Pinhole Experiments

Last night I decided to finally give the digital pinhole thing a try.  For those of you that aren't familiar with pinhole photography, it is the simplest type of photography out there.  You can make a film pinhole camera with a roll of film, and empty film canister, a matchbox and some black tape.  Pinhole images (at least the uber-rudimentary kind) are generally at least a little bit blurry, may have some vignetting (dark areas around the edges), are made with a long exposure (usually at least a few seconds), and have a pretty specific feel to them.  I want to say 'vintage', but I'm not sure that's the word I'm looking for.  Anyway, I think right now there is a trend to create images using old-school technology in conjunction with new dSLRs, and the digital pinhole thing is just one example.  There is a pinhole group on flickr if you'd like to see more.  Maybe I should start one at SmugMug. :)  Of course, all kinds of 'distressed' and old-school imitations can be created in Photoshop or whatever, but that's just cheating :)

So, onto the process: I took the body cap to the camera (it's a 40D in case anyone cares) and drilled a small hole in that then sanded down the edges to make it nice and clean.  Then I cut a square from an aluminum drink can and colored it black on both sides with a sharpie.  I used a pin to make the tiniest hole I could through the metal (next time I'll cut the can, make the hole, then sand it down and lastly color it black to make sure the hole is really even and clean).  At first, I affixed the pinhole to the outside of the body cap, but I decided to put it on the inside of the body cap instead and that seems to have helped the final result in terms of sharpness and light interference (having inside the cap is like having a lens hood and I think helps bring out the vignetting a little bit).  The exposure for the image below was somewhere in the 10-20 second range, I believe.

I know I still have a lot more to learn, but here is the best of yesterday's first attempt.  I did adjust levels/curves and saturation, and yes, that's most likely pollen on my sensor O_o (it's pollen season here, absolutely everything is covered in yellow).  All of the shots came out very limited in tonal range; probably about 1/3 to 1/4 of a normal histogram.  I was shooting in low, even light. I would like to try it with some brighter light and hopefully get a little more tonal variation in there so I won't have to adjust levels/curves.

If you have experience with digital pinhole photography, please feel free to comment!

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