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The Pinhegg – My Journey To Build An Egg Pinhole Camera

Since I started pin-holing the world, I have had the strong desire to make a special camera, with the purpose of shooting just one photograph. The purpose was to sacrifice the camera in the process of photo creation – I wanted the camera to become the photograph. To let you understand, the process from the camera to the photograph is the same that ties the baby bird to the egg: the bird grows protected from the shell and when it's ready breaks it and comes out. This is why I decided to create the Pinhegg – An Egg Pinhole Camera.

Photo by francescco

On the one hand it all seemed so easy – I would create the Pinhegg without breaking the egg, using it as a camera obscura and, upon opening the egg, find the photograph impressed on the shell.

Great.

But, on the other hand, the project didn’t seem easy at all and I postponed it for years – Until, that is, Lomography and the Pinhole Day happening right on Easter gave me the right pretext to do it.

I tried several times, in several ways, soiling my hands with a foul deed made of broken eggs. Now the chickens look at me in pain and terror, but I finally found the right recipe for my Egg pinhole.

Ingredients:

  • Egg
  • Pinhole
  • Liquid photographic emulsion (I used Rolley’s)
  • Photographic acid (processing and fixing)
  • Adhesive tape
  • Black cloth
  • A garden
  • Stubbornness
  • Patience
  • More Patience

Instructions:

Take the egg and drill it with a rotary tool (I used a Dremel) in order to obtain a square hole (2cm). At this point, usually, you will find yourself covered in egg juice. Before washing yourself be sure that the egg’ shell is empty. Wash yourself and the interior of the egg. In a dark room paint the interior of the shell with the emulsion, in order to make it light-sensitive.

Now block the opening with a wrought-brass pin-holed plate, trying to restore the natural egg-ness of the shell. With the black tape seal the structure. You’ll notice that the shell is really transparent: to avoid any problem, wrap it with the black cloth, carefully leaving out the pinhole. During each stage of this process the egg could break. Usually it does.

You should finally manage to have a perfect and clothed pinhegg. Now take it to the garden. Place yourself (I did it crouched, naked, motionless) in front of the egg (facing the pinhole!) for about thirty seconds. Luckily, my neighbors spared me from reporting my behavior to the police – I hope yours to be so kind too.

When I felt that the egg was impressed enough by my naked body, I went back to the dark room. I suggest you to do the same. Even if you stay clothed. There, unwrap the egg, remove the pinhole (carefully) and fill the egg with the processing acid and the fixing one, in this order. When it’s done, you should see something appear on the inner surface. You can widen the opening on the egg and take a better look: the photograph should be there, negative and lightly warped by the roundness of the shell. At this point I took a photograph (with a ‘normal’ camera) of the shell and turned it negative in order to see the positive of the original. You can do the same or challenge yourself to find another way to do it.

The vision of my brushy naked body wasn’t so nice to entice me to take more photographs, so I asked a model to pose for my egg. The egg must have appreciated this, because the photos I took after that decision were wider and more definite than my self-portrait.

As you can see, the whole thing is almost simple. The worst part is to deal with the fragility of the shell. In order to take four good photographs I destroyed more than fifty eggs. I should have made a portrait of the biggest pinhole omelette since the times of Dadaism.

So, as I wished, the egg is the camera and the photograph at the same time. It is the beginning and the end of the photographic process. If you add a rebirth (don’t ask me how, please) you’ll have a Perfect-for-Easter pinhegg.

The image born in the egg should be happy enough to stay there forever. It will not leave, age or sepia-wash. At the most, it will glance out, sometimes.

That’s it. Happy Easter. And please, don’t forget to pinhole the world, pinhole anything, pinhole everything that you see.

Francesco Capponi
www.francescocapponi.it

written by francescco

50 comments

  1. pith

    pith

    Amazing Idea! You're genius!!!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. blormore

    blormore

    Very creative!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. dogma

    dogma

    WoW, that a cool stuff!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. singleelderly

    singleelderly

    COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  5. baijiu89

    baijiu89

    probably the coolest thing in lomography magazine!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. natalieerachel

    natalieerachel

    HOLY CRAP that is sooo cool!!!!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. stouf

    stouf

    Fantastic and poetic !

