Sunday, 26 April 2015

Day 116: can you see what it is yet?

Today is international pinhole day and Happy Camera is running a workshop so we can join in with the pinhole party. The plan is that we learn how to construct our own camera, take photos and develop them in a portable darkroom. We convene in a favourite pub of ours and are furnished with some materials to start crafting our cameras. The plan is attach a piece of light sensitive paper to a plastic plate topped with a black, plastic salad dish with a pin prick hole, all covered up until the picture is taken. The knack is to have the camera completely black and suitably sealed but not so impenetrable that inserting the photo sensitive paper when you have to rely on feel only inside the pop up dark room tent is impossible.

Once we've exposed our homemade cameras to the light in front of our chosen subject, we quickly seal up the pinhole, the plastic bowl/dish camera is opened inside the dark room again, and the paper removed then dipped in developing fluid before enjoying a fixative bath. Then we remove the negative image from the darkroom and all gather around and squint at it trying to decipher who took it and what it was supposed to be. Next step is that we photograph the 'photograph' with an iPhone (I know, our photography forefathers are turning in their graves!), then via an app flip the negative to a positive, and ask the question "can you see what it is yet?"

And I have to admit that the entire process is more haphazard that I'd envisaged. It's tricky to know how long to expose your pinhole to your selected scene, then you are literally fumbling in the dark removing the light sensitive paper from the camera/salad bowl housing, dip it in the developing solution (you remember which way round the dishes of solution are?) before the final dunk in the fixative. Then you extricate your hands from the light proof sleeves, unzip the dark room tent and reveal the fruits of your labour.

As the day went on our images seem to delve more into the twilight zone with the images seemingly full of ghosts, random shapes are basically making no sense whatsoever. Eventually it was noted that our attempts to seal our cameras up securely after image was captured had actually caused tiny fissures and cracks in the brittle plastic salad bowl causing multiple exposures whilst we queued our 'cameras' up for processing. Ah so we weren’t actually photographing ghosts, the future or the past!

Issues identified, we went for one final attempt after checking that not the tiniest hole was present, apart from the intended pinhole. I chose an attractive blossoming tree behind the pub. I carefully placed my camera on a window sill to prevent camera shake and exposed it for several seconds. On developing it was apparent that I hadn’t quite grasped how wide my field of vision was because as well as the intended tree, I had a car, several flats, the car park, part of the estate and most likely my fingers holding the ‘shutter’ open. As all my previous attempts had been so incomprehensible, I haven’t quite realised the issue.

Luckily JT managed to achieve a half decent selfie…sadly still adulterated by light leakage added the plant on the window sill and part of the window itself.

These are my earlier attempts. This is my first go; it’s supposed to be looking up at the hanging baskets outside the pub.

So back to the drawing board, this time I attempted a close-up of an abandoned table football that was lying on the pavement. I cannot fathom how that image ended up looking like this.

And this to me looks like a giant rabbit fallen asleep against an upright piano. I can categorically state there were no pianos, no rabbits, nothing that would explain this image. We put it down to witchcraft!

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