Monika D.

Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.

My name is Monika. I am living in Seattle, Washington, USA.

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

Primarily black and white, always film.  I do my own b&w printing, and quite a lot of the work that goes into my images happens in the darkroom.

Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual? 

No, aside form the occasional multiple exposure.

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

My first pinhole was a really nice wooden 4×5 camera, that I purchased off the shelf.  Then I bought a Holga, which I didn’t care for – so I turned it into a pinHolga by modifying it.  I also have an off the shelf pinHolga (120 PC).

What’s your favourite camera to use and why?

At the moment I like my pinHolga, partly because it takes roll film (which I have developed at a lab).  I don’t have much time right now to be developing film, and I prefer to spend my darkroom time printing.  Also, early on I had made some lovely polaroid shots in the 4×5 – it’s been hard to replicate that look and so far the pinHolga comes closest. Admin’s note, getting that classic Polaroid look is a bit of a holy grail these days. In my experience the IP film is getting there, but its not there yet. Of course, the 4×5 was peel apart and whilst the Fuji film is great its a different look (IMHO).

How long have you shot pinhole?

It’s been nearly 10 years now.

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Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?

Before I got into pinhole, I was shooting botanicals with a large format 4×5 camera.  My images were feeling very static to me and I wanted a change.  Besides that, I’m an engineer for a living, and I’m probably a little bit of a control freak.  I thought it would be a good idea to stretch myself, and shoot something where I couldn’t preview the image. Admin’s note, not sure if its just me but it feels like a lot of pinhole photographers have a scientific, engineering or technical background. I must explore that more.

At first I tried shooting detailed things, but I didn’t like how they came out.  I had recently moved to Seattle, and tried photographing clouds and water – and totally fell in love with pinhole images of these subjects.  Now I’m always watching the sky or how light falls on water, even when I don’t have my camera with me.

Now that I know my cameras so well, I pretty much know how to compose an image, and how to expose it.  I can spend my time reacting to a scene instead of fiddling with gear.  I still carry a tripod though! Admin’s note, in some circles this is known as “Using the force” and it is cool and to be admired.

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

These are all from a project that I think of as urban landscapes.  For the most part, I am photographing in Seattle’s parks, and most images include elements of water and/or clouds.

The image with the sun rings was a happy accident.  I wasn’t paying to attention that the sun was breaking trough the clouds at the time.  I was using my camera that I had converted form a Holga and the pinhole is made from a foil pan.  Apparently light flare shows up as circles, which I rather like. Admin’s note, I recall an interesting e-mail exchange with another couple of pinhole photographers who have evidence that the material impacts the way flares appear. I must post about that as well…so much to do, so little time!

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

I generally work on a project, although if I’m in a rut I try to shoot something new to stretch my mind.  My primary project is shooting in the parks in Seattle – urban landscapes that most often have clouds and/or water as elements in the image.  For a separate project, I spent over a year at the Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle.

Have you ever exhibited your work?

I’ve shown in various group shows, mostly juried, mostly in Washington State.  RayKo Photo in San Fransisco, CA holds a pinhole show every few years and I’ve been part of that.  I currently have a pinhole photo in a group show called The Meaning of Wood at the Washington State Convention Center.

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Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.

View Camera Magazine had a feature on Martha Casanave’s pinhole work several years ago – her work is gorgeous and that feature was part of what inspired me to try out pinhole photography. Admin’s note, this is what I love about running this site, I discover new photographers through my contributors. Thank you Monika, Martha’s images are beautiful.

Do you shoot other styles of photography?

I have a Bronica medium format camera that I enjoy using.  My 4×5 is on hiatus, but when the time is right I’ll become reacquainted with it.

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

It depends on what I’m shooting.  If I’m really excited about the details in something, I’ll use the Bronica.  But for the urban landscape work that I enjoy (where a key element is clouds and or water) I prefer the pinhole.  I like how it changes an everyday scene to something a little mysterious or ephemeral.

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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/analogphotographer/

As always, I must thank Monika (and all Pinholistas) for sharing their images, which are absolutely beautiful. I hope you have enjoyed these images as much as I have, and of course the insights into Monika’s reasons for shooting pinhole and her approach. If you’d like to contribute in a similar vein then please do contact me here. All images are copyright Monika D. and should not be used in any form without prior permission.

Supersense 66/6 Pinhole Camera – First Shots

Perhaps the first thing I should do with this post is talk about why I initially resisted this camera, as it has some relevance to my initial thoughts and impressions. My reticence was largely down to my relationship with Impossible Project film. I love the look of both the colour and the black and white film (particularly the black and white if truth be told) but I really dislike the unpredictability. I’ve used the film for a long time now, and its improved for sure (I just had to trash a lot of old photos which had basically disappeared) but its still not as robust as it could be. Another factor, that is a big issue for pinhole, is that there is very little data on reciprocity failure available for Impossible Project film. Knowing this, it was pretty clear to me that my first shots with a pinhole camera using this film were going to be trial and error, an expensive business for sure.

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I was also reticent about buying the 66/6 due to the fact that I know that there are old Polaroid backs available that take 600/SX-70 film and I could have hacked a camera from one of those. The camera kept nagging away at me though…mainly for one reason, which was the ability to vary the focal length and, with the rubber bellows, the ability to use tilt/shift techniques. I’ve not included any photos of the camera in this post, so if you’re not familiar with the look then check here.

Despite these reservations there was really only ever going to be one outcome. Eventually…I succumbed (which won’t surprise those of you who know my GAS problem).

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So, what are my impressions of the camera. Well firstly, its really well packaged and feels like quite a special toy when it arrives. I was a little surprised there was a USB cable with the camera, it made no sense to me at all. No sense until I did a little research (thanks Shelly) and discovered that I had to charge the camera before it would eject the dark slide, let alone the film. This is similar to the Impossible Instant Lab (the camera is built on the same “Module” but to my mind is a bit unfortunate. After all, currently you can only buy Impossible Project film with an integral battery. This is effectively wasted in the 66/6, which is less than ideal. I hope at some point Impossible will start producing film again without the integral battery, which might save some cash as well as the planet.

I was, however, really impressed with the build quality of the camera. The bellows themselves are of seemingly very strong rubber, and do offer the flexibility I had hoped in terms of focal length and tilt/shift possibilities (which I have not really explored as yet). There are two pinholes, and while I’ve shot with both I’ve not seen a huge difference in results – further experimentation needed in that regard. One note on the bellows, if you want to shoot with a wider focal length (fully extended the camera seems to be pretty much a “Normal” focal length) then you simply fold the bellows in. One word of warning…do not be tempted to fold in the largest bellows extension first, if you do that you will get some pretty serious vignetting. Start with folding in the bellows extension nearest the shutter and work in from there.

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As for the film itself, many of my reservations were realised. As I expected, some of the shots had uneven development and reciprocity failure is a definite factor in exposures over about 10 seconds. For anything over a minute I’ve needed to double the exposure, but don’t really have a great feel yet for how the emulsion behaves – you’ll need to do your own experiments just as I will need to do mine. One thing I hadn’t really factored in was the seemingly very narrow exposure latitude. You can see that in the fact the sky is burnt out in many of these shots, a shame because there were some fairly fast moving clouds which would have formed streaks had these photos been made on negative film. This probably means this camera and film is more suited to scenes with pretty even light.

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It also won’t escape your attention that I’ve made some shots on the magenta film. I’ve found this behaves similarly to the B&W film (all of this is the 600 type stuff), whether you like the look is entirely down to personal taste (I probably won’t get this again).

A final word on the location for these shots. All were made in the Basque Country, either in Gasteiz or Bilbao. I was visiting for the vernissage of the Obscura Book show in Gasteiz, and would like to make special mention of our amazing hosts…thank you Amaia and David…as well as mention how great it was to see old and new friends.

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Omar Martha

Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.

My name is Omar Martha and I’m from and live on the caribbean island of Curacao. I’ve been involved with pinhole photography for the past seven to eight years more or less.

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

While I like trying other formats and even dabble in digital pinhole photography once in a while, my preferred way of shooting pinhole is on 4×5 film. I find the size to be a great middle point for quality and being able to shoot more shots per trip. Due to having to develop my own film (living on an island has it’s downsides) I mostly stick to shooting black and white. Admin’s note, I guess I could just about cope with not shooting colour if I lived in the Caribbean!

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Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual? 

