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Bēhance

Pinhole Camera Recipes

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  • Pinhole Recipes 
    Photography & Design
  • This spring I became infatuated with a pinhole camera. I had a weakness for its lens-less face. I doted on the shutter I had to move by hand. I relished the fact that it ran on film. Yes, film. That bizarrely light-sensitive stuff I had never handled in my life. Don’t forget. You’re talking to a member of the internet-obsessed generation who made Excel spreadsheets in elementary school. I bought my first digital camera at the age of eight.
  • But this spring, my faith in digital photography was tested. Instagram hit my circle of friends like the flu infects a class of thumb-sucking kindergarteners. It was like sneezing. They couldn’t stop. Photos of their lunch. Doused in vintage filters. Photos of their pet. Big eyes, huge paws (gag), so vignetted that the subject was barely distinguishable. Photos of a sunset. So saturated in effects that the landscape glowed neon orange.
  • I don’t have an iPhone. And I refuse to give up my overextended membership to our Family Share Plan. Instead of chasing Instagram, I headed for the root of the online photo firestorm. To a time before “retro” was a style. I built a tiny pinhole camera from foam core, converted an old PVC pipe to hide 8x10 photographic paper, and eventually settled into making images with a wooden pinhole camera. It was Instagram, the prequel. The camera's old-fashioned charm earned me respect from my artistic friends and glares from everyone else.
  • Every morning, I would stuff the pinhole camera's belly with 120mm film. It would perch on the kitchen table while I ate, lay in the backyard among crackling leaves while I did yoga, and surreptitiously watch me from behind the sink’s faucets while I showered. Each image tested how far I could push my relationship with the camera. I learned to gauge shutter speed, not in hundredths of a second, but in minutes and hours. I learned to feel the weight of light hitting the film. It was pure and frightening exploration.
  • This “book” is the culmination of my experiments. The title? Inspired by Robbert Flick. He delighted in proclaiming “You’re cooking!” whenever I would show him my latest batch of negatives. A recipe book seemed the perfect way to collect the photos. “How to Capture a Living Space”, reads one recipe, “Preload camera with ISO 100 film. Combine: 1 beloved white sofa, 1 heavy wooden piano cover, 1 lampshade thick with dust. Add: dappled sunlight and a rare cloudy San Diego afternoon. Bake 7 minutes in the camera.”
    Hope he enjoys the book.
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    Thanks for watching!
    Jess