On my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago I took along my wooden pinhole camera to grab a few pictures. This is really back-to-basics photography. No digital preview, not even a viewfinder to see what you are shooting. Analogue film, over 2 second exposures (sometimes up to 2 minutes) and no idea what they are going to come out like. For a first go I’m really pleased with the results and amused with the mistakes. Most are classic rookie photographer mistakes from way back shooting film. I’ve taken one of the Statue of Liberty and cut her head off, forgotten to wind the film on and double exposed some images, and even misjudged the panoramic effect and had my finger over the “lens” waiting to close the shutter.
But the thing that struck me most wasn’t the end results but the process of taking the images. Everything was slower, more deliberate. Knowing that each shot, from setting up the tripod, levelling the camera, taking a meter reading, working out the adjustment for the pinhole exposure, setting the timer, was going to take at least 5 minutes – even before I actually took the picture – concentrated my mind on what I really wanted to achieve from the picture. Framing became far more considered, no taking a shot and checking the back of the camera to assess. This was a one time effort and had to be right.
The results are far from perfect but it is a great exercise in slowing down and taking stock. And for a piece of wood with a tiny hole in the front, I think they look pretty good.