What the F

Last January I bought a Nikon F6, the most advanced film SLR camera ever created. Over the past few weeks I have been tracking down a Nikon F, Nikon’s original film SLR, camera on eBay. The F6 has fully electronic control and a self-diagnosing shutter. The F is fully mechanical and is not at all self-aware. I am obsessed with the F6’s ability to capture data about exposures and write information to a CF card and to the film itself. So, why would I want a Nikon F? For me the Nikon F represents a certain beginning to modern photography. Since the end of the Kodak APS era I have been a Nikon user and have fully adopted the Nikon culture (not to mention the F-mount lens system). I can’t say that its nostalgia because I wasn’t alive with the Nikon F was released, but there is a desire to touch history and to experience using a fully manual camera, learning to calculate exposure values and becoming more aware of the dynamics of focus selection. I also have some apprehension about approaching a method of photography that has absolutely no electronic assistance or guide, which I have been dependent on since I began photography when I was 5.

My Nikon F is due to arrive around April 4th.

  Nikon F6 Nikon F
Exposure Control Manual, Shutter, Aperture, Program Auto Manual
Aperture Control On-Body Electronic Drive Manual
Shutter Speeds 1/8000 to 30 min + Bulb 1/1000 to 1” + Bulb
Power Source CR123 or EN-EL4 Manual
Auto Focus TTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM 2000 autofocus module Manual
Film Loading Auto Crank (Manual)
Film Advance Auto Manual
Film Rewind Auto Manual
Multiple Exposure Yes – 2 to 10 Manual
Self-timer 2, 5, 10, 20 seconds 3-10 seconds (manual gear timer)
Intervalometer Electronic Program Interval None
Remote Cable release, ML-3 Wireless Cable release
Weight 975g (34.4 oz) 1049g (37 oz)
Released 2004 1959

Experimenting with Rollei IR 400

I have been fascinated by IR photography since I first figured out what it was. I started off as a digital camera brat, so most of my experiences were with really slow shutter speeds on a sensor mostly protected from IR light. Since returning to film I have gotten back into IR and find that it is both frustrating and fun to work with. Until recently my only extended red film has been Ilford’s SFX 200, which is a just barely IR sensitive film (720nm). I have recently discovered Rolleri’s series of films, most of which are more sensitive to red than Ilford’s standard films. Their IR 400 film, which is sensitive to 820nm, has a greater range than anything I’ve worked with before. For my test roll I experimented a lot with exposure settings as IR is very different for metering from visible light. For SFX 200 I have to reduce the metered speed by several stops for a good exposure. IR 400 is not quite as sensitive and seems to require several stops of increase to avoid a dark image.

R74_E21
IR 400 with R72 filtration
R74_E08
IR 400 with R25 filtration

Overall I am impressed with some of the results I have gotten with IR 400 on the test roll, but am looking forward to seeing more of the results that I get when I develop my second roll now that I have more of an idea of the type of exposure levels that work well with the film.

ExIf 35 – Re-evaluating an Abandoned Project

I started the ExIf 35 project (http://exif35.pcfire.net) in 2010 when I returned to shooting film. Perhaps I’m metadata obsessed, or just crazy, but I decided I wanted good ExIf data on my scans of film photos. In the six years since I started the project I allowed myself to reach a point where I felt that ExIf 35 was “complete”, it did what it needed to do, usually pretty well. I made no major changes to the software since 2012 (see: http://exif35.pcfire.net/viewnotes.php) and I drifted somewhat away from film photography as a hobby and art again. This spring I purchased a Nikon F6 camera and dove right back in just as deep as I had been before with film photography – the only difference is that the F6 does a bit of its own metadata recording, which makes having a metadata/ExIf workflow even more important. Since the Nikon F6 was released in 2004 many of its accessories (MV-1) are no longer made and its intended software no longer functions in the modern era, so I had to seek out other alternatives and build new things into ExIf 35 to accommodate my needs.  When I speak of “my needs”, I refer of course to the fact that I record information beyond basic ExIf data. I like to record things like photographic filters in use and details about how the film was developed (see: http://exif35.pcfire.net/docs.php?doc=xmpSpec for a complete list of my special fields).

Yesterday in a fit of boredom between semesters I began looking at some of my data in Exif as it was stored in Flickr. I realized that there was no degree symbol in my develop temperatures (20 C vs. 20° C), so I started tinkering with the data writing process, only to find out that putting that character in one location in the file (Exif:ImageDescription) caused Flickr to corrupt the field when it is displayed. In an effort to correct the problem I began looking at the field in other applications (ACDSee, PhotoMe, etc). I discovered two things 1) There is nothing wrong with the bloody thing and 2) There are a few new ExIf fields that I had not seen before. This led me to the ExIf documentation (http://www.cipa.jp/std/documents/e/DC-008-Translation-2016-E.pdf).

