Digital Pinhole

An old bridge in Bhimtal. Digital pinhole photography, something purists scoff at
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Purists Scoff at Digital Pinhole Photography

In my last blog, I wrote about pinhole photography, and how this is a unique form of photography. There are many ways to do pinhole photography, and I am yet to explore them all. Later this year, when–if–we get a good monsoon rain, I will convert my home office into a pinhole camera. But, for now, I want to talk about digital pinhole photography. Purists scoff at this approach because they feel the only way to do it is to use film.

But buying film has become expensive, so I figured I ought to use my digital camera. When whilst Googling, and looking for ways to convert my digital camera to a pinhole camera, I stumbled upon the website Pinhole Resource. After I explored a few more sites, I returned to Pinhole Resource and bought a digital pinhole body cap and a zone cap for my Nikon camera.

The ZonePlate Cap. Look closely at the center

Diffraction

Diffraction

The difference, in simple terms, between a pinhole body cap and a zone cap, is that the zone cap creates more of a diffraction effect. Diffracted rays create a softer image. Please read Eric Renner’s Pinhole Photography to go into this subject in more detail. If you examine the photos, the f-stop rating may amaze you. On the one hand, you may get the impression that everything is in focus, but the smaller the opening, the greater the diffraction. If you examine the wave patterns after a beam of light (or sound) exits a narrow slit, you will notice how the waves seem to disperse, creating a softer image.

When I set out to do some digital pinhole photography, I knew purists scoff, without mercy, at people like me. No matter, I figured. I wanted to learn, so off I went!

Again, I must repeat this plan. Whenever you remove your lens from the camera, whilst on location, dust may clog your sensor.

Essential Tips

A tripod is essential because the exposure times are, typically, 1-2 seconds. They can be longer, depending on the light. In an ideal world, use an ISO rating of 200 to minimize the incidence of digital noise. This means that you ought to photograph still subjects. It’s important to experiment, else you won’t figure out the best combinations that work for you.

The next question to answer is that of composition. When I placed the pinhole body cap on the camera, the system switched off the viewfinder/ and the LED screen at the back. The first time I was out with my camera, I may have presented a comical sight, as I stood there, making imaginary cones with my hands. I will forgive all those gaping at me and thinking of me as a madman–but all I did was to simulate the camera’s field of vision.

In Bhimtal

The first time I did some digital pinhole work was when I was at the Silent Valley Homestay just outside Bhimtal in India. This is an old 19th-century bridge built by the British when they were in India.

In Delhi

I shot these images at Delhi Gate and Turkman Gate in Delhi.

In Manali

I shot these images in Manali, Himachal Pradesh India

Then

After this, Covid entered our lives, and the world changed. It’s going to be a few months before I resume pinhole photography. Maybe, I will work on a project at the end of the year. There are thoughts floating in my subconscious brain. At some point, I will share them with everyone!

Yes. The purists scoff, but I shall carry on in my own merry way!


Published by Rajiv

I have been around the block a bit. I've lived in four countries, and in many parts of my country. I have been fortunate enough to meet some really good people, and some really lousy ones, all of whom have taught me much. I am passionate about photography, writing, Indian history and continuing on this grand journey towards death.

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