Saturday, March 9, 2019

A diagnosis of 35mm manic-expression.

I go a bit mad when people bad-mouth 35mm pinhole photography.

The most benign expression of this is with statements like: "I don't know, I just can't get into 35mm pinhole." At worst it's directly pejorative such as: "If I'm going to go to the trouble to learn pinhole, 35mm isn't an option because I sure don't want to just get shitty pictures." Sometimes it's stated as understood dogma: "35mm isn't appropriate for pinhole photography." Occasionally it's looked down upon because it's too cheap and easy.

There's usually not much discussion of why it's bad. The usual problem specified is that it isn't sufficiently sharp. Another criticism is it can't be enlarged, lest viewers discover that film has grain. Both of these seem to me to be unsubstantiated and somewhat antithetical to pinhole thought.

I'm not dissing large formats and recognize that large pieces of film have unique and desirable visual qualities. I love medium format but I don't understand the dismissal of 35mm.

My reaction, in this case combined with a bit of cabin fever and late-February ennui, was to shoot a bunch of film and see just how awful it is. This was on Sunday and Camera Casino's deadline for going to the lab is Thursday morning. I'd better get going.

Philly was up in the rotation. Don't be afraid to zoom in on these to see if the grain and sharpness bothers you.

This all began during another snowstorm, viewed from the window sash in the living room. This first frame is inadvertantly cropped to a square because I didn't advance the film far enough when loading the camera.

Technical note: I thought I had it fixed but the darn clicker was really quiet and failed again after about five frames. This time, instead of winding one and a half revolutions for each frame, I just trusted my muscle memory on what it felt like to advance eight clicks. None of the negatives overlapped and the gaps between frames were minimal.

Another view of the storm out the back window.

All the pretty snow is getting boring and I couldn't bring myself to go out in the cold and wind to take pictures.  I've taken a lot of pictures around the house, so this is going to be a challenge.

Finding a new angle is a common trick. Over the peace lily in the living room window.

The top of the faux ficus in the sun room, with Valentine regalia.

A sunbeam on the throw on the couch

Don't take pictures has a feature where they solicit photographs of reader's bookshelves.

A backlit Kirk's Folly Seaview Moon wind chime glowing in front of the bookshelves.

One of the cool things about this moon is it changes color dramatically with even a small change in angle. In this case even the expression on the face looks different to me.

The spice rack in the pantry is mounted high on the wall. Too high for a tripod. The camera is on top of the door frame. Try doing that with your large format camera.

Pointing straight down at some tomatoes.

A more conventional angle.

One my oldest kitchen utensils and my newest. The stainless bowl was a wedding present from my sister and Sarah gave me the butter warmer for Yule this winter.

The kitchen sink with some red stripes in the corner contrasting with the all the white and stainless steel.

Continuing with the red theme upstairs.

One of the second set of blossoms on the amarylis.

The amarylis bulb is also interesting to look at. Normally I don't even scan double exposures, but occasionally one surprises me and seems to work in kind of a psychedelic way.

Getting over myself at my subterranean work station.

Well, I'm not convinced.  I still like 35mm pinhole. It looks like there's a few others who do also.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is coming up on April 28.  You should build a 35mm camera or adapt an existing one and go crazy.

Philly has a .15mm pinhole 24mm from a 24x36mm frame.

Next more mania with The Populist.


  1. Congratulations, I also take pinhole shots with my Leica M3 and a pinhole body-cap and love my results