The Photographer Dad

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Welcome to The Photographer Dad. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a Dad who happens to enjoy photography. This blog will be about raising kids and photography. My daughter, M, is a typical teenage girl. My son, D, has autism. Both like taking pictures, so that will help me tie being a Dad in with photography.

Why did I pick “fotodad.wordpress.com” instead of “photodad.wordpress.com” for a URL?  Well, partly because photodad.wordpress.com was already taken.  But also because I have German ancestry.  And in German, “photo” is spelled “foto.”  See, it all makes sense now!

Comparison of Provia 100F at box speed, pushed 2 stops, and the new Wittner Chrome 200D

I’ve written a post over on Analog Photography Users Group (APUG) comparing Fujichrome Provia 100F shot at box speed, pushed 2 stops, and the new Wittner Chrome 200D shot at box speed.  Check it out.  http://www.apug.org/forums/forum40/126271-comparison-fuji-provia-100f-unpushed-pushed-2-stops-wittner-chrome-200d.html

Pushing Provia 100F

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am primarily a slide film shooter.  Lately I’ve been shooting mostly Fujichrome Provia 100F.  Ordinarily I shoot film at box speed.  Well with my son’s birthday coming up, I decided I wanted to shoot with faster film, so stopped by my current favorite local camera store, Creve Coeur Camera (in Springfield, IL).  Okay, CCC is an hour away, but I work in Springfield so it was no big deal to swing by there and see if they had any Provia 400X.  Sadly they did not, nor did any of their stores, but said they could order it.  Time was getting short for me, and I didn’t want to order it from them (I could have had it from B&H in 2 days, but it would’ve been too late for the birthday party).  They would’ve happily sold me Provia 100F, but I already had several rolls of that in the fridge at home so I declined.

Slide film has next to zero latitude in standard processing.  What you can do, though, is process it with a non-standard time, which gives you some flexibility to shoot the film at an ISO that is different from the ISO shown on the box.  If you shoot with a higher ISO, you need the film to spend more time in the developer (this is called push processing).  If you shoot with a lower ISO, you need the film to spend less time in the developer (this is called pull processing).  Fuji says you can pull Provia 100F 1/2 stop, or push it 2 stops.

I’d never pushed film before, so I decided that now would be a good time to try it (yes, I know, bad idea because I was going to be trying it for the first time at my son’s birthday party).  Enter the Internet (sadly I didn’t save any of the links so I cannot cite them here – just google “Provia 100F pushed to 400.”  I found quite a bit of info about pushing Provia 400X to 1600, not so much pushing 100F to 400.  Some folks said that if you do a 2 stop push, you should rate the film at ISO 320 instead of 400, and that the contrast would be increased slightly and you might lose detail in the darkest shadows.  Also there would be more grain (Provia 100F at box speed is almost grainless).

Well, I went for it.  I grabbed the film from the fridge, wrote “Push 2 stops” on the cassette with a sharpie, and loaded it into the camera, remembering to override the ISO to 320 instead of 100.  Got the film back earlier this week and projected it on the wall about an hour ago.  Pictures came out great.  I didn’t see any more grain at ISO 320 than I would’ve at ISO 100.  The contrast is a bit higher because I had the lab push 2 stops.  Highlights were not blown, and shadows still retain a good amount of detail.  Skin tones and color were also good, but with a slight shift towards red in some of the skin tones.Skin tones show a slight red cast.  Otherwise the color is good.
Flesh tones shifted slightly to the red in this photo.

The pond in late afternoon/early evening from the stone railroad bridge

The pond in late afternoon/early evening from the stone railroad bridge

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I can’t wait to see how this looks in B&W infrared in the summertime, but that’s a topic for another time.

Teachers Don’t Always Know Everything

When D. was in 3rd grade, we wanted to have him tested for autism.  We had all the paper work ready to go to Easter Seals except for the one D’s teacher was supposed to complete.  She did not want to complete the paperwork.  We told her that we saw signs of autism and that we wanted to have D. tested.  Her pat answer was “Well I don’t see it.”  Thankfully he had a different teacher for 4th grade.  She was a bit of a drill sergeant with D, and he needed it in her classroom.  In 5th grade he had an awesome teacher (His 4th grade teacher had retired at the end of D’s 4th grade year after a 41-year career with the school district).  When we went to his IEP meeting at the end of the year, the IEP team had in fact decided that D. is on the autism spectrum.

D. had had a seizure back in 2004, and test results showed he had abnormal brain activity.  He’d also been diagnosed with ADHD back when he was in Early Childhood Education.  Those of you who have done your homework know that autism ADHD, and epilepsy occur together all too often.  Medicines which make ADHD better run the risk of making epilepsy worse, and vice versa.  We didn’t want to get into the vicious cycle of adding one medicine to counteract side effects of another medicine, which would make the first medicine less effective, and basically had told the school they were just going to have to do the best they could.

When D. started 6th grade (in 2011) , we decided that it would probably be appropriate to put him on some sort of medication for his ADHD.  Went to his primary care doctor, expecting to walk out of there with a prescription for ADHD.  As Dr. K. was looking at D’s medical history, he decided that we needed to see a cardiologist (D has a heart murmur) and a neurologist before putting him on ADHD medicine.  We were shocked, because D had been seizure free since 2004.

The heart murmur turned out to be completely innocent.  The neurologist diagnosed D. with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy.  He said “If you’re child is going to have epilepsy, this is the kind to have because many of these kids only ever have one seizure.  Those who have more usually only have them in their sleep or when transitioning between asleep and awake.”  Also this form of epilepsy tends to go away during puberty.  He gave us clearance to put him on ADHD medicine, and said “Oh, by the way, I could tell within 15 seconds of meeting your son that he is on the autism spectrum.”

Back to the primary care Dr. we went, but did some homework before we went to see what ADHD medicine might be suitable for D, especially since we did not want to run the risk of him having another seizure.  There are two medicines for ADHD that do not carry an increased risk of seizures.  One is Intuniv, and the other is Stratterra.  The Stratterra caries the risk of heart problems, and the Intuniv does not, so we went with the Intuniv because it has the least bad side effects.  While D. is still not at grade level, he is able to focus during school and has not had any seizures as a result of this medicine.  We are very pleased with how it is working.

A Temple Grandin Quote

“In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive. After all, the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. Without autism traits we might still be living in caves.”
— Temple Grandin (Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism)

Go do Something Other than Video Games

Most kids start getting into video games at a very young age.  Not D.  He would play occasionally, but most of the time there were other things he’d rather be doing.  We’d had a console for a few years and he never really showed much interest in it, even when we were willing to play a video game with him.  We attributed it to his autism.

About a year ago his grandparents on his mom’s side got each of the kids a 3DS.  Something changed.  He started playing more video games.  We saw this as a more neurotypical behavior, and, unlike most parents with neurotypical kids, we encouraged it.  He even started playing more game console type games, and has taken a real interest in Super Mario Bros.  He’s even saved money to buy his own games instead of blowing it on silly things that he will play with at most once or twice.

Today is Christmas, and his big sister M got him a game he’d been asking for for quite some time.  When he realized what it was, he was so happy he tackled her and gave her a great big hug.  How cool is that?

Autism Diagnosis: Share it or keep it secret?

My son, D, has had an IEP since before Kindergarten. At the end of his Elementary School years, the school changed the reason for the IEP from developmental delay + ADHD to Autism (the ADHD is still there though). Since the IEP change, he has finally begun to grow academically. However, other staff at the school were not allowed (by school policy) to know that D has autism, only that he has an IEP. We did not know this.

He's Autistic, not a TV, I can't just turn him down 'cause he's too loud for you.

So very very true…

D’s older sister, M, witnessed a member of the school’s staff threatening him with disciplinary action if he didn’t stop stimming. She told us about it. Needless to say, this did not sit well with Papa Bear (fotodad) and Mama Bear. Our philosophy is “If you’re gonna mess with Brother or Sister Bear, you’d better be prepared to deal with Mama and Papa Bear.”

We were livid when M told us about it. We requested (requested is probably too weak a word, more like demanded) a meeting to revise D’s IEP. The school complied with our request, and brought in the staff member and his supervisor as well. We explained that if D is being too loud, all anyone has to do is tell him to turn down the volume, not threaten him with disciplinary action for stimming. That would be like punishing the football team’s star quarterback because he broke his leg during a game. In addition, we gave the school permission to share D’s autism diagnosis with any school faculty or staff that work with him or deal with him on a daily basis. So far, the problems with this particular staff member have stopped, and we’re almost halfway through the new school year.

In my opinion, it is better to share the autism diagnosis with people that work with your child than to keep it a secret. There may be techniques that the staff at your child’s school can employ that will help him to do better. It may avoid problems as well.

Dad, can we go Home now?

D. has always been a homebody.  Back when he was a cub scout, we went to cub scout day camp every day for five days.  At the end of that week, he didn’t want to go anywhere.  Home is safe and comfortable to him.  During the holidays there are several family get-togethers and he is happy to be home when they are over.  Fortunately we never have more than one in a day so they are spaced out and it makes things easier for him.

E at The Third Glance is an autistic adult.  She has written a series of articles on how she copes with the holidays. D. doesn’t have the same issues that E has, but there are similarities.  You can read E’s coping strategies here.