By Ed Doucette
My interest in photography started at an early age when I received a Fisher Price Picture Story Camera for my birthday. It was my first camera, but very limited in scope, as I was only able to take the same eight pictures of a farm. I later moved on to a Kodak Instamatic 126 film cartridge point-and-shoot. The photo quality was dreadful, but I did learn how to frame my shots.
I have always been a person who resists the allure of new technology, so it is no wonder that I used the same Nikon point-and-shoot 35mm film camera for 20 years before buying a Canon A610 PowerShot in 2005. I joined Flickr under the name Jiffy Cat in 2006. My goal at the time was to just have some fun with it and use my photography as a much-needed creative outlet. After a year or so, I upgraded to a Canon G7. With this camera, I was able to improve my image quality to the point where I received offers to use my images for commercial purposes.
What I like most about digital cameras is the instant feedback they provide, which allowed me to improve rapidly. However, I still felt like there was something lacking, especially in regards to the range of colors. I guess I just like the way a film image looks as compared to a digital one. So I tried to go back to my film camera roots. After experimenting with Holga and Diana toy cameras, I stumbled upon the P-Sharan 35mm cardboard pinhole camera kit. It took about an hour to assemble, and has turned out to be my dream camera.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with pinhole photography, it is simply lens-less photography where a small hole replaces the lens. Pinhole images tend to be softer and less focused, with an infinite depth of field. For my camera, exposure times can range from a few seconds in bright light to 10 to 20 minutes for a night scene.
The shots I have managed to take with this camera can be best described as dreamy and impressionistic and best represent what I would consider art in my photography. One of the things I like best about the pinhole camera is the way moving subjects are portrayed with the long exposure time. The effect is that of a mini-movie crammed into a single frame.
that they all but disappear, leaving only their traces as shadows.
taken from the dashboard of my car on my commute home.
I love the whoosh of the blue colors and the sense of speed in this image.
I think "Orchestra" and "The Pastel Swamp" are good examples of how the pinhole camera can create an impressionistic image. In these instances, blur can be beautiful. Oddly enough, pinhole photography reached its height as an art form during the peak of the impressionist movement in painting.
Both of these photos were taken at the Canoe Meadows Audubon Sanctuary in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. To me, the Housatonic River never looked so good.
By far my favorite thing about the pinhole camera is the ease with which I can shoot multiple exposures. "Railway Child" and "Thicket" are my two favorites.
run parallel with the lone shadow figure of the boy.
To me, it sums up the relationship between father and son.
with a close-up of a boy against a tendril-like tree branch.
I usually shoot the multiple-exposure images using a three-second exposure for each shot. I never know what the end result might be when shooting these. I have an idea of what I might get, but that is rarely what I get back from the developer. Once, when I picked up a set of prints from the shop, the cashier said to me, "I'm sorry, but there are a lot of double exposures and light leaks in these." My reply was, "Great! I can't wait to see them!"
When these shots work well, they can be like visions from the realm of dreams.
When I travel to other cities or shoot in Boston, I usually take my digital camera and my pinhole camera. Often, I shoot the same shot with both cameras, and I almost always prefer the pinhole image. "Bawston," "Walk Up," and "Irving's" are three shots from around Boston.
I like the way the camera softly embraces this venerable Brookline store --
a nostalgic take on a neighborhood institution.
It turned out to be the best shot on the roll.
The lemony sun flare beckons to the dandelions to "look over yonder."
Sometimes it is a good thing to let the weeds grow out of the cracks in the driveway.
In most instances, I use very little post-processing with my pinhole shots, as I am usually unable to improve on the print.
In conclusion, I find it interesting that my journey through photography finds me, in the end, loving a camera that in many ways is simpler to operate than my Fisher Price Picture Story Camera.
Ed Doucette was born and raised in Pittsfield and now lives in Hudson. He earned a pharmacy degree from Northeastern University and is currently a pharmacist working in Boston. Ed enjoys shooting a wide range of subjects based on his wide range of interests. He loves to travel, and finds inspiration in new landscapes and new experiences. He has also found inspiration
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