On creative pins and needles

May 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

cayucos, pier, pinholeCayucos pierPinhole camera effect

Pinhole takes photography back to the absolute basics - just a box with a tiny hole to let the light in.  A portable camera obscura.  Since there’s no lens, you can’t focus or change the aperture.  And if it’s a true pinhole box camera, the shutter is just a little flap (lift it and start counting) and there’s probably no viewfinder.

I say all this, of course, having never used one, so hopefully my description is accurate.  But I’ve been thinking about pinhole photography lately, and decided to experiment with processing techniques that convey the dreamy qualities that come to mind when you think of pinhole camera images.  They often show dramatic vignetting, a pleasing grain and blur.  

"Morro Bay", dock, pinholeWaitingMorro Bay. Pinhole camera effect.

Choosing the subject matter is important, and I think these images capture the emotional impact that pinhole photographs can have.  There are two images taken on piers that give a sense of loneliness (the tattered chair and long shadows) and open space (the long pier with human figures barely visible in the distance).  And then the hood ornament of an old truck, shot with a dramatic wide angle.

Of course experimenting with creative techniques that evoke this retro technology makes me long for the real thing.  There are some nifty wooden pinholes being made now - a wooden camera!  Hmmm….  More to come?

California, Campo, "Motor Transport Museum", pinhole, truckFigureheadPinhole camera effect. Motor Transport Museum, Campo.


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