Pandemic Life Through A Pinhole
Pandemic Life - The Invisible Companion
The Sacred Sanitizer
Where the Angels Live
I made these photos on Sunday, April 26, which was World Pinhole Photography Day. It also was while we were in the midst of a global pandemic. I thought I'd try to say something about how I felt about that as well as take the opportunity to use my favorite pinhole camera. World Pinhole Photography Day is an annual event when thousands of pinhole camera devotes from all over the planet make images with both manufactured and home-made pinhole cameras and upload one of their images to an on-line gallery. It’s a fun way for people from all over the world share their creative ideas while demonstrating the artistic potential of photography’s most basic technology.
You can check out this year’s gallery here: http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2020/
A pinhole camera is the simplest device that can be used to make photographs. It is the primitive precursor of our modern phone cameras whose origins date back to the 5th century BC in China, when the phenomenon that light travels in straight lines through a tiny opening to project an inverted image on the opposite wall in a darkened room was first described. Centuries later this concept made its way to Europe during the Renaissance. Artists and scientists of that time constructed Camera Obscuras (dark rooms) to study light and perspective and to use the projected images as a drawing aide. Later versions of the camera obscura were fitted with optical glass to improve image quality. With the invention of photosensitive materials in the late 19th century, and incorporated with the camera obscura, modern photography was born.
A pinhole camera contains the four requirements for any camera, a dark box, light sensitive material (analog film or CCD sensor), an aperture or tiny hole to allow light in, and a device to control the amount of light striking the light sensitive material (the shutter). Instead of a pinhole as an aperture, most modern cameras substitute an optical glass lens to focus and amplify the light. In a pinhole camera it is only a tenths of a millimeter diameter hole which allows a tiny beam of light to pass into the camera body making the exposure.
Because there is no lens to focus and amplify the light, the quality of pinhole images is significantly different. Exposure times are usually in seconds and minutes rather than in fractions of a second as in a lens equipped camera. The images are also softer and more dreamlike, an intriguing aesthetic that often is the attraction of pinhole images.
I have been making pinhole images for decades but started participating in World Pinhole Photography Day in 2007 when I first learned about it. I was teaching photography at the Singapore American School then and had always included a unit on the pinhole camera in my courses. My students built their own cameras out of oatmeal boxes and tin cans. I also encouraged my students to participate in the on-line event and upload their images. The cameras were always basic, and we used photo printing paper as film, mainly so we could develop it in the darkroom in trays under safelights to get immediate feedback. It was a fun project; the results were often very interesting and most of the students enjoyed the totality of the creative process. I liked to call it the ultimate in low tech photography.
This year’s images were made with an Eight Banners pinhole camera that I found in one of the camera shops in Singapore. It is made in China of solid metal with a mechanical shutter. It uses 120 size roll film to obtain a 6X9cm negative. These images were made with Kodak Tri-X film. This year’s pinhole day was cloudy and gray which required a 20” exposure. The film was developed in Kodak D76 1:1 dilution and the negatives scanned and adjusted in Lightroom.
Keywords: analog photography, b&w, black and white film, covid-19, life in the time of corona, medium format, pandemic life, pinhole camera
Liza bufolopolis myers(non-registered)
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