Motion-image of toy car toppling wood blocks

Muzah 2019-Pinhole Cameras and Time Flies

Our Friday morning pinhole camera class involved a lot of trial and error, both in terms of finding the right exposure and developing the photo paper in the dark room. We used large cans with a plastic lid whose insides and outsides were blacked out, and a small pinhole in one side of the can. After loading up the can with light-sensitive photo paper in the museum’s dark room, we headed outside with our finger covering the pinhole. Starting with 10 seconds of exposure (verbally counting out the seconds), we ended up with 5-6 seconds in bright sunlight. All of us succeeded in making between 3 -5 images (both negative and then printing a positive from the negative). These are the last two and most successful shots.

It was fun making images without our cameras and while I don’t have light-sensitive photo paper or a dark room handy, I’m now considering how I can do this digitally. Here’s an opinionated how-to article from DIY Photography, but I don’t think I’m ready emotionally to drill a hole in my camera’s body lens cap (if I can find it) and my beer drinking is from recyclable bottles!

Our homework for this week was “Time Flies” and I found it difficult not to repeat our in-class exercises from a couple of weeks ago. Racked my brain and spent more time deleting images than saving them. The primary challenge was finding the settings on my camera that allowed me to make long exposures without my camera compensating in some way. I used a tripod and the camera’s self-timer to avoid camera shake.

In my opinion the first is the most successful of the three in terms of showing a “before” and “after” in the same image. It looks like the exposure after the “impact” was longer since the fallen blocks are more solid. You can see each image’s EXIF info by clicking to open it in the Carousel.

One comment our instructor made was about the background. When photographing on an all white or all black background, you need to adjust your camera exposure up or down to get true black or white rather than a shade of gray. Noted!

All these experiments help me get more familiar with my camera, but there are still so many settings that are a mystery to me. At the moment, it’s like that VCR player you had (do you know what a VCR is?) that all you wanted to do was hit “Play” and “Rewind” but never knew or used any of the other functions!


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