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April 14, 2012 / Aware of the Void

Is Pinhole Photography Grounds for Divorce?

Self Pinterests (Paper Negative) - Inverted
I discovered this evening just how easy it is to jeopardise a marriage. It is possible to do something so heartless, so thoughtless and insensitive that the results of one action can have far reaching consequences. I will freely admit that for the last few weeks I may have been a little overly focused on my hobby. Specifically, I have become obsessed with making and using a pinhole camera. This obsession came to a heated conclusion this evening ending in a confrontation with my wife and as I type this I am literally in the dog house.

A few months ago I was link hopping around WordPress and I stumbled on the pages of an artist called Christian Harkness, He produces the most wonderful images with pinhole cameras. I had seen pictures made with these cameras before but there was something so beautiful about his work that I was inspired to try this for myself. I am amazed when I make an image with a normal camera – so I was looking forward to this strange new challenge. The hope was that by going back to the very beginnings of photography and making my own camera obscura I might learn something. I visited a number of online resources to get a bit of insight and instruction and discovered a whole fascinating world of lensless photography.

I really wanted to try and make my camera using only items that I already had at my disposal. Without looking too hard I was able to cobble together the items needed. My search was aided by our house policy of never trowing anything out. Suddenly the reason for keeping every pin that was ever removed from a new shirt made perfect sense. We own our fair share of geegaws and gimcracks so within ten minutes I had everything assembled.

My setup is pretty basic – it’s a small tin with a pinhole in it. I use Ilford photographic paper to capture a negative image and I then develop the paper in the same tank I use for my normal films. Anything that resembles an image can be scanned and the negative inverted producing a positive. I use a great free internet program called GIMP. I am reliably informed that when software engineers design a piece of programming there is generally a large committee put in place just to work on the acronym.

By now I have made a few exposures and today I showed my wife the fruits of my labour, my creations, my genius! As usual she patted me on the head and told me that I am wonderful. She foolishly asked me to demonstrate how my pinhole camera works. Well this was me in my element. I just happen to have produced a two and a half hour long presentation on the history and physics of pinhole photography. I used PowerPoint to make some slides and I set up the projector.

The demonstration went exceptionally well with my audience of one riveted as I explained who Alhazen was and why he was important to all photography. I did a good twenty minutes on why the image appears upside down. I even managed to give a brief, 45 minute, overview of how photographic paper works. But the pièce de résistance came with the unveiling of my very own pinhole camera. Ever the show man, I had that camera hidden under a velvet cloth during the whole presentation.

I could tell instantly something was wrong. My wife is a gentle soul that never sweats the small stuff but I knew I was in trouble. It turns out that my new magic box was an irreplaceable family heirloom that I had mistaken for a peanut tin. As I sit in Poppy’s kennel typing this things do not look good. In fact I can see the dog smiling and waving from my own bedroom window.

Self Pinterests (Paper Negative) - Inverted

Self Pinterests //  Homemade Pinhole  //  Ilford MG IV Rated at 6 ISO  //  Aperture:f172  //  15mins

Cuddles in the Kitchen (Paper Negative) - Inverted
Cuddles in the Kitchen (Paper Negative)

Cuddles in the Kitchen  //  Homemade Pinhole  //  Ilford MG IV Rated at 6 ISO  //  f172  //  12mins

Book Positive

Book Negative

Book  //  Homemade Pinhole  //  Ilford MG IV Rated at 6 ISO  //  f172  // 180 mins

The Friary - Inverted Paper Negative

The Friary - Paper Negative

The Friary  //  Homemade Pinhole  //  Ilford MG IV Rated at 6 ISO  //  f172  // 34 mins

Poppy is Ainm Dom

This is Poppy //  Nikon F100  //   Fujifilm Neopan 1600  //  HC110 (B) 7.5 min 20c


Leave a Comment
  1. efratadenny / Apr 14 2012 6:31 am

    Nice series of photos..

  2. Susie / Apr 14 2012 7:29 am

    Tee hee, great post – thanks for the grins! And for sharing the funky images too! But a 2.5 hour PowerPoint presentation? A velvet cloth? I think you now officially have the pinhole bug, and bad! Enjoy… and thank you for your interest in my blog, it’s much appreciated!

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 7:34 am

      Thank you Susie, your blog is great and I have already started to read your archive so don’t panic if you see a lot of likes flooding in….
      Thanks for reading that post, it turned out longer than expected but still not as long as my PowerPoint presentation. I am very new to this world of pinhole but I think I am learning from it.

      • Susie / Apr 14 2012 7:53 am

        It’s good of you to take the time to browse my blog – many thanks! By the way, I inadvertently omitted to compliment you too on your portrait of Poppy, so will make up for the oversight now. She certainly looks like an adventurous soul! The shot’s sharp where it matters, and you’ve captured great mono tones here, while Poppy’s direct gaze really engages the viewer… nicely shot!

      • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 7:59 am

        Wow thanks, Poppy is not one for posing. She is more your run around manic type of dog. Someone may have been holding a large fillet steak above my head to get her to sit still long enough to get that shot.

      • Susie / Apr 14 2012 8:54 am

        Aha! That’s cheating.

  3. kaciebrophy / Apr 14 2012 7:41 am

    So sorry about how things happened after making your pinhole camera, but love your photos. Hoping things turn out far better than they were.

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 7:46 am

      Thanks Kacie, everyday is a challenge but I think we will make amends. I am thinking flowers and champagne might help in the short term…….
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad you like the pictures.

  4. 7theaven / Apr 14 2012 8:25 am

    Totally awesome work here@

  5. rohm31 / Apr 14 2012 11:05 am

    Great !!!!
    I want to see your home made camera.
    Results are awesomes.

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 11:09 am

      It has been returned to the safety of the display cabinet but I will try and liberate it again and that a quick snap of it.
      Thanks for the feedback it is appreciated.

  6. Kate Green Photography / Apr 14 2012 11:27 am

    Wow! These are excellent for pinhole- brilliant exposures you’ve got going on here and a great use of your human presence too! Love it!
    Trying to crack on with my own pinhole cameras but won’t be able to see the results for a few weeks when I can back into the darkroom!

    – Kate

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 12:28 pm

      Thank you Kate, I took the ones that I appear in when I was at work. One is me having my lunch and the other is me working at my desk. I like the effect and it is only about the third time I have taken self portraits. I may do some more of these.
      Do you develop your film at home? I am just using the same kit that I use for my roll film, it is a bit clumsy and I really can only do one sheet at a time but it seems to work out ok.

      • Kate Green Photography / Apr 14 2012 1:16 pm

        Yeah, it’s a really great effect you’ve got going on because it is really ambiguous what’s going on and everything. Excellent! 🙂

        I develop my film at uni- I prefer to work with 120mm film… I’ve done a lot of my pinhole work straight with Ilford paper. What is your pinhole camera like?

      • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:22 pm

        I will take a shot of the camera later and post it. You are lucky to have access to a darkroom. Is it photography that you are studying?

  7. ThisHandcraftedLife / Apr 14 2012 12:05 pm

    What a great story, too funny. Love the photos. What about when you show a pinhole camera to a non-photographer and they look at you like you belong in the loony bin? That’s always a good giggle. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 12:37 pm

      Thanks Monica, glad you like the story. I was out with a few photography friends taking the sunrise last week and for some reason I decided to bring along my pinhole camera. This was before I had figured out my exposure times so the few shots I took were very overexposed. My hands were freezing and inside the changing bag and I could not figure out which side of the paper had the magic on it. I am pretty sure the pals I was with thought I had gone quite mad.

      Your blog is great and I am looking forward to spending a bit more time reading it.

  8. / Apr 14 2012 1:31 pm

    Wonderful post, despite what it cost you. I am very impressed with the quality of your pinhole images. Great stuff.

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:21 pm

      Thank Earl, I will be forgiven eventually – I always am. Glad you like the post I appreciate the feedback.

  9. Amanda D. / Apr 14 2012 1:43 pm

    sounds like the kind of trouble I get in when I get inspired and want to do something right now! Great shots and story. Looking forward to seeing more.

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:20 pm

      Thanks Amanda, I just claim it is art and that my creativity is being oppressed. This rarely works but I keep trying. Thank you so much for the visit and the nice comment.

  10. David Hall / Apr 14 2012 2:24 pm

    An excellent and amusing post as usual. At least Poppy took pity on you!

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:17 pm

      That dog is a turn coat, as it get nearer walkies time the friendlier she gets. Man’s best friend indeed!!
      Glad you liked the post David.

  11. Graham / Apr 14 2012 4:03 pm

    Great piece. Looking at your photos I am sorely tempted to make my own pinhole camera, but I’m sure I don’t need yet another hobby (not to mention the risk of accidentally destroying family heirlooms!).

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:15 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Graham, I feel it compliments my hobby because I have learned so much about aperture, exposure times and photo paper etc. If this was the worst thing that ever happen one of my wife’s possessions I would be doing well…. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  12. christian harkness / Apr 14 2012 5:18 pm

    Well Brendan, no surprise here! The photos and text are superb, as usual. I am delighted that you got off to such a great start with pinhole work., and a million thanks for the ‘pingback’ acollade!

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 14 2012 6:12 pm

      Thanks Christian, credit goes to you here, I may have done this eventually but it was the stunning work on your blog that really made me want to give this a try it sooner.

      • christian harkness / Apr 14 2012 11:11 pm

        Thanks! Well, it is good that at times we can motivate each other a bit! 🙂

  13. barbaraelka / Apr 15 2012 3:24 am

    i really really like a kitchen shot…puppy one is a great one too

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 15 2012 5:57 am

      Thanks Barbara, I had never really considered the canteen in work to photographic before a made that shot, I think the distortion helps.

