| What is a pinhole camera ?|
In his recent book, Secret Knowledge, David Hockney uses works of the ‘Masters’ to show, without a shred of doubt, that as early as 1425, artists were using optical devices to compose images and these were quite sophisticated cameras (Camera Lucida, e.g.) with lenses.
Long before that, someone had discovered how a ‘pinhole’ camera works. This first camera was essentially a box with a hole (1/75”) on one side which allowed an image to be formed on the opposite interior side of the box, albeit upside down and backwards. Soon the painters of Europe were busy making these pinhole boxes (in secret, of course). After all, these devices gave the users a great advantage over those who had to draw and paint by ‘eye’. (And we thought it was just the genius of the Renaissance that ushered in this ‘golden age’ of Art). To be fair, some artists, Rembrandt and Michelangelo, to name two, never used optical devices. Many, like Vermeer and Frans Hals, obviously did. ( Frans Hals left no record of any sketches for his paintings. All were “a la prima”.)
Well, enough of this background stuff. My pinhole camera was made by hand in Hong Kong of mahogany and brass in 2001 A.D. It uses 120 film. I bought it to take to Havana as part of a photo shoot in 2002 and like most things we do “for fun”, they turn out better than we could have hoped. Each year since, I have taken it back to Havana and it has become my “equipment of choice” on many days.
Remember, with a ‘pinhole’ camera there is no lens and no mechanical shutter. Images are created on the film by opening the cover over the pinhole and closing it to complete the exposure. There is no ‘viewfinder’ so you have to ‘eyeball’ it. All this must be done with a sturdy tripod and a knowledge of the “sunny f16 Rule”. The camera is easy to use. You just need to know how long to expose the ‘pinhole’ at f138