Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pinhole photograph of the sun's path across the sky on July 30, 2013.

Pinhole Photograph in The Hand Magazine


The Sun’s Arc Overhead – 30July, a pinhole photograph, can be seen on the top of page 2, Issue 2 (October) of The Hand Magazine .

This photograph is a 39 hour exposure made with a homemade pinhole camera and a paper negative.

The paper negative is Ilford MG Fiber-based paper which I’ve cut to about 4″x5″ from an 8″x10″ sheet. Once I’ve exposed the paper, I scan it into my computer and process it through Photoshop.

My “camera” is a cardboard box, which appears to have been at one point, a gift box. The lens is a pinhole in a piece of thin aluminum taped over a hole in the lid of the box with black electrical tape. The interior of the box is painted black. And, after paper is inserted inside the box, the edges are sealed with black electrical tape. I’ve found good tape must be used, or in the summer heat, especially here in Phoenix when it can reach into the 120s (Fahrenheit), that other tapes come unglued. The box is 6″ tall x 4.25″ wide x 4.25″ deep.

In Photoshop, I crop to size, then invert to make a positive image, then flip it horizontally or vertically, depending on the shot. At this point, the image, if exposed for a sufficient time, is murky shades of gray. Short exposures will look almost solid white when scanned, almost solid black when inverted. From there, I make adjustments, which vary from image to image, but generally, I make the following adjustments: brightness/contrast, levels, curves, exposure, vibrance, hue/saturation, and color balance.

I use Photoshop CS4, so earlier or later versions may have other adjustments available.

When making adjustments, I generally go through them in the order I listed above. I adjust the image to what appeals to me at the time. It’s not unusual for me to make multiple versions of the same image, each with different outcomes. I find the predominate colors are either in the blue or red spectrum. But, that may be partly due to my preferences as I adjust.

One of the aspects of my images is the “multiple exposure” look to some of them. That’s because I only put the paper inside the box. There’s nothing to hold it in place. So, in extreme heat it tends to curl. Some of my longer exposures are a week long. Also, because it’s a cardboard box with no weight, if it’s not weighted or tied down, the wind may move it. For one of the shots, I had wedged the camera in the V of two branches, but the wind blew it out, I’d put it back, it’d get blown down, etc., for a full week. It made an interesting image.

It’s a fun experiment and that’s what photography should be sometimes. Stop being so serious. So go out there and have some fun.

More of my pinhole images can be seen here.


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