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Stroud through a pinhole (darkly)

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Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is held on the last Sunday of April each year. Photography creatives around the world capture the environment around them using the simplest of cameras made from biscuit tins to dustbins. No lens or computer technology, just a container with pinhole-sized aperture to let the light in, onto a light-sensitive material like photographic paper.

pinhole 17 | Stroud through a pinhole (darkly)
Simon Pizzey with some of the negatives from the pinhole cameras.

One of the earliest forms of photography, it is imperfect and unpredictable, often involving long exposure times running into minutes, but is often surprising and beautiful. It’s a primitive process that makes an excellent platform for teaching the basics of photography and the understanding of light and image making.

Press photographer Simon Pizzey and retired photographer Annie Blick set up a temporary traditional wet darkroom in Stroud Valleys Artspace and set about capturing the town through a pinhole, using a dustbin, a bread bin, postal tubes, coffee and sweet tins. The images will be uploaded the World Pinhole Gallery where photographers from Sydney to Copenhagen and beyond display their work.

pinhole 22 | Stroud through a pinhole (darkly)
Johnny Fluffypunk with his pinhole portrait.

Even artist Johnny Fluffypunk who was in the SVA gallery with his exhibition Losing It posed for a pinhole portrait, standing still for two minutes! (mostly).

Simon said: “The world of digital imaging has many advantages over how I started my profession, hand developing and printing black and white film from manual cameras.

“In some ways, it’s become too clever and predictable. The bewitchment of seeing your image slowly appear in the developing tray is one of the magical moments that inspired me to take up my profession.

pinhole 10 | Stroud through a pinhole (darkly)
Simon’s pinhole camera made from an ostrich egg which he used to photograph an ostrich!

“There is, undoubtedly, a wizardry in creating your own pinhole camera from a recycled food tin or container. The often unusual and haphazard results are always intriguing. One of the most unusual pinhole cameras I have ever made was from an ostrich egg.

“Oddly, I used it to take a picture of an ostrich. Others have made cameras from watermelons and aircraft hangers. An ordinary digital camera seems rather dull after that!”

pinhole 19 | Stroud through a pinhole (darkly)
Annie Blick used a bread tin on World Pinhole Photography Day.

Annie added: “I escaped for a few hours from the frenetic speed of modern-day digital photography to the world of traditional image-making from the 1800’s.

“Having to think ‘I’ve got one shot in this camera’, (well an old bread tin actually!) to capture this scene. It made me really consider composition, light, and surroundings before opening the shutter that was covered with a Velcro strip for anything from 20 seconds to a minute.

“Although I am experienced in wet darkroom printing, the pleasure in seeing a unique image develop in negative form after a few seconds never loses its magic. I reversed the negative with an app on my phone instantly. How the world has changed.”

For more information see renowned pinhole photographer Justin Quinnell’s website https://www.pinholephotography.org/

and The World Pinhole Day website https://pinholeday.org/

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