Many of the fields that were added in 2012 to version 2.3 and in 2016 to version 2.31 are fields related to sensitivity speed and sensitivity type.   Most notably, ISO is no longer the only way to measure sensitivity. While I doubt I will use anything else, this represents a bit of an evolution in the way that metadata capture on imaging devices is represented. The addition of fields such as PhotographicSensitivity, RecommendedExposureIndex and a new ISOSpeed field expand options for the level of detail that is recorded for film sensitivity, although the creators of ExIf intended such fields for describing electronic sensors and their gain ranges – funny how those parallels between digital and film are maintained after all this time. When I first read about those fields my first thought was a very quirky film called Ilford Delta 3200. This film is marketed (recommended, even encouraged in DX) to be ISO 3200.  The actual film speed is ISO 1000. The film is regularly shot anywhere from ISO 800 to ISO 6400 (some claim it can push to 12,800). Once I figure out what each of these fields does in practice (through reading them in a variety of applications) and maybe through reading ISO specification 12232 I will be better prepared to use these fields to accomplish my goals. Some of the new fields relate to details of the camera and lens configuration used – these I am already implementing as they are clearly defined.

I feel that I need to re-evaluate ExIf 35 because there are a lot of gaps in what it logs to files, what is collected from users and perhaps some difficulties with the way that it writes data in general. I have been away from the project for too long and have only added fields on occasion. The overall functionality of the application needs to be checked for compliance with modern standards as I implemented my ExIf writing in an experimental way, guessing at how things worked and then leaving things in place once they worked, which is perhaps not the best way to approach something as intricate as metadata. There are also fields that I have not tested in detail how they work, which may also introduce problems that cause some applications to not read the file accurately. The addition of new fields such as time zone offset present cases where the UI and the data storage (preferences and defaults) functions need to change to match the expectations of the standards. Adding the new ISO fields I mentioned before will require a change to the handling of recording ISO data, such as I will need new fields in the form to collect the data and will need to establish logic to ensure that all of the data is recorded accurately and consistently even with those fields are not filled out (very often I shoot and develop my standard film, HP5+, at its DX speed, so assuming the other values is fine).

The project, and its documentation, are long overdue to be refreshed. There are many areas I have patched in new fields or extended functionality without reworking the workflow or the ExIf encoding process.

Response to Ken Rockwell’s ‘Why We Love Film’

I have read Ken Rockwell’s reviews of lenses for years before buying them, and aside from his necessary self-promotion at the end of each review, I’ve found his site quite informative and helpful. Last evening I ran across his post entitled ‘Why We Love Film’ (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/why-we-love-film.htm) and found myself approaching the post as a dual-medium shooter (film + digital) and feeling the need to pick apart some of his biases.

Overall the content of the article is interesting and would be very informative to someone who has never shot film before, but for the truly religious digital shooter, it is offensive and off-putting. Mr. Rockwell directly insults those individuals, so if he was hoping to convert a few people or at least encourage experimentation I think he may be having the opposite effect. The article comes across as a bit nostalgic at the beginning, referencing his 1956 Kodak that ‘does not need batteries’. This does not seem relevant as newer Nikon film cameras will run for a year or more on two batteries. The low power consumption is not universal to film though, as the F5 requires 8 AA batteries. Sure you can just throw them out and replace them, but ultimately in this age we are more likely to put them in a charger and plug them into the wall at night! Its the same thing, just a different medium. Again, Mr. Rockwell seems attached to the nostalgia of a camera that does not require batteries, but yet I fear that even if Nikon’s next Pro D-SLR ran on solar power, he would still not be satisfied on this option. It is not the film medium that Mr. Rockwell is advocating for, but rather a much simpler era in photographic history.

An area where Mr. Rockwell and I are in complete agreement is the lack of an LCD being a very positive for a photographer’s focus. It is easier to think about the next shot when you aren’t reviewing and in too many cases its too easy to look at the display and doubt yourself.  I think this is more of an issue for amateur photographers and for complete nerds (who would NEVER consider film as a viable medium). I think experienced photographers get over this need to check themselves, especially sports photographers who DO realize that there is no time to waste with image review. Also, Nikon’s D-SLRs have a great option for this – IMAGE REVIEW: OFF.  As for Mr. Rockwell’s safety jab, well, I don’t know what moron crosses the road looking at the screen of their SLR, but it seems today people are in much greater danger with crossing the street with cell phones.  In another article Mr. Rockwell mentions that since he was 10 years old he has been writing down the exposure settings of every frame. In his review of the F6 he mentions that this is taken care of by the camera itself and he can just download the data for storing with his frames, but wait, the Nikon F6 requires… BATTERIES! Mr. Rockwell seems off-put by computers and their ‘time wasting’ capabilities, but that feature of the F6 he loves so much does require a computer, whether you use a Nikon MV-1 adapter or a Meta35 USB device.

