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’
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.
great! I love it!
Actually, I like the church best of this series; it looks like an ode to Niépce or Daguerre. Anyway, aren’t light leaks considered “charming” these days?
I must admit trying to decide how far to push the quality of a pinhole image is always a difficult decision for me. After all if you want quality in terms of focus and contrast you stick a lens in the front. 😉
very interesting actually, i’m in agreement on the church
Thank you, much appreciated!
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!
I would say my success with getting the right exposure is ‘passable’. I don’t do that many but the exposure usually falls within that of the rest of the film so I must be getting somewhere near it! My biggest problem is processing the film but that’s another story!
Why is processing a problem?
Lack of practice, insufficient throughput, water, temperature, me. 🙂
In my studying years I got all the theory of this but somehow I could never get myself to do something with it Respect for your patience and perseverance 🙂
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? 😉
I must admit I am drawn to the early Pictorialist work and at some time in the future I plan to have a play with some ‘alternative process’ work.
saw the hassle with a long tube, and you had me at the that. The images are interesting as well. Thanks for sharing!
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! 😉
Interesting but your “too much faffing about” comment describes it very well !!!
You wouldn’t believe how close the tube came to being bent across my knee in frustration as I tried to get everything in correct alignment. 😉
Hey, I’ve got some lengths of PVC pipe in my closet that I offered to my chinchilla for play tunnels. He didn’t want them either! 🙂 This is interesting stuff.
Well, if you’re going to explore ‘telephoto pinhole’ a tip would be to remember to blacken the inside walls, as there will be significant scatter of light. I use blackboard paint myself – of course with a long tube you have to think of some way of getting a brush down it – but I suspect it won’t take much for you to come up with a make do method. 😉
Thanks, but I can’t manage point and shoot unless the light conditions are exceptionally favorable. I’ll just admire yours, I think. 😉
Then a didgeridoo it will have to be for the pvc pipe! 🙂
Okay, Stephen, had to Google that one. Ha Ha… Clever boy!
For many years we had the pleasure of Rolf Harris on our airwaves, both TV and radio – it was he who introduced it into the psyche of Brits of a certain age.
Stop it! Now I have to Google all night!! 😉
This is amazing. Thank you dear Stephen, love, nia
Thank you, Nia!
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.
Yes, I used a different sized hole. I have a copy of Eric Renner’s ‘Pinhole Photography’ for reference. I also have a small program I picked up off the web somewhere.
As I’m a real ‘cheapskate’ over such things, I used the aluminium from a microwave meal container to create the hole in, and then scanned it at a known dpi to measure the hole.
yes, I use the Pinhole Designer program (by David Balihar from http://www.pinhole.cz) to make all my calculations!