Vermeer Anamorphic

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In this post, the amazing Jana Obscura, gives her views on the Vermeer Anamorphic pinhole camera. All text and images copyright of Jana…and many thanks to her for taking the time to write this for Pinholista.com.

Distort your world with a anamorphic pinhole

I was first introduced to anamorphic pinhole photography by my friend Espresso Buzz who purchased a Stenopeika and brought it along during our Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day stroll last year. He showed me a few examples and I loved the mind-bending (think Inception) distortion capabilities of the camera.

If you’re unfamiliar with anamorphic images, here is my brief and unscientific attempt at an explanation. In the anamorphic pinhole camera the film plane is curled, almost cylindrical in shape, and the pinhole directs light through the middle of this cylinder. During exposure the pinhole projects an image onto this circular film plane which results in a distorted shape. The distortion is further exaggerated when the film is unrolled and laid flat. The next time you see a shadow on the wall or desk, try tilting your hand a bit to see the how tilting the film plane can distort the final shape.

A few months after our WPPD stroll I started doing some research and realized that buying an anamorphic pinhole wasn’t going to be easy. There are a few pinhole camera makers who retail online but no anamorph. After further study I set about creating my own anamorphic camera using a soup can and gaffers tape with usable results. This was successful to a degree though I could only shoot one frame at a time, the soup can had no tripod mount and I wasted a lot of film by taping it into the soup can’s interior.

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I started doing Flickr searches and saw that Cezary Bartczak aka Vermeer Cameras had built a few anamorphic pinhole cameras. Cezary is a craftsman. He builds each of his wooden pinhole cameras by hand and has a loyal following of pinhole fanatics. There were no anamorphs listed on his Etsy site but special requests could be submitted through his storefront. I sent the email and within a week I had confirmation that he would build my anamorphic pinhole camera. Admin’s note, at the current time the anamorphs are listed…oh for payday, please come quickly!

The Vermeer anamorphic pinhole camera takes medium format film with aperture f/140 and pinhole size 0.3 mm. At 6×18 it is my widest camera and Cezary suggests using frame numbers 2,5,8 and 11.  The first roll in this camera was disastrous, as first rolls generally are. I had tightened the plate beneath the take-up spool too much, making it difficult to advance frames which resulted in a very loose roll. I also had no idea how to position the camera.

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My second roll had a higher level of success. There were no sight lines to help me visualize the shot so I drew lines from the edge of the film to the pinhole. Advancing rolls in the anamorph was challenging as the film is curling around a cylinder and there is potential to bend the film while winding. I put painters tape on the knobs to indicate the unexposed and the take-up spool then I drew an arrow to indicate which direction to turn the knobs. I turned both knobs together to smoothly advance the film.

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I am absolutely enjoying this very unique camera and look forward to creating more mind-bending images. There is a slight learning curve but the results are worth the extra effort and I’ve begun a running sheet of all the Seattle landmarks I’d like to distort. Happy shooting and I’ll see you online!

So, lots of thanks to Jana for this review, if you would like to tell the world about your favourite pinhole camera then you only have to get in touch.

C.B. Adams

Corrugation

Welcome to another featured Pinholista, and this week it is C.B. Adams. C.B. is another Pinholista who contacted me shortly after I launched this site and who’s work I was not previously familiar with. I’m loving the fact that this is happening and I hope more of you will do the same…you know where the form is (it’s here). I hope you enjoy C.B.’s work, I think it’s great and its a privilege to share it with you.

Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.

My public name is C.B. Adams. I was born and raised in Missouri in the United States and currently live in St. Charles, on the Missouri River. I am both a writer and photographer. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in fine arts. In addition to my photography, I have published a dozen short stories in literary journals. I am married with two sons.

I make the majority of my income as a specialized writer and communications consultant, but I am equally committed to personal fine art photography. I accept only a limited number of portrait commissions when I am interested in the person. I do not do weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs ( ☺ ).

Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.

If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have said I shoot only black and white. However, I have been curious about the effects of a pinhole with color film in recent months. I still prefer black and white, but some subjects are better in color, just like Paul Simon said. Thus far, I have only shot 120 format because I have a Zero 2000 camera that accepts it. I also shoot Holga, Diana and other toy cameras. I am drawn to the square format.

In terms of the analog/digital question, I have a partially completed blog titled, “Hey, I’m Bi. Deal With It.” That should answer the question. Admin’s note, this raises a really interesting question about digital pinhole photography, a subject I intend to explore in a future post.

