Sunday, September 30, 2007


I haven't watched the 49ers for a while, but I did some today. The team has changed. Here's their current thinking.

1. It is extremely rude to put pressure on the opposing quarterback. A gentleman gives them all the time in the pocket that they need.
2. The fans want an exciting game. Fans find fumbles to be very exciting. Make the fans happy.
3. Gold lamé pants - again, makes San Francisco fans happy, but maybe assless chaps next season.
4. Only showoffs score points.
5. Or advance the ball in any way, shape, or form.

Interesting approach.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cyanotype over Platinum Report 3: Shrinkage

I mentioned last time that I soaked some paper in water and dried it out. I checked it today and sure enough it's about 4 mm shorter in the 10-inch direction (1.5%), and unchanged in the 8 inch direction (it's not unusual to have it happen one way and not the other, or different amounts). You can imagine that if the two negatives are off by that much that you would get problems. The real question is after making a print, how much more will it shrink? And then if it's enough to care about, which of the several approaches will I take to fix it? We'll just have to see how it goes.

Likewise, I suspect that the soaked paper might take up more fluid and I'll need to do calibration curves, but there's not a lot of point until I make one image and get at least some idea of how it looks. The cyanotype layer often overwhelms the platinum layer, and people print it with less exposure time. I won't know until I try. And if I change the exposure time I have to recalibrate again. So to some extent I'm doing a few things that I know I'll have to fine tune later, just so I can get to the end. It's going to be a bit iterative.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Post Shoot Notes: Mihoko

Yes, I'm still playing around with the gels.

Cyanotype over Platinum Report 2

What you're looking at is the image from report 1 converted into a duotone. A duotone is made up of only two colors - in this case black and blue. The sky isn't blue because I took a color image and it sucked out the blue, it's blue because when mixing the colors I shoved the curve of the blue channel around until it looked good.

Once you have the two channels you can play around with them until it looks good - you could darken or lighten different areas, as an example. If I didn't want the grass to be faintly blue I could have erased the cyanotype layer in that area. But for now, let's just keep it simple.

I then broke apart the two channels and printed a negative for each using my usual methods.

Now, there's a zillion ways to do this, but this made sense to me for something to get started. I can compare my final image to what we see here and see if there's any resemblance at all. If so, that's a pretty easy way to do this. If not, I can try another method entirely.

I'm soaking three sheets of paper now (see the last entry) and have printed the negatives. The idea is that Monday/Tuesday when I get time to actually start making prints I'll have the stuff I need already. Platinum layer first, and then a day or two later cyanotype. I want to make sure I have two good platinum prints to start just in case a cyanotype goes poorly I have another shot. I'll report back on this when I have a platinum layer down.

Update: I saw a forum post from Denise Ross today saying she prints the first layer, then just measures it and prints the second negative to fit! I'm going to proceed as planned, but if I get to the cyanotype stage and the negative's clearly off I'll use this as plan B.

Cyanotype over Platinum Report 1

OK, so I'm going to try to make some cyanotype over platinum images, and I thought I might as well document what it's like figuring out something like this.

This is one of these processes that people mention fairly regularly but usually not in a lot of detail. So I know it should basically work, but the details are all a question of trying things. I do know some issues that are likely to be an issue.

The first is registration. Lining up the images. Gum printers worry about this all the time, but it's new for me. I have a little frame around the image that I'm hoping will be easy to line up. Another issue is that when you let paper soak for an hour and then dry, it doesn't necessarily come to the same size so I'll have to pre-soak and dry some paper to get a consistent starting point.

The pre-soaked paper might be an issue - I'm not sure how well it will absorb the fluid (too much? too little?). There are ways of adding a gelatin layer back into the paper but I'll only deal with that if I have to. I may just have to recalibrate on pre-soaked paper.

The last rather obvious issue is that I have to make a pair of negatives that result in a nice final image. I'll get to that in my next entry, but I decided to start with the image here. I think the crisp lines of the lighthouse will show registration failures and it's kind of obvious when making the negative that you might want to have some extra blue in the sky area.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Everybody Likes Candy!

