Fun with a Tube

Every so often I like to have a play with pinhole photography – not with the commercially available holes and attachments but things I make myself.  I’ve had a crack at doing some with my digital camera, but to be honest, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.  So I’ve tended to stick with film.

My original objective was to create a gizzmo that would fit on the front of my Rollei in such a way that I could attach/detach at will – thus I could drop a pinhole shot into the middle of a film if I wanted.  I wanted use my Rollei as it has a significant advantage because using the waist level finder and a dark cloth over my head I can just about see the image of the subject I’m taking reasonably well.

As you may know, in theory, the pinhole can be any distance from the film plane, the further away the larger the image of the subject but the longer the exposure needs to be.  Okay in theory, but practice?  I had to give it a try.  So I put a pinhole at the front of a parcel tube which I then attached to the front of my camera.

In the picture, the front of the ‘lens’ is supported by a lighting stand with a catapult taped to the top to give a u-shaped support.  Trying to maintain the tube/camera/film plain was a real nightmare.

A couple of examples of the output.

‘Standard’ Pinhole to Film Distance

‘Telephoto’ Pinhole to Film Distance

Standard – the arrow points to the ‘target’

Kirk Deighton Church

I’ll leave you to consider the results, but the tube clearly exhibits a lack of contrast (in part I believe due to scatter in the tube). Also the Church picture is suffering from a slight light leak or glare.

I’m sorry I can’t give you details of exposure – I calculate each exposure using a meter and conversion tables, but the long tube ones will be pushing towards 15 to 20 minutes.

It’s unlikely that I will be making any more attempts, it’s just too much faffing about – trying to line things up, especially on uneven ground – the slightest out of alignment and the image quality/light level drops significantly.


31 thoughts on “Fun with a Tube

  1. I really like the amount of effort you laid on this excercise, and the church is very lovely, but, isn’t it sometimes the journey that is the most interesting, not the goal? And with the fact that is is a minor war to set the exposure right in pinhole photography, I think your reults are brilliant!

    • Thanks.
      I have a digital camera and lenses worth a lot of money. They are capable of doing auto everything – point and shoot, and I chose to mess about with pins, tube, sticky tape and the aluminium from fast food containers to create my images and chemicals and scanners to see my photos- what’s all that about?

      • About you, I think 🙂 That you are not satisfied with the point and shoot and put on Facebook culture of our days? That you want to get the feeling of how it must have been in the beginning?

        Or maybe you are the reincarnation of one of the first photographers, those unbelievable guys dragging along huge camera’s, glass plates and all for that one picture they have in mind? 😉

    • yep! I don’t mind messing about as part of the experimentation stage but taking it out in anger, which I did once, just made things too difficult.
      There are simple ways round the alignment problem, perhaps using a plastic drainpipe but …… nah! 😉

  2. As you said in the reply to my comment I am not only amused but really interested in your “Fun with a Tube” post. I find your experiment very creative. I like both pictures but the one of the church is my favorite. I am not sure if the light on the right is a leak or just flare (most probably) but it gives a “touch” to the image.
    Regarding the experiment itself I would like to know if you used a different diameter size for the pinhole in each case. I am sure that you know that each focal lenght has an “optimum” pinhole diameter and that is crucial for the “sharpness” of the image.

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