Mr. Rockwell addresses the color range of film. Yes, film range is natively awesome (assuming it is processed correctly and assuming your exposure was perfect), but the key problem with digital cameras is not their lack of range on the sensor, but instead the lack of range provided by the various compression formats. Shooting a Nikon D750 in RAW will give you a single file that is perfectly capable of expressing wide range, it just requires a little work to make it visible electronically (tone mapping primarily). What good is the range of film if the only way to share it with someone is in person? I suppose this calls back to what is the purpose of the medium in general. If photography is to be an intimate expression of lived moments with others who were there, then yes, this makes sense, but if the purpose of photography is to be archival and to be shared, then the limitations of range being expressed only in the original format is lacking in this goal.

One topic upon which I will not argue with Mr. Rockwell – film grain looks better than digital ‘grain’. Film in its multi-layered emulsion is an organic creation, there is no set pattern of how the grain falls. Film images are cleaner and feel less hazy because they don’t have an unnatural grain as a result of sensor noise. I think eventually digital technology will get there, especially with the improvements in high ISO performance, but will it ever meet the comforting feel of a film grain? I really don’t know.

Ironically,  despite my critique of Mr. Rockwell’s article, I decided to buy an F6 instead of an F5 because it requires less battery power and will keep details of my shots electronically, freeing me to focus more on the image.

Thesis: Outline for a Literature Review

My central question for my thesis still eludes me, but I have at least assembled an outline of the technical part of the literature review:

  • An Introduction to the Domain Naming System
    • Reference to initial RFCs
    • Classic gTLDs
    • 2003 Additional TLDs
  • The new gTLD Process
  • Price Differences Between new gTLDs and classic gTLDs
  • Price Differences Within the new gTLD Space
  • Distribution of gTLD Ownership
  • Dot Brand
    • Intellectual Property Defense vs. Corporate Use
    • No Dotless Domains
  • Community Representation for Specialized gTLDs
  • Stakeholders: Registrants and Consumers
  • New gTLDs with Similar or Related Strings
  • Change in Types of Internet Use Since 1985

There is still a lot to do, including pulling in sociology of culture materials and gradually fleshing out the sociology of the Internet stuff, but this at least puts me on track to begin writing about the topic and thinking about it sociologically.

Identity-based Ethics in Culture/Subculture Boundaries

Ethics, no mater how grounded in some mythical “virtue”, are culturally agreed upon. Call it a social contract if you like or just “common sense”, but either way, ethics are at their root an agreement. Some ethical agreements exist in a culture and all derivative sub-cultures. In Western culture this may be represented through norms regarding murder and suicide. Human life (because Western culture is a human-supremacist club) is considered to have some special intrinsic value, no mater how poorly lived the life or how much harm preserving the life could cause. Subcultures have variations in what is valued and what is considered ethical.

How do the ethical variations between a subculture and its parent culture interact? Is there a specific boundary-space where there is room for some form of mutual respect for ethical differences? Are the ethical desires of the parent culture to be imposed on the subculture despite their different values? Under what circumstances does a subculture gain enough legitimacy to have its ethical code respected? Is the cultural legitimacy of a subculture a requirement?

Beyond these questions of the interaction between culture and subculture I wonder about what creates a cultural authority that will permit the enforcement of an ethical code? Is it just a general agreement? If majority wins for the agreement, where does that leave the minority?

PHIL 6320: 220-507-1-PB

To summarize succinctly Shaviro’s argument in this week’s reading: Modern digital video is different from historical analog cinematography.

This analysis might be an over-simplification of the argument, but at a basic level it holds. The issue is what that difference means for the ability of video (general term to catch “film”, cinema and related time-spanning visual media) to be an accurate representation of the artist’s intent. There seems to also be a struggle between the agency of the subject and the liberty of the artist to “create” with the image of the subject.  The move to digital manipulation gives the artist god-like power to do whatever it can imagine with the image of the subject (and at a symbolic level, to the subject itself).