I just uploaded the outdoor set with Candy.

In totally unrelated news, I ended up sticking a bunch of cyanotypes and platinum prints in the eBay store. I'm actually caught up now - everything I have that's already made is up there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New TV season

So this week the DVR's gone from saying "no, no new TV, why do you ask?" to "Look what I found! Oh, and please add another hard drive!" This means that the networks have decided that the weather's getting crappy and folks would rather stay home and watch TV than do something elsewhere.

Similarly, this is the beginning of what amounts to shoulder season for me - summer's slow, there's about a six week magic season starting around December 20th where people want to get something for themselves already and they spend like crazy, and everything else is sort of in between.

The new shows have included Chuck, which consists of two nerds and a really hot blond, and The Big Bang Theory which consists of two nerds and a really hot blond. In Chuck the blond spends rather a lot of time in her underwear for no obvious reason. In The Big Bang Theory the nerds spend a lot of time in their underwear for no obvious reason. Interesting difference in strategy. Oh, and Beauty and the Geek which consists of a wide variety of hot women and nerds and a girl geek and a male model type just to confuse everybody.

In any case, mixing nerds and babes is clearly the fashion this season. I guess I'm going to have to start getting in the photos!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Alternative Process Page updated!

Whew! The Alternative Process page now is fully made up of recent prints. I decided after the APIS conference in July that after I went through this laundry list of possible print improvements that I would redo everything on that page with current prints. Many of the images up there were a year old and obviously I've learned a trick or two in the last year.

Anyway, it's been a big job since I had to go through and recalibrate every single process I do and then make some prints.

The image here is a tea toned cyanotype. It was mostly tones much lighter than the border, so I bleached it until there was just a hint of blue in her hair and the shadows under her legs, and then put it in tea for a couple of hours. Came out nice if I do say so myself.

I'm focusing on other things this week, but next week I'll try some preliminary cyanotype/platinum combination prints. That's going to be a drawn out process, but each time I have cyanotype or platinum printing stuff set up I'll make a couple of prints to sell, so it should be a good compromise between moving forward and actually making stuff I can sell.

Oh, and don't forget - cyanotype prices go up 50% October 1st, so if you want any made now's the time!

Alien Bee plug

There's lots of studio lights out there - I just want to give a plug for Alien Bees. Over the course of 2007 I've actually been moving up a notch from AB to their sister company, White Lightning and from 2 lights to 4 lights. This has been happening gradually as money comes in and has been pretty painless since they take the same accessories.

But not only are ABs pretty decent lights, and the only good ones in their price range, but the resale is great. The bulbs are rated for 250K flashes, and they're much tougher than they look. The lowest power AB400 runs $225 - with shipping to CA $235. Used ones sell on eBay for $190 plus shipping (which is often around $20). I just sold my three year old AB400 for $180 - a bit lower than I would have gotten on eBay, but no fees and I didn't have to deal with shipping it. The buyer was happy - he got to plug it in and play around with it a bit before handing over the cash.

So the upshot is that I got to use this light for three years for $55. If you include the $13 padded case that I included that's $68. For three years. So for $22/year you get a quite functional studio light, even if it's not quite as flashy as the $2,000 per light models.

The only better deal out there is buying a used one, since it shouldn't really depreciate any further so it's basically free...

Update: No good deed goes unpunished - not too long after posting this, I had a really miserable customer experience with the company.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rodinal Candy

Here's Candy. I just shot one roll with her so I could test developing in Rodinal. It's an old fashioned developer, has some advantages and disadvantages. I'm not sure how different it looks with a web sized scan, but the original looks really nice.

For the film crowd: Tri-X, 50:1, 13 minutes, one inversion every minute past the first 30 seconds of constant inversion.

Next time I have a model around I'll shoot some of the Ilford Delta 400 and try it in the Rodinal - I have a "recipe" from a friend that basically involves a 100 minutes long soak in the developer without touching it. Should be interesting.

