Is your glass half full or half empty? I carry too many cameras at one time. I don’t say this because of some generally accepted number that is “too many”. Like anyone can even know that. I say that I carry too many cameras because of the physical limitations of having only 2 arms and 1 back. This situation occasionally leads to an awkward moment, the worst of these being the “drop”. That’s right, the hair on the back of your neck just stood up…rightly so. No camera-loving fool wants to drop his or her camera. No matter how many he or she has.
Now, as you read this, you have crept to the edge of your seat, hoping beyond hope that this story is not going where you think it is going. But maybe it is.
I was gearing up for a quick trip downtown and grabbed one of my camera bags thoughtlessly as I stepped into my shoes and had one hand on the door. I noticed the unfastened clip at the same moment that the Polaroid Colorpack II tumbled through the opening. Everything over the next 0.62 seconds transpired in slow motion. The hard plastic camera somersaulted gracefully through the void, completing a perfect landing on the bottom corner of the lens. If only the sound waves caused by my imitation of Luke Skywalker upon discovering his parentage – “NOOoooooOOOOooooOOOOoooo!!!!!!” – could have cushioned the impact. The hardwood floor stood its ground, while the pride of Edwin Land that had witnessed more history than my eyes will see before my kids finish highschool mapped multiple trajectories at my feet.
My first reaction, not unlike a child upon picking an unripe strawberry, was to push the broken pieces back together. There was no way that this technique would yeild positive results. The lens no longer fit snug against the plastic box.
My second reaction, only slightly delayed, was to cry softly to myself.
At this point, I knew I would not be judged too harshly for scooping up this lifeless purveyor of instant miracles, and depositing her in the rubbish bin like so many darkslides. As I bent closer to the sad remnant, a voice spoke to me. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I looked around to see where it was coming from, and quickly realized that it was my own sheer brilliance talking. This trusty tool of picture taking treasures was trying to tell me something. It wanted to become some good old pinhole flavoured lemonade.
I ran to the garage, then the office, then came back to the camera with a screw driver, an old school floppy disk, a roll of electrical tape, a hammer, some sandpaper, and a sewing needle.
First, I snapped the thin metal cover off the 3-1/2 floppy disc (I have a huge stash of these if you’d like one), and tapped a hole through the centre of it with a standard sewing needle (I have no idea what size the needle was – it was the first one I found). A quick pass with the sandpaper on the back of the new hole fixed the jagged edges.
I unfastened a couple of small screws inside the camera to remove the entire front of the body.
Last, I applied enough electrical tape to the floppy-disc-camera-body combo to seal out all the light, air, random thoughts, and alien probes.
I really had no idea what the aperture was, so I used an age old method for timing the exposure. 1 steamboat, 2 steamboat, 3 steamboat… until I felt like the composition would least expect it. It is quite likely that the exposures ranged from 20 seconds to a full minute.
Pinhole photography is one of the most straightforward forms of photography, the hardest part is probably getting the kids to stay still long enough.