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  8. localmanmark

    Great idea. I was wondering if there was any way of inverting the image with chemicals?
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  9. merge

    merge

    That is altogether too awesome! Great idea. great concept. Giving birth to the photo - I love it.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  10. pzjo

    pzjo

    nothing short of amazing. very inspiring

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  11. dhuffone

    dhuffone

    This just blew my mind a little! :-)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  12. outadablue1-2

    I don't want to seem disrespectful to your procedure, but I do have a suggestion that might make the egg somewhat less fragile before you begin construction. Would it help to strengthen the shell by dipping it in wax before making any changes to it? You could even use a dark-colored wax to block out light. Once the wax hardens, it would provide support to the structure, yet be soft enough to cut through. I would not expect it to react to the printing acids, and it could be removed easily when desired. I think I'll give it a try and see what happens...
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  13. Paint the egg black before you start. That will block out the light, and when you take a photo and inverse it, it will look like an egg again.
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  14. francescco

    francescco

    in truth I had painted black and then painted white again. But even with two coats of paint, if you were not perfect to the millimeter, the light was likely to go ... I'll try to do with blacks in the future again!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  15. francescco

    francescco

    with wax, you can try ... but I'm not sure if it works!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  16. dirklancer

    dirklancer

    genius.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  17. liisachisholm

    liisachisholm

    this is the coolest idea!!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  18. lusisilu

    lusisilu

    :-P

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  19. bridgetj

    bridgetj

    I was going to say "Holy Cow" but that doesn't seem quite appropriate. This is clucking awesome.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  20. thetys

    thetys

    What an original idea ! For the fragility issue, I would suggest to use goose eggs : they're slightly bigger and have much thicker shells. I bought one at a taxidermist shop in Paris for about 2€ (way cheaper than ostrich eggs ^^). It won't stop the light either, thou.
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  21. moonormoon

    moonormoon

    awesome.totally

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  22. lisabegusch

    lisabegusch

    Wow I love it! What a great idea with such a philosophical idea behind it... :) Genius!

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  23. photog_mahler

    very awesome. Have you tried doing the albumen process with this? that way, at least the egg whites wont go to waste... if you can sucessfully get the whites out of the egg shell without compromising the shell itself.
    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  24. 1511

    1511

    admirable patience!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  25. Wow, such an amazing experiment, Bravo caro amico.
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  26. crookedlens

    crookedlens

    Bravo! a truely ingenious way to photograph the world.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  27. magicsuperbird

    magicsuperbird

    one of the top stories of lomography magazine of last year for a very good reason! I love it when you task yourself and come up with insane sounding ideas and actually make it happen one day. this is just great!
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  28. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    LOVE

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  29. ginny

    ginny

    This is incredible...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  30. peeciella

    peeciella

    homaikot! marvelous! <33

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  31. angelhaken

    angelhaken

    fantastic !

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  32. Michael Crocker

    Rather than go through the process of removing the egg contents yourself, have you considered using pre-blown eggs such as those used in Pysanky egg decorating? They can be purchased on the internet quite reasonably.
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  33. vision

    I love this idea, very cool -- what distance were you from the egg to get the above photo of yourself?
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  34. feelux

    feelux

    Mind: Blown. Amazing idea!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  35. rantz

    rantz

    This is fantastic and I look forward to trying same in the near future - thanks francesco.
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  36. le_ors

    le_ors

    mi è piaciuto abbastanza questo articolo :)
    l'arte ce l'hai

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  37. jaybees80

    jaybees80

    really cool idea

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  38. polish-cezar

    polish-cezar

    That's incredible

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  39. norweegie

    norweegie

    Amazzzinnng! Lovely results, worth the pain I'm sure :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  40. frau_zornies

    frau_zornies

    this article just blew my mind!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  41. gvelasco

    gvelasco

    100% Completely, totally, awesome.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  42. superlighter

    superlighter

    fantastico risultato! hai mai pensato di usare uova di struzzo?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  43. bkspicture

    bkspicture

    Awesome!!!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  44. laora-drouet

    laora-drouet

    So full of poetry... Fantastic
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  45. mynamehasbeenstolen

    mynamehasbeenstolen

    this. is. awesome. (!)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  46. meryfromspain

    meryfromspain

    I'm totally amazed.. Great idea and fantastic results!!

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  47. hervinsyah

    hervinsyah

    ORIGINAL. 2 Years Ago article, I'm sooooo late

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  48. micky_s

    micky_s

    eggcellent!!! :D

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  49. panik75

    next time try to do this with a duck egg. the shell is a lot harder and sturdier so you may not need 50 eggs! You idea is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    12 months ago · report as spam
  50. Jennifer L Rogers

    I'm attempting this experiment over the summer, for my art exhibition before I graduate. Is it necessary to remove the membrane that is the thin liner inside the shell?
    4 months ago · report as spam

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