pinhole when in a hole

Irish Museum of Modern Art

digital pinhole

there is a town in Puerto Rico, called Loiza, where Loiza Aldea is known for festival(s) of the superstitious arts. while thinking it was local — to be so superstitious — I had completely forgotten about the USA and Baseball. no, this is not the domain of Cuban players in movies ( Major League ), but very much rampant among players — Wade Boggs anyone?

it is with some humour to find a similar approach to photography. the dreaded “being in a funk” has attempts at being solved by using a favorite camera, or lens, or film, or undertaking some other form of restrictive measure.

it can be argued that restrictions make sense in photography to shake-off a perceived funk, or to find a way back into photography. this has been much more talked about with the advent of digital photography and the ease by which we can take 317 photos within a few seconds if we want to do so. then, everyone thinks back to film ( or finds out about it ), as a way to think a bit more critically before taking a photo, with cost of development and scanning ( time=money ) as deterrent to going crazy with the shutter.

I am not sure where a random selection of a camera or lens comes into play with restrictions to get out of funk, but it can work. however, if one is differentiating between a Hasselblad, and a compact, then one can think of how the viewing-through and rendition difference between the two cameras can be effective. better yet, if one can think of how the camera is going to make one take photos differently, then that may be a better approach.

compacts: enter the phone camera
if one is always taking photos with an SLR, for all the desired properties, it may be worth pointing out that most ( vocal in forums ) people go into SLRs because of the increased quality, not because of the physical properties. perhaps the exception quoted to the physical properties is that of achieving some bokeh that is not possible with the compact. still, this is more of a novelty/trick* perception than actually the properties of an SLR.

yet, the compact offers a greater advantage: to take a photo, the camera has to be with you, and be able to set it up for what is seen. in this sense, the phone is even more convenient, and without any zooming capabilities, perhaps more to the point of making one think about the photo a bit more than with a zoom-capable compact. zooming with the feet becomes a bit more natural.

a first step to “leave the bulkiness at home” was to think of the iPhone, or any phone, as camera. give it some qualities and restrictions to cause the photographic eye to work differently. for instance, the photos in the iPhoneography showcase are based on the the restrictions of: 1) quick development and sharing of the photo; 2) all processing within the phone; 3) minimization of presets, or no “presets only” work to remove laziness.

in way, if one does not consider #3, it is to consider the iPhone as a instant camera, like a Polaroid. the addition of #3 is to avoid further thought and queueing up of photos to process in a computer. also, not thinking of the presets to use can allow the photographer to consider the photo in the context of the presentation that is desired, not what someone else has programmed.

pinhole: a gimmick?
pinhole is all the rage. at least in relative terms. like with wide angle lenses, one can take a pinhole photo of anything. and so where is the restrictions that would make the get-out-of-funk be something fruitful? it is the pinhole.

many pinhole cameras are made for film. unless one uses Ilford Delta 3200 film, then the effective ƒ128 to ƒ256 requires a long exposure, so it is a thoughtful set up. while I loved what people can do with pinhole photography ( for example, Jacqueline Walters photos on flickr ), at least at the beginning of consideration, it was not for me. in part, because I could not see in pinhole.

enter Wanderlust Cameras with their Pinwide pinhole for micro 4/3rds cameras. now, I could attach a well-designed wide angle pinhole to a digital camera, albeit of dubious quality relative to an SLR (with the Olympus E-P1, but not with the E-P3, in my opinion).

yet, I had to consider: am I to maximize the joining of cliché x cliché? wide angle and pinhole? not that they demand cliché, but it can readily happen when one least suspects it. in fact, they should come with such warning.

however, this turbo’d-cliché can actually resolve the ideas of restrictions. if instead of taking photos of just about anything, then think pinhole first. for me this meant to consider the properties of the resulting photo: heavy vignetting, a wide angle, and a soft photo of all that is in view. there is the wide angle distortion/curvature, but that can be cured somewhat with Photoshop or Lightroom.

the heavy vignetting means that, unlike most photos with any other lens, that there has to be something of importance in the middle of the frame, as it is going to be best lit in the rendition. the wide angle is a new consideration, as I do not use my wide angle lens very much, so the distance between objects in depth is going to “dramatic.” the soft focus is actually not a restriction, as I have done intentional blurring and find it very appealing, but it is still a “demanding feature.”

thus, in thinking of using the pinhole, there is so little that can be “properly” photographed with it, yet that demands greater attention to the surroundings as I walk around with the camera. having a flexibility with the ISO, and micro 4/3rds cameras not having a mirror, that means that 1/8th of a second is not an improper setting for handheld pinhole photography! the compactness, and lightweight, of a E-P3 means that a small tripod is also very convenient to haul around — for instance, a Gorillapod with a ballhead included.

this approach to get out of a funk may not be for just anyone. in a way, this an approach of compartmentalizing one’s approach to photography, rather than a single camera to further the understanding of how an SLR works — for instance.



[ link ] pinhole photography showcase

* the indicator of this tendency is that people can mention that they want an SLR and ƒ1.4 lens for “nice bokeh.” of course, what is not mentioned is that there is no problem in obtaining a rich bokeh at ƒ4, which it is less fraught with artifacts of many lenses performing poorly when wide open.


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