Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day Results

Well, the results of the great Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day experiment are in. Your Humble Filmosaur was part of a group of pinhole photographers that met at the B&H store in NYC before heading out to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market to take some pictures. Most of those assembled had mounted pinhole caps to their various Nikon DSLRs, which was all well and good, I suppose, but somehow being able to crank up the ISO to 12800 in order to shorten the shutter times and induce noise (NOT grain) seems antithetical to the whole “keep it simple” mindset of pinhole photography. But anyway….

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100

I shot a single roll of Fuji Acros; two frames before we arrived and the remainder together with the group. Watching as everyone set up their tripods at the entrance to the flea market presented an interesting sort of sociology lesson: New Yorkers will apparently take great interest in half a dozen people setting up cameras even though there is nothing remarkable at all going on, but the aging Iggy Pop-lookalike in the pink bikini and matching cowboy hat is completely ignored by everyone.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100

While I did meter most of my exposures (I think), I seem to have blown out a lot of the highlights. It was a very bright day and, if I’m honest, I was not fully focused on trying to nail the exposure. Pinhole photography is a rather imperfect science, and the imperfections are part of the charm, if you ask me. (How’s THAT for rationalizing?)

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Fuji Acros 100

It was a good time, and it was nice to see others interested in trying a new type of photography, though somehow the idea of sticking a pinhole plate on a DSLR that cost as much as a car still seems a bit absurd to me. Nevertheless, Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day has come and gone, and I was there and have the pictures to prove it.

Particularly Pleasing Practice Pinhole Pictures, Part 2

As promised, here is a second set of pinhole shots in advance of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day; same roll of Kodak Ektar, same pinhole-converted Brownie Flash Six-20 camera. The first set can be found here.

I was pretty happy with the way the shadows held up on these, particularly in terms of the edge detail. Granted, these were hard shadows in bright sunlight, but I was a bit surprised that a pinhole still rendered small, complex shapes relatively clearly. Look at the decorative shapes on the top of the fence as an example.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

You can’t see it very well in the scaled-down full frame below, but in the full-size scan the shadows of the individual slats that make up the backs of the chairs are distinct against the wall of the house. The big 6×9 negatives are a major factor, I’m sure (I’m quite skeptical that you’d anything like this much detail from a similar pinhole setup on a standard 35mm negative).

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

Here’s a crop of the detail. You can even make out the millwork on the rail posts. (Sorry for the dusty scan; I didn’t have time to clean them up, and the dust doesn’t show in the scaled-down versions.)

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

With all this talk about sharpness and detail (which is really a bit silly; if one really wanted sharp, detailed photos, a pinhole camera would be pretty low on the list or preferred equipment), I would be remiss if I didn’t include this last shot. It was the last on the roll, and shot directly into the light. Apparently this can produce a weird rainbow tie-dye effect as the light passes through the aperture. I’m sure I couldn’t repeat this if I tried.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

That’s all the practice I’m going to get before Sunday, so we’ll see how it goes. Happy pinholing!

Particularly Pleasing Practice Pinhole Pictures, Part 1

As you may or may not know, Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is Sunday 28 April 2013. Yes, this coming Sunday. And as you also may or may not know, Your Humble Filmosaur intends to take part, using the converted Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 introduced here recently. Of course, I’ve only had this thing for a few weeks, so I figured I should probably get in a little practice before the big day is upon us.

The first roll I shot was Fuji Acros 100; I chose it because it has very low reciprocity failure (essentially none up to 120-second exposures). This is the film I will shoot on Sunday. Strictly out of curiosity, however, I decided to load up a roll of Kodak Ektar for my second practice roll. Ektar is not known as a particularly tolerant film; it behaves sort of like a slide film in that it prefers exposure to be pretty close to dead-on, and from what little information I could find, reciprocity failure begins to show around 1 second, meaning I’d have to calculate that into essentially every shot. The colors are bright and saturated, but the saturation can become lurid quickly if the film is overexposed. But why not try it? You don’t really see a lot of color pinhole pictures, so why not see how they would turn out?

It was mid-afternoon on a bright, sunny, but slightly windy, day when I arrived at one of my local haunts. All the flowering trees are out around here, a good test to see how Ektar handled color through a pinhole. Walking around knowing I had eight frames to fill and trying to get a decent mix of motion and still, sun and shadow wasn’t really all that difficult. The wind was strong enough that the plants and clouds were moving a bit and the sun was starting to drop toward the west.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

Well, I obviously got color. No modifications to any of these, by the way. All I did was set the black and white points for the film and loaded my Ektar color correction profile in the scanning software; no post-processing whatsoever. Ektar definitely lives up to its reputation for saturation, pinhole or not.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

Sure, the exposures aren’t perfect, but that’s part of the experience of pinhole photography (or so I keep telling myself). I did meter and added 1 1/3 stops to account for reciprocity failure; these ranged from 7 to 22 seconds.

Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar
Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20 Pinhole Conversion, Kodak Ektar

I really can’t complain about any of these. The color is great, quite saturated but true to what it actually looked like (well, the sky might be a bit overdone, but Ektar seems to tend toward cyan when overexposed). It still amazes me that these came from an old box camera and a homemade pinhole. I think there’s something to the idea of setting low expectations, but it’s hard when you’re shooting with good equipment; it’s easy with a camera like this.

More to come in anticipation of WPPD. Stay tuned….

Part 2 can be found here.