Earlier in 2019, I built a shoebox pinhole camera, and had a blast using it. But I wanted something a bit more reliable in its outcomes, so I went online and ordered a handmade pinhole from Poland. The Vermeer 6×6 Pinhole Camera came with a 34mm focal length, and a 2mm pinhole that results in an f/170 aperture and was crafted to use 120 film.
The camera is an aesthetic delight to behold, and even more wonderful to use. The stainless knobs and brass fittings are smooth and add a nice touch to the sunflower yellow-painted sycamore wood that the attentive craftsman used to make the camera. It was well worth the 8 weeks it took to reach me.
My first shots on this camera were taken using ILFORD’s PAN F PLUS film while visiting the northern coast of California in Mendocino. The sky was gray and overcast, but the clouds were breaking just as I was setting up, and small rays of sunlight made their way into the mid-morning sky. Using the Pinhole Master app for calculating exposure time, I shot all the images at the recommended 56 seconds, allowing for the EI 50 of the film and the f/170 aperture. The camera was held steady on top of the ProMaster Specialist carbon tripod that I use for long exposures.
These five images stand for the mood of the day, and the vistas of the coastline. The final shot of the morning was from inside the room where we were staying. I wanted to see how far I could push the limits of the film and the camera. Pinhole photography is a test of a shooter’s ability to calculate the variables of the film, camera, and environment, it supplies the intensely mindful envisioning of a shot. I’m hooked, and likely will spend a weekend a month in such pleasure.
Caveat to self: the amount of time it takes to set up and shoot is not to be done under time constraints. The process simply can’t be rushed. But then that is the allure of analog photography, right?
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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