Thursday, December 12, 2019

Rocketeer Keyboard

I am not one for free buzz marketing on my own blog, but I was perusing through the Massdrop site (looking for keytops) and I found this keyboard that is intended to mimic the style of a Hermes Rocket. 

The keytops are double-shot plastic (yum) and it's a pretty nice looking thing. Just thought I would share.

Check out on the Massdrop website:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Happy Typewriter Day 2019!

As the sun sets on your day of celebration, raise up a typewriter to the memory of Christopher Latham Sholes. Be careful not to drop your typewriter. They are heavy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Classic Argus C3 Film Advance Mod

While it's not really a mod it's definitely a useful addition to this classic brick.

It's a classic.

It's also designed to be simple, reliable, and useful.

Not a single curve to be found.

I think it's a great camera, but the ergonomics of the film advance knob leave little to be desired. Winding the knob is not an easy thumb-only affair. That is, until I got on Tinkercad and made this little accessory.

I 3D printed this object and it was a terrible idea. Thick. Clunky. An overabundance of plastic. I went back to the drawing board. This was the result:

The design was better. It used less plastic, but it wasn't easy to use. The thumb-indentations were too shallow to operate with one hand. Back, again, to the drawing board.

I made the thumb-indentations deeper. Really, it's just a six-sided gear, but it works. I printed it and this is how it turned out:

The six depressions make turning the knob quite easy when the camera is up to your eye. You can quickly release the film advance button and turn the knob.

Here's a link to the STL if you want to 3D print your own. The process of making this little accessory made me think about the continuing possibility of a digital parts warehouse for typewriters. Need a key-cap? Print one!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cameras, Englargers, and Strobsy: An Analog Journey

If you have come this way because of a post on the Film Photography Project website, welcome. If you are here because you are looking for typewriter stuff, you are also in the right place. The typewriter stuff is a little deeper in this blog, but it is still here.

What can I say? Mike at the FFP has been a great help by providing the fledgling photography program with cameras and kind thoughts. He kindly let me ramble on about what I need to do to get this program going. A couple of folks have reached out to me after reading the post and made some very kind donation offers and I can tell you that I am blown away with the kindness of others.

If you want to follow along with my classes, you can visit the class site at The name is interesting, no? I had originally conceived of a series of tutorials designed to help yearbook students use off-camera flash, but I needed a new site and I had the domain. Maybe the tutorials will come in time.

Try as I might, I cannot live a purely digital life. To be sure, there are some really digital things in my daily experience, but I always come back to analog tools. There's some irony for you; I communicate this on one of the most self-conscious forms of digital navel-gazing ever devised. Blogs are the digital id. Or is that Twitter?

Richard Polt effectively describes my sentiment in the manifesto of the Typewriter Insurgency when he calls for an acknowledgement of the "real over representation/ the physical over the digital/ the durable over the the unsustainable."

I think the time for a Photographic Insurgency is in order. The digital image has devalued the photographic image. I know history. I know that photo editing has a long and unsavory past. I have seen the Stalinist palimpsest. However, there is some value and honor in a photograph of real things. Our species has become embroiled in Manichaean debates on truth and lies; reality versus imagination. Photos may not always tell the whole truth, but they tell 1/30 of a second of truth. Photography is the real over representation.

The most disheartening thing is that you can go online to YouTube and watch countless tutorials on how to use Photoshop to make your pictures look just like the pictures of other people. It's hollow and the pride of craftsmanship is as ephemeral as the digital files they create. However, the creation of a print in a darkroom from a negative you alone created is not just a photo; it's my photo. I created it and I have pride of creation of this thing. Photography is the physical over the digital.

A photographic print is a guaranteed (providing good fixing, rinsing, toning, and storage) century of life. Platinum prints will last longer. I have talked about the digital oubliette before and we are living in an age of garbage that will make up the geological strata of the far future. Planned obsolescence and the newest upgrade are the economic orthodoxy. Film photography breaks down the assumptions of modern convenience by saying longevity, value, significance, and meaning are important values. They should not be ignored.

Typewriters and photography are kindred spirits; both are tools of intimate creativity. The products of which add to the world through their permanence.

I've gone on too long, but welcome to Magic Margin.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I'm Going to the Type-In!

Changing Hands is having a Type-In on June 24th. It's being organized by a Changing Hand's employee who loves typewriters. I plan on going, so I'll see you there.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pinhole Mania

Earlier today I was stationed over the Trotec laser cutter in our technology lab supervising the cutting of a project for my photography students. In fact, it looks like this:

It's a pinhole camera and I am exceptionally proud of the design. It takes the form of two nested boxes. The inner box holds the film in place and carries the pinhole. If you've ever looked a Kodak Brownie it's of a similar idea. 

 The film size is 4 x 5 and I have used paper negatives and litho film with some success. If you were curious about the specifications here you go:

Focal length: 87mm
Pinhole diameter: 0.39mm
Angle of view: 86 degrees.

The process of developing this product--for that's what it really is--has been challenging. I needed to keep in mind that this would be a kit for high school students to put together. When coming up with the design based on the material I wanted to use (3mm Baltic birch plywood) I was drawn to the nested boxes. Nice to see Ilford via Walker Camera beat me to the punch. 

The process of assembly had to be streamlined considerably. Everything is easy enough to assemble with a rubber mallet and patience. Even the pinholes are printed in very thin sheets of black styrene. This is upgradable to better materials in the future.

Ultimately, the goal was to have a rugged pinhole camera that students can keep for a lifetime. The outcome definitely meets that goal.

P.S. I am trying to gauge interest in this kind of thing as a Kickstarter or something. I think I could get the price down to $15-20 plus shipping. Would that be of interest to anyone?

P.P.S. Here is a shot using the camera kit. This is the black polystyrene pinhole.