Less is more (part 1/2)

DIY pinhole on my pre anniversary speed graphic

First of all, the “Less is more” philosophy, according to Wikipedia, comes from

“Less is more”, a phrase from the 1855 poem “Andrea del Sarto” by Robert Brownin the phrase as adopted by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a precept for minimalist design.

Ducati 900 SuperSport

Ducati 900 SuperSport

This can of course be applied to countless domains, as cooking, motorcycle (the amazing Ducati Monster, or my beloved 900 Supersport now that the fairings are removed…) and of course photography, for style as well as gears.

I decided to try to simplify the way I take pictures after I brought back thousands of shits shots from my last trip, shot with my DSLR (which by the way I like a lot but it tends to make me lazy). For landscape photography, from now on, I’ll try to stick with simple tools. For sports I think I’ll keep my D300 and a 180mm f2.8. I used film SLR before and I can say that at least for tennis the D300 is a blessing!

Even if I’m keen on great prime lenses, I wanted to try pinhole photography.

I know pinhole photography from way back: as a student, our physics teacher made us build one with a shoe box and translucent paper as groundglass. I never imagined it could produce quality photographs so I had considered it a hobby and didn’t want to spend time on it.

But one day I saw stunning shots done with a wide angle pinhole in a church or for “regular” landscape. As an example here are beautiful and technically impressive landscapes shot by Scott Speck. Take a look at his gallery, it’s amazing.

Footbridge in the Mist (Scott Speck Pinhole Photography)

Footbridge in the Mist (Scott Speck Pinhole Photography)

Gothic Study Hall (Scott Speck Photography)

Gothic Study Hall (Scott Speck Photography)

Spiral Staircase Beneath the Cathedral (Scott Speck Pinhole Photography)

Spiral Staircase Beneath the Cathedral (Scott Speck Pinhole Photography)

I searched a bit about it and understood that the fact that pinholes are distortion free gave this special look when shot with a short focal length (like 40mm on a 4″x5″). And there is no flare either because there simply is no lens in the way.

Of course diffraction is a mess and the image is a circle so the corners are soft and have aberrations, but all in all (don’t forget the virtually infinite DOF) it makes a unique “touch”. Furthermore real aperture and FOV computing and determining exposure times (reciprocity failure tends to give exposure times counted in hours!) teaches a lot and is FUN.

Once I’ll have processed the roll, I’ll post the results of my first 120 film, shot using my speed graphic (with rollfilm back) with a cardboard drilled with a 1mm hole, then a tiny (300um I guessed) DIY pinhole in aluminium shim (see the picture above) . Even if the results were lame, this journey helped me to understand more things about view cameras in general, and once again, I enjoyed it. No wonder Ansel Adams mentioned pinhole photography in his books (-;

Set for a test with a pinhole mounted on a 4"x5" Graflex

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About dreamlenses

Amateur photographer, seeking for photo gear (no matter film or digital) that keeps me from flare and distortion!
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