Tag Archives: pinhole photography

Pinhole Photography!!!

For those who are unfamiliar with pinhole photography, or those who are, but still find themselves wondering (in this day and age of instant digital gratification) Why?, I’ll tell you… but I’m going to use someone else’s words. There’s a wonderful short essay titled “Why Pinhole? Why Indeed!” and the crux of it is this…

Pinhole is photography at its most basic. I love the freedom it affords any and all who take it up. As a means of expression it frees us from the bonds of the camera salesmen and the companies who seek to create ever fancier cameras that take the intuition out of making photographs.

I couldn’t agree more.  And that’s one of the wonderful things about Looking Glass Photo… in addition to the latest and greatest in digital, they’ve got all kinds of fun “toy” cameras (I bought my Holga there) and they’ll talk your ears off about film.  Yes, FILM.  I don’t know about you guys, but I actually miss film. The folks at Looking Glass encourage me to pick it up again, experiment with it, and remember what it was I found so captivating about photography in the first place.

Here’s my most successful image from last sunday’s Pinhole Photography Workshop…

pinhole photo, negative print film

As you can see, this is a negative print. We used negative paper because it has more “latitude” than positive print paper (meaning it’s more forgiving when you screw up). Which is easy to do with pinhole photography because there’s no light meter and no built-in computer determining the perfect exposure for you. Below is the inverted image, which you can see is slightly overexposed (at 30 seconds)…

I tried to create a ghosted image of myself by standing in the photo frame for about half that time, but all you can see is my ankles and calves (between tree and stop sign). Not exactly the effect I was going for. But that’s half the fun… it’s a bit of a mystery.

pinhole photography, negative print paper

We started out the workshop by building our own pinhole cameras. Boxes were provided, or you could bring your own, and the helpful folks from Looking Glass instructed us to:

  • paint the interiors and any see thru parts black
  • drill a pinhole into a tiny super thin sheet of metal (this would be our lens)
  • drill a larger hole into our box
  • mount the tiny sheet of metal with hole behind the larger hole (tape in place)
  • create “shutter” with piece of gaffer’s tape
  • and VOILA, one camera created!

Here are some pics of us building our cameras…

pinhole camera workshop, looking glass photo

pinhole camera workshop, looking glass photo

pinhole camera workshop, looking glass photo

Next we went into the darkroom to load film into our boxes. As I mentioned above we started with negative print film to work on getting our exposure right. We were instructed to try various lengths of time, develop each one, and see which one worked best. The exposure times really varied depending on the size of the hole drilled, and the lighting conditions (full sun, shade, etc.)

Probably the most fun for me was developing the sheets of paper in the darkroom. There’s nothing quite like watching an image unfold, almost magically, as your paper sways back and forth in a small sea of liquid, dimly lit by a single amber bulb. It’s pretty cool.

Here are a couple shots of the darkroom…

pinhole workshop at looking glass photo

looking glass berkeley, photo darkroom berkeley

The Looking Glass is in the process of scanning all the images from Sunday’s workshop and will have one from each participant online.  They should be up by Friday, you can check these links…

Pinhole Day Workshop @ The Looking Glass

Ok, full frontal disclaimer… this event takes place in Berkeley.  I know, I know.  I can hear some of you groaning already…

But Berkeley is good for a few things… like amazing radio (KALX you rock!), incredible Indian food (Vik’s, yummm!), used record/cd shops (I love you Amoeba), a wealth of intellectual and progressive “capital” that truly drives our country forward (despite how annoying it can be sometimes), and this photography store:  Looking Glass Camera & Photo Supply.  Their motto is “the camera store that loves you back!” and it’s really true.

buy local, the looking glass, best camera store east bay

This Sunday, April 25th, they’re hosting their annual Pinhole Day Workshop & Celebration in honor of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Photobugs are likely familiar with the concept, but for you laypeople out there, a pinhole camera is the simplest kind of camera consisting of nothing more than a box with a tiny hole in it.  There is no actual lens.

It easy to make a pinhole camera out of a box or cyclinder (I’m going to use a coffee can) by simply poking a hole into your container.  You need a way to cover the hole… simplest method is thick tape, like electrical tape.  You also need a larger opening into the container so you can put your film in.  My coffee can already has one built in… a shoebox, similarly.  And then the whole thing has to be relatively light-tight, so you don’t get light leaking in through seams to expose your film in unwanted ways.

I won’t get into all the physics of it, but the neat thing about pinhole photography is that everything from the closest blade of grass to the farthest horizon line are all equally in focus.  You can also make multiple exposures, or create interesting visual “tricks” with long exposures.

In any case, The Looking Glass is like one of those old-school mom & pop shops. They’re always throwing fun & interesting events to bring the community together around a shared passion of photography.  Others include Print Swaps, Summer Lectures,  Photo Contests, Free Studio Portraits on Halloween (you have to be in costume!), and more.  Plus all the other stuff you want from your camera/photo store, and great prices that are comparable with the big boys in the city, but you don’t have to drive across the bridge.

looking glass photo, pinhole day workshop, worldwide pinhole photo day

Sunday’s workshop costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids… In their words “Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is a great way to create and share the most historic and simple form of the camera. Our workshop gives you the chance to make your own camera, capture your image with a minimum of fuss, then print out your photo in our darkroom. It’s the ultimate in hands-on photography!”

I’ll be there. Hope you will too…

More info here:
Pinhole Photography Resources
Looking Glass Photo on Yelp
Contemporary Pinhole Photography Gallery