November 24, 2009

Welcome to the trailer park...

Below is a trailer for my short documentary film, The Digital Dilemma, which posed concerns about the archivability (or inarchivability) of digital for recording your family history.  The days of finding a box of pictures in grandma's attic are going to be over...

The Digital Dilemma, 60 second trailer from Dirk Fletcher on Vimeo.

Finally! (Winter Games pt. 2)

Here is one from the ‘Geez, everything takes longer then you think, file!'
I got both the Ansco Ready Flash 620 cameras and while very cool, they wouldn’t work for the project.  What was really appealing about them was the ability to use a flash to offset the limited (or actually no) aperture and shutter choices.  After getting the camera, cutting it apart, mounting it into the cannibalized Polaroid 250, I realized that the flash sync is set to close, or trip, very (very) early in the shutter cycle so the flash bulb would be in full burn when the shutter was fully opened.  When using it with an electronic flash, the flash fired before the shutter was even open.

Oh well, it looked promising and the cool retro styling was too good to be true.

I still have a Ready Flash 620 that hasn’t been cut apart, if you are interested, drop me a line, both are yours for the cost of Priority Mail!

So I was hoping for something with a little larger circle of coverage then the Holga, but at 11:30 in my basement shop/office/world headquarters, a surplus Holga was the only thing not making eye contact when I looked its way.  So a little time with the Dremel and bench grinder and I had the back focus measured and cut perfectly, 30 feet of black gaffers tape and its light tight (mostly) and ready for action!  The finishing touch was in the form of the Polaroid 95a’s super-cool flip up finder that sits atop the camera.

The shots below were not scanned but rather shot with a digital camera, while I was hoping for a little more pano-landscape-ie feel, the price was right and when inspiration strikes…. well, you know :)


November 16, 2009


The view from fellow ID Department Chairman balcony this past Friday evening!

November 8, 2009

The Bracketless Flash Bracket

I first made one of these little contraptions about 10 years ago for use on my Contax G2.  Not being an ‘everything bringer’ I’m always looking for ways to minimize my gear and for on-camera situations like events and PR work this is does the trick.

This latest version came about as I’ve finally bit the bullet and jumped out of the auto-flash world and into the modern smart flash era and traded in my 283’s and big honkin’ potato masher style Metz unit for a trio of 580exII’s.  I should credit both Will Crockett and Bob Davis for helping to push me over the edge as they had both put on some pretty compelling programs for our students that I had to give it a whirl.  After a good amount of testing I’m sold!

This gives you the ability to get the flash way above the lens (in your hand) for both verticals and horizontals if you want without toting a huge lighting rod like rig around a swanky cocktail party.  It also makes it possible to shoot with two cameras, this is a draw back for a majority of the commercially available brackets.

I tried numerous cold-shoes or accessory shoes before settling on the Stroboframe accessory shoe.  I initially wanted a finished product that wouldn’t need two hands to remount the flash on the camera but decided that the mount would remain more rigid over time if you weren’t pushing the flash into the shoe. 

You will also notice that I’m using the older style Canon Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2 cable, the newer one, touting being more waterproof (really…. really???) does not give you enough room inside the cover for the ¼ 20 screw needed to mount the shoe.  The Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2 also is perfect as the mounting screw you need fits perfectly through a piece of metal that then receives the screws that hold the top and bottom of together.  So you are ultimately mounting the shoe to metal and not plastic.  If you look very carefully you will see that I put a thin coat of black metal epoxy and used a shoe with an anti-twist pin to ensure that the shoe remains solid.  While you do need two hands to remount the flash atop the camera it’s a trade off that’s worth it, I’m amazed how solid the unit is.

If you wanna build one and I’ve confused you, drop me a line. 

Happy shooting!

Here is the shoe you need:

November 4, 2009

Winter Games pt. 1

With the days getting shorter, and especially with the demise of daylight saving time a couple days ago, I started looking around the basement for a winter project.   

For a fleeting moment, I thought about building a 4x10 camera, even found a couple holders at a great price on Glenn Evans website ( which is an absolute playground for anyone wanting to build, shoot or have anything to do with unique and high-end large and medium format equipment. 

So, I decided against such a large undertaking and opted for a project that would get me shooting quicker, my ADD was side taking over last night.

Something seems to happen to old Polaroid film that is a lot like rabbits, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on it, it multiplies…. don’t ask me how, but it does.  It never did it when it was in-date, expensive and actually useful, now that I think about it.  I have quite a collection of different kinds, even some Fuji stuff that had all been rendered useless by a histogram.

After diving into a drawer of prized possessions I surfaced with a classic Polaroid ‘Automatic 250’.  These are available on eBay for a few dollars; you usually pay more for shipping then the camera itself if you are patient and shop wisely.  After the wife and kids went to sleep I got to work with the dremel, drill press and pliers.  40 minutes later, nothing was left but a rather interesting looking 405 Polaroid back awaiting transformation into a one-off Holga-Roid style camera.

I’ve had students build HolgaRoids in this fashion, which works great, but I wanted to get a tad more image on the 3¼ by 4¼ inch Polaroid while still getting a strong vignette. A quick trip to eBay and twelve dollars later, not one, but two Ansco Ready Flash 620 cameras were in route. 

Next post: Grafting the two into one and some images.  

* here is the salvaged polaroid back and remnants of the camera alongside my personal Auto 250 that still gets use.