The Grace Jones video displays a subject in flux, almost fluid in lack of conformance to a single state. No context is given to suggest whether the subject consented to the fluid state or if the fluid state is an adaption to some type of need (or force) to conform. The images could be read as calm transition between states, escaping a monolithic form, to seek a fluid existence between concrete spaces or as a subject forced to be fluid and unable to retain a desired or true form. Through the use of digital manipulation like is used in this video, it is impossible to determine as the form is so distorted that the image is helpless to represent itself in any way resembling a full embodiment. It is as though the body/subject is a puppet being pulled with digital strings wherever it is directed. At first I wanted to construct the fluidity of the form to something resembling the queer idea of fluidity, but it is unclear as to the willingness of the form to accept the various distortions that are placed upon it. How can the agency of the body be determined? Shaviro implies that it is a willful dissociation from identity, but I do not feel compelled to agree so easily. If the video was recorded in one form and the changed to something else, then at what point is the consent of the body considered?

I have a lot of questions, but not many answers.

 

Shaviro, Steven. Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales.

PHIL 6320: Interactions Between Paraphilic Sexual Identity and The Gender Binary

Potential Paper Topic: Interactions Between Paraphilic Sexual Identity and The Gender Binary

 

The social construction of gender is filled with symbols. Some symbols are performative and some symbols are material. Paraphilic sexuality emphasizes the use of gendered symbols and makes them central to sexuality. Normative repetitions of sexuality utilize the biological manifestations of sex as their link to gender. Paraphilia are less centered on genitalia despite engaging gender more strongly at the social level.

I propose to construct an academic paper, resembling a sociological literature review, which will overview the current literature regarding the use of gendered symbols in paraphilic sexualities and analyze that literature with methods consistent with feminist theory. My primary theoretical tools for this will be Butler’s performativity and Burke and Stets’ social identity theory. I will also consider the potential applications of queer theory for deconstructing the sexual discourse of paraphilia. One such exercise will utilize Lugone’s “world traveling” perspective with a wider scope, to allow “gender traveling”.

One area of interest I would like to give specific attention to is the difference between “traveling” in different intensities of the gender to which one identifies compared with trying on a gender identity at the opposite end of the spectrum. My initial reaction to this particular area is that the restriction on such an exploration of gender is inhibited only by social norms.

PHIL 6320: Identity Augmentation and Deviation in Performance of Gender

Potential Paper Topic: Identity Augmentation and Deviation in Performance of Gender

 

Gender performance is dictated through social norms and expectations. Judith Butler calls this enacting of a specified gender role “performativity”. Various social science perspectives on deviations from the gender binary predict that non-conforming identities will be disciplined and either corrected or rendered as stigmatized. Research and theoretical efforts tend to support this conclusion for outward identity deviations. There is minimal research regarding a deviation between a person’s accepted gender identity and their perception of the quality of their performance of that identity, except in cases of ego-dystonia.

Are there behaviors that are linked to gender that are performed to correct, augment or strengthen a person’s internalized gender identity that are not linked to an external assessment of gender identity? In terms of the gender binary, for this type of behavior to exist, masculinity would have to be constructed as a more vulnerable identity than only “relentless repudiation of femininity “ (Levine 13). Theorizing this type of behavior problematizes concepts of a purely social gender identity, however, it does not necessarily advocate for gender as an essence either.

One site of behaviors that can augment the gender identity or potentially change the meaning of the identity is power-exchange relationships. Such relationships often exhibit roles that are contrary to standard gender norms, but yet do not encourage acceptance of alternative gender roles. What is the impact to the internalized identity of the participants in these types of relationships?

Thinking about feminist theory paper topics again

I am very much not satisfied with the paper topics I considered last week. They just aren’t me. I could write them, but that’s not who I am academically. While I still don’t feel comfortable being my usual deviant self, I am just going to have to push through that and be myself.

I have been thinking about the topics for a little while and I do have a few topics I feel I could work with.

  1. Stresses of Gender Performance (or the Stresses of Gender Policing) – basically considering the methods through which men have to control their outward identity. While identity may be fluid in gender-variant and sexually open settings, there is a lot of stress on men who are not in those situations. There is a constant risk of not being masculine enough given the context, always that risk of the anti-masculine shaming. Do men take certain actions do reinforce their own feeling of masculinity? What about gay men who embrace their identity in sadomasochistic settings? Do they use pain (maso.) and control (sado.) to reinforce their gender?
  2. Role of sexual subcultures on the identity of their participants – My perspective on sexual subcultures is that their seem to have an “always-on” libido or at least identity inside the culture. Is this really the case? Is the in-group identity only performed so that the emotional resources of the community are always available to them or is the subcultural identity a component of their primary identity?
  3. What happens when you integrate sociology’s identity theory (or affect control theory) with Butler’s performativity?