Making Contact

A weekend’s confinement due to mishap turned into a successfully useful photographic time.


As a result of an unintended upending on a flight of steps I’ve found myself confined to the house nursing torn calf ligaments. It’s been rather frustrating sitting around with my leg up (in more ways than one!) over a fine, bright weekend when I’d much rather have been out and about with a camera.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and I put my confinement to good use finalising the details of a talk I’ve been asked to give later this week, making a(nother) pinhole camera and doing a bit of contact printing on hand-coated paper. Put like that I’ve had quite a busy weekend!

The talk is for the Democratic Camera Club which meets on the first Thursday of each month at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh. I had been asked some time ago to give a talk in November but just last month was asked if I could bring it forward to October so my preparation time has been at a premium. I’ll be talking about pinhole photography, showing examples of the work of several contemporary artists and photographers who use the characteristics inherent in pinhole photography to realise their vision in their images. I’ll be including my own Continuum project in the presentation.

The opening slide for my forthcoming talk.

My friend Oonagh Devoy had asked me a few days ago for some advice about converting an old suitcase into a pinhole camera. With our exchange still fresh in my mind and nothing better to do I set about making a model suitcase pincam from mountboard. Based on a fairly standard box within a box design, the construction was straightforward but did present a challenge for preventing light leakage around the opening lid of the ‘case’.

Having completed my construction I looked out the paper I’d coated with SE1 Emulsion a couple of months ago, loaded a sheet into the model suitcase pincam and hobbled outside to try it out. With an aperture of about f/128 and projection distance of 30mm I gave a one minute exposure in the good bright sunlight of the day.

Model Suitcase Pincam with first test image

With the paper exposed, one thing led to another and I just had to get my darkroom set up. I managed without too much difficulty and decided to make use of the setup to make a few contact prints from some of my glass plates on other sheets of the SE1 Emulsion coated paper.


So there it is. A weekend’s confinement due to mishap turned into a successfully useful and enjoyable photographic time. Can’t complain really. However, it might be a different matter hobbling about with a stick at work tomorrow!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s