After less than one month of travail, I am proud to say I finished my novel! I’ve decided to call it “Strange Spark.” I’ll post an excerpt here soon, after some editing.
I also wanted to apologize for the scarce posts this month. Thank you everyone for following my blog, and I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic!
Redscale is a technique much-loved by toy camera enthusiasts for its unique look and somewhat erratic nature. It involves shooting through the “wrong” side of the film! It is likely that it was discovered on accident by large format photographers long ago: they loaded their film backwards into the camera and didn’t realize it until after the film was developed. Talk about a shock!
But when planned for, redscale can create stunning and beautiful images that range in color from deep, hellish crimson to sunny and subtle golden shades. Expect vignetting, especially if you aim for a deeper red. It also seems to be grainier than normal film.
Redscale film can be bought or created at home. To create it yourself, go to a darkroom or use a changing bag. Bring a roll of film, an empty film canister [make sure it still has a small tab of film still sticking out!], and some tape. Next, tape the tab and the film together, but with opposite sides facing up. Finally, wind the film into the new canister. This last part can take some time. Stop when you feel resistance. Load it into your camera as you normally would.
A redscale shot of the Oklahoma state capital through a fish eye lens.
Shooting Your Redscale Film
Exposing redscale film can be tricky. In my experience, it’s virtually impossible to overexpose it. Now underexposing – that’s all too easy! Shoot your film at least two stops over what the film was originally rated at. What I mean is, if you are using 400 ISO film, shoot it as if it were 100 – and don’t be afraid to shoot it at 50 or even lower! Remember, redscale film is extremely difficult to overexpose. The trick is in avoiding underexposure. I’ve found this rule holds even when using purpose-bought redscale film.
Substantial differences between images should be expected even on the same roll of film. Because of this, redscale lends itself to experimentation. Try soaking it in alcohol before taking pictures. Another idea is to shoot both sides of the film – once in redscale, the other as ‘normal’ film – to create a series of unique and abstract double exposures. Use different filters [blue will cancel the redscale effect]. Long exposure with redscale film is an unusual technique that is not seen very often.
Go take some pictures and remember to have fun!
A few days ago, I had an excess of cashews and several cans of green beans in my pantry, so I decided to make green bean casserole! The result was creamy and dreamy; unfortunately I didn’t take a picture. I really wish I had because this turned out great. I didn’t really measure anything out — it’s a “toss it together” kind of recipe: minimum work, maximum delicious.
- Raw, unsalted cashews: approximately 2 cups, enough to drench everything in creaminess
- French style green beans
- Your favorite vegetable broth: I recommend Superior Touch’s Better than Boullion. It’s very concentrated.
- Mellow white miso paste: about a tablespoon of this ingredient adds a smooth, creamy taste. It’s slightly sweet.
- Soymilk, unsweetened: approximately 1/4 cup
- Seasoning to your taste: garlic powder and onion powder are good choices
- A bit of oil: it’s just for oiling a baking dish
- Crunchy french-fried onion toppings
- Soak the cashews in water until they are soft. This might take a few hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Place cashews in a blender with the broth, miso paste, soymilk, and seasoning. Blend until smooth.
- Slice the mushrooms and onions, then lightly saute them.
- Smear oil in a medium baking dish. This will help prevent burning.
- Combine everything [green beans, cashews, mushrooms, and onions] and pour it in the dish.
- Bake until heated throughout, approximately 15 minutes. The top will be lightly golden
- Top with french-fried onions, then bake for a few more minutes. Be careful to watch closely — french-fried onions burn easily
For a nice variation, try adding a can of sweet corn before baking.
Axe is said to be one of the most obscure bands of the 1960s, but their musical gems can still be found on the internet. This is one of my favorite songs by them. It transports you to a magical, innocent world like the realms of fantasy fiction. I find listening to music like this, the kind that takes you to different land, really helps my writing productivity. And with a novel due at the end of this month, I need all the help I can get!
What tools do you use to help with your writing?
I’ve never been much of a novelist – the dinky manuscript I churned out in middle school notwithstanding! Short stories have always been my comfort zone. I have a collection of stories I write for fun, all set in the same science-fiction/fantasy conworld called Kireles. Could one of my ideas – usually saved for the realm of short stories – be transformed into a novel? Over the course of the next month, the answer will be revealed!
Though I have lots of half-baked ideas, I’ve decided to work on a currently unnamed story set in my conworld, in a country called Fal-Kirnosa. [Here’s a map.] It follows the adventures of 4 creatures – a dog, frog, hen, and cat – after they’ve been exposed to an object that’s beyond their ken. The animals develop strange new abilities. They use their abilities to solve the mysteries that have been plaguing their small village, Dumra Talea.
Though the animals don’t know it, the technology they were exposed to fell out of their planet’s orbit. It belonged to the mysterious Bombarai, an ancient, rock-like race of beings that nearly exterminated themselves in a war that changed the structure of the planet. Some of the mysterious events in their village – and in the world at large – are due to Bombarai interference and that of their archnemeses, the Katred.
I’ve always enjoyed stories where the main characters were animals: the Redwall series, Animal Farm, Wind in the Willows, The Sight, Beasts of Burden. This will be my first attempt at such a thing, however.
I’m nervous because I got a late start; 30 days is already a tight deadline! But it’s the QUANTITY of the words that matter at this stage – not the quality! Besides, as the proverb goes,
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Are any of you writing a novel this month?
What exists outside our Universe? My guess is God is an oversimplification, a metaphor to help us understand something that is [at the moment] beyond our ken. Perhaps one day we will discover the secrets of infinity and be shocked.