Pinhole day…


Today is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

I took some pictures. I developed some pictures. I wasn’t really in the mood today, but I had got up at 9.30am in preparation, and had been thinking about a fresh assault on pinhole for quite some time, so I just got up and got on with it. Although at first it just wasn’t really happening in any remarkable way, just like my mood, overall I am fairly happy with my efforts today.

I uploaded the flute picture to the pinhole day gallery. A picture I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I want to eventually do a series of these. The main problem being that the flute isn’t terribly heavy and can get knocked/moved easily, as can the camera, and the cloud effect means moving everything else around it almost constantly. I’m sure I can perfect it eventually. Really I wanted it stock still for the duration of the exposure.

I took two shots of the flute and this was the best I have. In the meantime it serves as the second in most likely a series of pics of musical instruments I play less often than I photograph, that teach and inspire me for the next pinhole images. The first being the ukulele.

[The 6×7 weighs a ton so had no such issue there…]

Camera obscura

Today has been gloriously sunny and I’m not at work… so in advance of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, I took my homemade pinhole camera Button for a spin to check that everything is working properly. It’s been almost a year (don’t judge me – I’ve been busy!) since I last indulged the poor thing. I know this because it was pinhole day last year that I last took her out.

She seems ok. Even if my ability to stay really still for a minute and a half isn’t quite as impressive. I have never used myself as a subject before.

Focal length: 4" Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm Paper negative: 7" x 5"  Exposure time: 1 minute 40 seconds

Focal length: 4″
Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm
Paper negative: 7″ x 5″
Exposure time: 1 minute 40 seconds

Pinhole photography can be really exciting and rewarding. It is like watching magic happen. At some point I will probably write a full post about how I built my camera. There’s a little about it already over on flickr.

I already have an idea in mind for an image for pinhole day this year but I’m not sure yet if it will really work… we shall see.

Focal length: 8" Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm Paper negative: 7" x 5"  Exposure time: 1 minute 45 seconds

Focal length: 8″
Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm
Paper negative: 7″ x 5″
Exposure time: 1 minute 45 seconds

I use photographic paper 5″x7″ in the camera, which I then develop in a makeshift darkroom at home. Because of the way that Button is designed I can put the paper 4″ away from the pinhole – half way down the camera for a wider angle setting, or 8″ away from the pinhole – sitting flat at the back of the camera for a “normal” view setting. My good friend Rob came up with this idea and I think it was truly inspired. I love that I can use two different settings.

For digital versions of my pinhole photographs, like the ones here, I then photograph the negative. Once I have that digital negative I invert it in Photoshop to get a positive “print” – then I crop and enhance the image where necessary.

This might seem a bit long winded, but in relation to making and developing a print with photographic paper each time it’s a cheaper and quicker way of finding out what the prints are likely to look like before using paper. It’s not always easy to judge what a print will look like from the negative, so I always convert the negatives this way first of all. It’s a good enough rough guide.

If I’m making a physical pinhole print, I’ll make a contact print in the darkroom straight from the 5″x7″ paper negative.

Time it was and what a time it was, it was…

I spent an evening rediscovering some old digital scans of negatives I think I might have lost. They are photographs from a road trip I took with my best friend in 2008 across the Pacific northwest (America and briefly Canada). I was a little concerned I had lost the digital files too when the CD wouldn’t work via my laptop but then I popped it into another computer and they pinged into life. I hadn’t seen these photos in years. It was a real delight. The scans are a really nice quality too. Here are some of my favourites. The whole kaboodle are over on flickr.

Take 2: Adventures in bokeh

Before and after shots can be quite fun. Every now and then I take a digital photograph that goes on a bigger life changing journey after the shutter fires than most. I’m going to post the more extreme examples of these from time to time just for fun under the heading Take 2.

I’m not always that fond of editing pictures. I consider it mostly a kind of necessary evil when it comes to digital photography. I am not a fan of the amount of time that can pass unnoticed once you venture down an editing wormhole, hunting for some kind of “perfection” with an image, when of course there’s no such thing. Many long hours have I spent making miniature adjustments to images as if my life depended on it, moving sliders backwards and forwards, when really most of the work has already been achieved in camera.

A few weeks ago I took a picture that I was really excited to have a look at properly once I’d got home. I thought it would look a treat with relatively little enhancement. A branch delicately swaying in the breeze, glistening sunlight bouncing off a stream in the background, and gorgeous hazy sunshine. You can’t always judge a picture that accurately when you look at it on the camera screen, and especially if you’re looking at said screen in bright sunshine, but I knew it was going to have potential even if it did look a little washed out.

I got the photo onto the computer and I can’t say I was impressed. It was over exposed, the colours were muddy and cold, and there was a massive big purple blob of light across it. It wasn’t exactly a striking or well balanced image and was pretty far from what I had in my head. However, the focus was pin sharp, the composition really pleasing, and the magical bokeh and sunlight really made me want to try and rescue it. Trying to fix messed up images can often be an exercise in futility, but I think I made the right choice here.

The main adjustments I made (using Lightroom 4):

  • brushed over the purple area and took the tint over the to green side of the spectrum to counteract it (I did this with two separate brushes in different amounts so that it blended well)
  • took the temperature right over to the warm end of the spectrum, and the tint slightly towards the pink end
  • slightly deepened the blacks
  • raised the clarity to a high degree
  • lowered the saturation and vibrance
  • upped the highlights and lowered the shadows
  • slightly raised the orange saturation
  • raised the luminance a little for orange, yellow, and green
  • applied colour noise reduction
  • a very, very slight vignette
  • slight straightening/cropping