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Thread: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

  1. #1

    VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Hello! I read the article about Pinhole Photography with interest. I made an 8x10 camera f375 with a focal length of 12 inches. I want to use it to make images that are not supposed to be sharp, that would complement alternative processes. I have cyanotype in mind.

    My problem is that with the 12 inch focal length, the images look more like careless pictures that I let go soft, rather than images where the softness reinforces the image. With the wide angle images I've seen, the lightfall off (and sometimes circular borders, if that is what the photographer wants) emphasize the "alternative" nature of the pinhole images.

    The few images that I've taken that I've liked have used motion as the theme of the image. As a result, I'm a stumped. Many of the images I had in mind when I built this camera I don't think will work because the camera doesn't emphasize the "alternative" nature of pinhole images enough at this focal length, particularly of landscapes

    Whether by pinhole or lens, I'm curious what types of images folks have tried to take that purposely included image softness as part of the technique in order to emphasize the theme of the image. Best regards.

    Mike

  2. #2
    Jack Flesher's Avatar
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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    I'm no expert in soft focus techniques, but here's what I've learned from playing around with a soft-focus lens on my 4x5. And my opinion only, others will most certain vary:

    I think the best soft-focus images are those with strong compositions of simple subject matter. I think those two traits help the viewer get beyond the fact the image is soft.
    Last edited by Jack Flesher; 2-Oct-2006 at 16:57.
    Jack Flesher

    www.getdpi.com

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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Before you throw in the towel, try enlarging your pin hole. Larger the ph the softer the image. But of course there is a reason people are paying big $$ for Verito's and the like.

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    alec4444's Avatar
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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Does anyone know of a place that can do the calculation for the optimal size pinhole for various focal lengths and then manufacture it? I've been toying with the pinhole concept too on a LF view camera. Was wondering if there is a person I can turn to and say, "I'm shooting 11x14 and I want a pinhole optimized for 6" of bellows draw, 12", and 18"....

    --A

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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    There is an e-mail address/web site address at the end of the article. Contact the author.

    steve simmons

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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Google "Pinhole" and it'll give you plenty of sites to go to for information and products for sale as well.

    Cheers
    Life in the fast lane!

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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Alec,

    There are a lot of pinhole calculators on the web. Here is one of them.

    http://pinhole.stanford.edu/webphcalc.htm

    Paul

  8. #8
    f295
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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Hi Mike-
    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the pinhole article, and happier still that you've decided to give it a try! I have a couple of suggestions/ideas/references for you:

    1. Mr. Pinhole is a great calculator for all your needs, everything from optimal pinhole size to image circle, focal length, etc. It can be found here: http://www.mrpinhole.com/calcpinh.php There's also a simple calculator on the f295 home page, soon to be expanded: www.f295.org

    2. Check out f295.org. The pinhole/lensless discussion forum there will provide you access to a host of information and lots of other photographers who would be happy to lend a hand. http://www.f295.org/Pinholeforum/forum/Blah.pl

    3. You might try decreasing the focal length of your camera. The light fall-off you refer to is a result of the image circle not fully covering the film. The camera you built has roughtly a 53degree angle of view, which while official "wide angle" you might want to try something around 4" to get the fall off you desire. At a 4" focal length your image circle would be 7.6" with an angle of view of 116degrees. you'd definitely see vignetting with that camera.

    4. If softness is what you're after, you might try following Jims advice and enlarging your pinhole. The larger the hole the softer the image (but not infinitely inversely true!) The other thing you might try -if it's softness you seek- is Zone Plate. Chris Ellinger in MI uses crown graphic and zone plate aperture to achieve some wonderful images, you can see his work here: http://www.f295.org/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=316

    in regards to alecs question, i dont know of a site that both calculates and manufactures pinholes. Pinholes can be bought from Eric Renner at Pinhole Resource. A number of people also use apertures for electron microscopes, though I'm a strong advocate of self-manufacture

    Hope this helps.

    Tom Persinger
    www.f295.org

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    Jack Flesher's Avatar
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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Here's a pretty nifty free download that does all the calcs for you: http://www.pinhole.cz/en/pinholedesigner/
    Jack Flesher

    www.getdpi.com

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    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: VC Magazine/Pinhole Photography - Role of Soft Images?

    Mike -- Illumination fall-off in the corners of images from properly constructed pinholes should be no greater than for most lenses of comparable focal length. A pinhole image becomes softer when the pinhole is either larger or smaller than the size for optimum sharpness. The image from a larger pinhole looks rather like a poorly focused lens image. A smaller pinhole may give a more pleasant softness. Pinhole Designer in Jack's link is good. The optimum constant used in this calculator has been hotly debated. The often used Lord Rayleigh constant of 1.9 is popular, but gives a pinhole too large for optimum on-axis sharpness. Your 12" f/275 pinhole conforms to the Lord Rayleigh constant. It may be a good compromise between fairly good on-axis sharpness and improved sharpness well away from the image center. I prefer a user constant of 1.5, based on considerable testing. This gives better on-axis sharpness, but less sharpness towards the image corners. This characteristic can be creatively used.

    If you play with PinholeDesigner, you'll discover that the shorter the focal length, the sharper the image. Like Tom says, this will cause decreased illuminatuion in the corner of the images. When the image covers a 90 degree angle, this fall-off will be two f-stops (or more, with a poorly fabricated pinhole).

    Pinhole photography can be simple, or very complex. Lord Rayleigh's often cited paper on the subject http://idea.uwosh.edu/nick/rayleigh.pdf is an example of the latter. Matt Young's paper on the subject http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/PHCamera.pdf is much better. Jan Grepstad's site http://home.online.no/~gjon/pinhole.htm has information both excellent and trivial, and enough links to other sites to keep one busy for a very long time. The standard reference book on the subject is Eric Renner's Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique, http://www.pinholeresource.com/agora...&product=Books.
    Last edited by Jim Jones; 3-Oct-2006 at 18:55.

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