I refused to write an artist’s statement for a long time because many I have seen suffer from too much pontificating and bloviating. But a recent exhibition required one, and I conceded and wrote: “I use cameras the way painters use different brushes. I am intrigued by the way light is rendered by a camera in general, and the way light is rendered by different cameras using different films in particular. As a writer, I am dedicated to using language to precisely tell a story. I strive for the same effect in photography…” This may be a tad pretentious, but it is heartfelt and true. Maybe that is why I have 45 cameras of all types/formats. Admin’s note, I think this is perfect to be honest. For a long time I’ve struggled with the idea of making images being art, at least in my hands, so the idea of writing an artists statement horrifies me…one day I suspect I shall need to do this and if it is half as good as C.B.’s then I’ll be happy.

Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual? 

I have not pursued anything “unusual,” but I have recently become intrigued with the encaustic process. If there is anything unusual about my work it may be subject matter. I shoot anything and everything that attracts me, but I have an ongoing series of images of roadside memorials. In some states in the US, people are allowed to erect memorials to loved ones who died in that spot. Some think this subject is morbid, but I find them interesting. Many emit some sort of tangible vibe. The memorials often say more about the people who erected them than the person who died. I have almost been struck by passing vehicles trying to get the photograph. There’s a reason why people died on these Dead Man Curves.

Terroir I

Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?

I am both lazy and easily intimidated by building something as simple as a pinhole. That is why I have only the Zero 2000 at present. I am lusting after a Russian-made black aluminium 120-format pinhole, but the cost is outrageous. I have an artist friend who is threatening to come over and make me adapt either my Graflex or one of my old Polaroids into a pinhole. I won’t put up much of a fight. Admin’s note…this is the camera C.B. is referring to. It looks like an 8Banners camera to me (I have a different model) and they are pricey for sure. I’ve seen them occasionally on that auction site but if anyone is aware of another source please let me know (via the contact form) and I’ll pass it on.

How long have you shot pinhole?

A a serious shooter, at least five years. But I made my first pinhole when I was a Boy Scout working on a merit badge.

Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?

Pinhole photography was a natural progression for me starting about 10 years ago. That’s when I “discovered” the atmospheric work being accomplished with Holgas and other toy cameras. I have become progressively lo-fier and analoguer. Pinhole was the next logical step. I am drawn to the challenge of creating a complex photograph with something so simple.

You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them. 

I have chosen images that were taken during the past few years at a wildlife preserve which is a short drive from my home. It was once an Army training base but now is maintained by the Missouri Conservation Department. I have been visiting this refuge since I was a teenager, and I never fail to find interesting things to photograph. Admin’s note, the photographs in this post appear in the order below.

  • Corrugation: This image was featured in The Poorwill Gallery’s Online Pinhole Photography Competition. It was shot on Efka 25 ISO film with my Zero 2000 on a blustery day in December as the first arctic cold front of the season was passing through. The ripple effect in the clouds is the most interesting thing for me in this photograph.
  •  Terroir I: I titled this “Terroir I” because, as a French word that means a set of special characteristics of the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, this lake bed fits that description. We experienced a severe drought in the Midwest two years ago, and the lower water levels revealed all sorts of interesting things in lakes, streams and rivers. This image was selected for inclusion in the Plates to Pixels lenZless online exhibition. Same camera and film as “Corrugation.”
  •  In the Falling Time I – This is a fresh example of my recent color work – I just received this film from my lab this week. I shot it with a Zero 2000 and Kodak Ektar 100 film.
  •  In The Falling Time II – Cupressus Island: I have photographed these trees on numerous occasions, but I finally got them right with this image. Same details as its predecessor.

In the Falling Time I

Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?

Other than my roadside memorial series, I do not consciously set out to shoot within a certain theme or a particular project. But, as evidenced by my use of Roman numerals, I seem to keep making associations among my images that are linked thematically, which in time become de facto projects. However, I don’t want to jinx the organic nature of each series by over-thinking my process.

Have you ever exhibited your work?

Other than those mentioned above, recent work has appeared in The Holga Show at the Saans Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah, Visions 2013 at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center in California, The Unrefined Light exhibit at The Foundry in my hometown of St. Charles, Missouri, and Under the Influence at the Art Saint Louis gallery.

Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.

Other than well-known photographers such as Eric Renner and Paolo Gioli, I enjoy the work of Barbara Ess, Chris Keeney and many of the people I have discovered on the f295 website and elsewhere. This is really an unfair question because I am amazed at how much excellent work is being done all the time by photographers worldwide, yourself included. Admin’s note, some great photographers named there but I completely agree with C.B. in that most dedicated Pinholistas are producing some incredible work…one of the missions of this site is to try and promote that.

In The Falling Time II – Cupressus Island:

Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?

