Suppose you want a pinhole camera …

… but all you have is a DSLR?

This may be the goofiest experiment I’ve done yet!

 

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If you want to do this yourself here are some notes about it:

1). After trying various camera colour modes I decided “natural” with the sharpness at maximum looked the best. It does well in B&W too if you want that total “printing paper negative” effect. It doesn’t make much difference if shot at 18MP or less; the clarity just isn’t there.

2). Bright sunshine lets you use 1/60 shutter speed for steadiness @ ISO 1600. Some shots may still be a little under and require tweaking, or you could push the ISO up further.

3). The smaller and rounder you can make the pinhole the sharper the images will be, but they will never be “lens sharp”. You can experiment with aluminium foil but it’s not very sturdy and may flex too much. Brass sheet is ideal, but pretty hard to find. I used a bit of aluminium roof flashing cut to a rough circle painted black and taped over the #1 Pentax extension tube screwed into the EF adapter. A jeweler’s deburring tool would have been nice, but alas …

4). You could use a body cap to make a “direct fit” version of this. Remember that focus is pretty much the same at all distances and moving the pinhole further from the ‘film plane’ gives a telephoto effect.

5). These images will always lack detail, therefor intricate subject matter like branches or hair aren’t going to look like much or even be recognizable. “Blocky” subjects like buildings and vehicles come across better in my opinion. Unless you want undefined blurs.

6). This would no doubt work better with a full-frame sensor, which would be even sillier as well as much more expensive if you haven’t already got the camera.

7). Dust got on the sensor again. This type of experiment would be murder for a mirrorless camera.

Once again not a very practical way to take pictures. But the results are similar to buying one of those el cheapo lenses – and for a lot less money. It is always easier to make pictures “soft” than it is to get them “sharp”, and there’s no need to spend a lot to do it!

It’s trite, I know

I had been thinking about doing this post to the point where I’d selected almost all the photos for it. There was some hesitancy because it’s such a “year end” thing to do and I find those rather annoying for the most part. Further to that I started seeing other people doing the same thing. Oh boy, it’s the legendary “Obligatory Marble Shot” situation all over again. Nevertheless and despite my own reservations I went ahead and constructed the post on December 17. Will it get published? Only time will tell. (If you’re reading this either it did or you have magical powers.)

Selections were made on three criteria; the technical quality, the artistic value, and the wholly subjective “because I like it” factor.

First up, two from the Kodak V1003, the cheapest camera in my arsenal:

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Yellow
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Vice

“Yellow” and “Vice” show how artistic you can be with a very simple camera. Something I like to demonstrate for the benefit of new photographers or those just looking to find their way.

Now two from the Kodak P850, as we move up in camera value:

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Candlestick Colour
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Walkin’ Blues

Here we have the original colour version of the candlestick photo series and the P850’s rendition from the “Walkin’ Blues” series. The richness of this camera’s captures with its CCD sensor never ceases to amaze me.

Shifting up in price again to the Nikon P610. Oddly enough even though this is still my “main” camera I had a hard time choosing from its photos, because a lot of what I take with it is not done for artistic reasons.

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Hannibal
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Lonely Stranger

These two show the P610 at its artistic best, I think. “Hannibal” radiates warmth and fuzziness, just like the actual cat. “Lonely Stranger” is not only poignant but also personal, as it is a self-portrait. Usually the Nikon is shooting pictures of the moon or wildlife, because one of its main attributes is the fantastic zoom lens. I just didn’t think those pictures were top-of-the-class for technical or artistic merit.

Now for the most expensive camera, the Canon T100, we have a couple of shots that show for a camera that spends most of its time doing weird photographic experiments it can do some great art if given a chance.

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Broken
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Chimney

“Broken” is pure art gallery level snobbery, whereas the “Chimney” is serendipitous colour and form. Besides these I found quite a few taken with the T100 which were suitable, and narrowing it down was difficult. I had to somewhat suppress the “third criterion” to make the choices.

And while we’re on about the Canon’s experimental usage and my “because I like it” qualification, here’s two from the unlikely yet strangely successful Canon + Brownie experiment:

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Vase

This is actually a bad picture, speaking technically. Most of it is out of focus and where it is focused it isn’t sharp. The composition is random and purposeless. Yet I like it. Not just for the odd method used to make it, but because the whole is greater than the parts and it becomes an abstract of slightly blurred shape and colour which could probably hang in MOMA and sell for a million dollars in print form.

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Isetta

From the same experiment series, the Isetta image fails on technical merit and arguably is about as artistic as a mistaken shutter trip. Yet again, I like it. My whimsical nature gave it composition that would ordinarily be found only in a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, although I doubt they’d be accepting of the quality otherwise.

The main reason for all of these pictures remains the same: I’m having fun with my cameras. You should too.

 

Two pictures three ways

Once again we are having not-good-for-picture-taking weather, with temperatures so cold the cameras try to reset or shut down completely. Really the best of them are only meant to operate down to -10°C and yesterday it was -18°C. So I’ve been inside thinking about shots and trying some experimental things which may or may not lead to more involved photo shoots. All taken with the Nikon P610.

First we have a picture of the sky where you get to guess which is the original and which were processed:

Next we have the antique inkwell. You get to pick which you like best. They all ‘work’, but I think the original colour version is the best.

