Monday, May 8, 2017

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2017

Backyard Pinhole Diptych
Sunday, April 30, was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Anyone who takes a pinhole photograph on WPPD can upload one image to their gallery which now hosts over a thousand images from 53 different countries. There is no entry fee, no judging, no rights grabs, no advertising, no prizes. Just a celebration of lensless photography.

It’s been five years since I participated, not due to of lack of interest but because either I didn’t have the necessary chemicals on hand or the weather was not conducive. This year was different. I selected a camera, had paper to produce negatives and developer and fixer for processing. While it was overcast, it was bright enough to produce a good exposure without excessive contrast and it wasn't raining.

I had a box of 8x10 paper that I cut in half and loaded into 4x5 film holders. Not only was this economical but the large paper negative could be contacted printed, or scanned and inverted in Photoshop, or the emulsion could be peeled from the backing and printed using an enlarger.

Another advantage to making paper negatives is that processing can be done in trays and under a safelight, using only developer; stop, fixer and a short water wash. As you can see the image coming up in the developer you can quickly evaluate both exposure and composition. The paper was outdated so I added a bit of liquid orthozite to the developer to minimize fogging.

As I hadn't shot paper negatives in a while I limited my subject matter to the backyard. By staying close to home I could leave the camera set up while I ran into the darkroom and processed the negative. If that negative wasn’t quite right I could go back to the camera and recompose or vary the exposure time.

Determining pinhole exposure times can be tricky as the apertures are tiny and the photographic paper has an ISO of around 3. I took a reading with a handheld light meter then using a pinhole exposure slide rule, found the suggested exposure for my f/419 pinhole, 8 minutes! 

4x5 Speed Graphic Pinhole camera
I like using the Speed Graphic for pinhole work. It produces a large film or paper negative. It can zoom from wide angle to telephoto depending how far I extend the bellows. It can be used in either horizontal or vertical orientation. I can load multiple film holders and stay in the field as long as I like. The flip-up eyepiece and wire finder aids in composition. It folds up for easy transport and with the exception of the bellows, is anything but fragile.

I purchased laser drilled pinholes from The Pinhole Resource to remove any doubt concerning the quality and size of the pinholes. I also bought two additional lens boards from eBay so I could have a choice of 60mm,160mm or 240mm focal lengths.

Unfortunately, the cloth shutter stopped working shortly after I purchased the camera. I now use a refrigerator magnet as a shutter.

If you participated in W.P.P.D either this year or at some time in the past, leave a comment with a link to you image. If you haven't participated yet but would like to in the future, just remember it's always the last Sunday in April.