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One of the things I like about pinhole photography is that it does naturally what lens photography does not. One of those is infinite depth of field – there is no single plane of focus as is the case with the use of a lens. The other is the use of time – although lens photography almost always employs the capture of a portion of a second, lensless photography almost never captures a scene in less than a second.

To avoid a holy war of arguments about the frame rate of the human eye, I will jump to an experiment I performed many years ago where I photographed a waterfall with many varying shutter speeds. The print that appeared closest to what I actually saw was shot at about 1/100th of a second, so that is where I believe our perception generally lies. When using a camera with automatic settings this is a typical shutter speed. Lensless photography naturally takes us well outside of that range and allows us to capture the fourth dimension in a manner outside of our perception.

When using pinhole photography for photographing on the street I am less interested in the individual per se and more interested in that person’s space within time, so I like to use a slow film that ensures a long shutter speed (in this case I was using PanF+ at EI50, with a shutter speed of about 20 seconds). The result are things that we look at but not see because we are stuck within our four perceptible dimensions. Pinhole photography can release us from this restriction, celebrating what we disparagingly refer to as motion blur.

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I have done some pinhole street photography in the past, and although this may seem to be contradictory terms it simply means that if one wants to minimize the blur, the subject needs to be relatively static.  While in Pittsburgh I saw several possibilities for taking pictures of people in a lensless fashion and this is the result of one.

As I was setting things up the woman looked at me and asked if I was Jo Babcock.  I smiled and told her that I was not, whereupon she returned to her book.  I am not often confused with others (actually, I claim to be confused with looking like George Clooney, though nobody believes me).  Not only was I surprised that she would know who Jo Babcock is, but it gave me a bit of a boost that I would get such a question, despite the fact that our work is not similar at all.

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As I wandered around Lake Kittamaqundi there were numerous places  to stop and contemplate, and this was one.  I set up the 8×10″ pinhole camera and composed for the lightly moving branches and shadows, opening up to reveal the lake.  Following the exposure I decided to next concentrate on the small cloud.  I reset the camera, pulled the dark slide, and just before starting the exposure I realized that the small cloud was no longer there.

Sometimes that is just how it works.

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The obviously great thing about spring is the weather and I love being outdoors. This means that extended exposure times are a bonus so getting the large pinhole camera into service is the obvious choice.

Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia is a relaxing place to go to simply enjoy the weather and is a common location, where there are numerous photographic opportunities. This is an 8×10″ pinhole of a tree well above the lake on a great spring morning.

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Next week I will attend the F295 Symposium, which is always time well spent.  It also gives me the opportunity to visit Braddock for my semi-annual update.  Every six months I experience something new and this time I look forward to downing a beer at The Beer Gentlemen, which opens today.

I have not been inside Lucky Frank’s but walk past it each time I am in town.  CitySearch (www.citysearch.com/) lists it as closed but I will check it as I walk through.

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I previously offered an image that was taken behind the fence at Harry Grove Stadium. This one is a little closer to the fence (and where I found two of the balls). From the stands this area looks like one solid wall and when the stadium was opened the lower wall was the only one that stood. As they got more advertising apparently it made sense to add a second wall to accommodate. One can see how a home run will hit the far wall and then drop to the ground (I have seen a few hit hard enough to make it back onto the field).

As the creator of about 1,000 podcasts, it’s been my experience that when you give something away, you’ll get it back, and probably more. Before the additional wall of advertising was added I always thought that it would be a cool idea to place stands in home run territory. As this would be outside of the stadium, these stands would be available to anyone without cost, which would attract more viewers to the games. At first blush one might think that people who would normally pay to get in would just as soon take a crummy seat in the outfield, and while this would be, to some extent, true, if concessions were offered in the area then more money would flow in that way. With the addition of the second wall this idea becomes moot.

FWIW, I have been to many minor league ballparks, and very few have seats in home run territory.

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Sunday being Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, I loaded my holders with film and headed out.  My first stop was the Great Frederick Fairgrounds, which were deserted, and after exposing seven sheets of 4×5 I left for Harry Grove Stadium, where I planned to watch a Frederick Keys game.

My interest in photographing locations often moves me behind the scenes to areas not meant for public consumption.  Behind the wall in center field is the location that gives access to the scoreboard.  Of course, I had little interest in going up the stairs, but the unfolding scene presented a photographic opportunity.

I will mention that there is advantage to arriving at a minor league ballpark 1.5-2 hours before the game.  Around that time the teams are taking batting practice, and although one cannot get into the park to see it, balls are leaving the park nonetheless.  I ended up finding four baseballs despite the fact that two youngsters were in search of the same.  To complete a great day, the Keys won handily, and Manny Machado, in rehab from the Orioles, went four for four, with two singles, two doubles, and a walk.

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In our workshop after learning how to coat evenly, applying the emulsion to 5mil (thousandths of an inch), we ended up with some extra emulsion.  It appeared that there was not enough to properly coat a piece of paper, so with gloves on I poured this remainder onto a sheet of Strathmore Bristol and used my fingers to spread it around.

This actually worked better than I thought it might but there was one flaw.  Spreading in this way resulted in a circle of emulsion that was very thick.  This thickness meant that the fixer was not able to properly penetrate the emulsion, and that ring can now be seen as a brown stain.  Looking a little more closely I can see numerous small pockets of thick emulsion that have turned brown.

It takes close examination of the paper itself to see that the D-Max dramatically changes with the thickness of the emulsion – the thicker the emulsion, the greater the D-Max (makes sense).  So while we coated to a 5mil thickness, if a greater D-Max is required (accompanied by the highlight areas going a bit darker) then perhaps an 8 or 10mil thickness can be tried.  By feeling the paper I am guessing that the non-fixable areas are at least 25mil (maybe more), as I can feel a distinct difference.

It’s cool when screwing around can result in actually learning something.

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I had an opportunity to attend a workshop at the Eastman House in Rochester where I learned how to make photographic emulsion.  One might wonder why bother when photographic paper is so readily available.  It is available now, but there is certainly no expectations that this will continue into the future.  After all, go back ten years and who would have thought that Kodak would be completely out of the photographic paper business?

But it is more to it than just that.

Historic processes are those that are no longer commercially available and paper for contact printing is now in that category.  As photographic papers continue to disappear the knowledge of how to make them will do the same.  There are a zillion people these days working with collodion and another zillion platinum printers, but few make their own silver gelatin.  I like to feel that I am retaining that knowledge, and at some point I may be able to share it with someone who has an interest.

This print was made at the workshop using Kodak’s AZO formula, and was the first one I printed.  I used a blade to coat the paper and a glass plate negative that was about the right contrast.  I am currently collecting the equipment and chemicals to start making the emulsion at home and hope to match the excellent results I was able to get at the workshop.

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I removed my prints from the excellent show in Berkley Springs, where I had the opportunity to show my work along with a number of others who work with the alternative processes.  On my way home I came upon this, so I had to stop and take a picture.  I have a similar one taken along a road leading to a parking lot in West Virginia.  You tell me, was someone having a laugh or did they spend thousands of dollars to have a consultant determine the exact speed limit?

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