Combining Pinhole Photography with a Variety of Lenses

Venturing into the realm of pinhole photography has broadened my perspective on the art of image making. Carla Crafford, a fellow artist and friend, introduced me to this wonderful analogue world. Since then I have been developing a unique style, combining pinhole photography with a variety of lenses.

I got my first real camera, a Canon Snappy S, back in the mid 80’s from my dad as a birthday gift. Since then the concept of capturing light has enthralled me. I am by no means a photographer in a professional sense, but can admit having taken bazillions of pictures over the years. Some good, most mere snapshots documenting family, friends, travels and work.

Photographs play a nostalgic role in my life. It’s through the images in family albums I am able to weave a thread of where I’ve come from.

Pinhole photography offers a balance to my digital cornucopia of instant images. To take one photo takes considerable effort — loading the paper, finding your subject, determining exposure time, developing in the darkroom and assessing the photo.

A gut feeling is required. There are no dials nor viewfinder, just a small hole at the front of the box. I love the unpredictable experimental nature of this adventure. Practice makes perfect.

It was Carla who introduced the idea of inserting a lens, such as my sculptural glass work, into the process of capturing light. I had to find a way to improve on this and invent a lens that “floats” within the picture.

Presto!

What if I insert a sheet of glass into the camera obscura on which a “lens” is bonded, giving the illusion of it floating in the frame?

The glass sheet allows light to pass through, reaching the emulsion on the paper. The lens bends light, creating a distortion floating within the image.

Pinhole Camera with Lens

Light has always been an integral part of my practice. Now I am able to combine my optical explorations with analogue processes in a new body of work. What excites me most is the unpredictability of the results. With every exposure, a sense of excitement bubbles up, finding a subject to developing and see what was captured.

Due to the processes involved with each shoot — needing a darkroom to load paper and develop the prints — my subjects are predominantly scenes around the house. Some are staged and others not. I guess the process still dictates most of my choices, but will soon focus on themes closer to my heart.

Each photograph taken with the pinhole is a negative. Light reaching the paper through the tiny aperture darkens the emulsion. After developing the prints, they are scanned and transformed digitally as a positive.

The photos below were taken during Winter 2022.

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