Pinhole Photography

January 23, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I recently purchased two new cameras.  They have no lenses.  They have no shutter release.  They have no viewfinder.  They have no batteries.  In fact, they are not much more than a wooden box with a tiny hole in the front.  They are pinhole cameras.  I purchased one from a company called ZeroImage and the other from a new startup called Ondu.  Both cameras are crafted of wood and are beautiful in their own right.   Both are film cameras and use 120 film, which is also called medium format.  I have shot 4 rolls in a field near my home and the results are now on the website.  Take a look.

I have decided to try pinhole work for a few reasons.  One is that it forces me to work much more slowly.  Since there is no viewfinder, I must estimate what will be seen on the image.  I have a handheld viewfinder that came with one of the cameras, but it is strictly guesswork.  The lack of a viewfinder and the small number of negatives on a roll of film also makes me look thoroughly at my surroundings before committing to the shot.   It also forces me to pay more attention to the light so that I can get a proper exposure.  Most are 2 seconds or more.  It makes me think back to the sunny 16 rule.  I had also forgotten the thrill (or disappointment) of sitting in the car outside the camera shop staring at negatives with the windshield of the car as my lightbox.  

 

I also love the look of the pinhole image.  It is much softer than a standard photograph.  It looks a bit like some of the work done in the early days of photography.  The tones and/or colors are much softer as is the overall feel of the image.  I am thinking that the first comment will be that I don't know how to focus a camera.  It is true, I don't know how to focus a pinhole camera.  It can't be done.  What I get is what I get.  Maybe it is the unreliability that makes it fun.  Please take a look at the pinhole gallery and see if you like the look and feel of an antique method of getting an image.  

I am going to continue to practice and hopefully will improve.  I think pinhole photography would be great on some of the older buildings in the area.  When it warms up a bit, I am going to see what else I can do with the pinhole.  If you wish, let me know what you think. 


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