A pinhole camera is a simple camera (can be made using cardboard too) without a lens and with a single small aperture – effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. The basic procedure of a pinhole involves light passing through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, that is photography in its simplest form. The human eye in bright light acts similarly, as do cameras using small apertures.
In time for the recent Pinhole Photography Day I’d like to share some of the beautiful moments this pinhole camera brings to our hectic lives. Life became very easy with digital cameras. Everyone is a photographer now; even a mobile phone can take pictures in good quantity and quality but where is the art of photography in that? Where is the creative aspect of creating a masterpiece? Clicking hundreds of pictures a day is not called pure photography. Such questions can get its answers if we take little effort to turn back and embrace the early process of not clicking but making an image.
Once considered as an obsolete technique from the early days of photography, pinhole photography is from time to time a trend in artistic photography. Pinhole is pure art where one learns the essence of how a picture is made: simply that of light hitting film or photographic paper. It makes your photo a live painting in open air.
My son stood still for 1 minute while feeding his rabbit with some carrots
In reality, everything around us are constantly in motion. There is a moment in the air and surroundings. The image a pinhole captures gives a sense of movement.
It is a very slow process;, the exposure times start from few seconds to maybe even a year. Not to worry about the focal distance as the Depth of Field (DOF) is infinite. One can also take real cool close up photos. Pictures can be taken on films, photosensitive paper, even in SLR cameras without the lens. Certain pinhole cameras are available but the real magic is to make a DIY pinhole camera. There are many resources online teaching you how to make a pinhole camera. Believe me, it’s really fun!
Patience is a real tool for successful pinhole pictures. Pinhole pictures turn out to be unpredictable, happy accidents where double exposure is made in one single shot and the whole result is a surprise package. A good picture a day is really hard to get but once you keep trying for the love of creative photos, good results are always on the way.
Early morning in a fishing village. My sister stood still for 30 seconds.
Pinhole photography was my long-time dream. Last winter, I decided to make my own pinhole camera, and did one too with a watch canister (spherical perspective) and a plain box(square format). I used photosensitive paper and 120 film. With the paper negative, one has to cut it according to the camera’s size in a dark room, then place it in the can in the dark again. Next will be to expose it, replace it in the dark again, give it to the lab and wait for the result.
That moment you see the resulting image is the most thrilling part for all analogue lovers. The results you get are surreal, haunting, dreamy, real life images. When the picture is right you, you ask the age-old question: is it the photographer or the camera that makes the image?
Well, I will be happy nd proud to say that I ditched digital or view camera for a watch canister pinhole camea. If you can make or get compelling images with a simple light-tight box, some film or photographic paper, available light, and a little time on your hands, well, turning back to history to realize the simple formula of photography is surely a worth a try.
I am not a professional pinhole artist but I like to indulge in such creative photography on a regular basis. It keeps you very grounded and beat the boredom of regular perfect shots from mobile phones. Do check my photos — if I can do it, anybody can do it too!
Happy Pinhole Day! Keep taking pictures!
“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey