Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.
My name is Bálint Pfliegel, I’m from Budapest, Hungary, a software engineer and DSP/AI researcher by profession. I picked up photography and 3d printing in the last years and enjoying very much to create 3d printed pinhole/slit/etc cameras and photographic equipment – and images.
Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.
Content is what matters, pinhole should contribute as a method to express what’s on one’s mind visually. Also, it’s a lot of fun that the subject demands a camera design and not the camera limits on how one could capture a specific subject.
I’m very much enjoying the work of pinholers that capture real life like Andrej Karamuska or Denys Maksymov – or artistically expressed emotions and moods like Michael Weitzman, Nadir Kayacan or Martin Kos. I am struggling to get the precision of my engineer-self out of the pictures with its love of geometry and precision, and focus on the content instead.
Pinhole for me is analog and B/W for the time being, before extending my lab for C-41 and E-6 processing.
Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual?
Shooting swings and seesaws is wonderful! It is an exquisite moment when the police arrives at the seventeenth minute of the exposure in case you put your camera on a swing in the middle of a block of flats and tenderly rock the swing under the strict supervision of senior citizens peeping out of their window. Admin’s note, the same is true in the UK…folks don’t like photographs being made at playgrounds, I’ve been asked what I am doing when there were no kids around. I certainly wouldn’t take pictures of someone’s kids (unless they asked me too) but the camera does seem to inspire fear these days.
Seriously: I love any in-camera magic when the image plane is not flat or not perpendicular to the hole, multiholes, in-camera blends – and especially enjoying instant film cameras, it is a lot of fun at festivals.
Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?
So far I only used home-made ones.
What’s your favourite camera to use and why?
Didn’t try any so far, but RealitySoSubtle and MO cameras seem to rock hard! Not to mention Schlem’s arsenal of superweapons. Admin’s note, take a look at my camera guide for more ideas…but remember the camera is just a tool, your imagination is the arsenal.
How long have you shot pinhole?
For around a year.
Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?
I bought a 3d printer two years ago and found an article about 3d printed cameras. Not long thereafter I asked Todd Schlemmer if he plans to do a cylindrical anamorph someday, and he wrote about two fundamental design puzzles one needs to solve first. I wondered if I can crack them and it seemed I could. It was far from easy, but I enjoyed much the road leading there. Always the engineer! Admin’s note, given that the Schlem is an evil genius this is really impressive!
I’ve curated a few of your images to share, please tell us a little about the cameras used to make these images.
There is a curved 4×5 format – yes, it is a curved 4×5 holder with a curved shield (and a camera body)! And there is a cylindrical anamorph, which was my first design – the selected images are taken with an early design with screws and a lot of leaking, but I like these images much. Then, there is a five-hole camera, which is based on a design of my friend Péter Laczkó, the travelling photographer, with several refinements. One of my other designs was originally a Lomo Belair Instax Wide back with a 3d printed adapter to accommodate a Kodak Pocket No1 folder from the 30s, but I ended up ripping out the Kodak and replacing the front part with a pinhole.
Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?
I’m still working on being more patient in order to shoot an essay using pinhole techniques. Just made a lightweight 35mm camera from a perfume box (my first non 3d printed one) which I’m carrying around lately to document my life – that prepares me to be more relaxed when working with pinhole in the future.
I guess now is the time for me to tell everyone the reason for the images I’ve selected.
When Balint e-mailed a selection of images to possibly be used for his profile it gave me an opportunity I have not had before, which is to curate someone else’s work. I’m not a great curator of my own work so this really represented a new challenge for me. This is a good thing!
I was immediately struck by the technical quality of Balint’s work but these images I have selected go beyond that. For one, I think they hang together as an interesting narrative. There’s a thread of melancholy that runs through each, which I find really beguiling. This is kind of interesting as they are made with different cameras at different times. Nonetheless, I think there’s a story being told here. I’d love to know what you think, perhaps I’m seeing something that isn’t there, please comment below.
Have you ever exhibited your work?
Not yet, not much time currently. We did a slit camera from some enlarger components and bicycle parts in the summer with my friend Péter Laczkó, which will be exhibited from tomorrow! Admin’s note, early May 2016!
Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.
I could say Howard Arthur Moiser, Ramunas Danisevicius or Scott Speck, who are really legends when it comes to pinhole – but I will say: Balázs Telek. Balázs was the master of anamorphs, working with both pinholes and lenses and passing on his knowledge holding camera obscura workshops. He passed away last summer at the age of 41, tragically young. His lab, ArtBázis was flooded at the same time on a day with heavy rain – when we renovated the lab afterwards, we found cameras and designs that were really hard to decrypt – and shockingly genial. Balázs was an unselfish, wholehearted man with a unique talent and I don’t think I know any pinholers in Hungary who was not inspired by his person and work. There is a decent article about Balázs from two years ago (in Hungarian).
Do you shoot other styles of photography?
I like to shoot street, documentary and trash (if there is any such style) – depends on the mood.
Assuming you do shoot other styles, do you prefer pinhole and if so, why?
There are weapons that kill zombies, but not really useful against vampires. With pinhole this is a similar case, so it depends on what one is shooting. It would be interesting to shoot a documentary with pinhole similarly to Nick Dvoracek’s work.
Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?
I plan to do a Facebook page of my works and maybe a website when I will have some spare time. As we are also setting up a camera manufacturing company right now with Péter that will produce unique pinhole and other experimental cameras, I am looking forward that people will hold our works in their hands and shoot wonderful images. Stay tuned!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your work with pinholista.com.
As usual, this work is the copyright of the contributing photography, in this case Balint. Please respect this. If you’d like to be featured on Pinholista please get in touch via the contact page.