Takin’ it back to the old school…

I paid a long overdue social call to the “office” today. It was good times! I got to meet the new editor today–supa cool! (Sabra: Energy and Intelligence points only SEEM low when compared to the awesome Power and “Mad Num-Chuck skillz”!!!) ;-)

I also had the opportunity to hang with the guys in the Art Dept. for a bit. I really miss spending time with creative people. Today had the same kind of warm and fuzzy feeling I used to have back in college @ UHM Art. It took some discussion with the guys but I eventually thought about my final 400 level photo project. (Something I have not done for a looong time.) “What a great blog entry that would make!” Perfect timing–I was suffering from writer’s block. Thanks for the inspiration guys!!!

So I got home and started to dig through my slide library (another thing I have not done in ages). I found all of my original Fujichrome copy work PLUS my 4×5 Ilford Delta negatives from the actual project! Rather than talk anymore, I will let the images speak:


Pinhole Papio: film back and shutter open.

Pinhole Papio: film back and shutter closed.

Pinhole Papio: left side.

Pinhole Papio: right side.


I’ll admit, it is a pretty wacky design. “No, I was not high on anything when I thought of it!” What most people do not know about me is that I used to spend all of my free time fishing (up until senior year in high school). Literally, I had fish on the brain! Once I entered college I started to take a more keen interest in dating (women) and “being creative”. But the funny thing is: I never really got over “the fish thing”. Go ahead; ask any of my art professors. They will tell you, “OH YEAH, that fish guy! Yes, something was/is wrong with him…” :-) Ceramics, metal fab, wood shop, drawing, multi-media design, and of course photo–every where you looked there was an omnipresent “fish” motif in just about everything I did in art school.

The biggest hurdle I had while trying to incorporate the motif into my photography is that, fish are rather hard to photograph. I did my fare share of underwater (and aquarium) photography but fish have minds of their own and they don’t exactly “pose” for portraits. How could I consistently incorporate “the fish” into my concepts when by nature they are not very consistent? (Not to mention, they usually have to be in water all the time.) The answer was simple: “Make my own fish!” (^^;) Not only did I make my own fish but I made my fish into a camera. A pinhole camera to be precise.

The body is made of foam, pine, balsa, and bass wood veneer. It is in essence–a surfboard. The actual “camera obscura” is a pine box which holds the Fidelity type 4×5 film holder and has a 1/4 x 20 tripod socket in the bottom. The pinhole apertures (there are two–one on each side) are attached to the bass wood veneer and the pectoral fins are the shutters. By large format standards the focal lengths are very short. One “lens” is 40mm; the other 60mm. Diffraction rendered the 40mm side practically useless however, so I only used one pinhole at a time when doing actual project shooting.

Here is my favorite image made with the Pinhole Papio camera:


Pinhole Papio image: homage to Ansel Adams.


The actual print was made on Ilford 16×20 glossy, variable contrast, fiber paper, & no toner. For this example I used a flatbed scanner to copy my 4×5 negative and then toned it with my custom Sepia action in CS3. The “distress” that is visible all over the image is actually dust on the film scanner glass and fungus growing on the inside of the scanner bed (kinda gross) but it actually lends itself to the “archaic” nature of my original process. I LIKE IT! Please let me know what you think. (Besides telling me that I need a new film scanner.) ;-)