Tag Archives: Zen

Action Pinhole

After reading the latest issue of Light Leaks, the fantastic magazine dedicated to lo-fi photography, I was inspired to try my hand at pinhole photography…again.

I should explain that my first foray into the world of pinhole consisted of me constructing a thrift store pinhole cam which was fun but ultimately anti-climactic. After constructing the camera, which took place over a couple of days I took it out for a spin. Since I’d never shot with a pinhole, nor seen many pinhole images, I was unsure what subjects would be best photographed through this primitive device. The result was a mediocre roll of 36 exposures, with the exception of a few goofy shots I took on a roll of black and white. I was happy my photos actually came out but the thrift store panoramic camera is not something I’ve used more than two times.

Enter the latest issue of Light Leaks. The gallery of photos was impressive and proved that there’s much more to pinhole photography than just opening the shutter and hoping your film is exposed to enough light. Images of idyllic landscapes and ordinary restaurants were laced with gauzy, ghostly impressions of people moving about, leaves blowing in the breeze and even a little camera shake. The contrast between the sharply focused static objects and carefree blurry moving ones was beautiful. After absorbing it all I decided it was time to play with my Diana F+ on pinhole setting.

I titled this blog  ‘Action Pinhole’ because I decided to focus on capturing moving objects against a static background. These were the type of pinhole photos that were most striking to me.

First up was the bowling alley, a place my family loves to go on rainy days. I first set Diana up right in front of the ball return chute facing the lanes and left the shutter open for about 10 minutes.

I then moved it right in front of the gutter and exposed the shot for 15 minutes.

For the third shot I aimed it at the lane to our left which was empty for about 5 minutes then became active with bowlers for the last half of the frame’s exposure time.

Finally I set the camera on the armrest of one of the chairs nearest the lanes. This picture came out the blurriest and most abstract of all due to the fact that my 3 year-old was jumping in and out of my lap for most of the exposure time. It kind of looks like those NASA shots of the surface of Jupiter.

Pinhole Diana’s next action-adventure was swim team practice at the YMCA. My girls practice for an intense hour, giving me plenty of time to snap off a few frames. My methods were similar to the bowling alley trip in that I left the film exposed for 10 then 15 minutes except this time I only changed the point of view slightly as I was limited to the viewing area outside the pool deck. My shots weren’t as blurry because the camera was sitting, undisturbed, on the windowsill. I really love the way the pool looks rather ghostly. There’s no evidence of life in the photo at all when, in fact, the pool was buzzing with about a hundred kids.

All in all, this was a really fun experiment. I’m going to replicate it again for sure. It’s the first time I’ve ever used the pinhole setting on my Diana and I was very pleased with the results. Although making my own pinhole camera was a lot of fun (and frustrating at times) , I’d rather focus on making the images as interesting as possible. With my free time somewhat limited, it’s Zen-like aspect of the pinhole experience that appeals to me: The careful selection of subject and the waiting of multiple minutes for a shot to expose on the film. The simplicity of pinhole photography and the unique results are just one more reason why film is such a special and irreplaceable medium.


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