I started a new folder for TLR pictures if you want to see a couple more. I'll try to get the digial ones processed by the end of the week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Natalie pictures

I just uploaded the set with Natalie. Got them finished up a bit earlier than expected because I've been tea toning for over three hours and basically I just need to check the trays every 20 minutes or so. I like the results but it's a real snoozer of a process...

Next I get to do Candy's set - not really sure how long that will take. This upcoming week has the potential to be very busy with other things but a lot of it is tentative.

Portraits and Workshops

If you start reading about the history of photography and who all the different players were, one thing that jumps out at you is just how many of the "old masters" made their living doing portrait work. Shouldn't be a big surprise - that was always the case for painters, and today it's more like a mix of portraits and workshops.

At some point I started getting people asking me if I did portrait work. And after some thought there wasn't any real reason not to - it's mostly a matter of pricing it correctly. The problem is that any time you're doing a portrait shoot, you're not doing a model shoot or making prints or any of the other things you could be doing.

The nice thing about portrait work is it pays up front, and a model shoot can take a while to make back whatever costs went into the shoot, let alone pay for your time. But it's never going to have the potential earnings one really great shot will have if you can sell lots of copies of it.

Anyway, I put up a really basic portrait website and I get about as much business as I really want - I'm not really set up for a constant stream of folks, but it's good to have some extra income and since it seems to pick up in months when print sales are slow part of the year it's very welcome indeed.

So what about workshops? I'm getting folks asking about workshops. Typically platinum printing and studio lighting. Platinum printing I can do on basically a one on one basis if somebody doesn't mind spending an awful lot of time hanging out in my bathroom. Anything involving a model gets complex - she'll need to be paid, and what if she flakes? So then you get two models just in case, and then it's expensive, so you need a couple of photographers, and then my space isn't big enough and I have to rent a studio, and before you know it, there's 12 photographers, 4 models, and a full studio. Which is really a more involved project than I want to get involved with frankly.

There's probably some special case - somebody brings their wife or girlfriend and wants to learn to shoot her and how studio gear works - but generally speaking I see it getting very complicated very fast. There doesn't seem to be a way to scale it up gently, and I have too much other stuff going on to do the "jump in the deep end" methods. It's a quandry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast, me hearties!

Even though it's talk like a pirate day, I've run the text of this entry through a pirate-to-English translator so it should come out OK.

Just an odds and ends post - first off, I have some new IR stuff down at the end of the Mamiya TLR page. The picture over to the side there is one of them - you might want to click on it to see it larger. I might add some pictures of Candy there in the next day or two that I took with the TLR, but I'm planning on developing them in Rodinal which is new for me so no promises.

I made pairs of cyanotypes today - one to leave as is, one to tea tone and I hope to do the tea toning in a day or two as well. I like the results but the ammonia's pretty stinky so that's no fun. I managed to step on my puddle pusher (glass tube I use to coat paper with light sensitive chemicals) in bare feet. I actually didn't get cut thankfully but I do seem to destroy one of these about every six months. Luckily I can always use a brush or one of a batch of handmade puddle pushers I made a while back.

I got in some books and have all three listed again on eBay. Last time I did that the older two books were sold out in four days, but I'm guessing that was something of a fluke so it's not like I bought a ton of them. We'll see.

I think that about covers it - I got a lot done with Natalie's pictures while I was doing cyanotype stuff and should have that finished up tomorrow or the next day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Now that's just odd

I actually had a model show up for a shoot - I picked her up at the local public transport hub, and we never even made it to the studio. I made some comment about when we'd be done and she said she had another shoot that afternoon. I think she realized she wasn't going to make it to the next one, and basically started to make crazy demands - basically wanting more money and money up front (so she could run out if I had to leave the room?). I ended up dropping her right back at the station.

There was a taxi driver who was already looking at us like I was picking up a hooker - I had to kind of flag her down at the station and it was clear we hadn't met - and I dropped her off right in front of the same guy. Lord knows what he thought.

