Paper Pinhole Camera Photos

After sitting in a drawer for a year, I finally built the paper-pinhole camera I bought at The MoMA Design Store in Omotesando.

 The camera is made from thick cardstock and comes with double sided tape instead of glue. The instructions were in Japanese but the diagrams were enough to go on.

 It’s pretty basic. The exposure “setting” written on the back of the camera is 2-3 seconds with ISO100 on a day suitable for the sunny 16 rule. But who has time for that? I threw in a roll of Fuji 1600 to deal with the cloudy days and to make the camera easier to shoot hand-held. I like the idea of tripods, I don’t like the weight. Plus you can toss a camera in your bag for the day, but a tripod requires planning.

I got my first roll of film back. It actually worked better than I expected. That bar was quite low actually. I thought the film would all be blank or light leak city. Here are the images unedited, except for the addition of lots of dust from my scanner. I only realised now how much it needs a cleaning.

When building the camera, I didn’t put in the frame part on the film. I don’t get a crisp, classic 35 mm frame. Instead I get a longer image with a lot of vignetting. Advancing the film is an art. It’s not a simple turn the knob twice as the instructions say. I ended up wasting a lot of film.

I didn’t really get any amazing images this go-round. I pretty much just took photos when I remembered the camera was in my bag. The camera works and I like it well enough that I might actually plan for a day of tripod carrying. I can see some potential for better photos with a more thoughtful approach to subject matter.

蛍: More Fireflies From Last Week

Last weekend I was in Onishi, Gunma and took some firefly photos at a river near town. These photos were taken further up river on the Kami Kawa on Sakurayama. Kjell Hahn, of Shiro Oni Studios, was a great host and drove me and fellow artist Delphine, up in the evening. He also provided some head lanterns and katori senko (mosquito coils). I didn’t realize how much they would be needed. To the naked eye, the river area was pitch dark. It wasn’t far from the car to the river but with the long, wet grass and head lanterns lighting the way, footing was a bit of an adventure. I’m sure my innate clumsiness factored somewhat. We found a slow, shallow part in the river and I set up Kjell’s tripod (See? I really wasn’t planning to night shoot when I packed for the weekend) and started shooting.


I’m fairly happy with the photos given the camera. I hadn’t known about fireflies in this area so I only had a Canon Eos M. The bulb function seems to require pressing down on the shutter button until time to release it which rather defeats the purpose of a tripod and long exposure. I used a 2 second timer and 30 second exposure at a high ISO to capture images. The result is extremely noisy but I’d rather have a photo than no photo. Still, it was a lot of fun and an interesting challenge to get my camera to meet the challenges of this condition.

I brought a flash to add some detail to the landscape but even at low power it was too harsh. I did better with light painting parts of the foreground with a flashlight. So that was a good experiment. I was kind of surprised at the sky color. Last week’s photos had odd lighting from  the bridge  and highway lights. These photos didn’t have the same issue, but I’m wondering if light pollution from the nearby town was a factor, given the overcast weather that night.

Still Using Film

I had a big surprise while scanning film I took in London. I used a 35 mm film called Solaris 400 and was really surprised by the color.

The film camera I used is a Petri 1.9 Super Color Corrected 35 mm rangefinder. I bought it from a junk box at an antique market in Yokohama for ¥3000. I had planned to just use it for a decoration, but on a whim, I tried a roll of film and it worked fine! I decided it would be great camera to use Lomo style.

Generally, I shoot black and white film with this camera. I find color often doesn’t have a fun, retro feel. The Solaris 400 definitely has the retro vibe. The image hasn’t been digitally manipulated yet. I probably will change it up for fun some day.

I’m still going through the film and I’m surprised by the yellow cast. I remember the weather being more grey than sallow. I don’t mind the color cast. It gives the image a Euro-sepia filter effect.

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