My Life as a Geek
|Me and the World's Smallest Telephone (as verified by the Guinness Book) back in 1980.|
Once upon a time, back in the days of film, time exposures (like of the picture below, which was taken at 2:00 AM using a 20-minute exposure) were very much a trial-and-error process. It was difficult to know how long to keep the shutter open, as the light was too low for the camera's meter to measure accurately, and even if you had a Sekonic handheld light meter (famous for ultra-low-light sensitivity) you still had to account for something called film reciprocity, a property where film would become less sensitive to light the more light hit it.
|My HP-41C calculator was always in my camera bag. Not only could it control my camera (using some homebrew circuitry and custom programming), but it could also tell me the sunrise and sunset times based on my location.|
|The automated darkroom controller|
Using similar techniques to the camera controller above, I was able to have my calculator turn the enlarger on and off. But it didn't end there!
|First it turned on the enlarger so I could frame and focus accurately.|
|Then using a light-sensitive mouse (which I affectionately called a RAT), I took light readings from the brightest, the darkest, and the "18% Greyest" part of the negative.|
|The calculator would recommend an exposure time and a Polycontrast Filter # based on the three readings. I would pop in the recommended filter and then press a button, and the enlarger would turn on for exactly the right amount of time.|
|Then the print went into the chemical baths, and the calculator would give distinct audible signals when it was time to move a print from one bath to another. No longer did I have to watch the clock to see when it was time to change!|
Okay, one more example...
Back in the olden days, "multimedia" meant two slide projectors, a dissolve unit (so one image would "dissolve" into the next) and synchronized sound track. But back in 1984 there weren't any dissolve controllers that met my needs, so I did what any self-respecting engineer would do - I designed and built my own circuitry, and programmed my HP-71 calculator (MUCH more powerful than the HP-41 previously mentioned!) in assembly language just to put on a show that moved people emotionally (like this one).
These are but three inventions which eventually led to my engineering position at NASA, working on the pioneering Voyager and Galileo interplanetary spacecraft.
Why am I telling you all this? Last year when I was in Copenhagen I was asked by the LOF-SKOLEN school to give an evening lecture of my decade at NASA and the inventions that led up to me working there. For posterity, I videotaped that talk and you can see it for free (FREE!) at the end of this blog post.
Why did I make this video?
Anyway, the entire 2-hour lecture can be seen at the bottom of this blog post. Grab some popcorn and a blanket and enjoy!
The Seattle, Washington seminar is just days away (June 22-23), and I just secured a larger room to accommodate everyone. So there's now lots of room if you're thinking of joining at the last minute.
Also, the Australia and New Zealand seminars are now open for registration! The New Zealand one takes place in Wellington; but feel free to contact me if you think it should be in Auckland instead. :-) Here are links to learn more and sign up:
If you're new to the list, the Friedman Archives Seminars reveals the long-forgotten secrets of how the Kodachrome shooters were able to get "Wow!" type images without Photoshop (and without a fancy camera). You'll learn what's really important in photography (hint: it's not the gear!) in a fun, intuitive, and memorable weekend. Click on the links above to learn more and read testimonials from past attendees!
Next Time in Cameracraft
The next issue of Cameracraft is shaping up to be our most interesting yet. (And that has nothing to do with the fact that I have two articles in it instead of my usual one!)
Many people turn to religion for answers to life’s big questions. Melisa Teo started on that very path but discovered that her camera – not the religions themselves – became the catalyst for her spiritual journey. It's really too difficult to get the essence of her story across in just a couple of sentences, but her eye is remarkable and her journey is amazing.
Subscribe to the always intriguing and ad-free Cameracraft today and you'll also learn about the famous 1806 painting that compared George Washington to a horse's ass (and why it's relevant to photography today!). (Cameracraft subscribers - please post your impressions of the magazine in the comments section below so others will know I'm not just blowing smoke - this really is a different animal and is as far away from the usual photography magazines as you can get!) We're now up to 1,000 subscribers - a small amount by traditional magazine standards, but as David Kilpatrick (editor / publisher and runner of PhotoClubAlpha.com) points out, it's 1/11th of the Royal Photographic Society's readership! :-)
The A58 Ebook is Out!
Say what you will, this is the most capable low-end Alpha model I've ever used. Unlike the 290 and 390 (two cameras I didn't even write about because I didn't think much of them), the A58 is the first low-end camera I could easily shoot with on a day-to-day basis. Spread the word! The main page is here.
Now Tony Phillips (co-author of the A58 book) is wondering what camera to write about next, and he's considering the Fujifilm X100s. What do you think? Mike Hendren is also going to write about the recently-announced Olympus E-P5, an impressive camera that, like the Fujifilm, deserves a better instruction manual. Please help spread the word about these new undertakings, as the Friedman Archives Press starts to expand its scope!
(Special thanks to Peter Hollbaum-Hansen for making this happen in the first place!)
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman