Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Low-tech photography

Someone said to me yesterday, "what's pinhole photography?" So, with that as a prompt, here's a couple from the files. First a very literal - albeit panoramic - image:

The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. Copyright © Duncan Waldron, 1998. All rights reserved.

This was taken with a shoebox camera; literally, a shoebox, with a pinhole in one long side, and a long piece of film curving around opposite the pinhole. It gives a nice, straight, rendition of straight lines, around a very wide angle (about 155°). How does it work? Simple - light comes in through the pinhole, in a straight line, and hits the film opposite. Where it hits, it makes an image of whatever was exactly opposite the pinhole, outside the camera.

The second image was taken slightly differently, using a cardboard mailing tube, with a sheet of printing paper inside it. Same principle, but the geometry is different, hence funny curvy lines.

The City Observatory, Edinburgh. Copyright © Duncan Waldron, 1998. All rights reserved.

At its simplest, pinhole photography is just that - punch a hole in tin foil with a pin, and take a picture. You can do it with a normal SLR camera (with the lens replaced by the tinfoil), but the results will be a bit fuzzy. I tend to be a bit particular, and make a pinhole as near perfect as possible, and precisely the right size for the camera. But that's just me, pedantic as ever.

I'm interested in the number of finely-crafted pinhole cameras available these days - often lovely wood and brass. I have a notion to create one of my own, based upon an experiment a few years ago. It will be a challenge to create what I have in mind, but Rome wasn't built in a day, so if I just get started on the task, it might hit the market one day. Will there still be film available to put inside it then? That's another matter entirely!

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