B&W Blog Ian Burton Pinhole Pinhole Photography

Learning & Experimenting

As we fast approach the longest day of the year we’re also approaching the time of year when most photographers down their tools and declare that the summer months are difficult to photograph in and it’s time to hibernate until the fall colours arrive. Come on admit it, how many of you are like that? Yes the skies become a stark blue devoid of any interest, tree canopies mature and lose their fresh green appeal, insects encourage us to slap about our own faces and what about the heat/humidity – who wants to walk any strenuous distance or terrain? It demotivates a lot of people, but nevertheless you shouldn’t just switch off and let your photographic mind stagnate. In fact it’s the perfect time to experiment and/or learn something new, you never know where it might lead which is what I have found out quite recently.

With my PC showing signs of age and making it increasingly frustrating to do any scanning/processing of my negatives I have had to temporarily adapt my approach until I can afford to buy a new one. So rather than shooting with film I am using the Thingyfy Pinhole Pro 50mm on my Canon 6D and processing it via my iPhone on an app called ‘Snapseed’. It’s not a perfect solution, but it allows me to work on ideas and experiment more with the advantage of being able to work ridiculously quick. I can even process images where I have taken them thanks Canon’s wifi connectivity via their mobile app. I’m not wasting expensive rolls of film either, but once I refine a technique or idea I will probably try to replicate it on film at some point.

Here in the UK bluebell season is at its peak, or at least it is in the north. This particular season divides photographers, I’m not entirely sure why, but you either like them or you don’t (pretty much like Marmite), but I like a good bluebell shot (there I said it and I don’t like Marmite). One evening I went out with my dslr kit bag with the intention of trying to capture a well known location from a different perspective. I had no idea how I would do it, perhaps I was hoping for something to inspire me. I started shooting with my 70-200mm telephoto lens, got some alright photos, then I changed to my 50mm lens to capture a wider view. At this point I was getting a little bored of the photos I was taking, lovely record photos of a wonderful display, but creatively I was unfulfilled. I suddenly remembered that I had left the Thingyfy Pinhole Pro in my bag so I rummaged around my bag until I found it. Maintaining the composition from my previous shot with the 50mm lens I swapped the lens for the pinhole which has a focal length of 50mm. After a couple of clicks I got a good exposure using the 0.8mm pinhole and I have to say I quite like the impressionist feel to it. It’s not going to win any prizes, but I found it more evocative than the pin-sharp version, it has a more painterly quality about it too. I see two oak trees dancing on a bluebell dance floor with an audience surrounding them. It offers more to the imagination.

Feeling inspired I headed out the next day with just my dslr and the pinhole lens, not even a tripod was required as I wanted to try some handheld pinholes for a more abstract feel. I came across a patch of daisies in full sunlight blowing in the gentle breeze. Laying down on the ground with the pinhole not more than a few inches away I set about creating some exposures, even with my 3 yr old daughter laying on my back. Assessing the images on the back of the camera I decided I preferred the shorter exposures of 0.5 seconds as it was enough to maintain some detail and capture some movement. What I love about these is the scale, the daisies seem huge!

Whilst I was reviewing the images, my daughter sat down amongst those daisies and started to play with them, occasionally plucking one from the patch and giving it an inquisitive gaze. I couldn’t resist firing off a few more shots and in the end this one ended up being my favourite photograph of the day. That 0.5 second reveals so much, had I took this with my normal lens I fear the image would lose all emotion, lack the movement of one hand as it reaches out to grab another daisy whilst the other brushes away her hair.So don’t give up taking pictures throughout summer. Remember pinhole is all about embracing imperfection, experimenting and learning more about yourself and your photography.

If you’re struggling to get inspired and want to take your pinhole photography to the next level why don’t you check out our workshop lists, we do 1-2-1 workshops too if you prefer something more bespoke. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

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