My website is www.qwerkyphotography.com. The site has been up less than a year and I apologize that my portfolio is not nearly complete nor well organized. I write a blog about some of my photos as well as a lifestyle blog called Life On Snob Hill. Some of my fiction is also available on my site.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your work with pinholista.com

No, thank you for this terrific opportunity and for all you are doing to support the pinhole community.

My thanks to C.B. for introducing his work, which I hope you all enjoyed. All works are copyright of C.B. Adams,  please respect this or giftmas will not go well for you!

Jeff McConnell

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OK, so I completely forgot to write an introduction when I first posted this. I’d love to provide an excuse but it is clearly creeping decrepitude…anyway, I’m proud to introduce Jeff McConnell, of NJ, USA, as this week’s featured Pinholista. I must admit when I saw Jeff’s street shots I cursed a little as this is something I’ve tried a number of times with limited success. I really like the theme of movement that flows through each of Jeff’s images. I hope you enjoy them too.

Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.

I’m Jeff McConnell, and for about 10 years now I’ve lived near the west edge of New Jersey – surrounded by farms but close enough to commute in to NYC. I grew up in North Carolina and I’ve lived all around this land.

Jeff McConnell Shot 2

Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.

When I started using pinhole cameras, I was already in a fairly slow mode, photographing on the street in Philadelphia with flea market lenses and a 2×3 view camera. Most of the work I’ve done since then, whether in urban settings or out in the country, might best be described as landscapes. The wide format I chose for my cameras feeds into that as well. In the last year, since I’ve started working on photography again after a kid-and-job-inspired hiatus of five or six years, I am changing my perspective a bit, trying different formats and cameras.

Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual?

Nope, nothing stranger than my usual curvy-back 120-film panoramas. Admin’s note, I think I may need to be a little more specific about what is unusual…but then I guess on a pinhole website a 120-film curvy-back panoramic camera is “Usual”

Jeff McConnell Shot 3

Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?

At first, and for a long time, all the pinhole work I did was with one of a series of cameras I made that followed a similar design. Each new version leaked less light than the one before it. And that was fine, until this year. I started feeling limited using the same format all the time. Since August I’ve converted an old Agfa Clack and a Hawkeye Brownie to pinhole, built 2 new 6×6 cameras from scratch, and bought a Zero 2000 camera. Now I just need more time to photograph, so I can decide which ones to keep.

Jeff McConnell Shot 4

What’s your favourite camera to use and why?

At this point I’m diverging from habit, exploring again. But in general I prefer the ones I made, especially the 6×12 curved film camera. I know how it sees. Admin’s note, I think most Pinholista have a favourite camera…I know I do, but I still want to shoot with more!

When did you start shooting pinhole and why?

Back in 1999 I was looking at some panoramic photos by Josef Sudek, and they inspired me to build my first camera. I had never really wanted to do pinhole up to that point, because I didn’t want to have to run into the darkroom every time I opened the shutter. Then I got interested in what kinds of images i might get with a curved film plane, and i was off and running.

You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them.

  1. Akihabara, Tokyo: I liked how that guy was standing still in a sea of people.
  2. Hunting Blind, North Carolina: found while driving 2-lane blacktop on a trip south.
  3. Canal Street, NYC: gotta love Canal Street.
  4. Early steps: camera test in my driveway, my daughter testing her legs.
  5. Krankie’s Coffee, Old Salem, NC: coffee is important. Admin’s note…yes, this is true!
  6. Brooklyn Bridge Park: there’s this great bridge you can walk, over the freeways, from Brooklyn Heights down to the water. And that woman in black stayed there long enough to be in my picture.

Admin’s note, images are posted in order…should be fairly easy to identify!

Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?

I cast a wide net. For me photography is an excuse to notice. I keep my eyes open and catch the pictures when I can. It’s fun to notice patterns in the images over time, and knowing what worked in the past definitely informs my process. But I don’t go looking for anything specific.

Jeff McConnell Shot 5

Have you ever exhibited your work?

This last September I put up a show in North Carolina. That was the first one so far. It was great to see them printed big, talking to each other on the wall. Hopefully more chances will come soon!

Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.

I’ll give a shout-out to Stefan Killen, whose site pinholeny.com shows some of the great work he’s made in New York City over the last twenty years.

Do you shoot other styles of photography?

I started with 35mm, processing my own film, and though I don’t do much of that anymore, I won’t give up the equipment. I have a few simple 120 lens cameras; lately the one I like best is an old Lubitel TLR I bought from a soldier at a flea market in Poland. In the end the style doesn’t turn out that different – no matter the tool, it’s still me using it.

Jeff McConnell Shot 6

Assuming you do shoot other styles, do you prefer pinhole and if so, why?

