(photo by the students of Al Karevy)

Today is the 10th anniversary of Worldwide Pinhole Day, an occasion to honor of the centuries-old practice of pinhole photography.

At the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, the event is celebrated over two days. Yesterday the VCP offered a workshop with instruction and assistance with building and using a camera, and today the gallery features an open-house showcase of pinhole photos.

Instructor Al Karevy was onhand yesterday to patiently guide me through making my own camera, trying it out, working through some persistent light-leak issues, and develop the results. What fun. I even came out with a couple of passable negatives by the end of the day. Had to leave them there to finish drying, though, so I’ll have to get them mailed here later.

The thing about this process is that it is EASY to build a camera. The basic camera body can be nearly anything: the three cameras that were constructed yesterday were made of an old round metal cookie tin with removable lid; a greeting card box, and – in my case – a round Quaker oatmeal box. A little black tape, some black paint, and brass flashing with a tiny pinhole punched through are all you need for the camera. Beyond that you’ll need photographic paper or film, developer, and if you want to go all out you can also set up a means to print the results.

There are more detailed camera building instructions on the web. Once you get that far and you’re ready to take a shot, then the real fun begins. It’s about experimentation and patience, to determine everything from how long your exposure needs to be (two seconds, or ten or more minutes? It’s that variable!) to subject matter and where to place your camera for optimal stability and effect. This is just as much – and possibly more – about the refinement of technique as it is the quality of the resulting photographs.

The journey IS the destination – sound familiar?

Some (conventional Nikon digital) photos from yesterday’s workshop:

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