|This group of images started out from an experiment with a really primitive, homemade pinhole Camera Obscura. I found a science kit about Light, aimed at kids age 7 to 11. One experiment is to make a crude camera obscura. Five sides of a box fold together, and wax paper is secured across the open side. A pinhole opposite that and a bright subject casts the image on the wax paper. To increase the intensity and sharpness I added a small magnifying lens in front of the pinhole, which means that, technically, this is no longer a pure pinhole camera obscura. . . In order to see the image on the wax paper I made a light shielding tube with black construction paper.|
Now I could see the faint image well enough to focus on it. With two tripods and a dark-cloth improvised from a black sweatshirt, I succeeded in photographing it.
The crude optics cast an image that falls off sharply from the center, so getting a recognizable image must include a blown out highlight. . . you can view the set up here: sta.sh/0pda5nicp6w
The next stage was to make a more sturdy camera obscura that also telescoped, to allow crude focusing. The results definitely looked more distinctly photographic while still retaining some primitive charm.
Throughout the project I struggle with the technical limitation that the projected image has such dramatic fall-off. Few of the images posted are anywhere near full frame because in order to get a good exposure I expose for the highlights in the center of the image. If anyone can explain why the image is so extremely contrasty I'd like to know. If anyone knows a way to moderate the effect to any degree, so that I may capture a wider field of view, then please let me know.
So now I have taken a poor, innocent Kodak Six-16 and adapted it to my bizarre pursuit of low-fi images. I put some wax paper at the film plane and made a hood off the back using the film door as one side and black poster board for the other three sides (with lots of black electrical tape). With the shutter wide open I frame the scene, and focus as well as possible. (The Kodak Anastigmat No. 0 lens has a crude focusing ring with a distance scale at the front, but I can't see the difference as I adjust it.) Then I set up my digital camera to photograph the projected image.
I do savor the irony of using modern digital technology with the complicated and unwieldy technique I evolved to photograph images with such limitations. I am certain that a competent Photoshop user could emulate the look in minutes, if not mere moments. While I find some value in process, in the slow method of producing images this way, I wonder if the results are unique and original enough to make them meaningful. Do they stand on their own without regard to process?