Shutterings and Mutterings - photography blog

Vintage toy racehorses photographed with a pinhole camera

It's pinhole derby day

Toys are great subjects for pinhole photography because they excel at keeping still, never complain about having to hold a pose for numerous exposures and don't moan that you've made them look fat.

One of the great things about pinhole photography is the fact that it offers infinite depth of field, meaning you can get really close to a subject without buying an eye-wateringly expensive lens and none of the eye-aching focus work. You can also get some very exciting results with multiple exposure when working with film.

The image above shows a set of lead racehorses found at the Thursday antiques market at Spitalfields in London. I used a pinhole camera made by Polish craftsman Cezary Bartczak, who sells very interesting wooden cameras through his Etsy store.

I made the image by taking four exposures of about 30 seconds each. The toys were in a shadowed area in indoor daylight and I lit them with three small LED torches. The film - expired medium format Ilford HP5 400 - was advanced slightly between each exposure to build up the overlapping crowd.

Vintage toy racehorses photographed with a pinhole camera

The second image is a detail of another series of exposures during the same session. I lost count of the number of exposures made and the resulting image was too wide to fit on my negative scanner. There can be physical limitations to the imagination...

The next challenge will be to shoot a series in colour. With multiple exposures like this I find it is best to work in black and white first since I can process it myself and see the results while I can still recall the exposure times and lighting. I ought to make notes of what I do but sadly I don't... Black and white is like the sketching process although a good monochrome image is always satisfying.

Want to learn more about pinhole photography? Try The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras and Images and Pinhole Cameras: A DIY Guide, both available through Amazon.

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