Saturday, June 11, 2016

Published 1:28 PM by with 0 comment

Stills from a Dream - Imagined Worlds in Pinhole Photography


I have only recently discovered pinhole photography but it has unleashed a whole new creative world in which to frolic. For now, at least, I have placed my vintage glass on the shelf and opted for a lensless alternative.

Chitina Emporium

Ghost of Keystone Mine

For those of you who do not know what it is, pinhole photography is achieved by using some kind of light-tight chamber (a box or tin, etc.) with a tiny hole poked through to allow an image to form on its back interior wall. In film photography, the actual film resides on that back wall and an image forms. In digital pinholing (what I'm doing), the chamber is my camera and I make it light-tight by screwing on the camera's body cap in place of the lens. What allows the image to form on the sensor is a tiny pin prick in the middle of the plastic cap. This results in a kind of crude, soft image that appears out of focus, almost ethereal. Because the hole is so tiny, it takes time to allow enough light in to make an image. The shutter will expose the photograph for a much longer time than is usual using a traditional lens. Exposure times can be in seconds, minutes, hours or even days and weeks. Think of it like capturing light trails in a city at night.



I usually work in seconds and that much time allows me to get creative with motion. On a typical bright day, I might have about two seconds of exposure time to work with. A tripod is a must. Anything moving in the frame will be a blur. If I place myself in the frame, I can control the blurring by how fast or slow I move. The results are ghostly. I remain anonymous because of the blurring which, in turn, creates a sense of mystery. It's this atmosphere that inspires me the most. It's like being able to capture something on another plain of existence.



I like the idea of my photographs looking like the camera captured something not normally seen by the naked eye or maybe even something not meant to be seen. When I set up a shot and have a pretty solid idea of the concept, I'm almost always surprised by what is captured. Because of the unpredictable nature of this technique, there are many more failures than successes but that's part of the fun. In my current collection, the vast majority of theses photographs took on a life of their own after I triggered the shutter.

Bygone Days

I'm working towards creating a book of my pinhole photographs. I believe that this kind of imagery needs to be savored on a page. They are not the kinds of pictures to flip through in fractions of a second, rather, they demand longer attention akin to their actual creation process.



As I continue on my travels, I am now capturing two versions of what I see. One "normal photograph" that represents the physical place and another that's extracted solely from my imagination.

My Adobe Spark (formerly Slate) presentation of this post is available here

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Published 10:19 AM by with 2 comments

Pictures in Motion - Pinhole Photography

A photograph typically represents a single moment in time. Exposures are measured in fractions of a second and can freeze in place a fleeting smile or a speeding car.
When I moved from making films to making photographs, my mental process also shifted. In many ways I found it more of a challenge to capture what I was seeing. With video, I could move the camera around inside the three dimensional scene. It was easy for the viewer to get a feeling of scale and depth. Sound helped convey the environment and a sense of being there. Scenes played out in real time, just like the seconds and minutes in our daily lives.
Not so with a photograph. I had to condense all of that sensory experience into a single silent moment. For the most part, however, I didn't miss video except for one thing: the ability to record the passing of time.
I've always been fascinated by long exposure photographs. They live in their own world, free from the shackles of split-second shutter speeds. They are like time machines, allowing us to study the cumulative rhythms of waves or the morphing of clouds. They can create a three-dimensional silence like no other medium.
It was through my own dabbling with long exposure methods that I became interested in pinhole photography. The left side of my brain was most curious about capturing an image without a lens. The right side was seduced by the emotion, mood and atmosphere felt in pinhole photography.
I've never been completely satisfied shooting images of beautiful scenery. I don't feel like these kinds of photographs belong to me because they lack any kind of expression or personality. They are also predictable; I see a tree, I capture a tree. I see beautiful light and, assuming I have the skills necessary, it's captured faithfully.
Pinhole photography unleashes my creative side. It's a unique collaboration between human and machine. The ethereal atmosphere and the long exposures excite my mind into imagining new worlds. I think about what I can do inside five seconds or maybe thirty seconds and produce surreal images that I could never have conjured up by myself. It's like a genre unto itself; somewhere between photography and video.
The results of my recent efforts have been haunting, at least to me. The movement in each picture puts them in a completely different realm than my lovely generic landscape photography. These are uniquely mine and I won't find anything like them elsewhere.

I'll continue to capture the beauty I see around me in a conventional way, of course, but pinhole photography will stay a little closer to my heart as I continue on down the road.

My Adobe Spark (formerly Slate) presentation of this post is available here

If you would like to keep up with my travels, sign up to be notified of new posts. Peace.
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