Friday, April 29, 2022

Pinhole Day...and beyond

I always feel kind of weird when I see comments on Pinhole Day submissions where folks tell how they got out the pinhole camera they bought on a lark, but rarely use except for the Stenopeic holiday. I take pinhole photographs all the time. It's hard to find a way to make it special.

I loaded the Variable Cuboid and chose the medium angle 45mm front, with a continuously adjustable rising pinhole. The photograph you submit to the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day gallery has to be taken on the last Sunday in April, so I might as well get on with it.

The weather has been cold and wet for weeks, so I had low expectations in the garden. This spooky flag had blown off someone's Halloween display last fall, got caught in a rose bush and spent the winter under the snow.

There was other detritus around and I started picking it up. One was at the far back against the hedge where a lot of trimmings get put to compost. There was a pile of dried roses that Sarah had put out over a month ago, still intact and colorful surrounded by the emerging daffodils.The contrast between the faded red and yellow roses with the green halo of daffodils against the background of brown leaves and grass was very striking in color.

The day before I had gone on a bike ride and saw several scenes I thought would be good to get in the sunlight with the 200mm front of the Variable Cuboid. If it were sunny on Pinhole Day and nothing inspired me at home, I could hop on the bike and get those. I made the switch and took off.

Ever since photographing this giant shiny bin with the "normal" angle Goldberry, I've wanted to get it isolated with the longer camera.

I had a similar thought when I photographed the construction barge Calumet with the Manic Expression Cube recently. The wind hadn't been too bad and it was kind of fun getting blown to the north. It was much harsher coming off the lake at Asylum Point. If it hadn't been Pinhole Day, I probably wouldn't have tried this one.

Another interesting machine on the outside of a factory which I photographed last summer with the 45mm front. I saw this view from the road across an empty field. Usually I'm surprised how far I have to get away from something with this camera. This time I was surprised how far across the field I had to walk to fill the frame. You can see on the left how the wind was blowing some pretty big trees around.

The previous frame on that roll last summer was the cement plant which was also visible from across an open lot. In this case I couldn't get farther back and get an unobscured view. I also pointed up a little higher than I wanted, so again a very tightly, seemingly randomly cropped image. This may be rationalization, but I'm starting to like these odd compositions.

Before going out, I decided to also load another wider angle camera, just in case. Suddenly overcome with holiday nostalgia, I chose the 45mm Glenlivet Vertical Populist, my first 6x6cm camera. It was too cold and nasty to stop other than for those four planned destinations.

Since it was Pinhole Day, the back yard was worth another look with the Glenlivet. The color fooled me again with this shiny ivy in the corner.

We have just had new windows installed and had to clear the areas around them. The sunbeam falling on the chair made for a tidy composition.

Six out of my twenty-one submissions to Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day have been self portraits. Sarah came to the bottom of the stairs to ask me something without realizing the shutter was open. I actually answered her and kept on posing. Not a bad composition. Do I look frustrated because I can't think of anything new to photograph?

Getting more desperate later in the afternoon. A slightly creepy portrait of my left hand.

Covering my left hand with my right hand,

As the Sun went down it beamed through the stairway window onto Sarah's new watering can on the dresser in the dining room. It was covered by the clouds shortly after and I turned on the lights and let the exposure go for another hour and a half.

That was it. Now I have to pick a favorite and submit it to the 2022 gallery. The deadline is midnight GMT on June 30th. Have you done yours

The next morning, faced with unfinished film in two cameras, I put them in my backpack and rode off, in cloudy, but not as windy and cold conditions.

I encountered one of those situations where I see a composition, get off the bike and try to frame it, but the relationships change closer up (this is even with the 200mm), and then decide not to take the picture. Turning around to go back to the bike, this heavy duty electrical service among a bucolic grove of trees caught my eye.

Going toward downtown, I passed this Victorian in the process of renovation. Another of those randomly cropped arrangements with the long camera.

I kept seeing things that would look better with a rising front on a wide-angle camera and got a little peeved because I only had the axial pinhole Glenlivet.  I went home and the next day set out with the 35mm front on the Variable Cuboid.

This is Senator Johnson's local office. He's from Oshkosh. It looks appropriately creepy. I was so disappointed no one on his staff came out to offer to help me. I had about a five minute routine ready. 


Most of those rising front opportunities I saw were in the alley behind the west side of the lower 400 block of Main Street. Another one of the times the film just doesn't want to be controlled. I've been thinking of doing a zine of this kind of thing called Warped.

J.F. Krumrich was a jewelry store in the 50s. It's now occupied by Jumbalaya, an art collective, one of three in Oshkosh.

This is most of the alley I'm talking about. The last two scenes and the next are visible. When I was setting up, a young man with a UW Oshkosh hat on came by carrying a PA type speaker and a bucket of construction debris. He thought my home-made camera was badass. I told him carrying around that giant speaker to listen to music while he was working was badass.

I still have the film left in the Glenlivet Vertical Populist. This arrangement of pipes and the dark door was low enough for a level camera with an axial pinhole.

Usually trying to keep a camera level for a scene of more than one story leaves a lot of blank foreground, but this bulkhead filled in nicely.

Then the film jammed, something I was sort of expecting. The Glenlivet is also the last 120 camera I made with a single winder. I transfered the film to the Wisconsin Amber Wide Angle at 24mm. I've been struggling with whether it's appropriate to ask teenagers to take pictures of each other, and how to describe that the body can make compositional shapes without sounding prurient. Thinking about this I tried to fold into a more appropriate way for my square format camera.

The environment can also lend personality to a portrait. I leaned against the Mustang.

The 45mm front of the Variable Cuboid has a .27mm pinhole. The 200mm front has a .50mm pinhole. The 35mm front has a .25mm pinhole. All are hand drilled. The film was Ilford FP4+.

The Glenlivet Vertical Populist has a .30mm Gilder Electron Microscope Aperture 45mm away from the film. The 24mm Wisconsin Amber Wide Angle has a hand-drilled .22mm pinhole.  The film is 100.

Both films were semi-stand developed together in Caffenol.


  1. Another great post Nick! I agree with you about consistently shooting pinhole. I do shoot year round but tend to do it digitally because it's quick and easy. This year I'm going to focus more on pinhole, documenting the world around me, just with a pinhole camera instead of a digital camera. Thanks for the inspiration! John

  2. Wonderful crop of pictures. One thing I like about your posts is seeing all the thought you put into things (like folding yourself for square format)