Pinhole photography is a strange aspect of photography. On the one hand, it’s used to teach people about the bare basic principles of light and photography and building one can be a fun weekend project with the kids. But on the other, it’s also a whole craft and art form in and of itself that can be taken to quite some extreme measures and produce amazing imagery.
One such photographer who definitely seems to have mastered pinhole photography as a craft and an art form is fine art and landscape photographer Martin Henson, who in this video takes us on a journey creating a seemingly simple image with a fantastic end result.
At the beginning of the video, martin gets down on his knees on a piece of concrete in his back yard next to some flowers. It’s difficult to see the shot he’s envisioned in his mind at first, and most of us would probably just look straight on at the flowers and take the same typically boring and obvious shot.
Martin, however, approaches his subject very differently instead, placing the camera on the ground facing straight up into the sky, looking through the flowers. At least, he hopes it’s looking through the flowers in a pleasing way. With a 4×5 large format pinhole camera, especially when you can’t get your own eye down to where you’re placing the camera, you’ve really no idea if you’re going to get the shot you want or not.
But Martin feels confident about what he’ll get with his Zero 45 pinhole camera, and walks us through the process of metering the exposure, compensating for the orange filter he’s using to increase sky contrast, translating that over to the incredibly small f/216 aperture and then calculating for the reciprocity failure of the Ilford FP4+ film he’s using, resulting in a 12-second exposure.
While not really knowing what you’ve got until its developed can be frustrating, it’s part of the charm with pinhole photography. There’s no viewfinder, so even before you’ve taken the shot, you can only really take a best guess as to what you’ll capture. But the final shot Martin gets here is pretty amazing.
Martin has made a single print of the image, which is up for auction on eBay. He says that this is the only print of this image that will ever be sold.
If you haven’t played around with pinhole photography yet, you really should. Get some practice in before next year’s World Pinhole Photography Day on April 25th! And if you need some more inspiration, be sure to check out Martin’s website.