I erred in an earlier post. It happens.
The actual pin holes in my pinhole cameras were not made to the can. Instead, I cut a small piece out of an aluminum pie tin, stuck the pin through that, then taped the punctured tin behind a hole I drilled in the can. Voila!
What I love about my pinhole cameras is that I made them. Me, the unhandy woman. Who hires people to do everything. I made something functional and art-making. Out of a can.
What else I love about my pinhole cameras is the time spent exposing the image. For the small cans the exposure time is about a minute and a half. I position the camera/can, hoping to frame a good shot. I pull off the duct tape “shutter” and then sit down and wait. After a bit, I’ll check my watch and as time ticks down, stare at the watch. But it’s not an exact science and daydreaming can ruin the shot or perfect it, depending on the amount of light.
I sit there thinking about the photons of light streaming through the pinhole and striking the film, altering the chemical composition. Nature and science in cahoots, fixing a moment inside a tea can.
The pinhole camera resists complexity. Granted, the process of making one image is exponentially more difficult and time consuming than taking a digital photograph—making the camera, using a black bag to load one sheet of film, exposing the film, using the black bag to take the film out, developing the film in trays, printing the image.
Yet, the moment when the image is created demands a focus on the image, and the image alone. The decision is about this: what is worth my one sheet of film? Each one is precious in its scarcity and the effort it requires. I choose the subject and angle. Then I pull the duct tape away, guess at the exposure and imagine the photons flying in to meet the film.
The cans create artifacts: vertical lines from the cans’ seams intersect most photos, and unexpected blobs from who knows what seep in from the edges. I choose the moment and the subject and then release control. The photo takes itself out of my hands.