Sucks to set up the studio stuff and tear it right back down again but I think I'm really glad not to have worked with this induhvidual. But if I were renting a studio I'd be really upset since I'd be out a fair amount of money.

The good news is that means I'll probably be able to finish editing one of the sets in my backlog by the end of the week - I'll shoot for Friday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Self Portrait

I actually take little self portraits of myself all the time - shadows, reflection in a bird's eye, that sort of thing. I was wearing a hat if that's not obvious.

One interesting thing about our shoot was that we kept running into police. Not in a bad way - entering one park a couple of them were just leaving and we said hello, and entering another park we saw a police car and an unmarked car off to one side and decided we'd shoot on the other side of the park to start.

I've actually never been hassled while shooting nudes outdoors, by the police or anybody else. But I try to keep out of people's way and I don't spend too much time in any one place. Sort of a combination of common courtesy and paranoia that seems to work pretty well.

Post Shoot Notes: Candy

Well, Candy was in town again and I was fortunate enough to drag her around the bay for a couple of hours. She was wonderful, as always.

I'm now officially behind on my editing, since I'm still working on Natalie's set, but I'll get to these when I can.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Folding Camera Postscript

Hey, it works. Click the picture to see it larger.

Anyway, the result of the tests is basically that you really want to be biased towards having lots of depth of field even if you have to make some other tradeoffs. It's just too hard to keep things in focus otherwise, although I'm sure a little practice will help with that. (Update: It also helps to realize that just because the .pdf manual you're reading refers to feet everywhere doesn't mean that your lens isn't metric, whoops.)

If I do another studio shoot with the folder (and there's no real reason to, its benefits lie in portability and general coolness) I'll measure the actual distance to the model with a tape measure. But mostly I see it as a fun camera while hiking and if I go to any photographer get-togethers where people are whipping out their latest gizmo the best way to deal with that is sometimes to go totally retro. :-)

Anyway, if you want a not-too-expensive medium format camera you can stick in your pocket that actually has decent optics and control over settings and so forth (i.e. not a Holga) Jurgen is your guy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Extra Lights

Well, my new White Lightning 1600 arrived today, which puts me at one 1600, two 800's, and two Alien Bees - an 800 and a 400. This is one more light than makes any sense at all, and I want to sell the AB400 (and possibly the 800, but only if somebody wants both because then I'll be well on my way to getting my final fourth light - another WL1600). They get excellent prices on eBay but I'd rather not ship them just because they're heavy and have glass bulbs and so forth and I don't have the original box anymore.

So if somebody wants to do a cash deal in the San Francisco Bay Area, drop me a note. I'll probably list the AB400 on eBay October 1st if nothing happens.

The AB400 is black and is in great shape. The AB800 is green and has a bit of a loud fan and a bit of a loose sync connector (expect to jiggle it once per shoot if it doesn't fire). I have the optional padded cases for both units. $180 for the AB400 or $400 for both. Those prices are for local deals only - the average right now on eBay is running higher, and if I have to ship them, we're talking plan B.

Update: I sold the AB400 locally. I still have the AB800. If somebody wants it, contact me, I'll sell it for $220. I probably won't bother to list it anywhere else for sale for a while, and might keep it as a travel light or something (beach shoot!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Back to the Tri-X on this shoot.

Post Shoot Notes: Natalie

Here's Natalie - this is just a couple of frames into the shoot, as usual I haven't really looked at them yet.

Did some more playing with gels (there's a pink and a blue light hitting a grey background here) and took a roll with my 1950s folding camera and with my new back for the RB67. I'm not sure what I'll do with the folding camera shots - they're square, so either I need to create a new folder for them or I need to rename the Mamiya TLR folder to "square medium format from anything that's not a Holga" since the original point of separating those out by camera was just to keep the Holga shots on their own. (The RB 67 shots will just get mixed in with the digital ones since I crop both to 8x10).