  14. marinachetner / Apr 15 2012 4:26 am

    I hope you’ve redeemed yourself by now Brendan 🙂

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 15 2012 6:00 am

      Working on it, I think it will all be down to whether or not the blue bells are in bloom when we make a little excursion later today. Fingers crossed.

  15. Aspergers Girls / Apr 15 2012 5:58 am

    Really, really like these photos. Hope all is good in the spouse-love area. 🙂 Sam

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 15 2012 6:25 am

      Thanks for stopping by Sam. I think it will all work out it the end. Glad you liked the photos I had fun making them.

  16. nursemyra / Apr 15 2012 9:43 am

    I like your work

  17. Photobooth Journal / Apr 15 2012 2:45 pm

    Yes, definitely grounds for divorce. (great pics and story)

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 15 2012 3:29 pm

      Maybe an over reaction but I think the course of natural justice would agree with you.

  18. drawandshoot / Apr 15 2012 2:59 pm

    Great post, Brendan! Good luck with the peanut tin thing (personally, I think it has a new and better creative life!)
    Well done images and text, as always!

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 15 2012 3:28 pm

      Thank you, once I spray painted the inside of it black its food containing days were finished……Glad you enjoyed the post.

  19. sibokk / Apr 16 2012 7:47 am

    Oh man! boy that was a good one and I feel for you. I love the inclusion of the velvet cloth, you weren’t wearing a black poloneck by any chance?

    I’ve invaded several spaces in our flat with my ‘stuff’ (with more to come) and that has earned some moents of silence so I feel for you.

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 16 2012 8:51 am

      Black poloneck, HA! for a presentation of this magnitude it was top had and tails…I bought another trip35 last night just because it had a chrome button! I may need professional help.

  20. sibokk / Apr 16 2012 7:49 am

    Oh, and the images look really sharp and wide.
    Excellent work and I’m looking forward to what you do next (try out the direct positive paper (about 3-6ASA), I think you’ll like it).

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 16 2012 8:58 am

      It is the DOF that amazes me, from the tacks on my desk to the ceiling light at the far end of the office is about 20 meters. I will be making an effort to do a few landscapes with it next week as part of a printing workshop I am attending.
      I will pick up some of that direct positive paper next time I am ordering stuff on-line. Thanks for the feedback as always Simon.

  21. barkinginthedark / Apr 18 2012 1:02 am

    Thanks for the sub…i appreciate it. will check u out regularly. continue…

  22. Moni / Apr 18 2012 11:56 pm

    Love them all! especially the one of Poppy. Hmm. I have a pinhole camera kit sitting in my closet…

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 19 2012 7:58 am

      Well Moni you convinced me to take the Holga out for a spin, I would like to think you would reciprocate by taking some shots with your pinhole camera…..

  23. Susi / Apr 20 2012 10:05 am

    What a funny and interesting post! I would like to try pinhole photography too, but my manual skills are not so good… Pinhole photos are gorgeous, anyway, they seem to show an enchanted world. So different from anything else…

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 22 2012 6:13 am

      Hi Susi, thanks for the kind words. It give the worlds an odd look alright. You should give it a try, if I can get a picture form something like this anyone can.

  24. pixelogist / Apr 21 2012 11:28 am

    brilliant. i love ur results, and it probably feels great knowing that u actually built the camera itself. i’d like to try it sometime too. keep it up! good luck

    • Aware of the Void / Apr 22 2012 6:15 am

      It was an interesting exercise, I learned a lot about how cameras actually work. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. steviegill / Apr 25 2012 2:21 pm

    Cool shots, looks fun. Making a pinhole camera is on my ever increasing list of things to do.

  26. David A Lockwood / May 2 2012 4:47 pm

    Somehow I can just imagine the dog at the window – Look on the bright side; you could be a golfer…..! But as Mark Twain said “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

  27. airplanespot / May 13 2012 7:50 pm

    wow, these photos are great!

  28. Chanel Hason / May 30 2012 7:08 pm

    You have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger and One Lovely Blog Awards! Please do not feel pressure to accept but if you decide you’d like to, check out my post…

    Have a fantastic day,

  29. Caryn / Jun 2 2012 10:07 pm

    Wonderful and amusing post as usual and the photos are very cool! It’s been a while since you posted this. I’m going to assume you’re out of the dog house by now!

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 2 2012 11:58 pm

      Been in and out many times since this was posted! I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  30. Bruce Meisterman / Jun 8 2012 4:22 pm

    Loved this post. To all photographers who unintentionally, but with good intent, take pictures that for some reason tick off our better half’s, hang in there.

    Thank you for liking my post “Sometimes I feel like a mushroom…” on my “” blog. Hope you come back soon.


    • Aware of the Void / Jun 9 2012 7:20 am

      Thanks Bruce, I am happy you enjoyed it. I am certain I will visit your blog again.


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