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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Spotlight - Revelations from a pinpoint perspective

This month, Spotlight closes one eye and takes a distorted mono-look at perspective.

In the proliferation of cameras that are so clever that you do not even need to leave the house to take pictures of cities and landscapes, the rise in the interest in capturing moments (or simply capturing the light they give) is becoming more diverse. Pinhole photography - a box with a tiny hole aperture, and photo-sensitive paper inside - captures exaggerated perspective with intriguing, monochromatic intensity.

As with philosophical perspectivism, the foreshortening in pinhole photography emphasises questions as to whether any way of seeing the world can be definitively, objectively true. Perspective...

Luz en la Piel, pinhole photography among prisoners project, 
Latin America. 

With pinhole photography, a long exposure is needed. 

With this long view, moving objects are barely captured, as if ghosts that do not exist, such as the evanescent figure near the tricycle - depending upon your personal perspective, perhaps.
Ben Peters

In a time when not much seems fixed, much seems transient and fleeting, and it is difficult to discern the marks made by those which come and go; when many people see things in black and white, and we may tend to see some things in exaggerated perspective, through viewing a small part of the world from a little box… consider the evident distortions of pinhole photography, and the ways we can capture telling images of the world around us.
Ennerdale, by Mark Tweedie

There is beauty in appreciating perspective. Our vision box does not have to be small. The pinhole light principle works with large enclosures, such as camera obscura, and can be done, as was this photograph, with travel luggage.
C.Freeman, suitcase portraits 

There are various kits to make a pinhole camera, as well as simple instructions on how to build one from household objects, such as this guide on how to make a camera from a matchbox It includes instructions on putting a small but sensitive piece of paper in a little box - instructions that may be helpful if you wish to give light a go.
Enjoy a sense of perspective, from the end of April showers, to our next blog at the end of May.
Diego López Calvín - Tower of London 

Pinhole photography also offers a perspective on the awareness of perspectives.
As a voting paper in a sealed ballot box captures one perspective, at one particular time, with starkly monochromatic results, and some stay in view while others drift off as ghosts, whatever result you get from pinhole photography is likely to be blurry. Like leadership contests, the result will foreshorten what you see in front of you. The vision you get will depict some aspects of the world as being bigger than they truly are, other aspects of our world may be covered up by those that are exaggerated, and some will fade into the distance, as a speck whose reconstruction may rely on memory and belief. 
With a pinhole camera, as with sensitive paper in a ballot box, what you get may not be what you expected. It will emphasise the effect of distortion, and that all images, in isolation, are a limited perspective. Photography can easily be taken for granted because we have such ready access to images, and look at them disposably, for just a moment. Which photograph, among those here, or just among a choice of three of them, would you frame and hang on your wall for a week? For 10 months? For at least four years? The empty jetty? The figure close to us under a tree? A prisoner's self portrait? 
Choose wisely. And remember that there is a bigger choice. What adorns your wall does not always have to be a perspective offered by others. We can make our own.

As for the joke about cameras so clever that you do not need to leave the house…

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