Otherwise, I’ve been reading interesting blogs again including one from someone who actually has a new Fujifilm X-Pro3 – and has confirmed my opinion of it: So this happened. Great camera. And a clever bit from Eric L. Woods about being fiscally responsible – and still getting the camera you want (essentially).

Only a couple more posts for the year. Another silly one with silly pictures and a silly one with less silly pictures.

Always have a sense of humour, especially about yourself.

Four views

It hasn’t been good picture-taking weather here lately, so I’ve only just managed to finish this series I started quite some time ago. I wasn’t really sure where it was going or what I would do with it, to tell the truth. It ended up being four random shots from four different cameras. Each has a small story behind it.

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Latest Snow – Kodak P850
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Mr. Downy – Nikon P610
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Fallen Leaf – Canon T100
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Sunrise – Kodak V1003

The first picture, “Latest Snow”, was taken at ISO 80, to fly in the face of the current trend of hyper speed. Also the camera kept freezing because it was -12.

The second, “Mr. Downy”, was shot on a horribly overcast day with the air full of mist which did a real number on the sharpness and exposure. Yet a little post-processing salvaged the image.

The third, “Fallen Leaf”, is the most interesting subject with the way the curled leaf has been caught in a spider’s web. The colour shows how warm our light is at this time of year too.

The fourth image, “Sunrise”, is further testament to how you can take quite decent pictures with an inexpensive camera. Alas I did have to tweak it a bit because the V1003 has lost its ability to render contrast and colour correctly, but the adjustment is still minor.

I’m not sure how many more photos I will take this year. We’re in the stage of Winter where it manages to be miserably cold and also lacking interesting snowfall. Getting out and about will become more difficult, and most of my favourite subjects have gone into hibernation.

I wish I could.

Old glass, part three

In this installment I’m using two different but near identical Kodak Petite cameras from the 1930s. Whereas the Hawk-Eye used 120 film these take 127. The significant part is that one of them is the first camera I ever had (when I was 7), and it had been the first camera my Dad had:

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The other is a nearly identical blue one that I picked up later in life. It works somewhat better than the ‘original’ as alas the green one’s bellows have gotten very stiff over the decades. Still I like the Petites over the Hawk-Eye as they are smaller and thus somewhat easier to manage and the focal length of the lens is more suited to the Canon’s tiny sensor (although there is still some significant change in the focus required).

First let’s look at a shot ‘as-is’ and then with the white balance corrected:

These lenses do not have any colour correcting on them as B&W was pretty much it for film in the 1930s. Marley in the snow shows the natural tendency for a slight magenta cast to everything. Exposure info for these photos is: ISO 200, 1/60, US Stop 4 (about f8). In some cases I had to do some ‘lightening’ post-shoot as the exposure swings wildly depending on the scene variations and adjusting any of the settings gets a bit tricky out in the field as I was trying not to let the camera be open to get dust in it. You soon run out of hands handling two cameras at once!

The wild rose in winter, one with each of the two Petites. There’s little difference between the two, I’d say. You can see some slight colour difference despite both images having been processed the same. Also in these two of the fir trees:

As I said before, whereas this is a fun experiment it is hardly a practical way to make pictures. Without a fixed connection between the two cameras it is awkward to handle and dust gets inside. The lenses are sharp, but not astoundingly so (unlike the Takumars). Exposure is a challenge, as is focusing. And every shot needs colour correction to give accurate tones. I think I’ll stop with this now, unless I find another interesting old lens to try out, and actually clean off the Canon’s sensor.

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The End?

 

Old glass, part two

The weather here isn’t co-operating much with anything, including photography. By the time there was any sunlight to shoot with today it was late afternoon. There was also an inch of snow on the ground. Despite these setbacks I was eager to try out using the Canon with another old camera for its lens. In this case a Kodak Rainbow Hawk-Eye from the early 1930s. This being a folding type camera removes the focusing limitations of having the ‘film plane’ in the wrong place.

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The results show promise, but were not without problems. For one thing hand-holding two cameras at once is more than a little awkward. You run out of fingers to make adjustments with, and there’s some difficulty with actually getting your eye on the viewfinder. I tried using a tripod to help, but its assistance was minimal. In the fleeting light I took four shots, three of which I had to ‘ramp up’ because a fairly minimal change in scene illumination resulted in a drastic difference in actual light on the sensor.

Exposure was ISO 200, 1/60, US Stop 4 (that’s what the Kodak is equipped with). You will note sharpness is not great, partly because it is impossible to clean the front of the lens on the Hawk-Eye. Partly because there are some issues with getting focus sharp even with the bellows (which don’t slide all that smoothly on the track). Also, post-processing is necessary as the lens is not colour-corrected in anyway (1933 production). The same goes for the Brownie shots I did before.

It’s an amusing experiment, but not really a practical way to take even artistic shots. There is risk to both cameras from their being “used open”, and you can see on the dog shot I still haven’t cleaned the sensor from the last experiment; I expect to do one more series before doing that.

On the other hand it does leave open the possibilities of adapting quite non-standard lenses for artistic purposes. It also reminds me of the silliness of people purposefully spending money on ‘soft’ lenses when the effect is so easy to achieve. You can take the sharpest lens in the world and ‘soften’ it, but you can’t make a bad lens produce sharp images.

Of course now I’m on the lookout for more things to adapt, such as a damage old camera that could be made into a more permanent “accessory” to the Canon. The next experiment, however, will be with another folder; the Kodak Petite (another colour art deco camera).

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The original Kodak Brownie from 1900 used for the first series