When I was a student at the Fine Arts Academy in Perugia, I fell in love with stenopeic photography and started gathering every kind of document I could about it and its technical evolution. I asked for some information from my photography teacher, Antonio Todini – He suggested that I search “Pinhole Photography” on the internet and as a way of remembering things said: “Pinhole, it sounds like pinolo (pine nut, in Italian), but with the ‘H’ after the ‘N’ and the final ’E’”. Since that moment the little nut planted itself in my mind and grew in the form of a challenge to make my very own pine nut pinhole camera!
- After eating the pine nut fruit, I used the sides of the shell as a “camera obscura”. I needed the inside to be black, so I painted it. Then, I made a hole in the center of one side and applied on it a plate with a pinhole in the center. I also made two little metal rings, whose function was to keep shut the nut and keep off the light.
- In a dark room I snipped some photographic paper paper as big as the pinenut size and put them into the little camera, that I called Pinholo. I used my thumb as shutter.
- Removing the thumb from the hole and pointing the nut at my face then pointed a flash light right on my face (and going blind for a while).
- Back in the dark room, I opened the Pinholo and put the photographic paper bit in the developing bowl. At the center of the paper started to appear something, somehow similar to a portrait… the Pinholo functioned!
- With the scanner I enlarged the little negatives and restored them in positive. Eureka! The portraits were real!
So, I was able to turn a pine nut into a functioning stenopeic camera. I was so enthusiast that I based my graduation thesis on the pinholo. And it was a winning choice!
Born as a wordplay, soon the pinholo became a challenge and, years later, it still is intriguing, while I still play and take on new challenges…
World Pinhole Day is on Sunday! Find out more about it at www.pinholeday.org