Geek
TechShop, a eulogy
TechShop, a eulogy

I moved to the Phoenix valley in the fall of 2015, and went to TechShop because a relative said they thought they heard I might be able to learn how to weld there. Maybe they had a woodshop I could use, not sure. I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by friendly people […]

Tintype license plate
Tintype license plate

When I recently had to renew my license plate I decided to have some fun with it. This weekend I finally made a fitting photo to share. For those not in the know: tintype images are, by nature, upside down and laterally reversed, which is why my license plate, Ford, and everything else is backwards. […]

Screenprinting: Road Trip T-Shirt!
Screenprinting: Road Trip T-Shirt!

One of the many things I’ve learned recently is how to screen print, at least one method of doing it. TechShop has a CNC vinyl cutter and a basic screen printing station, so I started with a vinyl mask for the screen (as opposed to a photo-sensitive process to mask off the screen). And since […]

Reclaimed Wood Beam and Steel Plate Bench
Reclaimed Wood Beam and Steel Plate Bench

About the same time I was working on my I-beam coffee table I was also creating another toe breaker / boat anchor, my Big Beam Bench. The wood beam was left over from a set of end tables I made for a customer. I was sitting in my very small and cluttered office I staring […]

Steel I-Beam and Reclaimed Wood Coffee Table
Steel I-Beam and Reclaimed Wood Coffee Table

  A couple of months ago, while daydreaming about things to make with my newfound skills, I had the idea to use one of the most powerful tools at TechShop – a device that can cut through several inches of solid steel – to make a piece of furniture. This device is typically used on […]

Road Trip: Nevada and California National Parks and Monuments
Road Trip: Nevada and California National Parks and Monuments

A friend of mine in Los Angeles recently bought one of my tintype photographs, and rather than entrust it to the postal system, I decided I needed to hand deliver it. (To be clear, in case my tone doesn’t come through, I used it as an excuse for a road trip.) I’ve been itching to […]

DIY Recessed Lens Board: waterjet, powdercoating, and of course lasers
DIY Recessed Lens Board: waterjet, powdercoating, and of course lasers

I recently decided I needed a wider wide-angle lens to take in the vastness of some of the vistas out here in the west. So I found a little 65mm lens from my peeps at Midwest Photo, for a price I could rationalize. “Little” turns out to be apt: the lens requires a mounting hole […]

Dawson’s Finest Reclaimed Wood and Steel End Table
Dawson's Finest Reclaimed Wood and Steel End Table

Continuing in the theme of “Mark, I thought you were a photographer?!” I present: Dawson’s Finest Reclaimed Wood and Steel End Tables! Once I got into the metal shop and saw all the fun tools I could make things with, then went to the metal supply store and saw all these bad-ass metal shapes to […]

Mark Dawson’s Best Campfire Beer Stake and Tequila Assistant
Mark Dawson's Best Campfire Beer Stake and Tequila Assistant

A couple of weeks ago I was laying in bed waiting on my turn in the bathroom, and was trying to think of something to make as something fun for an upcoming camping trip. One of Kari’s professors, who was basically leading the excursion, likes to make things for camping, and I wanted to participate. […]

Custom ground glass covers
Custom ground glass covers

I am now making and selling custom ground glass protective covers for large format cameras! I have a few different options to start with, as well as some fun customization possibilities. Basic Design The covers are designed to slide over and protect both sides of the ground glass. I can make them to exact sizes […]

First welding project: bottle drying rack!
First welding project: bottle drying rack!

I have wanted to learn how to weld for years, decades maybe. Never got around to it. Looked into taking classes at a tech school back in Ohio, but it was several thousand dollars (no doubt very thorough and professional). When I moved to the Phoenix area and found out about TechShop, I figured I’d […]

Ground glass protective cover
Ground glass protective cover

Now that my 8×10 camera is getting heavy usage (Kari is out in the field with it as I type) I have been working on either repairing pinholes, making parts so it can be used (such as these new lensboards) or making things to protect it. The latest product: a custom ground glass protective cover. […]

New lens boards for the big cameras
New lens boards for the big cameras

I’ve had my Arca-Swiss 4×5 view camera for several years now, and more recently bought an 8×10 camera from my friend / mentor / boss Brenton Hamilton. It didn’t come with any lens boards, though, and rather than buying them off eBay or having somebody else make them, I decided to use my new skills […]

Portable Darkroom Version 2
Portable Darkroom Version 2

Within a few months of learning how to make tintypes in the Haas Lab (thanks, as always, to Kari Wehrs and Brenton Hamilton) I enjoyed some quality father-son time making a darkbox in the woodshop where Dad lived. It is a very sturdy (i.e., too heavy and large) box, and, worse, the shroud that I […]

DIY Soles for my Birks
DIY Soles for my Birks

For the longest time back in college, whenever a pair of my Birkenstocks wore out (and I mean, nothing between my big toe and the pavement) I’d just hang ’em on a nail (through said toe hole, much to mom’s dismay) and eventually throw them out. Seems I could always find a pair somewhere (in […]

More than one way to create with light
More than one way to create with light

While not strictly photography, per se, I have nevertheless been busy lately making things with light, just light of a different kind. One of the many very cool things at TechShop, the shared workspace I found after moving to Tempe, are the laser cutting machines. Probably not coincidentally, the lasers are the first thing one […]

Type Drawer Coffee Table
Type Drawer Coffee Table

One of the first things I saw on my tour of TechShop was the ShopBot, a computer-controlled router than could take material 4ft x 8 ft x several inches thick. If I hadn’t been sold on becoming a TechShop member the minute I walked through the doors, this thing would have done the trick. I’m […]

DAM stuff: the big data reorg of 2015
DAM stuff: the big data reorg of 2015

I’ve spent the most of the past two weeks doing some one DAM thing or another. No, not cussin’, but rather Digital Asset Management – it’s a fancy way of saying I’ve been organizing my photos. Considering I have been doing this photography thing to varying degrees for the past 25+ years, and have been […]

Lasers!
Lasers!

For a while now I’ve been watching various laser-cut objects appear on Etsy, in friends’ constructions, or in cool products being made by small businesses here locally – and watching with envy. I know laser cutting and 3D printing are somewhat accessible, but not quite within reach financially, yet. (Plus I still have my perpetual […]

Sound trigger revisited
Sound trigger revisited

I started this project about exactly five years ago, back in graduate school. I was in a class on “Small Systems Lighting”, learning to use small on-camera strobes in our photography. One assignment was to “stop motion” using flash. Somebody running by, frozen by the strobe, something like that. Naturally I took it to an […]

Geek Christmas
Geek Christmas

Back in November I got into making things with electronics and teeny tiny microcontrollers. If I haven’t written the post yet, here’s a brief summary: I wanted a reliable and programmable remote control for my large format camera. Such a thing does not seem to exist, but in the course of searching online, I realized […]