Day 118: Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

As I mentioned in this morning’s reblogged post, today is a day to celebrate the pinhole camera. We met a group of people down at the B&H store in Manhattan, talked a little about how to convert cameras to take pinhole pictures and things to remember as we figured out exposure times. Then we all trundled off to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. (Yes, Hell’s Kitchen has been gentrified for quite a few years already.)

I did not actually bring a pinhole camera of my own. By the time we had decided to attend, it was already too late to find something for me to convert. I was also a bit intimidated by the equipment I imagined would be in use by other photographers on the walk. I didn’t want to show up with my little kit camera (that isn’t even built yet!) and look like a poseur.

I needn’t have worried. As it turns out, most of the people there were sporting their DSLRs fitted with a custom body cap with a hole in it. Those who didn’t even have the cap could buy one ready-made in the store. Rather than dealing with exposure, some of them just changed settings on their camera so the exposure wouldn’t be so long. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise, really. Buzz, with his converted Brownie, scored major points with our workshop leader. I had my Lubitel 166B with me, and that got a little attention from those who knew what it was. It isn’t a pinhole, but at least it’s film!

What we did have along with us was a camera that the workshop leader had bought from a previous attendee. It is an old Polaroid film back attached to a cigar box with the pinhole in the front of the box.  That satisfies those who prefer film, and those others who want the instant gratification of digital. He let everyone have a go with the cigar pinhole camera so we could all try at least one film shot.

Here was my effort:

Day 118 - First pinhole picture

It is underexposed, and this film seemed to give a blue tint to everyone’s pictures, but I still kind of like the silhouettes. (The specks on the right of the picture aren’t dust on the scanner. They were actually on the film.)

It also gave me an idea for my own possible conversion camera:

Day 118 - Polaroid 2

This was the camera that captured a great deal of my childhood. My father bought it in 1965 (I still have the receipt) and he was quite proud of it. I found it again a few years back and kept it, but so far it’s been only decorative and sentimental. But it might be put back into use soon.

I think I smell a summer project…


5 comments on “Day 118: Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

  1. margaret21 says:

    Um. I may be missing something. But why convert a functioning camera back into something that is essentially a pre-camera? I mean, shouldn’t you all have been doing like the guy with the cigar box and making your own? There’s a firm of toy-makers in the UK that would sell you a kit! (And no, the word ‘toy-maker’ is not intended as a put-down. This firm sells things for intelligent youngsters to experiment with)

    • limr says:

      Well, it depends on a few things. The guy with the cigar box actually took an existing Polaroid camera, took off the lens and bellows thingy and then attached it to the cigar box. If I have to irreparably destroy my own Polaroid, then I wouldn’t do it, but some of those old cameras have lenses that are easy to take out and put back in, so I might be able to use it as a pinhole or as a regular camera. Either that or I’ll haunt my regular ‘antique’ shops until I find one that might still works for processing, but might have a broken something-or-other. The advantage is that the film cartridge/winding mechanism (and in the Polaroid’s case, processing) is all in place and that doesn’t have to be rigged up from scratch in a cigar box. So if someone wants to shoot a roll of 35mm or even medium format (120) film through a pinhole camera, it’s a lot easier to take an existing camera and adapt it.

      The other way people make pinhole pictures, though, is using sheet film (one large piece of film) or photo-sensitive paper, which wouldn’t necessarily need any winding mechanism or film cartridge. It’s one shot and then done. The sheet film can be expensive to process if you’re not doing it yourself, though. The easiest way, really, is the photo-sensitive paper, and you can create some funky images that way.

      • margaret21 says:

        Yes, I think it was the photo-sensitive paper thingy I was thinking of (you’re not making the mistake of assuming I know what I’m talking about, are you?), and yes, I’ve seen some pretty cool images (not pictures) done like that

  2. […] already seen my first attempt using borrowed pinhole. Here are some that Buzz took with his modified […]

  3. […] on something a bit more organically retro. Ever since I decided to work more actively with the resurrected Land Camera, I’ve been ever-so-slightly […]

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