I had a conversation the other day with a Product Design student who is developing a pretty neat pinhole camera for her thesis. She wanted to interview pinholers as part of her project. One of the questions she asked is what I liked about pinhole. I talked about the fascination of how the image was formed with such a simple and basic system, how I could build the whole camera myself and the process of carefully previsualizing the picture. One thing I found it harder to express was why I like the images pinholes make. Trying to describe it, the term painterly always comes into my head. When I say that I guiltily recall Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adam’s strident positions on “pure“ photography and rejection of any association with painting or other earlier art forms. That was probably valid in the early 20th century but one of the values one now hears of pinhole and other alternative methods is the need for some variation to that f64 sensibility.
So now how I’ve come to think of it is that I like paintings that remind me of pinhole photography. That includes Abstract Expressionism.
Riding around on my bicycle recently, like everyone, I’ve been struck by the beauty of the fall colors but also concerned of what a cliché the subject was. Maybe closing in and filling the frame with the foliage to create an abstraction rather than capturing a scenic landscape would be a bit different approach.
A narrow angle camera would facilitate filling the frame with what are some relatively distant objects that are high in the air. Also, my recent work with 2.5 x 10 inch negatives in the Pinhole Lab Camera has gotten me thinking about larger negatives. On a somewhat dark and cloudy afternoon, I set out for a walk around my neighborhood with the 200mm front on the 6x9cm Variable Cuboid loaded with Portra 400.