SOFOBOMO 2010: Done

I’m done! Or I will be as soon as the PDF finishes uploading, anytime now . . . I think that took about three weeks (doing the whole project, not the upload time for the pdf, yet), and I’ve got more photos to show for it than I have had the last couple of years. I’m also happier with the results. Stumbling on an idea that had the right scope for this kind of project certainly helped.

See the book here: 47 Pictures of Unexplained Numbers

In other news, I was not overly pleased with the book I ordered from Blurb. I was prepared for the color shift, but the printing in general seemed to be fairly poor quality; too many artifacts, too few dots on the page, too much bad sharpening. They must do some post on the images after you upload them. Sigh. I’d have settled for crappier paper but better printing.

I’m at a bit of an impasse when it comes to printing. My Epson died shortly before we moved to DC, and I haven’t bothered to replace it. I don’t do enough printing to keep an inkjet printer happy. Perhaps I need one of the ones that regularly cleans itself, but those are mostly the larger models, and I just don’t do that much large printing. I tell myself that if I had a full darkroom that I’d take up wet printing again, but I’m not sure if that’s true. I wonder if I can rent darkroom time somewhere in DC. Might be fun to do from time to time. Or better, I’d like to just rent time on a workstation and printer that were all setup to go. Video editors can rent a suite with a beefy computer, fun sound junk, calibrated monitors, decks and all that ludicrously expensive software. Why can’t a photographer rent time in a photo printing suite? Or can you? Anybody know?


M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, HP5, XTOL 1+1, 82F, 6 minutes

I’ve finished up shooting for SOFOBOMO 2010. I’ve still got a bit of post processing to do (and redo -see the middle of the set on flickr), but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ve got to work with. See the last post for a link to the set.

In other news, it’s going to break 100F today. When I developed a roll of HP5 yesterday, the developer came out at 82F even after being cut with ice water. HP5 has longer development times than TMY2, but it was still a brief 6 minutes in the soup. I should write post one day about developing in the heat, something I first learned to do in South Korea, and something I’m having to relearn in DC as we don’t have central AC.



I seem to have started my SOFOBOMO fuzzy month the other day. Looking over a roll of scanned film, I noticed that I’d taken a couple of picture of these sets of numbers written on utility poles and sign posts around the neighborhood. The numbers are all over the place, all over Eckington, all over DC, and who knows where else. I’m a sucker for patterns and for those inconsequential bits of the world that elude explanation. If I was a sophisticated conspiracy theorists (or if I had a GPS equipped digicam) I’d be mapping these things out, but I’m not and I don’t, so I won’t, yet. Maybe later.

I doubt this book will be interesting to anybody but me, but part of the fun of SOFOBOMO is the way the arbitrary restrictions of the event create an opportunity to do things that break the other conventions of photography and narrative. When SOFOBOMO rolls around every year, I tend to have tons of ideas for fairly conventional book projects, ideas that I never seem to end up using. The whole endeavor is so ridiculous that approaching it from the perspective of a conventional photo narrative seems like a invitation to folly, so the most ridiculous ideas seem the most suitable.

I still need a title though. I’m thinking “Untitled Numerology,” but that may not stick.

Look for the rest of photos in my SOFOBOMO 2010 set on flickr. More as they come off the scanner.

SOFOBOMO: Done, sort of

M6TTL, ZM Biogon 35 F2, FP4+, Xtol

M6TTL, ZM Biogon 35 F2, FP4+, Xtol

Well, today was a productive day. I gave myself a haircut which Kate won’t have to spend too much time fixing, and I finished my SoFoBoMo book. Get it here:

this is not there

Update 6/17/2009: I realized this morning that my ‘finished’ book is actually fairly far short of the required 35 photos. I’m happy with it the way it is though, so I’m disinclined to add photos to fill it out. At the same time, I’m not entirely comfortable claiming the finishers badge on, so I’ve decided to take the book off the official site. The book will remain available on my site at the link below.

I’m quite satisfied with the end result of the project. That I came in under the 35 photo minimum is somewhat irrelevant to my own goals. I put together a collection of photos that I like and got them into a book format that makes me fairly happy. I’m going to call that a success.

this is not there, the unfinished edition

SOFOBOMO: Leap of Faith

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol

I’m starting over, scrapping the Paris photos and nearly completely rethinking my SoFoBoMo project. The Paris photos just weren’t working for me. I never quite like my own travel photos anyway. They always seem to have a momentum that belongs to someone else, as if the vacation is taking the photos instead of me. All the novelty of travel overwhelms my sense of my own style. I’m much more successful in a place I know.

So, vacation photos out, here photos in. The roll from the first half of this week has 20+ photos that I’d be happy to put together into a book. Hopefully I’ll find the balance of 35 on the half-shot roll in the camera. I should still be able to finish in time, but this reminds me of a university essay; three weeks fooling around, chasing tangents and banging my head against the wall, only to scrap the whole thing and rewrite in a fit of energy in the last few days.

SOFOBOMO: sorting

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol

It took me less than a week to get all the film developed and scanned, so I’m a bit ahead of schedule. This was my first opportunity to put the Coolscan 9000 to the kind of daily use it takes to really get to know a piece of equipment. Somethings I’ve learned:

  • You can have VueScan ring a bell when it is done, useful when you feel like leaving the room to read book.
  • Click the box for Fine mode unless you want to find banding in your scans.
  • The Coolscan 9000 is much more capable of dealing with full density negs than the ScanDual IV was, to the extent that I’ve started to correct my long running habit of under-developing.
  • The two strip 35mm holder is great for big scanning projects. Yeah, it doesn’t hold the negs completely flat, , but I’ve only found one scan that showed obvious results of field curvature, and I suppose you could always rescan with the glass carrier later.

I’ve now got two weeks to put the book together from the raw scan files. Apart from one roll that I dropped while hanging to dry, the negatives are remarkably clean, so the post processing is just inversion and curve work, and I’ve already made my first pass at that while scanning. I’ll need to make a second and third pass, and go back and redo some of the conversions from the first pass, but here is what I’ve got so far:

Contact Sheet PDF

SOFOBOMO: week one done

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol Stock

M6TTL, 50 Hex, TMY2, Xtol Stock

Kate and I are back from our vacation to Paris, where I started my SOFOBOMO fuzzy month. I’ve now got a pile of film to scan and develop, 10 rolls, four more than I had planned on. I’ve already developed four of those, and the scanner is humming along beside me as a I type. In addition to the usual Raw scan files, I’m also having vuescan output a JPEG with the TMax preset. These JPEGs are dark and low contrast, but they let me quickly eyeball the whole roll without doing one by one conversions of each frame. Hopefully these will help with the editing process, which if all goes well I should be able to start next week. Until then, I’ll be developing and scanning.

An Anthology of Royalty Free SoFoBoMo Ideas

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400@250, D76

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400@250, D76

It’s never too early to start thinking about this . . .

These are free to use for anyone, but I might just do that Talking Heads one myself, so if you do it, you’ll be that girl who wore the same dress as the birthday girl.