I have a couple of box and can cameras that are primarily used to shoot distorted images. I love the way everyday object can turn into completely unrecognisable shapes by manipulation of the film / photographic paper. I have also shot a couple of pinhole photographs on “polaroid”, but that quickly came to an end when Fuji discontinued FP-3000b. It was a great shame too as those experiments were done using flashes to light the subject. I was basically doing split second exposures which is something not generally associated with pinhole photography.

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

If by off the shelf you mean cameras that were designed as pinhole cameras then no, I don’t use off the shelf cameras. I do have some cameras that started life as your regular commercial lensed camera and that I converted into pinhole cameras tho. But the bulk of my photographs are taken with homemade cameras.

MariePampoen8x10 What’s your favourite camera to use and why?

My favourite camera to use is my homemade very wide angle 4×5 with a graflok back. I’m quite fond of it because it’s wide angle (f=32mm) practically forces me to get in close on subjects, but also allows me to take in a large scene if I want to. By virtue of having a graflok back it also allows me to take as many shots as I have cut sheet holders for. This also makes it handy for travel as I can just load up before hand and don’t really have to worry about needing a changing bag in the field. I’ve essentially made it to be practical to move around with (quite low weight) and maximise the amount of shots I can take in any given trip.

How long have you shot pinhole?

I’ve been doing it for about seven to eight years now.

Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?

My introduction to pinhole photography came when I was doing a photography minor in college. The analog and handmade side of it quickly took hold of me and hasn’t really let go since. I stuck with it though because I feel it gives me a lot of control over what I’m photographing that would be quite hard to do with other types of photography. Admin’s note, I think this is a really interesting point. Photographers who are used to shooting with anything beyond a simple point and shoot or phone camera will be used to having control over aperture, focal length etc. I think many are scared of a lack of control with pinhole but I agree with Omar that actually pinhole offers the same, if not more, control.

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

Yeah, the images are a grab out of my photographs the past couple of years. One of them in particular is a photograph I shot for local artist Tirzo Martha during a performance piece he was presenting.

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The colour double image is a stereo pair (3D) made with a stereo populist (A simple pinhole camera designed by Nick Dvoracek). This particular image set was made with a stereo populist camera that was being sent around between a couple of participating photographers from the F295 forums. Everyone would shoot a roll or two with the camera and then would send it on to the next person.

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

I practice both of them more or less. I tend to shoot a lot of individual images that aren’t really based around anything in particular, but I’ve also shot (series of) images that had to do with a specific project or theme.

A specific theme I can mention was the celebration of 150 years of Dutch abolishment of slavery that we had last year. I was invited to participate in an exhibition in this context and have produced a diptych exploring different views on the subject. I’m currently also participating in the Next Best Thing Pinhole Project where a group of pinhole photographers spread out across the world take pictures depicting the culture and landscape of wherever they are. Admin’s note, you really should check out the Next Best Thing project (not least because I am also participating); there’s some wonderful work being shown.

Have you ever exhibited your work?

Yes, as mentioned above I was part of an exhibition celebrating 150 years of the abolishment of slavery in the Dutch kingdom. I also exhibited some photographs after a group residency program in Aruba a couple of years back.

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Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.

He’s probably going to come up a couple of times in these interviews, but I really like the works of Wayne Martin Belger (boy of blue industries). His application of the vision for his project on both the camera as on his subjects has always been interesting to me.  Admin’s note, if you want to check out Wayne’s work its over at boyofblue.com.

Do you shoot other styles of photography?

I also shoot conventional photography both analog and digital. It mostly depends on what I’m doing at the moment and what I’m going for.

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

It totally depends really. I love the workflow of pinhole photography so I use it pretty much always unless I have a reason not to. Other than that pinhole also tends to take a longer slice out of time than more conventional forms of photography. And lastly but most importantly pinhole photography gives me freedoms that I don’t have with other processes. Being able to manipulate and distort the image in camera is something I really like being able to do.

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

Right now it’s probably my Facebook album or flickr.

Phew, well I hope you’ve enjoyed Omar’s images and the great details about his work that he’s shared. All images are, of course, his copyright and should not be used without Omar’s permission…please respect that. If you’re a pinhole photographer and would like to be featured on Pinholista then please do contact me (here); I’d love to hear from you.