Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pseudo digital pinhole hack for my camera

Pseudo Digital Pinhole 1
Woo-hoo! My first pseudo digital pinhole photographs, straight from my Minolta Dimage X, with no post processing in Photoshop (yet).

Pseudo Digital Pinhole 2

They're not true pinhole photographs, because there still is a lens in the camera, with the pinhole taped to the camera in front of it. I made the pinhole with a bulletin board stick-pin that I punched through a little cardboard square cut out of a manila file folder. I simply taped this tab over the window in the upper right corner of the good old 2mp Dimage. (This camera has a completely internal lens.) So it's not a true pinhole camera, in which the pinhole itself would be the only lens. It's really more like a vignetter, a diffuser, or even a digital equivalent of a Holga -- but hey, it's a start.

I originally was looking for a piece of aluminum foil, which would be more light-tight, but I couldn't find any. So I cast about for some cardboard instead, being eager to go and try this thing out. I chose the manila folder because I thought it would let in just enough light around the pinhole to give an overall sepia tone to the photos, and that seems to be the case. The little lines are my registration marks that I used to line the pinhole up as best I could with the optical axis of the lens.

Outside, I found that the zoom determined the size of the image circle and the degree of sharpness of the image. At the wide angle setting, the image only filled about a quarter of the height of the frame, while at full 3X telephoto it nearly filled it from top to bottom, with the image getting softer and softer as I zoomed. I experimented with my new toy outdoors for the length of a coffee and break and then came in and uploaded the photos to iPhoto.

I'e always liked the soft, other-worldly look pinhole photographers create. And in particular, I'm inspired by the work of Yannick Vigouroux, whose work I found on Flickr. Check out his beautiful stenope numerique set.

I'm not there yet (again, it's not a true pinhole camera). But it's a start. Sometimes you just need to get out of your chair and go do it.

NOTE: Here are some links, each connecting to more links, if you'd like to pursue pinhole photography further. Until digital cameras came along, pinhole photography was a complex process that involved going into a darkroom or closet to put film inside lightproof boxes that had a covered pinhole at the other end (Quaker Oats boxes were a favorite), experimenting a lot to get the right exposure, trial and error, one shot at a time. Photo.net has a good overview of the history and practice of this traditional process. Digital SLR photography changed everything. You could take the lens off and mount a pinhole in its place. A favorite technique is to drill a pinhole hole in a body cap and mount it in place of the lens. And, if you want to get adventurous, you can even make a pinhole telephoto, or even a telephoto "zoom," with a body cap and a couple cardboard toilet paper rolls.

NOTE #2: I've set up a Pseudo Digital Pinhole set on Flickr, have added a couple more photos and will add more in the future (if my cardboard pinhole holds out).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

did you ever think about removing the lens? that does allow a wider angle.
I wonder why digital pinhole images have this sepia - tone: