The afternoon of April 27, 2014 was spent on a Langley farm in Canada taking pictures with a homemade paint can pinhole camera, celebrating World Pinhole Photography Day. I am akula, a high school photography teacher, and this is why pinhole photography works for me.
April 27, 2014 was spent striving for perfect photographs taken with a camera made from a paint can. I planned for this day by converting my bathroom into a darkroom. My paint can pinhole camera takes one 18 × 25 cm photo at a time. It took three failed attempts to find the right exposure, which is between three and four minutes. The very fine aperture (made with a beading needle in the aluminum cut from a pop can) and the large negative make for a sharp image. One of the most interesting aspects of pinhole photography is the virtually infinite depth of field. I also like the ghosting effect you can get from very long exposures. The curved back of my paint can camera distorts the image; straight lines appear curved and bowed.
Each print was processed between shots; this was a very slow process. Being slow and methodical, however, allowed me to work out composition and concept.The first image is a self-portrait with a Paragon cup and saucer, with me sitting on a bench next to the side of the house. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cedar shakes were rendered. The cedar shakes show the distortions created by the curved back of the paint can camera. I shot 4 versions of this photo. Each version creates a different narrative.
I also photographed my son’s bike and myself on a ladder.
The last two photos I shot that day were as the sun was getting low in the sky, the camera was on the ground pointed towards a back lit gate and fence. I posed in one of these shots, leaning up against the gate to keep still for the four-minute exposure. Due to the ghosting effect, it looks as though I am standing on the other side of the gate.
I am pleased with the results of the afternoon’s efforts and glad that World Pinhole Photography Day gave me a reason to play with a slow but awesome homemade camera.