Pinhole Magic

December 9, 2010

Pinhole 1 / 8th December 2010

I started work with an Intergenerational group in Draíocht a few weeks ago. Part of my residency must engage with a youth group in the Dublin 15 area. Eight older people and 6 transition year students from various schools come together every Tuesday and will work towards making a set of photographs to be exhibited in Draíocht next April. The exact theme of the project is still being teased out. These past few weeks however have been very much about getting back to basics with photography making and using pinhole cameras. The magic of this process never fails to amaze me. How a beautiful image can be formed with a box as small as a matchbox and a tiny almost invisible opening made from a pinhole.

After messing with boxes that took black and white paper as the negative, I decided to make cameras that took 35mm film instead. They give you more than one shot and you can take it directly to a lab if you wanted, eliminating the need for a darkroom. I made mine with a matchbox and some 400 ISO black and white film (Ilford HP5). After an initial test, it was clear that a tripod was very necessary and before the big thaw arrived, I decided to capture some snow. These were taken with an f-stop of 90 and a 1 second exposure each.

Pinhole 2 / 8th December 2010

Pinhole 3 / 8th December 2010

Pinhole 4 / 8th December 2010

Pinhole 4 / 8th December 2010

Pinhole 5 / 8th December 2010

Digital cameras have largely removed the method of investigation from taking photographs. A photograph instantly viewed on the back of a camera is immediately judged as being acceptable or not. Where it fails, a new one is taken and repeated until the photograph is satisfactory. Pinhole photography puts the thinking caps back on. There is one chance with a roll of film. It works or it doesn’t. Somewhere therein lies the magic.

Pinhole Camera

The following are images taken from my digital camera prior to the pinholes.


One Response to “Pinhole Magic”

  1. anne b flanagan Says:

    Very good , how interesting , I had a box camara long ago and think it is in my collection but where,?

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