Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD) is nearly upon us for 2020. A few weeks back I decided to put together a quick reminder and thanks to Andrew Bartram, connected with WPPD’s Nick Dvoracek to find out how the event was going to pan out due to COVID-19. The short version is that Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2020 will still be observed on its traditional date, the last Sunday in April. For 2020, that’s April 26th.
The original plan behind my reminder was to focus on pinhole photography at home. I asked the community for their ideas and examples of at-home pinhole photography and in this article, I cover about a dozen different approaches and concepts you can try to recreate yourself or to use as the basis for your own pinhole experimentation.
Before we get to that, here’s a quick word from Nick Dvoracek:
Since Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day and the Pinhole Day Gallery has always been primarily a virtual event we will continue to observe it on its traditional date, the last Sunday in April, this year on the 26th.
The point of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is that everyone takes pinhole photographs on the same day, all over the world. Everyone gets to post one picture to the gallery at pinholeday.org.
We’re saddened that the public events and gatherings that introduce new people to the magic of pinhole won’t be happening this year. This will have to be a return to our roots, as Zernike Au stated in his original suggestion in 2001, as “a day for pinholers around the world.”
Although we think analog processes are the most fulfilling way to experience pinhole photography, digital images are acceptable as long as the original image was created by a pinhole. That obviously includes body caps imaging directly on a sensor, but we’re also accepting images created by a pinhole that are captured by a digital camera with a lens, such as room or even box sized camera obscuras. As long as the original image was created by a pinhole and not just a pinhole in front of a lens.
Solargraph are fine also, as long as the shutter was open on Pinhole Day.
In light of the difficulty the current crisis will make for film development in commercial labs and community dark rooms, we will extend the submission date to include your photograph in this year’s gallery until June 30th. If you can offer developing and safely exchange film, negatives and scans to others in your community, that would help people without those resources to participate.
We hope this will provide a small amount of normalcy during this extraordinary year, and we’ll look forward to seeing what the world looks like through a pinhole on April 26.
- Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2020 is on April 26th 2020.
- Submissions to pinholeday.org have been extended to June 30th 2020.
- All pinhole images made on April 26th 2020 qualify.
- Ultra long exposure photography such as solargraphs are fine as long as the shutter was open on April 26th 2020.
- Pinholes captures on photographic film, paper and digital sensors are all welcome. The medium doesn’t matter as long as the original image was created by a pinhole
With that out of the way, let’s get to the examples I promised. Below you’ll find ideas and suggestions from 13 pinhole photographers starting with Nick himself. Scroll down or click the links below to jump to a specific section:
Table of contents
- 1 Nick Dvoracek: Shut-in
- 2 Andrew Bartram: A self-portrait with your loved ones
- 3 Jason Self: Things that light up / The passage of time
- 4 Mark (3eyedmonster): General tips for shooting pinholes
- 5 Jeremy Calow: Pets and food
- 6 Bill thoo: Inside looking out
- 7 Anthony Chatain: Expired film
- 8 Danny Kalkhoven: Everyday objects
- 9 Herschel Pollard: Infinite DoF and “painted pinholes”
- 10 Matt Parry: Creative “travel” selfies
- 11 John Scarbro: Materials and texture
- 12 Monika: Light and shadow
Nick Dvoracek: Shut-in
On his website, you will find a host of pinhole camera designs you can build yourself from a range of materials you’ll probably already have in the house. Nick also tells me that somewhere in the region of half the photographs on his Pinholica block were taken in his home and garden.
Two sets specifically that you might want to use for inspiration were taken following knew surgery in 2017 when he was (mostly) confined to the upstairs of his home. Check out Shut-in and the Shut-In Challenge. While you’re there, please do have a browse. Saying there’s a wealth of examples and knowledge on Pinholica is an understatement.
Andrew Bartram: A self-portrait with your loved ones
Past EMULSIVE interviewee Andrew wrote in suggesting self-portraits with loved ones, specifically citing ILFORD HP5 PLUS as a good choice to capture indoor pinholes with just the right amount of blur (and time for you to move a bit). You needn’t skip this idea if you’re stuck indoors alone.
As he goes on to suggest, “If you are by yourself meter the scene with pinhole assist and by splitting the time in two make a friend!!! HP5 is also your friend…”
Jason Self: Things that light up / The passage of time
The frames below were all taken using ambient light (either sunlight or normal indoor lighting). Exposure time for the second frame of the clock was around 40 minutes. Both were shot on ILFORD FP4 PLUS using a RealitySo Subtle 6×6 pinhole camera. Check out more of Jason’s pinhole and other photography on Twitter.
Mark (3eyedmonster): General tips for shooting pinholes
Mark writes in saying, “The Pinhole Assist app on iPhone, a light meter and a stopwatch are my are essentials. The app offers a timer and light meter as functions, but the stand-alone meter allows for reading trickier situations. I also prefer my own timer with a count up clock because if the light changes, I can stop the exposure earlier or later than the first reading.”
“The Mr. Pinhole website also offers film reciprocity information for those not using the Apple family of products. Faster films or those with better reciprocity are my friends: Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS, Kodak Portra 400, Fujifilm Pro 400H, ILFORD HP5 PLUS and Rollei RPX 100. I tend to open as many windows possible and extra lighting is a plus.”
You can see more of Mark’s work over on Twitter.
Jeremy Calow: Pets and food
Jeremy’s first frame below is of his cat, Casey. Taking pinholes of pet might not immediately spring to mind but you can use nap time to your advantage. This frame was exposed on Kodak Portra 400 for a whopping 95 minutes. According to Jeremy, “using the reciprocity calculator for Portra 400, this exposure came in at just around 70 mins, however with light changing outdoors and the fact that the majority of the scene was shadowed, I extended the exposure for a full 95 mins.
Jeremy’s second frame is from “kitchen battle“, which started off the back on an FP4 Party on Twitter back in 2018. According to Jeremy, “this is what cooking steaks and sides for 3 looks like.” The total exposure time was just over 80 minutes with no additional light sources other than what you see in the image. See more of Jeremy’s photography on Twitter.
Bill thoo: Inside looking out
Bill stepped up with a few shots taken in and around his home. The two here are from his kitchen window sill and out in the garden.
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According to Bill, frame one, “was taken on the kitchen window sill. Pinhole macro simply means getting as close to the object as possible, which of course you can. Ondu 6×17 III Rise. JCH Streetpan at EI 200. 1min 20sec exposure (using the Ondu exposure chart – I added 2 stops extra as I know that works for Streetpan). Developed in Ilfosol-3, 1:4 dilution, 3min 30sec with 30sec agitations at 20C. Frame two on the garden table is the same as frame one but with a 40 second exposure.
Anthony Chatain: Expired film
EMULSIVE contributor Anthony has another Kitchen Battle to share. “This one was shot in my kitchen with the Ondu pinhole 6×9 MK3 I was gifted by Ondu for the last EMULSIVE Santa. The camera was loaded with expired ILFORD FP4 PLUS (maybe 20 years old?) for the FP4 Party (and for Expired Film Day) and shot at box speed. It’s cropped weirdly because either I fumbled the scan and liked the crop, or fumbled the shot and liked the crop: take your pick… I intend to use this roll of film for the #cyanotypeprintparteh coming this April.”
Danny Kalkhoven: Everyday objects
Danny wrote in with some simple pinholes of everyday objects around the house. Frame one (Couch) was shot on Kodak Portra 400 requiring an approximately 10 minute exposure. Frame two (Vases) was shot on Fuji Pro 400H and required approximately 3 minutes.
The frames were made with an 8Banners MB in 6X12 mode. This model is no longer available but according to Danny, the Ondu 6X12 and the Zero2000 6X12 are the same. You can see more of Danny’s work on his website.
Herschel Pollard: Infinite DoF and “painted pinholes”
Herschel encourages us to “use infinite DoF to capture things close and far for unusual perspective. I’ve found normal inside light shots on Portra 160 takes about five minutes. Most films you can go longer without any issues because of reciprocity failure.” He also suggested “leveraging the painted quality of pinhole”. Try some still life images.
Both photos taken with Kodak Portra 160 on a Zero Image 6×9, f/235. You can see more of Herschel’s work over at squarepegpinhole.com.
Matt Parry: Creative “travel” selfies
This one had me laughing. Completely unexpected but there’s potentially mileage in experimenting. As Matt says, “This is my home-visit to Lego London. I took a pinhole shot of my son’s Lego London (about 15 minutes indoors by a window) then took a two-second shot of a selfie out in the garden. I hadn’t wound the roll all the way so they overlap enough to look like a sort of selfie in London. Sort of.
Honestly, I love it. Please do check out more of Matt’s photography over on Twitter.
John Scarbro: Materials and texture
Pinhole photography can capture texture incredibly well and these two examples from John are perfect. The first, “For the chop” was taken under kitchen cupboard lighting after dark. It was a 60 minute exposure on Fomapan 100 Classic shot in an Ondu 6X6 and developed in Rodinal.
The second frame, “Spokeshave” was captured using light from John’s open shed door on a rainy day. It was a 45-minute exposure on ILFORD FP4 PLUS shot in an Ondu 6X6 and developed in Kodak HC-110. See more of John’s work on Twitter.
Monika: Light and shadow
I can’t put together an article about pinhole photography and leave out Monika Danos. I highly recommend heading over to Monika’s website and checking out her ongoing Housebound series, which has been shot using a Reality So Subtle 6×6 and black and white film over the course of a number of years.
Be sure to find and follow Monika over on Twitter.
Pinhole photography is one of the most creative niches in film photography and the perfect example of how restrictions can help to direct and expand creative output instead of stifling it. I’ll put my hands up and freely admit that I’m not much of a pinhole photographer myself. I appreciate the work of others but can’t see anything “worthy” in my own. Perhaps that’s an ego/perception issue but I continue to create work that makes me happy and I guess that’s what photography boils down to.
As far as pinhole photographs go, don’t let it’s fuzzy, dreamlike nature get in the way of your creativity. embrace it. I’m sure there was a mildly famous photographer who once said “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”
Over to you,
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