Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is Near
April 18th, 2016
This coming Sunday is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. I really enjoy fooling around with pinhole cameras and try to always participate in this day of pinhole photography. I’ll be running around Sunday with several pinhole-equipped digital cameras. I have a couple commercially made pinholes that mount on my Micro 4/3 cameras, and I plan to make a new one myself to try out on this day.
I think Micro 4/3 cameras are perfect for pinhole work. Really any camera with a good sensor that can do 3200 ISO or higher, and that has an electronic viewfinder, can make pinhole photography pretty easy. I find that with those cameras I can even hand hold some photos out in bright sunlight at the high ISO. Of course, you can also use a tripod and lower ISO if you prefer, but I find the “low-res” results from a pinhole seem to work just fine with the noise from high ISOs.
The electronic viewfinder is the key. With my Panasonic and Olympus cameras I can see and compose using the viewfinder. I set the cameras on Aperture Priority or Manual and adjust the shutter speed or just use exposure compensation and watch as the brightness of the image changes in the viewfinder. A far cry from working with film and having to guess about everything. I don’t like guessing. I like to control what is happening with the exposure and composition. I know that flies in the face of what a lot of people like about pinhole photography…but that’s just the way I am about photography. Another way of doing this with some digital cameras that have optical viewfinders is to use live view, if that feature is available.
The deal with WPPD is that you take pinhole photos on the designated day, April 24 this year. It’s always the last Sunday in April. Then you select your best photo and upload it to the WPPD website. Only one photo per person. Although, as you know, I shoot mostly nude figure work, I don’t upload nudes for this event (although the pinhole camera can be an excellent tool for nude photography) because this is an event that involves many young people around the world, so nudity isn’t really appropriate for their web site.
That’s really all there is to it, though if you like group activities there is a link on the WPPD website where you can search for workshops and group shoots near you. Many of the workshops involve making a pinhole camera and some also include basic darkroom instruction. That could be a great way to introduce young folks to the magic of chemical-based photography.
But you never know what might happen after you upload your pinhole photo. A few years ago I was surprised a day or so after uploading by photo when I received a request from the Washington Post for permission to publish my photo from the site. The newspaper was doing a story on WPPD and wanted to use my photo to illustrate the story. I, of course, agreed.
This is the photo the Washington Post published. I happened to be driving home to Ohio from Chicago on the day that year and stopped at the large windmill farm along the interstate to do a few pinhole photos. This was shot with my Panasonic G5 and a commercially made wide-angle pinhole. (That’s another advantage of mirrorless cameras. The pinhole can be placed close to the sensor. The “focal length” of a pinhole is solely determined by its distance from the sensor/film. The closer you place the pinhole to the sensor, the wider the angle of view. Most SLR cameras, as a result, produce somewhat “telescopic” images because the pinhole has to be placed far enough from the sensor to not interfere with the mirror.)