When I was considering my ’empty space/void of human presence’ plan, my original idea was to attempt night time pinhole photography. However I did not really know how long to expose for, so I just had to do some guess work. I attempted 20 minute exposures, however I know no that was definitely not long enough, as when I went to develop this was the outcome (positive form):
One thing I also needed to consider was using a tripod, as it was rather windy so it caused some camera shake. So I was looking at really doing 3-4 hour exposures, and I felt I just did not have the time. So I chose to change my idea to daytime photography, however I had to think about what I should now photograph. I walked around for a while looking for something that caught my eye and finally something clicked and I knew my chosen area. Next to the Transport Museum in Coventry there is a spiral bridge, which I automatically found visually intriguing. The reason I felt this area work well is because I personally find this bridge rather random as if it is just there to incorporate modernisation into our cities. I found that not many people used the bridge and it was just there to look ‘pretty’. So my new aim was to create photographs that incorporated the bridge in each of them, allowing a theme to run throughout all of my photographs. I considered different angles, and also studied the area surrounding this bridge, so my photographs would not seem repetitive.
My first exposure I wanted to create was on the bridge itself. I knew my angle of my camera would be a wide angle shot, so I had to make sure I placed the camera in the appropriate place, making sure I did not get a wall on the right hand side in the photograph. Using my tripod, I place a lot of BlueTac on top of the tripod, and then placed my camera over it, giving it a little more sturdiness. I then had to consider the light conditions around me, I was in quite an open space, no shadows, however the light was rather dull. I chose to go for a 30 second exposure. I pulled the BlueTac off of the aperture hole and started my timer.
However when I got back to the darkroom to develop my print I could tell it was rather overexposed:
I was also looking for a much better composition, so this was something I had to improve on when I would go back to retake this image.
However I also took a second image with my second pinhole, and I found that this photograph worked a lot better. I exposed it for the same amount of time, but due to me being surrounded by tree’s it blocked quite a lot of light.
As you can see there is a much more diverse tonal range throughout the image. I decided to make a positive print for this image. So first I made a test strip to allow a rough estimation of exposure time under the enlarger.
These were 5 second exposures. I found that they were all a little too light, so I chose to go straight to a 30 second exposure. Which then gave me this final result:
Even though I feel this image is still slightly over exposed, I find that the high contrast and the black that surrounds the bottom corners give a dark and gloomy atmosphere to image. I also like how the bridge has been engulfed by the light, as it represents an empty bridge that almost has no purpose. I found it strange that this bridge goes right over a beautiful open garden. It is almost like they want you to make a choice between the modern world and nature.
After this I went back to reshoot the bridge, however everything kept going wrong. It would be too windy in which my camera would shake. I also accidently placed my camera the wrong way, completely messing up my composition. I also constantly had problems with exposure. Going from 20 to 10, and finally the photograph I had been waiting for was a 5 second exposure.
After many re-takes of this image, I was finally happy with the composition and the exposure. So it was now time to make the positive print. So my first step was a test strip. I continued with 5 second exposures:
From the looks of my test strip I knew this was going to be a long time to expose, so like my last print I chose to jump straight to 30 seconds.
I felt the the end of the bridge was till a little too white, so I chose to use the dodge and burn technique. I exposed the end of the bridge for an extra 10 seconds.
Positive with burn:
There is now much more detail at the end of the bridge, compared to it being bleached out. I definitely think this will be one of my final prints, as it is one that I spent a lot of time correcting to get my desired photograph. The composition has also been corrected from previous attempts so I am more satisfied with the final outcome.
Pre visualisation is key in photography, but it is even more important in pinhole, as you have no view finder to see if your composition is correct. Whilst I was walking around I noticed a area in which I thought woud make a interesting photograph. There was a blossom tree in which many of its blossoms had fallen on the floor. It then led up to some steps and the bridge was in the distance. I knew I wanted to get a significant amount of the floor into the final image, so I set my camera on my tripod lower. It was a bright day so I exposed for 10 seconds.
When I first saw the negative, I knew it was going to make for and interesting image. You could clearly see the petals, which is what I wanted to make sure was visible.
Test Strip of 5 Seconds:
I was noticing a pattern when figuring out my exposure time under the enlarger. I was always going for a 30 second exposure. So I now always kept that in mind for future prints.
Positive: 30 seconds
I noticed throughout my pinholes, a gloomy feel was coming through my images, which I really started to like. Even though I now had 3 image that worked, I did not just want to stop there and use them as my finals, I wanted to continue exploring this area to see what else I could produce. This also allows me to have more choice when it comes down to my final piece.
When revisiting my chosen area, I wanted to consider different angles of the bridge and wanted to include different areas surrounding it.
So far I had included the straight part of the bridge, however I also wanted to show the spiral part at the beginning of bridge.
This time I had to have my tripod rather high, as I was exposing towards a gradually building ramp. If I were to have my tripod at normal height my image would have mainly consisted of floor.
