A while ago I bought myself a Holga with the intention of converting it to a pinhole camera. A few months and two lost test rolls later and I’ve tweaked it to the point where I’m happy with my results!
The soft focus brings to mind Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series ‘Architecture’, with its barely-defined structures and almost timeless glow. Here, the sculpture’s hard lines are worn down by the imprecision of the pinhole camera, but its deliberate form is striking nonetheless. The boundary between the land (both the sculpture and the hedges behind it) and the sky is also blurred, the whole scene having a haze that is the hallmark of the pinhole camera.
I enjoy the simplicity of this form of photography. There is no aperture manipulation, no focusing, and shutter speeds are counted in minutes, not fractions of a second. With the camera set up I simply meter, open the shutter, time the exposure, and close it again. It is far from the high-tech world of photography today. When shooting like this I am forced to slow down, giving me time to contemplate my surroundings and really experience the environment I’m in.
Another effect of the pinhole camera’s slow shutter speed is that all moving things blur into nothingness. In this photograph, the tree and the snowdrops, moving in the wind, are ghostly and shapeless. Even the church and gravestones, static and unmoving, are blurred, giving this scene a slightly otherworldly look. Some might hate this imperfection, but I love it. It’s a scene the human eye is incapable of seeing.
Pinhole photography has brought me a new way of seeing the world, not sharp and well-defined, as we take for granted, but hazy and uncertain. A world in which things do not seem quite right, both static and restless. Most people see photography as the art of capturing a moment, but this is capturing the passage of time itself.