It’s another one of those gray wet days in Portland ,Oregon. I thought I’d take advantage of the situation by sorting some negatives and posting them on my blog. What better topic than pinhole photography. For those of you who don’t know, a pinhole camera is about as basic as you can get. Some of you may have made one out of an oatmeal box back in elementary school. My two pinhole cameras are hand-made by the Zero Image company. They do a beautiful job making them out of teak with brass fittings. They have many to choose from, but for now, I have the 6×9 and 6×6 models. I have my eye on a 4×5, but that is sometime in the future. You can buy them on their website, or if you are on the Portland area, you can buy them at Blue Moon Camera in St Johns. Mine are both from Blue Moon.
I usually use a slow speed 120 film, Kodak Ektar 100. Sometimes I will use T-Max, but I find I like shooting in color and then converting to black and white later in Silver Efex Pro2. The reason for this is that it also gives me a color rendition. If I shoot on black and white film then I can never have color. It’s a personal preference.
Exposures are on the longer side depending on light and situation. This is because the opening, not lens, is so small that the aperture on my cameras is f250. That’s tiny! This also means that the cameras have an infinite depth of field. I have taken some interior photos where my exposure time is an hour or more. Outside photos can range from a one second exposure during sunlight hours to 15 minutes at dusk and hours long after dark. Patience is needed. So I usually carry another camera so I may make other photos during the longer exposure times.
The other thing to keep in mind is there is no viewfinder and no LCD screen. I said this was basic. My cameras have a handy little exposure wheel to help take the guess out of your exposure times, but you will have to use your ‘eye’ to see your photo in your head and then wait for your film to be processed to see if you got it or something close to what you envisioned. It takes practice, but I think it makes you a better photographer when and if you go back to your digital camera. Train yourself to stop looking at your LCD screen after every photo you take.
The result is soft and sometimes surreal. Oceans, waterfalls and clouds smooth out. People will appear ghost-like. Some people might not like the look, but I do.