked up a Nikkor AF 105/2.8 D Micro lens a while back and it has been our workhorse lens for close up shots taken with our film bodies.

However, our D300 and its small DX format sensor and resulting crop factor has increased the working distance of that lens.  Trying to shoot small items on a desk has become an exercise in backing up more than we have room to do in our tiny and crowded house.

We have been considering getting a shorter focal length macro lens with a closer working distance ever since we bought the D300. has a promotion right now (code winter15) which lead me to rent two shorter micro Nikkors for this weekend, just to try them out.

Both are current lenses in Nikon’s lineup, the AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro and AF-S 40/2.8 G Micro.  Judging by specifications, the 60mm lens wins in terms of features: nano coating and ED glass, 2 aspherical elements versus 0, internal focusing, and support for FX and 35mm bodies.

But none of that matters if the 60mm lens working distance is still too far out.  Stay tuned for a few posts comparing all three lenses after I have put them through their paces!

Meanwhile if you have some spare time this weekend (perhaps two hours) be sure to catch Star Wars Uncut, the full crowd-sourced recreation of Episode IV was just released.  Be warned it is only mostly G-rated…

Hello 2012!

Nikon F100, Nikkor 28-105mm AF, Fuji Velvia

My goodbye to 2011 featured a sunset I shot a few years ago at a beach in Garrapata State Park, California.  For this hello to 2012 I reached even further back in my archive of slides to a sunrise at Haleakala National Park, Hawaii.

Here are my photographic resolutions for 2012.  These are not goals to try to achieve and then forget, but rather changes in my day-to-day activities that I hope to make permanent.

Streamline: This may just mean a few simple changes to my workflow, but I spend too much time scanning and processing images these days.  I need to leverage more lab scanning services as well as reconsider the process and tools I use to go from film to final image.

Share: I started building a Flickr presence last year and have flirted with other sites.  But I need to better leverage the various sites, communities, etc. to get my photos out there and even critiqued as well as work with my DSW to update our portfolio.

Engage: I need to be more active in the photo blogosphere and forums, become part of the online photography community.  Especially the film-shooting folks, as we need to stick together and keep our interest alive and well!

Hopefully the resolutions above should help me focus more on the creative and social aspects of photography.

What are your photographic goals or resolutions for 2012?

Goodbye 2011, Thanks for the Good Times

Nikon F100, AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, Fuji Velvia 50

Last year was a great year!  I have many things to be grateful for in my life, most notably my Dear Sweet Wife, our lovely two boys, and the rest of our family and friends.

2011 was a tremendous year of growth and wonderful experiences for us all.

Our older son entered first grade and took on new interests such as tennis, piano, and even film photography (no influence there, ahem).

Our 3-year-old graduated to solo swimming lessons, conquered potty training, and also took some photos with our cameras (with our permission or not!).

And somewhere in between my DSW and I managed to squeeze in some date nights, going out to dinner in restaurants without crayons or seeing movies that weren’t G rated.

Photographically speaking for me 2011 wasn’t a bad year either.   I rediscovered my love of film photography and started playing around with vintage film cameras and new formats such as instant pack film.

This blog was a big step for me, to encourage myself to both keep shooting as well as write about my experiences.  In some ways I feel like I am still just getting started, while in others I feel I have achieved a lot in my first posts.

But enough about last year… it is time to look forward to this new year 2012!  I am excited about what it may have in store for me and my family, and will share my resolutions soon.