It really depends on the situation. Frequently I do choose the pinhole camera, since I can look at the resulting image and see the time that passed, and I like that. At other times the light is too low, or I want to stop the action (or see the people, which often won’t happen with pinhole exposure times.) Each tool to its own purpose.

Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?

Yes! For a start, there is howthingslook.com, and also howthingslook.tumblr.com, which gets updated a bit more frequently.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your work with pinholista.com. 

Thanks for the feature! And big big thanks for running this site!

My thanks to Jeff for introducing his work, which I hope you all enjoyed. Don’t forget to get in touch if you would like to be featured. All works are copyright of Jeff McConnell, please respect this!

There are no ends

Katatumuri-28July2012-8

Whilst it seems like yesterday, it was in the middle of 2012 that I first mooted the idea of “The Amazing Travelling Film Swap.” It was a good idea, at least I think it was a good idea, and people joined. Disaster, however, has struck…the camera is missing and now (I fear) is presumed dead (meaning the image above is close to unique). But don’t worry…

…because I have a new camera and soon will relaunch “The Amazing Travelling Film Swap” (Part Deux). Keep an eye on Pinholista.com; once the camera is built the call will go out for participants (at which point I’ll post the rules…there will be some new ones). I am going to give priority to the original participants, which I think is only fair. So, keep an eye out, I really hope you’ll want to play.

Katatumuri and Orlando

The image featured above is of the original camera and is copyright Ross Togashi (one of my first film swap co-conspirators) and is all rights reserved…don’t be naughty now!

Solargraphy workshop in Spain

TallerSolargrafiaTotestiu

Today’s post is about one of the more (to my mind) interesting aspects of pinhole photography…solargraphy. Solargraph exposures are measured in days, months or even years, and are designed to show the path of the sun. I shall post some of my own solargraphs in the future, but for those of you who want to know more immediately, there is a solution…and here it is.

Diego Calvin and Slawomir Decyk are two of the masters of this technique, and they are running a workshop in Spain in January for those who are keen to know more. The workshop will be held at Totestiu in Sumacarcer, just south of Valencia.

As I understand it, this first workshop may be mainly in Spanish so if you want to join and would be looking for an English language workshop then I suggest you get in touch with Diego and Slavo first. I’m told that there will be another workshop for the summer solstice next year, which may be in English!

Anyway, as well as kindly agreeing that I could share the image in this post (which is their copyright), Diego and Slavo have also agreed that I can post a translation of the details of the workshop…so here it is. All words beyond this point are not mine (and are the result of the use of a translation engine)!

The Workshop

Delivered by Diego Lopez Calvín and Sławomir Decyk. Two of the creators of “Project Solaris,” which names and popularizes Solarigrafía.

Full Workshop on Solarigrafía technique where we learn to build pinhole cameras can withstand years of weathering, supporting any negative climate and produce rich tone and contrast. Learn to treat well exposed photo paper and make correct scans or reproductions thereof. The workshop will combine traditional photographic processes in relation to other current digital technology. Work on techniques derived from pinhole photography and other relationships with experimental photography, which uses non-aggressive elements environment.

With slow Solarigrafía rehearse, learn to wait and forget, to get to see things that the naked eye can not. Perhaps as they would the stones or trees if they had eyes.

WORKSHOP PRICE: €270. Includes materials, accommodation and full board.

TO RESERVE: it is necessary to make a deposit in advance of €100. Request your assistance email: info@totestiu.com and give you directions. Places are allocated in order of booking.

Maximum number of participants: 15 people of all ages and does not require prior knowledge of photographic technique.

INFORMATION on the technique:

www.solarigrafia.com

http://www.galeriaff.infocentrum.com/2005/decyk/decyk_a.htm

SCHEDULE guidance of the workshop:

Thursday January 2

  • Presentation and introduction to Solarigrafía.

Friday January 3

  • Construction of apparatus for Solarigrafía.
  • Walk to collect cameras placed six months of exposure especially for this event Xuquer River Dam and Sumacàrcer Bell. Cameras will post also built by the workshop participants.
  • Colloquium.
  • Scanning and processing of negatives obtained with the negative of the dam and the belfry.
  • Projected job obtained.

Saturday January 4

  • Preparation of camera obscura in an abandoned construction near the dam on the river Xuquer . Experiment with it to get an image on paper.
  • Solar Drawings.
  • Preparation of a pinhole camera to collect a single image during the course of a “Solar Walk.”
  • Audio Projection Solarigrafía related visual.

Sunday January 5

  • Solar Walk. Walk carrying a camera specially designed for this type of performance.
  • Collection and scanning of cameras placed by the participants.