Photography Hack | Instamorph Camera Grip

A while back the rubber for the CF card door fell off of one of my D3 cameras. Replacements were either hard to find, bundled with other rubbers I didn’t need right now, or expensive. Instamorph seemed like a good solution worth trying.

Here is what the intact rubber looks like on the other, lower mileage, D3.
D3 CF door rubber intact

Here is the D3 with the rubber missing from the CF card door.
D3 CF door rubber missing

Instamorph to the rescue!

Simple enough 😉
Instamorph instructions

Ready to go.

I start off with one tablespoon.
instamorph hot water

Of course, the obligatory macro shot of it melting. It goes clear.
instamorph melting macro

While I wait the two minutes I am supposed to I clean the area to receive the product with my good ol’ buddy, Isopropyl alcohol.

I ended up using half of this amount. Once removed it is best to mold and dry and it off with a paper towel to push the water out from the little pockets it may form. Then you are ready to shape it onto the camera.
hot instamorph

Start by pushing it into the corners. Best done without holding a camera in the other hand.
molding instamorph into camera grip

So far so good.
molding instamorph onto camera

Here I hold the camera to let the plastic mold to the contours of my hand while under load with an attached lens. I figure this will make it as custom fit as possible.
instamorph hand contours

Here it is after curing.
instamorph cured camera grip

I like it so far. I will have to shoot with it for a whole day to really tell if it works as a replacement. Already I do feel it to be a tad too slippery. I may go at it with some rough sandpaper or maybe try to carve in some knurling. Were I do do this project again I think I would have covered the hot plastic with a textured cloth before doing the hand contour shaping as I believe that would have imprinted the texture onto the plastic at the same time. That might have improved the grip.

I also don’t expect it to hold to the camera for long; never did really. In fact I hope it does fall off so I can make another mold and see which I prefer before gluing one on for good. I will update this as things progress.


Update 1: After taking a mini-file to the surface it got a bit grippier. I shot an 8 hour event with it over the weekend and by the end I was really enjoying the fix. It takes a little getting used to. You can’t dig in your thumb and lever the camera around one handed any more without the rubber grip, so you have to rethink holding the camera. The mild instability with one handed operation makes you keep the second hand on the camera as much as possible; kinda like those choir chairs that you would slip right off of if you started to slouch or lean back. I think this will be of benefit to me though, since one handing the camera is hard on the thumb and wrists and something I shouldn’t do when working anyhow.

Cyanotype Printing

Yesterday I did some cyanotyping. A recent trip to see the purple martins roost at the old Highland Mall left me with some images that were just begging to be cyanotyped; high contrast stuff, silhouettes, and such. I also had some old negatives from past cyanotype printing that I wanted to print again.

I had a rough time getting going. As with previous times, I start out without enough exposure and take a while to settle in. All told I ended up with 8 keepers. I need to use test strips more :) I also realized the Canson 140lb paper that I am using is not the best suited for larger prints. Compared to some other types in my stash, it was flimsy when dry and very delicate during the washing process. I’ll be using it instead for watercolors or cutting it up into 5x7s for cyanotyping. It won’t fall apart so easily when cut to smaller sizes.

A couple of 5x7s
Purple martin cyanotype art austin

Purple martin cyanotype art austin

Some larger prints up to 11x15s. Forgive the warped edges from the not very flat drying. They haven’t been pressed yet.
Japanese Gardens in Tokyo
Japanese gardens in Tokyo Japan  Bamboo

gardens cyanotype art Japan

When printing, I always keep coming back to this one image of the Alamo I took a few years back. The contrast works so well with the light raking over the rough cut limestone. I remember standing there in the hot sun waiting for a second or two when the tourists would clear; the State Trooper guard watching me from under a shade oak with a wry grin on his face. I stood there for about 15 minutes and got 3 or 4 good frames during two clear moments of a couple seconds each. Two hours of stanchion-cloning-outing later and I had my image. Totally worth it.
Alamo Texas cyanotype print art San Antonio

And some more Martins. I plan on doing a post of the whole final photo essay soon.
Purple martin cyanotype art austin

Purple martin cyanotype art austin

Purple martin cyanotype art austin

The DIY VAL assistant’s light stick

DIY VAL light stick

Often while working at weddings I will rely on an assistant holding a light for me while moving around with me and the action. Gridded flash gives dramatic results allowing you to highlight single couples on the dance floor and control how much chiaroscuro occurs. The downside is that your assistant can’t hold a flash above their head for long, and taking a collapsed light stand on the floor is cumbersome and intrusive. A monopod would work, and well, but seems an expensive solution to the problem.

A simple light stick would be slick looking and functional, wouldn’t it?

Turns out these things practically build themselves!

parts to make DIY light on a stick

The extruded aluminum stock was purchased at the local hardware store; bought in a precut 3 ft length just perfect for the task. The other part is a manfrotto 013 double ended light stand stud/ spigot. We will just be using the 1/4 threaded end of it but the other end will serve to anchor the adapter to our aluminum rod. With some careful work, you could use less expensive spigot adapters, but this one makes it easy.

nice parts fit for DIY light on a stick

Serendipity! They fit almost snuggly, a little epoxy and paint and we will be good to go.

Voice activated light stand DIY light stick

After a few coats of self-etching primer and then some gloss black spray paint, things are looking rather professional.

A little Sculpey polymer clay makes a good end plug for the other side.

This is a super simple and fast project that, like I said earlier, practically builds itself. You should be done in a day of intermittent work. Total cost for parts should be under $15 if you buy right and use paint on hand.

Wedding Light Painting

Here is a single collaborative shot created by myself and Ben Godkin during one of his weddings. We used the RGB light wand along with a single 580EXII flash with a grid to light the bride and groom. The exposure was somewhere around 20 seconds at f/11’ish. The light wand is exceedingly bright which demands the extreme aperture.

rgb led light painting at a wedding with the bride and groom

Logic Stack

integrated circuit, IC, stack image on white, high key

Light Painting | RGB LED Wand First Run

Lately I have been working on a few arduino controlled light painting tools and recently took the first prototype out for a bit of painting in Austin.

A more detailed post about the wand will follow, but a bit of info for the curious. It consists of a 4 lead common cathode RGB LED strip controlled by an RBBB Arduino clone and “driven” with a uln2003 darlington array IC. 4 potentiometers make up a simple UI that controls the multiple mode selection, color and time values for the operational modes. This first version just had three modes programmed for this outing: solid color mixer, time controllable dashed color mixer, and time controllable rainbow fade. Runs on 12v.

light painting Austin Butler Park, Long Center with RGB LED wandlight painting downtown austin with RGB LED wand