Posts Tagged ‘Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day’


Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day graphic by Abdullah Rofii, April 2013, photo from Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day website.

Every year I plan to participate in Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, and every year it falls too close to our biggest event of the year, Art-A-Whirl. While Liz and I are busy prepping and preparing Casket Arts Studio 318, photographers across the globe are creating images with handmade pinhole cameras. Many of us know pinhole photography from elementary school science when we made a pinhole camera from a Quaker oatmeal box. But you can also make cameras from matchboxes, film canisters, paint cans, and shoe boxes.

The history of the pinhole camera dates back to the 5th century BC when the basic optical principles of the pinhole are commented on in Chinese texts. Chinese writers had experimented and discovered that light travels in straight lines. The philosopher Mo Ti (later Mo Tsu) was the first – to our knowledge – to record the formation of an inverted image with a pinhole or screen.

Hopefully, one year I will be in sync with other photographers from around the world and get out in the field with my own pinhole camera to celebrate Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Until then, I enjoy the pinhole images posted by amateur and professional photographers worldwide. You can view the lensless pinhole photos submitted for 2013 at the Worldwide Pinhole Photography website.

-related to post: Pinhole Photography — History & Bones

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, April 28th, 2013, Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

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I saw a post over on This Is Mimbres Man that reminded me that Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day passed on April 29th. Check out his images at Pinhole Photography. I made my first pinhole camera over 20 years ago out of a Quaker Oats container. And seeing the image come to life was the thrill of a lifetime. If you are a photographer, you’re probably as passionate about photographic processes as you are about the photos themselves.

It is similar to the way artists love their canvases, drawing papers, paints, and graphite. And writers have their favorite pens, papers, and notebooks. It’s no secret that creative souls spend a great deal of time and money on regular jaunts to the nearest independent office supply or art materials store. It’s in our blood. I could spend hours trying out pens, marking across pads, or choosing the right ink.

Process is important to any art form. And old style photographic processes teach a photographer the details of capturing light and shadow and transforming them to canvas. When I was in art school, I majored in Media Arts with an emphasis on black and white photography. But I took a lot of Fine Art classes to inform my processes. That’s when I began to dabble in alternative photographic media like pinhole photography, cyanotyping, brush on emulsions, mural prints, and exposing negative images on raw clay. It busted my photography wide open.

Digital has taken over the marketplace. But there are purists who still preserve the old methods of shooting and developing, people who are more fascinated by process than instant gratification. If I had endless amounts of dollars, I’d set up an elaborate art studio and darkroom on one whole floor of a new 5000 square foot home. I know what you’re thinking – I could jerry-rig a tiny darkroom into my bathroom right now if I wanted to.

That’s true. I’ve got an old enlarger in storage. But I’m feeling too worn out for the likes of 3am romps across splashing trays of developer, stop, and fix to get to the shower. And it sounds too perilous for our cat, Chaco, who has currently taken up residence in the bathroom sink.

What I do want to say is that I’m happy to still be able to find people like Mimbres Man and George L. Smyth at Handmade Photographic Images who are still doing it the old fashioned way. (Mimbres Man is also into insect noises and bottle rockets. So I head over to his site when I can to surf unusual behind the scenes happenings, the white noise in all our heads!)

You can learn how to make a pinhole camera at Oatmeal Box Pinhole Photography by Stewart Lewis Woodruff.  And George L. Smyth also has a blog, Meanderings, at Best, about handmade photographic images.

If you’ve never experimented in the photography of yesteryear, there’s no time like the present. Handmade photographic processes are the world of photography’s best kept secret. They are image-making history and bones, photographic anthropology. Archaic practices will slow you down long enough to really listen to the visual. And build on the structures of the past.

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

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