Section Editor: Maurício Sapata, bio bio

PiNHOLE is a section, as its name says, dedicated to pinhole photography. This type of photography is created with a pinhole camera, a camera that uses a small aperture, usually the size of a pinhole, instead of a lens. Basically, the smaller the hole, the sharper the resulting image. Because of their simplicity, pinhole cameras are often handmade.

PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY by Denis Pleić

The concept behind the pinhole camera—the camera obscura—dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks and Chinese. It was even mentioned by great thinkers like Aristotle, Euclid, and Mo Jing. However, the first photograph created with a pinhole camera was by a Scottish scientist, Sir David Brewster in the 1850s.

Pinhole photography is photography done without using any kind of lens, i.e. by using a lensless camera. The optical principle which is the basis for pinhole photography has been known for centuries in various cultures (Chinese, Arabic and Greek), which later became known as “camera obscura” (Latin for “dark room”).

A “camera obscura” was often a darkened room with a small hole in a covered window, through which the outside world was projected on the opposite wall, as an upside down image. “Camera obscura” was often used by painters as a visual aid: Canaletto is said to have used it extensively for his Venetian vistas. Strictly speaking, the difference between a “camera obscura” and a “pinhole camera” is that the pinhole camera uses a photographic material to record the actual image, while “camera obscura” only projects the image, without recording it. Pinhole camera is a light-tight box with a small hole (pinhole) that projects an image to the light-sensitive material (film or photographic paper) on the opposite side of the box.

A pinhole camera, usually of a “do-it-yourself” variety, used to be one of the basic teaching aids in photography, and was often the first “real” camera for kids during the film era. Nowadays, pinhole cameras are often of the digital kind, where image is recorded on a digital sensor through a lens/body cap with integrated pinhole. The smaller the pinhole, the sharper the image will be – up to a certain point, when fuzziness caused by diffraction comes into play. Without going into more technicalities, suffice to say that for each focal length (i.e. pinhole to film distance) there is an optimum size pinhole, which yields the sharpest results. Devising an optimum size pinhole for a given size of a projected image/negative was not always an easy task: the first formula for pinhole size calculation was calculated by Josef Petzval in 1857, but the optimal calculation was formulated in 1880s by Lord Rayleigh.

For the sharpest image possible when using a pinhole camera, it is usually also recommended to use a laser-drilled pinhole, since it is perfectly round, and usually in very thin material. However, the pinhole aficionados will usually say that the perfect sharpness is not what pinhole imagery is all about: it simply has a different aesthetic, where the dreamy, soft imagery is far more important than a cold and perfectly sharp and “sterile” reflection of reality.

Nadir Kayacan, Turkey by Maurício Sapata

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“Pinhole basis, although being a simple photographic technique, with the possibilities offered by being open to experimentation and continues to surprise me. Infinite depth of field, extended perspectives, fairytale results relating to the long exposure time makes me a passion for this technique.” 

Kenneth Leishman, USA by Maurício Sapata

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“The inspiration is always the landscape. When I look and see the colors change, the sound of the wind, the flow of the river, the smell of the sea, when I hear all of that, I feel at peace and fully connected to the land. So I will just sit and stare for hours within a daydream and then it just clicks and I see what I want. The pinhole camera is just perfect for that because it gives what I feel is the look of a dream.” 

Marcos Campos, Brazil by Maurício Sapata

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“The magic involved in pinhole photography is just fascinating—understanding the way light travels to register on the sensitized material is to learn how to look at life around you with care and attention, a way of leaving today’s frenetic life behind.” 

Maurizio Strippoli , Italy by Maurício Sapata

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“Distances is a project created with a 4x5 pinhole camera. I approached the landscape from a naturalistic point of view. The distance between the camera and the subject itself becomes the photographic subject that describes very open landscapes where human presence is reduced to a minimum and distance becomes part of it.” 

Gregory G. Geiger, USA by Maurício Sapata

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“... In dreams, time is non-linear and space is free from logic. I am trying to enter that space by using the pinhole camera, which creates a place where shapes bend in a way that only happens in madness and in dreams. The process can take long moments of time and compress them into single moment—eight minutes into a single second."

Meghan Powell, USA by Maurício Sapata

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““Each image is a story: showing fragmented realities, subtle truths, and a fragile uncertainty. This series explores the instability I feel within my dreams. Every night I find myself grasping for something to hold on to, but never quite finding it. In Between allows the viewer to create their own dream within mine; to become lost somewhere between reality and illusion.”

Giedrius Petrauskas, Lithuania by Maurício Sapata

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I’m an amateur photographer working and based in Kaunas, Lithuania. This untitled pinhole series, which I started in 2010, is a project intended to examine how 20 to 30 years expired photo materials work, exploring the world through the pinhole in a melancholic and nostalgic way. I’ve also exhibited in a number group shows in Lithuania, Ukraine, and Scotland.

Célica Véliz, Argentina by Maurício Sapata

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“I have worked with this kind of photography for a long time just to learn the techniques. Over the years, I found in pinhole photography a wonderful tool to express what I always wanted to show—my thoughts, my feelings. I take a lot of portraits and self-portraits. The body and the facial expressions are very important in my work as well as the deformation that this lensless technique gives to the images.”

Attila Hupján, Hungary by Maurício Sapata

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“The images in this series are my favorites. I owe a lot to Zernikenek Au, who built the great Zero Pinhole cameras that I’ve been using for more than 10 years. I always carry them when I’m traveling, with no regrets. Some people may think I’m joking, but in the end it’s a good way of talking about the technique and making friends.”

Ray Panduro, Mexico by Maurício Sapata

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“For me, pinhole photography is more than a black box with a pinhole to capture an image in a physical media, it’s a way to express my love for photography on my own terms and with my own camera designs.

