This week, our photo class assignment was to take a walk with your camera, take some photos, and look them over-“let them wash over you”, as our instructor would say.
Then we were to take the same walk again, and see if the first set of images affected our perception of the territory.
While walking my dog, I had taken some neighborhood shots, but because I take this walk so often, it was hard to get inspired, so I decided to mix it up by making a pinhole lens.
I am attracted to alternative processes.
Photography can be so modern, and so technical, both in its execution and processing, that we can lose track of what went on prior to the “Modern Era”. I’m not talking about the film vs. digital debate, but all imagemaking. The stuff that happens at the fringe frequently makes us think differently about what we do, even if we are in the mainstream.
Just like I am not a good still life or portait photographer, I’m also not a good pinhole shooter. For me, the best pinhole photos illustrate what is unique about the process-the crazy wide angles and near infinite depth of field. Some photogs have an eye for the subject matter that brings this to the final image, and some don’t.
But it is still fun to try.
There is satisfaction in making the lens. Those of us who spend our days doing work that produces no physical, tangible thing still enjoy getting our hands dirty from time to time.
There are premade pinhole lenses available all over the Internet. However, their marketing is loaded with language about “laser cut pinholes”, “flawless”, and “precision fit”, which is the opposite of why I am attracted to pinhole photography-the unexpected results are what I am looking for.
I already had a body cap for my camera, and I had saved a soft drink can from my last lens project, so I knocked out a new lens, and took my dog for a walk.
My experience with these home made lenses is the best results come from bold, colorful shapes that are brightly lit.
The play structure at our neighborhood park seemed a good subject, as did the giant, springy insects that the kids bounce round on.
I rounded this exercise out in my backyard with a birdhouse and garden troll.