Yesterday I went to a pinhole camera workshop at the MGA (Monash Gallery of Art) here in Melbourne. Had a great time met a few new people and had a few quick conversations around photography including one discussion on why many photographs are pretty but don’t convey anything meaningful. But I digress I really wanted to let you know about the pinhole camera construction and results.
In essence it really was simple to make, get a box with a lid of course, paint it black on the inside and then make the lens. The lens is the hardest part and if you want to know more about the science of pinhole lens wikipedia has a good article about lens thickness, hole size, focal length and the limits of each before diffraction makes everything useless.
My camera was an old photographic paper box so I could skip the paint section. The lens was made from aluminium foil and a tiny pinprick for the hole. The foil is mounted on a cardboard backing with a hole cut in it. With a hole cut in the lid of the box, smaller than the lens mount its just stick it in place with black tape and then put a shutter over the front.
We used photographic paper for the film and developed it in a makeshift darkroom. Reminded me of my dark room that I had years ago. I managed three shots in the time we had, the first 2 were more around learning how long to expose for, ended up at 35secs roughly.
Now for the results:
An interesting question, why would I buy a full frame DSLR. What do I mean by Full Frame?
Heck what does DSLR mean. There are so many questions to answer. Well let us proceed to work out why full frame matters.
Many years ago cameras, because of the limitations of the photographic surface, i.e. the technology of the day meant that film was rather large. For instance very early plates were often 10 inches on the long side. Could you imagine carrying a camera around today that was that size, awkward to say the least. Like all inventions there were some people that decided that there had to be some improvements so they commenced work. Trying new methods, chemicals etc until the modern film was invented. Now these films often came in sizes of 4*5 inches and larger and still used today. What!! I hear you say still in use, why? they must be huge and clumsy. Well they are and to see what they look like google or yahoo away for full format film cameras.
Would I like one ? Yes I would. Why?. Well because the final product is incredibly sharp, covers large parts of the landscape if used for that and the film if processed properly lasts for a long time and no doubt many other reasons explaining why they are still being used. Whereas the digital file from a digital camera can easily be lost if your hard disk drive fails and there is no backup, lacks detail etc. (Now there is one caveat here, one can buy a large format digital camera that produce superb photographs, the problem with these cameras is the cost: $20,000 plus and I am not sure what the upper range of dollars is). What are the downsides? Well one has to have film processed, either in a lab or by oneself. However it is the sharpness and detail that is captured that attracts.
So what has this got to do with a DSLR full frame and you haven’t even answered some of the questions from above I hear you say.
Well as cameras became popular, film technology advanced along with camera technology the 35mm film was born. The 35mm format became immensely popular from somewhere in the 50’s to 60’s until digital reared its head in a big way.
With the advent of digital chip size and camera size started to govern the size of the sensor. Now it must be understood that a smaller chip cannot provide as much information as a bigger chip. Why you ask, well think about it like this. Draw a picture on a postage stamp and then enlarge it to A4 size and see how much detail is available. Now draw the same or similar picture on a piece of paper that is 35mm by 24mm and enlarge that and see the detail difference. Complexities arise in this argument about the number of pixels but for a simple explanation the analogy I have described is relevant. Of course extending this one can see why the larger formats provide such luxurious pictures.
Therein lies the reason why I prefer full frame DSLR to a crop image DSLR. Oh I forgot to answer the “what is a DSLR?” question.
Well a SLR refers to the technology of earlier cameras, Single Lens Reflex. This means that light shines through the lens, is reflected off a mirror passed through a prism and projected onto a viewing area. A DSLR is just the digital chip ( the light sensor instead of film) version using exactly the same technology for the view finder image that some users prefer. Others of course like to look at the screen on the back. Personally I can’t get used to doing that, just prefer looking through the viewfinder.
Hope this helps.
Today I thought that I might try for an example of how the use of leading lines can help in your photography. As it is a public holiday and it is much to late to go out for a landscape shot that has good leading lines I thought why not just do a simple shot at home.
Now one can see that I have a nice curving line from the top left hand corner that sweeps down until it is broken by the gap in the pages. Here the red ribbon captures the eye and takes the viewer straight into a thirds point in the frame. The lines formed between the edge of the book and the ribbon also make a triangle which is a strong compositional form. Additionally I have arranged the ribbon into a curve resembling the Fibonacci curve found in Nautilus shells. The whole image is a construct just to point out how lines are important in ones photography and does not mean that one should use them without thinking about balance and tension in ones work.
Took this a few weeks ago, if you are in Melbourne and want a view of the city and surrounds then the Eureka building offers views like this. Only problem is for photography the glass walls make it exceedingly difficult to remove reflections of the interior from the photograph. Many of the views wen photographed have ghost lights or other artefacts impacting on the work. Additionally the glass is tinted and let me say it is not to photograph standards so a bit of colour correction is required. One also has to watch for fingerprint/palm prints on the glass, though the management is pretty good at keeping the glass clean. For those spectacular shots early morning is out as they don’t open until 10am, however it is open until late in the evening.
This morning thought a short drive to the Gurdies ( low hills near Western Port bay just off the main road to Phillip Island) and beyond would be a good choice, what with the potential of some low clouds and reasonable light, not as early as I should but I do have to get my boys to school. Seems teenagers are unable to rouse themselves in the morning. Anyway took a few shots or rolling hills and valleys, a lonely tree on a hill top that had a nice golden crown and stumbled across an old milking shed. Would still like to find a slightly more overcast day with breaks in the clouds to highlight parts of the scenery but today was not one of them. No doubt if I continue to go there over the next few months I will get the scene that sits in my imagination. Despite all of the above ramblings here are the shots from today, some in BW others in colour.
Hope you enjoy them.
1) A nice valley with signs of erosion and slip on the slopes.
The milking shed one in sepia from a low angle and the other in colour from a standing position. Not sure which one I like best.
Finally the lone tree with the golden top.
Today light rain tempted me to head to the nearest beach in an attempt to take another in my series of Along the Surf line, you can see them on my website if you follow the link above called “my photography”. The reason for the rain was to try and produce a similar effect to Sugimoto’s work with my own twist on it. However I think I missed the main rain band by about 2 minutes and nothing generated a gradual grey between sky and sea. However for a short time the clouds and the sun managed to make a nice image which you can see below.
Let me know what you think.
Despite the lack of a nice rain band I did take this one where I have used the effect of various layers found between the surf fence, beach, sea and sky. I have deliberately wound back the clarity in Adobe Camera Raw to blur the demarkation between each layer. I think I will go back another day as this one has potential as an abstract beach shot.