Negative: 10 second exposure – extremely bright day.
Surprisingly this is one of my least favourite photographs. I am not keen on what to photograph consists of such as the big ramp and the wall. However I decided to make a positive print out of the image to allow myself to develop more in the darkroom.
Positive : 30 seconds
In the final print I also noticed the bridge was rather over exposed. Over time I noticed the bridge was a rather difficult thing to get right. Due to the top half of the bridges side being see through they tended to merge into the background. However I still think you get the essence of what I am trying to portray through these photographs. ‘Empty Space’. A space in which we manipulate to our liking with structures that are there to just be ‘modern’. Structures that barely get used, yes they spend money to build them?
I chose to go for a very different composition with my next image, as there was only a small amount of bridge visible at this specific area. I exposed for 10 seconds and here is my outcome:
As you can see in the distance is a tiny amount of bridge, however one thing I fogot to consider was the direction in which I was shooting. When I made my positive print, I realised I had shot towards the sun meaning a haze had began to take effect meaning the bridge begins to merge with the sky. I felt this still worked well with my themes I had gradually created throughout this little project. This print took the longest in the darkroom as I wanted to try and darken the centre of the image more.
This positive was exposed for 50 seconds whilst slightly dodging left and right edges.
The centre of this image is extremely bright. One thing I also noticed was I had completely lost the lamp that was on the right side. So I knew this was going to need burning in. After many attempts to get the exposure right for the centre of the image. I found that it needed an extra 4o seconds to get back the detail that was slightly lost due to haze.
Positive: 50 seconds overall exposure – an extra 40 seconds for central of the image.
I found that I was rather happy with this final result and this was the one that took the longest to print. Once again the gloomy atmosphere adds to this empty space around the bridge. I found that I was definitely enjoying photographing my chosen area and subject. I also feel the haze gives a sense of mystery to the final print, which I honestly did not think I would like.
I decided that I would do two more exposures to complete the set that I had made. Again looking for a different possible angle I went to look around my location.
One thing I forgot to consider was that I was surrounded by tree’s meaning everything was covered by shadows. Only exposed this image for 12 seconds meaning a lot of this image is surrounded by darkness. I did not think this would work very well, however I decided to make a positive. I decided to do a test strip for this one as the lighting was extremely different compared to past exposures.
Positive – 5 seconds
I knew I would have to do some dodging and burning in this image. So my next attempt was exposing for 25 seconds whilst dodging the step area for 10 seconds, and I then would have to burn in the bridge area for an extra 8 seconds, to make the railings more clear. It took two attempts but this was my final print:
I think in pinhole photography, contrast between black and white works really well. It also helped me achieve my desired looks. Even though I would have liked to create some night time photography I was really satisfied with these outcomes.
My last print was also similar to the one above, in which I did not consider the lighting around me. Once again I exposed for 12 seconds.
At first I thought this image was too under exposed, but with all my negatives I always made a print. As always I made a test strip to determine the exposure.
Positive test strip: 5 seconds
I wanted to make sure I achieved a high contrast throughout my photographs. So I decided to go for a 25 second exposure whilst dodging rocks in the center of the frame.
Positive – 25 seconds with dodging the centre.
This turned out to be one of my favourite exposures. I like how the rocks are only slightly exposed giving a sense of mystery and gloom to this print. I also found that it was an angle of the bridge that I had not yet done before, so there is plenty of differentiation throughout all my final prints. However I now had to decide which prints I will be using as we were allowed to submit 2 to 4 prints. I knew I did not want to just have 2 images as I did not feel it would get my message across enough. I also had to consider what images would work as a set of four.
These are going to be my final four prints:
Overall, I have really enjoyed this experience as I have never done pinhole photography before. At first it was a little stressful with exposure times. However once I started to understand how my pinhole camera worked it became much more smooth running. I definitely think I will be using pinhole photography a lot more in the future. As it takes you right back to the basics, so it brings you out of the digital technology that is slowly consuming the world.
I also chose to experiment a little with my pinhole just because I was curious on what would happen. So first I chose to do a 4 day exposure, to see what the outcome would be like. I also knew I would not be able to develop this print as it would go blank straight away due to ‘over exposure’. So I would have to scan the print straight into my computer.
It is much darker, due to it being exposed for so long. I felt like it would of maybe needed a few more days to get it slightly lighter. However my next experiment I was planning would be much more extreme.
I wanted to do a two week exposure. I had to make sure I had my camera in the right direction as I wanted to capture a sun streak in which it rises. I had to make sure there was no movement of my camera so, I BlueTacked my camera to the window, and then placed a box underneath to give it that extra support.
Two weeks later, I took my pinhole camera down to have a look at the final result. This is what the print looked like when taken out of my pinhole..
When scanning into the computer make sure you scan in colour, as due to the long exposure it gives blue tint to the print.
Here was my final experimental photograph:
I was extremely happy with the outcome, and I do plan to experiment further over the summer holidays, in which I plan to do a month or two month exposure.