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The Story Behind My First Pinhole Experiments

My first experience with pinhole photography came from my senior high school photography course. Nine years has past since these little pieces of paper went into the developer and finding them upon returning home after years of being abroad, fills my head with memories of the places that are depicted in them and the people who surrounded me at that time.

It was one of the first exercises that we did in our Year 11 photography course, the photography teacher asked us to each bring in a box with a tightly-fitting lid like a gift box and that we would make a camera out of it. After painting the inside of the box black, and cutting out a small window, which was then covered with aluminum foil, we each made a pinhole in the foil and took our boxes into the darkroom. We were each given a quarter of a page of light-sensitive darkroom paper (public school and creative arts funding at the best there) and we stuck it onto the opposite side of the box to the pinhole we made. When we had exposed it, we developed it, then were each given another quarter of a page to go into the darkroom to make a positive of the negative that had magically appeared from our box.

My first couple of experiments didn’t go too greatly, mostly due to poor location choice. Our choice was limited by not being able to go off of school grounds. I now can think of so many places that if I were allowed to go back in there, I would like to photograph around the school but back in those days it felt so limiting. Given the chance I would go back to the places that I remember in the school, places like the classrooms that I spent a lot of time in, places around the playground where special memories happened or even just doing close ups on the desks, chalkboards or seats.

The next couple of exposures were better, due to better location and a sunnier day. My personal favorite is the photo below which is of our ‘Hang’. This is a term used by people on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia for your place on the concrete or at a set of seats where you and your friends sit at recess and lunch. Better ‘Hangs’ are usually taken by the older class groups. Ours was a table which was pretty central to most buildings and on the grass, which I preferred more than being on the cement but always in the sun or rain as it didn’t have a roof over it.

Is there a place that you wish you could go back to and take photos of?

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