Getting into the mood

With just one week until Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2020, I’ve been dusting down old and creating new pincams.

WPPD2020 is almost upon us! This is its twentieth year and will be celebrated across the globe in a variety of coronavirus lockdown conditions.

Six months ago I set up solargraph pinhole cameras at four locations. One was vandalised about five weeks in and I took down another after three months to check that an image was being recorded as I would expect. The remaining two should each have a 6-month record of the sun’s path as seen from each of my daughters’ homes. Lockdown means I may not be able to retrieve the cameras and will have to rely on my daughters closing the shutters for me.

With thoughts of possibly not having one of my planned images to upload to the WPPD2020 website gallery, I’ve been thinking of alternative pincams to use on the day and testing out a few ideas.

Just before Christmas 2017 I received the gift of a vintage VistaScreen 3-D viewer and over that holiday period I made a stereo pinhole camera. Here it is with some of the prints I’ve made from the Ilford MGRC paper negs I exposed over the past couple of days: (To see the 3-D effect, stare at each dual image in turn and slowly cross your eyes to create a virtual third image in the middle)

Another possibility might be to take my Food-Caddy Bincam pincam for a spin. Here it is with an image made on Harman Direct Positive Paper while cycling with the camera mounted on the rear rack of my bike:

Or I could go back to one of the first pincams I ever made. This foamcore box-within-a-box pincam was made for WPPD2014 and is one of my favourites. I gave it a go last week with some Harman Direct Positive Paper:

Lockdown hasn’t been easy. With regular liquid refreshment running low and visits to the shops even for essentials, limited, I’ve been resorting to retirement gifts stored away for a rainy day. The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old Malt was much enjoyed in relieving it’s packaging for alternative use as an anamorphic cylindrical pincam. This image was also on Harman Direct Positive Paper:

I am quite fortunate in living within very easy reach from home of woodland and open space which can be enjoyed in relative solitude. Lockdown restrictions here allow for leaving home each day for one form of exercise, maintaining social distancing. Whether going for a walk or a cycle ride it is quite possible to pack one or two pinhole cameras for when I pause for a rest!

In the mood? You bet I am!

Lockdown Lumens

I have a couple of friends who make lumen prints, exposing organic material onto old photographic paper under sunlight. With the coronavirus lockdown in place I decided to give the process a try.

My stock of photo paper is all quite fresh but I have a bottle of SE1 liquid emulsion of indeterminate age and storage so I thought I might coat some paper with that. On searching for suitable paper I came across a pad of Watercolour Artboard – perfect! Apart from some squashably soft organic material, all I now needed was a sheet of glass, such as found in a photo frame with which to make a ‘sandwich’ for exposure to the sun. Raking through my stuff(!) I found some glass cut to 4″x5″ that had been used previously for glass plate experiments and had been cleaned off ready for re-use.

The bottle of SE1 needed to be warmed to about 45ÂșC in a water bath so that the emulsion could be poured. With the Artboard cut to size I coated it with the emulsion using a foam brush then set it aside to dry in a dark place. That gave me time to raid the garden and food-waste bin for organic material and then set it out on the glass ready for the coated Artboard to be pressed down on top.

Clockwise from top left: Blueberry and banana skin, Christmas rose and forget-me-not, Primula, Dandelion with daffodil and tulip petals

I had laid out the glass on top of some cardboard and after placing the coated Artboard on top of the organic material I used a piece of plywood to apply even pressure to the ‘sandwich’. Unfortunately, the dandelion was not soft enough and the glass plate below it broke (perhaps I should have used plywood underneath instead of cardboard)!

Three successful ‘sandwiches’ held together with butterfly clips and one broken glass due to the dandelion being too hard.

I placed the three successful ‘sandwiches’ outside in direct sunlight. Rather than waste the Dandelion and petals I pulled out my UV Light Box and placed it under the light without any glass.

After exposing all four for about three hours, they were ready for processing. Under the heat of the light box, the dandelion was a little singed around the edges and the petals had shrivelled up. On the ‘sandwiches’ placed outside, condensation had formed on the underside of the glass, probably due to the emulsion not being fully dry.

After exposure for about three hours

The organic material now had to be removed and any bits remaining rinsed off from the Artboard. To give some permanence to the images they were placed in fixer for a couple of minutes and then rinsed in water for about fifteen minutes before drying.

And the finished images look like this …