Cardboard Photography

I have talked a lot about the artist I want to be but not much about the art I am making. I worry I am not doing enough. That I have gotten so caught up on how to promote my work that I have not put enough energy in to making work. I need to find a balance between the two or my charade is going to be exposed.

So what am I up to?

I am currently on a mission to figure out exposure times for my home made cardboard pinhole camera. I was quite proud of myself after making my sturdy cardboard camera. It is even fitted with a 4×5 film holder, which allows me to get two exposures without the use of a change bag or dark room. For those readers not familiar with the process it makes things a lot more convenient.

Then I realized that if I show too much excitement over a camera made of scraps I am going to have a harder time convincing my husband we need to spend money on photography gear. Plus I had no clue how long I needed to expose the film in order to produce a quality image. My excitement has turned into determination to make my invention work.

I am not the first one to make a homemade pinhole camera. It is a popular darkroom class assignment. I think a majority of pinhole cameras that are used are made by the photographer with a found object. I have read some articles were old view cameras were converted. You can even buy a pinhole kit or a sturdy pinhole camera for around $50, but they are not as much fun and are not artist-on-a-budget friendly.

And by fun I do mean frustrating. There are sites with calculators so you can take all the measurements and light samples known to man, plug the data into their grid, and come up with a estimate of what your exposure should be. But every site is different. So I am doing it the old fashion way of trial and error. So far I have made 6 exposures all of which were harshly over exposed. It is disheartening to develop your film to only find it is completely black.

But I am taking notes. Im recording all the factors. It has become more of a science experiment and less of an artistic endeavor. The artistic part can shine through when the science part has been discovered. I remember reading in a book on Irving Penn, a master of photography, that his darkroom contained notebooks filled with tedious notes on each photograph he took. So maybe I am going in the right direction.


Make A Pinhole

Irving Penn

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One thought on “Cardboard Photography

  1. Jenni says:

    Good on you, Ren!
    Art and Science, I think, are often linked. Just as Math and music are linked, you have to do a lot of experimenting to come up with just the right work of art…whether it is photography, painting, sculpting, what have you. keep plugging away. You will be brilliant!

    Enjoying your blog. Hope to see you soon!
    Aunt Jenni

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