Monday, April 30, 2007

Worldwide Pinhole Day

vilano pinhole 1
Originally uploaded by jason_in_gvile.
Yesterday was Worldwide Pinhole Day, in case you didn't know. I went out to take some pinhole photos, did you? WWPD is the day you go out and take a photograph using the most primitive of gear - the pinhole camera. What's a pinhole camera, you ask?

It's a camera that uses a pinhole instead of a lens to transmit an image to the film plane. Because a pinhole is so small, it often takes much longer to take a photo - in my case the aperture is about ten stops past f/16. What that means is a pinhole image usually has some element of time lapse in it. The image also has infinite depth of field - an object 1 mm away will be rendered as clearly as one at the horizon.

One of the coolest things about pinhole photography, in my opinion, is making your own camera. I did this last year and it was a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. After many hours of work, I had finished Pharaoh, the Polaroid Pinhole camera. He accepts Polaroid packfilm, and is very wide angle, I'd estimate about 18 mm in 35mm terms. If you're not DIY-inclined, there are places to buy pinhole cameras and even a paper fold-up camera out there.

There's really not much more satisfying than taking a picture you love with a camera you built with your own hands. Try it out, it can be very addictive.

Pinhole Links...

f295 - A pinhole message board and community

Mr. Pinhole - Pinhole Camera building resource

Homemade Pinhole - Flickr group with photos of and from home-built pinhole cameras

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Color Creeps in...

Spring has come to Lansing, and with Spring comes color of course. For many it's time to break out the slidefilm, or perhaps the dSLR, and take a photo stroll to see what you can capture. I look forward to the warmer days of spring for another reason.

As you may or may not know, I am a Polaroid fanatic. I love the colors, the immediacy of the image, the simplicity of the cameras, the social aspects of shooting a Polaroid. When the temperatures hit 70 (optimal temps for Polaroid development), it's hard to stop myself from spending massive amounts of money on Polaroid film.

Shooting Polaroid film can be frustratingly simple. You put in the pack of film, point the camera at a subject, and shoot. There are no development controls, no depth of field controls, no shutter speed controls. Perhaps most limiting, you only get one copy of the image.

I love that. If you get it right, you get it right on the first try. You don't monkey around in photoshop, you don't increase development to compensate for poor lighting, and you certainly don't change lenses to get a better angle. The only thing you can do is work with the camera's limitations in mind. Concentrate on composition, and after a little while you begin to see what works well in the format.

With a Polaroid, you only get the one copy. You can certainly try to copy it with a copy stand or scanner, but you never get that original quite right again. The scans I post online pale in comparison to the real deal. As photographers, it's easy to try again and again to get the perfect print from a negative. You can copy it ad nauseum with no degradation to the image. There's nothing wrong with that, but something is to be said for having a unique original.

The film is expensive too, about $1 a shot or so. That means someone like me doesn't take many photos when they're out. I'd go broke like that! Instead, I have learned to look through the viewfinder and consciously decide, "Is this shot worth $1?" These are rules that can benefit anyone, regardless of what equipment they shoot with.

Be warned however, if you try Polaroid photography, you could become addicted.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Everything is falling apart

The Plume
Originally uploaded by boileraae.
Well, it seems that way lately. After my last gallery show, it's been hard to get out and take new pictures. I have like 12 rolls in the drawer waiting to be developed. I don't know if it's the weather, the backlog, how much I've been working, or what. I just seem to have run out of steam.

Thankfully the cold has let up a bit, and I'm sure that when we see green and warm temps I'll get back in the groove. This is all an apology for not updating in a while, both here and on Flickr. Anyway...

Castle Photo, an old-school camera store in Frandor in Lansing, is hiring part-time help. I'd take the job myself but they want someone to work Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Saturday. Weekdays I can do, but not the weekend. If you're interested, go apply in person. You won't get paid much, but you get a good discount and you're around cameras all day.

Call For Entries
Newaygo County Council for the Arts Statewide Photography Competition

April 25-May 26, 3007

Deadline: April 14, 2007

NCCA Statewide Photography Competition- To exhibit and acknowledge the finest photographers in the state of Michigan and encourage greater growth and achievement in the photographic community. Cash awards, ribbons, and recognition. Exhibit opens April 25 and closes May 26. Award ceremony and reception May 4, 2007.

Any photographer residing in the state of Michigan, 18 or older may submit up to two photographs in any process, not previously shown at NCCA. $20 non-refundable entry fee covers both submissions. A complete application with rules and guidelines can be downloaded form

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Originally uploaded by Apocaplops.
I did some official photography for the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine over the last weekend. They had their annual open house, Vet-a-Visit, where the public comes to check out what the life of a veterinary student is like.

The CVM sets up exhibits to inform the public about animal welfare, and also has hands-on demonstrations thatanyone can take part in. The event is well-attended, bringing upwards of 5,000 visitors to the Vetrinary Medical Center.

This was my first attempt at doing photojournalism-style shooting, and I'm pretty happy with a lot of the images I got. I learned a thing or two that I wouldn't mind sharing, and hopefully it will help myself and others out in the future.

1) Be versatile. Events like these are very difficult to light off-camera, and fiddling with equipment is more of a hassle than it is worth. Bring a wide-short tele zoom lens, a shoe-mount flash, a diffuser of some sort, and that should be all you need.

2) Check out the light beforehand. In this case it was all flourescent lighting, and not very bright in many areas - about 1/50, f/5.6 at 400. Low ceilings meant I could do primarily bounce flash with a homemade bounce card. I wish I had a flourescent color correction gel over the flash, as a lot of my subjects were color-balanced, but the unlit background was not.

3)Bring Extra Batteries. I did so, and though I didn't run out it would have been terrible if it had happened. Bring batteries for your camera and flash.

4)Act Professional. After a while I wasn't nervous about getting in people's faces to take photos, and people responded better as a result. You don't need to ask to take a photo of someone, just go up and do it. If you look like you know what you're doing, they will just assume you do, and let you do your job. I only got one question all day about who I was and why I was taking pictures. A dorky camera vest and bag don't hurt either.

If you're interested in seeing the day's photos, check them out on my flickr site. I'll be in the process of uploading them over the next week or so.