The film's developed but still drying so I know they came out OK (whew!) but can't share them yet. But at first glance they look fine - the folding camera's viewfinder's maybe a little off but that's not exactly unexpected (on reflection at least some of this is due to parallax - since the viewfinder is well above the lens). Focusing is a bit of guesswork with that kind of camera, but at least some of them seem sharp. We'll see!

Update: Well, the sharpness isn't that great. I think it's due to focusing issues - I'll do a roll of scenic stuff to make sure that's the issue before proceeding with another model.

Infrared results

Huh, it works. Go to this picture and hit next a couple of times. The first two are in the morning when it's overcast, the second two are pretty much at noon after things have burnt off.

Leaves pretty much look white - broad leaves more so than narrow leaves. Grass is very white. The sky is quite dark when it's not overcast. Some stuff like the metal statue and the concrete ground pretty much look like normal.

This is with Ilford SFX 200 film, with a Hoya R72 filter on a Mamiya TLR. So the filter's just over the taking lens, and you just look through the other lens as normal. This is nice because an R72 filter is so dense you can't really see much through it at all, and on an SLR you have to keep taking it on and off. In this case two lenses are definitely better than one.

It just develops like normal film - 20% or so longer than Tri-X but that's no big deal. It's rated for ISO 200 but by the time the filter's done its job I rated it for ISO 12 and all the exposures were fine. It's a very near-IR film - 720-740nm or so. Some of the other films go out further but they have various problems (like you can't change film if there's any/much light around).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I have something of an interest in charities with a narrow focus. They pick something well defined and go with it. This is as opposed to the big fluffy groups that have kind of lost their way but they have a lot of supporters and money and they need to find something to do with it so they have an ever increasing "mission". So for an example I tend to be more supportive of groups that are pro microloans or pro wetlands conservation but don't tend to trust groups whose mission is just some vague idea that they're pro-environment or pro-developing countries. (Or whatever, those are just the examples that came to mind)

Well, in 1980 after the Iranian hostage rescue debacle in which nine special ops folks were killed or incapacitated somebody noticed that 17 children were left behind. Special Operations folks get killed at a very high rate, often fairly young, so we're talking about 2-3 year olds typically. And these guys got together and said OK, let's just make sure they can go to college. Nice, well defined goal. Even though these guys die at 15 times the rate of regular combat troops there's not that many of them so it's an achievable goal. They do a lot of helping the kids get grants and anything that they can't cover that way they just pay.

Six years ago today their mission changed slightly. Not so much in terms of goals, but numbers. As you might imagine we've lost a lot of these guys, and they've left behind a lot of kids. To give you some idea of the numbers - they've had 113 graduates over their 27 year history, but they have 120 students in college now, and 500 in the pipeline. Now, since a lot of these kids are younger they have time to save before they become college aged - but can you imagine being responsible for sending 620 kids to college when you were thinking you would have to just do a few a year?

Anyway, they've been on a massive fundraising push for six years now and it doesn't seem like the problem's going to get easier any time soon. Whatever your politics, if you think this whole thing is misguided or not, these kids pretty much got screwed and could use some help. Check out the guys that help them. Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Model: Angela

Well, here's the set with Angela. Still not happy with the way my web page generator deals with the red/blue shots - I may have to go in and substitute in versions that have been done more by hand.

I received some camera goodies today - new back for the RB67 (much nicer than what I had), Hoya R72 filter for the TLR... and some infrared film to go with it. That's more of a landscape thing but I'll try that out this week hopefully. And most exciting - an Agfa Isolette II from Jurgen Kreckel. If you look at the top shot on this page of his website that's pretty much what I got. I did a quick test to make sure the flash sync is OK (it is as best I can tell) so I'll probably take a roll next model shoot just for fun. 6x6cm negatives and it fits in your pocket. It's 50ish years old but cleaned out and various things replaced to make it a user. I'll talk about this camera more and photograph mine once I've run a couple of rolls through it, but first impression is very positive and Jurgern shipped it out super fast - very nice!

Vandyke Prints

I'm doing Vandykes this week - test charts early in the week, at least a couple of prints later in the week so I can update the alternative process page. You'll see those and the tea toned cyanotypes are the only ones without the current masking scheme (allowing for a good place to put the signature and easy matting). It's funny - I can already tell it's going to go better than in the past. The Vandyke process has always been a bit random for me and I think a lot of that has to do with humidity, not being totally consistent about drying prints, that sort of thing. I also have a nicer technique in terms of how I do the rinsing and so forth. I'd often get some pretty nice prints but if I made two from the same negative the variation was much higher than any other process, and so far at least this doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Fingers crossed!

After that I need to make a bunch of cyanotypes and I'll tea tone a couple of them. It pretty much takes all day and it's stinky so I don't do it very often, but it is interesting to do now and again. At that point everything on that page will be updated and I'll have prints to list for a while which is nice.

At that the next thing to attack is cyanotype over platinum. They're really pretty when they work well but it introduces all kinds of new issues. Basically you're taking an image, separating out two negatives and printing one as cyanotype and one as platinum right on top of each other. There's all kinds of schemes in terms of the details, but that's the idea. They have kind of a silver-blue look that's very cool. But it also introduces lots of issues I usually don't have to worry about, like registering one print on top of another (which is extra tricky if the paper doesn't return to the same size after it's set). If I can get it to work expect these to be expensive - it's kind of like buying one of each kind of print, except that the keeper rate's going to be much lower, especially at first, so it's probably going to cost as much as, say, two platinum prints. But if the initial results are really bad I'll probably focus on something else for a bit - there's several directions I could go and sometimes with this stuff it makes sense to go work on another problem/process for a bit and then come back.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Running low on books

Well, I'm basically out of books again - you can picked up a signed copy of Shadows still or get any of them unsigned from Lulu. More are on order, but I use the cheap, cheap media mail to save money. I make almost no money off of the books so I have to be a bit careful about that sort of thing - they're fun though, and people give them as gifts which creates more print customers, etc. etc. And since I already have the shots ready they're very little work to put together.

The picture is of Angela - no real reason, I just think the blog looks less dry with some pictures.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Angela On Film

Ilford Delta 400 again. It's a nice film, bit smoother look than Tri-X and I gather it pushes really well. I'll probably keep both around but I think Tri-X is still my favorite.

Angela Again

Today's shoot had to reschedule so no samples from her today. Here's another one of Angela, still being very patient while I play with gels. You'll need to click on it to make it look like anything - Blogger gets very confused when it resizes this kind of image.

The model that rescheduled was a textbook example of how to do it - let me know as soon as she could (which was later than ideal but before I set up any studio stuff), was apologetic, had a reasonable excuse (no my grandmother died AND my car was stolen), was clearly willing to give it a shot if I really couldn't reschedule, but it was clearly better for her to bump it out a couple of days so we came up with a new date on the spot. Which we could do because she had her day planner handy. Easy!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Post Shoot Notes: Angela

Here's the appropriately named Angela. As you can see I'm still screwing around with gels. This is actually four lights - all four with honeycomb grids, all four behind the model, two to either side. One on each side is pointing at the model, and one on each side at the background. There's a red gel taped to the front of one background light and a blue gel taped to the front of the other.

You have to fiddle with angles and ratios and stuff to have it look like anything but it's kind of fun. I have some that are brighter and some that are more pastel and some with the usual dark background.

I probably won't even look at these until next week, but if I get the film developed soon I might post another teaser shot. I would normally just get it done right now but I stubbed my toe and not that it's physically demanding to process film but I'm not in the mood.

New Model: Anna

Here's the set with Anna. As you can see, it was an opportuntity to play with gels a bit as well as the new film camera - the film shots are just mingled in with the digital.

I got these done earlier than expected largely because yesterday's shoot didn't happen - today's model has called to confirm (and has a lovely voice!) so barring something really unfortunate I should have some same shots up later today. Either that or a story!

