Saturday, March 16, 2013

Through the Pinhole

One of my favorite (and few remaining) camera stores is hosting their first ever pinhole photographer contest.  A departure from their plastic camera contest... in this case they'll accept any sort of pinhole shot, be it through a home made matchbox camera, a manufactured Holga/Diana pinhole, or the Lensbaby pinhole optic on a DSLR.  I happen to have the Lensbaby optic already, along with a home made pinhole camera  I built from a kit... though I haven't done a lot of experimenting with either, the contest has inspired me to break them out and see what I can't accomplish.

The Lensbaby optic takes some getting used to.  It sits within the Composer lens, which tilts easily unless it is locked in place.  The images are much more zoomed than I'm used to with pinhole shots, and the focus is quite soft (though this is indicative of pinhole photography)  I keep forgetting that I cannot look through the viewfinder to line up my shot, so there is a lot of guess work involved in framing and exposure - again indicative of pinhole photography, but difficult to "switch" my brain when I'm holding a giant DSLR. This shot was taken with my DSLR/Lensbaby pinhole loaded on the tripod

The advantage to shooting with the DSLR is the instant gratification of seeing the framing/exposure, and being able to make adjustments on the spot to get closer to the image I want to capture.

By contrast, here is a shot taken with the cardboard pinhole, sitting atop the flat surface of my tripod:

What I enjoy about the cardboard camera is the depth of field... everything is in focus from camera surface to infinity (again, minus camera shake)  I can't get this look with any kind of lens.  The frustrating thing in using cardboard is having to burn film guessing the exposure, then (in the case of color) wait for the lab to find time to develop the film (or, in the case of black and white, find the time to develop the film)

I loaded the cardboard camera with 400 speed color, intending to shoot the interior of the Seattle Aquarium.    Due to the high occupancy (school field trips that morning) and my daughter's desire to watch the sea otters, I did not have as much opportunity to experiment indoors as I would have liked.  Still, I did come away with this image, done at a 1 minute exposure with the camera propped on my tripod:

I discovered that my cell phone has a stopwatch feature, which was wonderful to use for the long exposures.  I was completely guessing on this, but that is why I chose 400 speed, it tends to be forgiving when you are a few seconds off.

My last test was to hand-hold the cardboard pinhole camera, for a short 1-3 second exposure, to see how steady I could hold it:

Not terribly steady, though I've made worse exposures.

As I go over my film, I see that most shots are surprisingly borderline overexposed.  Even when I had the camera set on the tripod, I found it difficult to drop the cardboard "shutter" for such a short exposure, then cover the camera back up without bumping into it.  Although it seems at odds with my normal conclusions, I think in the future I should stick with a slower speed film for pinhole photography, and always have the camera on a steady surface.  Tri-podding it will always yield sharper images, and the extended exposure will give me the time to drop the cardboard block and cover the pinhole back up again without fumbling.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dreams to Reality

The other day I had that wake-in-the-wee-hours-vivid-dream time again, this time it was all about doodling.

I had a clear vision of a drawing, zentangles within a zentangle... a wide ribbon pattern with smaller patterns inside, some background patterns, some things dangling here and there. Even as I dreamed it, I knew I had not drawn it yet.  It was a strange mix of looking at this sketch knowing that it was going to come from my head eventually, but in order to make it a reality I would have to remember how I drew it the first time... even though it wasn't drawn yet.  As I woke up I had already begun to deconstruct the main ribbon part to figure out how to make it dimensional.

This is my first attempt at the vision:
It is a very basic version of what I saw in my head... the ribbon is not quite wide enough, and the "extras" outside the ribbon are missing... but I have the basic construct down, which is half the battle.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Time Flies

I am still here, still alive :)  It has just been a long and busy winter.

The holidays are always a scattered time for me.  It is a high speed hop-scotch game from Halloween to G's birthday to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years.  Every January I think I will have time to slow down, and every January ends up dedicated to the Post-4-Month-Mayhem-Cleanup.  Then we have Valentine's Day - not a big one for me, but the commitments at school seem to get bigger every year... and somehow we suddenly arrive at March.

I had this rather abrupt realization of how quickly time flies a couple days ago... G needed a photo of herself at age 5 or younger for her school yearbook (a big "Then and Now" spread for the 5th graders)  I was shocked as I pulled the photos from 2005 out and found a set of photos from the Woodland Park Zoo.  I remember that trip very well, G loved the insect building, I saw the bald eagles enclosure for the first time, and we spent a long time wandering through the butterfly house. I swear that trip to the zoo was just a year or two ago... has it really been nearly 8 years?!?  How did that happen?

Something similar happened, to a smaller extent, in January.  After having cleaned up from the holidays I went to back up my Christmas photos and realized nearly all my SD cards were full.  I had not backed up any photos for the previous 8 months or so, and I had swapped cards between events so my photos were out of chronological order.  In short, my digital archiving was a mess.  Once I had that mess straightened out, it dawned on me that having not backed up photos for so long, I had also not properly edited photos in quite some time... and consequently hadn't updated my photography site much either.

I blame it on allowing myself to be distracted by Facebook.  Over the last few years it has been easy to download my SD cards, do an initial pass-through of the photos (because I just can't WAIT to see them!) and edit/post one of my favorites to Facebook.  Then I move on to the next shooting adventure.  I've somehow tricked my brain into believing I've updated something, therefore I easily forget that the really meaningful work has yet to be done.

There were some projects in between which took priority.  I did some pregnant-belly photos of my friend, some baby photos of my niece, and senior shots of my friend's son, and a few school-related photo shoots - all those projects were promptly edited, as I had people outside of myself waiting on me.  So I suppose it isn't *all* due to Facebook.

However, that circles us back around to my lack of blogging.  For the last couple months I've spent every non-work computer moment sifting through my archives, getting them in order, selecting, sorting, and editing photos.  It was a big job, but somebody had to do it.  I'm not yet "caught up" (and I might never be, as I keep on hauling my camera out and shooting at every opportunity) but I aim to get my feet under me, find some balance, and enjoy the journey...

...and make more time to talk about it.

Geese on the Lake - shot in February 2013