A pinhole camera is like creating a real “time machine” that we can build without the complex electronics and is a simple old school way to understand how cameras work.”

Jansen Tang, Singapur by Maurício Sapata

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“Using a pinhole camera (especially like the ONDU) is a visceral experience. One experiences an organic rawness, in a way that one subjects oneself to the vicissitudes of Nature. Francis Bacon’s “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” rings in my mind every time I load film...”

Steven Boelaars, Netherlands by Maurício Sapata

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With the 6x12 negatives from the Ondu, I really got what I was looking for —dreamy images but still sufficiently detailed. The process of making a photograph with a pinhole camera is liberating. You have to slow down: getting out your tripod, mounting the camera, framing the scene you are looking for using a self-made card with the approximate viewing angles, using a bubble level to get the camera level, determining the exposure time using a small Olympus XA as light meter, then finally exposing for several seconds up to minutes and sometimes even an hour ... Those long exposures also add to the ambience in the photograph and, on windy days, movement of the subject

Diego López Calvín, Spain by Maurício Sapata

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Solarigraphs or Solargraphs are images obtained by pinhole cameras loaded with black and white photosensitive paper and given long exposures of days, weeks, months, or years. In that period, the sun’s trajectory leaves a linear imprint, which records its trajectory through the day and its different positions throughout the year, while cloudy days leave no imprint on the photo paper at all.

Gregor Servais, Nederland by Maurício Sapata

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“These pinhole seascapes are about nostalgia, melancholia, and something that the Germans call “fernweh.” It’s hard to translate, but if I tried it would be something like “a longing to travel, to be in different places, to be on the road.”

Paul Mitchell, UK by Maurício Sapata

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"I am sure that many photographers aspire to have their work recognized and perhaps even profit from it. I have no such preconceptions with my pinhole work—they’re quirky, not everyone’s cup of tea and don’t do very well in a commercial environment. So why do I still take them? It’s fun, unpredictable, and initiates more conversations with people than my digital camera ever does."

Diane Martin Peterson, USA by Maurício Sapata

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"“My imagination fuels how I interpret what I see through the lens.” The pinhole images I make are shot with self-built cameras. Many of these pinhole cameras are less than glamorous creations, usually the result of trips to the local secondhand store or thrift shop, starting out as tins or boxes. If it can be made light tight, it will probably live a new life as a pinhole camera."

Becky Ramotowski , USA by Maurício Sapata

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“It’s an eclectic mix, sort of like finding a vintage box of photos at a flea market that reach out and tug at you to take them home and piece together the adventure. I like the surprises and subtle nuances of daily living and don’t try to be anything I’m not. I’m just someone who truly enjoys making photos of moments I want to remember of my daily explorations and road trips to Texas and Utah.”

Lawrance Brennon, South Africa by Maurício Sapata

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“I have always been passionate about analog photography, particularly monochrome, and spent the best part of 2010 accumulating a body of pinhole images. I found the medium to be a welcome creative challenge because, by its very nature, pinhole photography encourages a slow, deliberate, and contemplative approach to image making. “

Justine Beth Gartner, USA by Maurício Sapata

“The way I think of creating photographs is akin to painting with light. I scan the landscape to select the colors, shapes, and textures of my compositions. Intersections of diverse formal elements and tiny, often disregarded details capture my attention and propel me to record an image. In exploring the landscape, I seek to discover visual rhythm within the ordinary and commonplace, and recreate that lyricism formally and aesthetically within the photographs. ”

Ky Lewis, UK by Maurício Sapata

“This series of images looks into the transience of the figure in the landscape both at the coast and further inland. The draw of the coastal setting was important to me because I needed to capture moments in time that reflected both the ephemeral nature of the figure against an ever-shifting background.”

Victor Senkov, Belarus by Maurício Sapata

"I mostly used medium format cameras and was never interested in pinhole photography before. When I had my Bronica stolen, I ordered a new camera.But for a month I had only an old Lubitel in my hands. I decided to make a pinhole on its base. The idea was to use it independent of the main glass waist level finder. It took about an hour to remove the glass, cut a plate from a can, and make a hole with a needle and hammer. I didn’t make any calculations. It was a pure act of creation."

Tony Kemplen, UK by Maurício Sapata

“In today’s high tech world, the idea that I can make something cheaply and quickly from readily available materials appeals to me. Although there are a few commercially produced pinhole cameras on the market, for me the fun is in making something from scratch, and finding ways around the various technical challenges along the way.”

Ricardo Hantzschel, Brazil by Maurício Sapata

“The Multiple City project was made using five different hand-made pinhole cameras. With them I wanted to portray a strange but familiar city by showing some of the most recognizable architectural sites in multiple layers, a consequence of my imagination and the multiple eyes of those five cameras, playing with the totally unexpected.”

Maurício Sapata, Brazil by Robert Gojević

“I love shooting on film and taking my time to photograph. In my opinion, nothing will substitute for the feeling of loading a camera and carefully composing each frame. It may sound a bit cliché nowadays, but the “hands on” process is what really excites me in photography, especially when you're able to process your own film, and in some cases, produce your own emulsion.”

Delio Ansovini, Canada by Robert Gojević

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“I design and make my own cameras, or modify vintage folding cameras. This satisfies the engineer in me and offers some certainty that the tools will work before I commit to the creative part of the process.”

Patrick Caloz, Switzerland by Robert Gojević

PINHOLE | Patrick Caloz, Switzerland

“For me, pinhole photography is the ideal way to discover a city. I really see the city and absorb its atmosphere. What is interesting is that we are accomplices, my box and I. It only captures what does not move, everything else disappears to make room for the imagination of those who see my photos.”