Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lens-less Edinburgh by Pinhole PHH Sykes

The sun was shining when I took off my precision made modern DSLR camera lens and replaced it with a plastic cover with a hole in it.  The whole lens-less experience was superb and the results are quite remarkable.  It was like slipping through into a different time line as I took pictures of Edinburgh with an improvised pinhole camera.  This old fashioned style of image making gave me the impression of reliving a bygone age and also of being a part of a vibrant modern revival all together at the same time.  Pinholes or small holes have been used to focus images for a long time and they have featured throughout most of the history of photography.  The small aperture of the pinhole automatically focuses the subject so that there is no need for a lens.  If you have a pinhole in a light tight cover fitting over your camera then you have all you need to take pictures. 

With a little adjustment you can find the right size of pin to make your hole, (off camera), in the right thickness of material.  There are many established websites that will give you full detailed instructions.  Do take care and then you can enjoy the whole experience.  The results look fantastic and are distinctly different from other forms of photography.  If want to make a modern version of vintage photographs then this is a great way to go about it. 

Old subjects look good when captured through a pinhole.  There is also the challenge of using vintage style equipment to take photographs of modern subjects that have only recently been available to photograph.  I enjoyed making pictures that included old buildings and new cars and buses.  My favourite experiment was rapidly taking pictures of moving traffic in front of Surgeons’ Hall on Nicolson Street in Edinburgh.  These images reminded me of Eadweard J. Muybridge experiments even though our techniques, equipment, aims and results had little to make a link.  The notion of capturing motion in a series of images was the connection between my quick and easy trials and the dedicated serious labours of Muybridge.  It felt good to be repeatedly using a fast shutter and a digital sensor to make old style photographs of historic building and modern automobiles in a contemporary manner.

With this simple technology there came new skills to master.  There is of course no glass for sticky fingers to mar, or for dust and dirt to mire and scratch.  There is no focus to be set and no aperture control.  I had the shutter and the sensor controls but that was all.  I had no way to measure the light levels and I had no preview image to be able to compose my pictures.  It is such a different way to make such a familiar product.  This is definitely an involved method to create photographs and the greater thought process behind making the images does lead to a greater sense of achievement when you have produced anything like what you were hoping for.

My lens-less activities could not have taken place without the generous loan of a pinhole cover for my camera.  Thank you to Pathlost from Flickr I am so happy to have been able to take these images with your pinhole cover on my camera.   I am off now to find foil and sticky tape to make a pinhole cover all of my very own.  Pathlost was running an all drop in workshop on Pinhole photography at Edinburgh Photocamp 2010. 


Edinburgh Photocamp 2010

HD film on YouTube

Royal Banana by Kevin MacLeod © 2001-2007
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

©2010 PHH Sykes
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Fancies

Lens-less Edinburgh by Pinhole PHH Sykes (103)

Lens-less Edinburgh by Pinhole PHH Sykes (109)