(All I'm going to say about yesterday's shoot is that when a model reschedules because she just got a Burning Man ticket experience shows that either she'll forget about the rescheduled shoot when she gets back, or she'll be sunburned, scraped up, or have a STD or two to deal with. Not that I have anything against Burning Man as a general thing, but one does detect a pattern after a while.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alternative Process Price Increases

If you don't know what these prints are, look at the alternative process page.

I'm giving folks fair warning, there will be some changes October 1st.

Cyanotypes will go from $50 to $75. That's both here and on eBay. eBay auction starting prices will go from $35 to $50. (You pretty much have to list some items cheaper at auction to get any traffic). As I mention periodically, the pricing on the alt process prints has been artificially low as I learned the processes, and basically by the end of 2008 I expect them to be at something resembling market rate.

I will also be eliminating the smaller size of platinum print at that time - they're not that popular, and while the material costs are lower the labor's the same as the larger size and it doesn't really make sense to continue them.

I should also warn - it's possible some bright collectors will realize that it's not often you know there's a 50% increase in price in something. If it were a stock you'd back up the truck, right? So if I get backed up on making these so be it, but you'll still have your price locked in and I'll get caught up as soon as I can.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Some updates

That's Anna over to the left. She's impersonating Nixon jumping - long story, Google it and you'll get some idea. I'm still working on her set - I'm aiming for a Friday release but it really depends on my schedule this week. I have three shoots scheduled but my confidence that they'll all happen is quite low. But in any case I should have either a new set and/or some post shoot notes with pictures by the end of the week.

I'm to the point with some recalibrations with the alternative process photography where I can see the end of my task list. This week I need to photograph a couple of prints so I can add a section on odd paper types (papyrus, kozo) and update the traditional platinum pictures which are quite old and the masked/unmasked pictures which are quite old. I'm hoping to recalibrate Vandyke next week and print a couple, and then it should be in good shape.

Since I sold that camera gear I put in an order for my third White Lightning light - I'd like to be at four eventually. I have two Alien Bee strobes (they're actually from the same company)
- an AB400 and AB800 which I should sell to subsidize that fourth White Lightning unit but frankly I don't want to ship them and every time somebody local is interested in buying them it falls through somehow. I'll probably stick a formal offer here once the new WL unit is here and I've verified it's OK, give it a week, and if nobody wants them I'll stick 'em on eBay and be done with it.

That picture of Anna's taken with three lights, incidentally. An awful lot of stuff I do uses only one or two but it's nice to have some extra options.

Monday, September 03, 2007

eBay Lesson - watchers

I mention bits and pieces of eBay strategy occasionally as they occur to me - here's another thing that often confuses new sellers.

Today's lesson: The number of watchers is useless.

That is to say, in some views eBay will show your items along with the people watching them. As an example, a typical shot of mine accumulates a couple of watchers by the time they end. The assumption new sellers have is that these are people who want to be reminded of the item so they can bid at the last minute. This might be true, but a lot of folks now use sniping services, or they might have some other interest. They might just be curious as to if it's going to sell. Might be a competitor in fact - "hmm, he's listing something weird, I wonder if it will sell and for how much."

It's really bad for items that are basically commodities. As an example, if I want to buy a lens or something, I might look at completed items, but I'll also watch any of them that were particularly interesting. And then at some later point I'll see what they all went for. With some kinds of collectables it's very useful to just watch what things go for without bidding for a few weeks until you get the hang of it. But I'll also do that if I'm selling an item - if I'm thinking of selling some used camera gear, I want to know if it's worth the trouble, see what promotes good prices (do lots of pictures help or hurt?), that sort of thing. And part of how that works is to watch a couple of very good listings and very bad listings and see what the price spread ends up being.

As of now my pictures up for auction have 0-3 watchers (not including a featured item which has 11), the 28-135 lens which has been bid up to $177.50 has 20 watchers, and the Canon 10D which has been bid up to $203 has 57 watchers. Somehow I don't think 57 folks will appear out of the woodwork to bid on this camera, but we'll see!

Update: The camera ended up with over 60 watchers, both went for $325ish. The lens ended up with 37 bids!
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