Composing pinhole photos

Discussion in 'Pinhole Photography' started by robopro, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. robopro

    robopro Member

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    I've been using an 11X14 cardboard box camera I made several years ago modified to use glass plate negatives. One problem I've had is in accurately composing the scene as there is no viewer as in an SLR. Sometimes I get lucky, and sometimes I don't. Now I'm designing a better variable focal length camera and would like to incorporate some way to 'preview' what the negative is going to see. Anybody have any ideas on how that can be done?
    I thought about using a ground glass, but I'd have to use a larger pinhole to get enough light in to see the image, and I'm thinking when I then change to the smaller pinhole for the photograph the angle of view would also change.
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Changing the size of the pinhole won't change the field of view, but changing the distance from the hole to the film will, of course.

    Perhaps you could just mount a regular external VF, that will at least give you some ability to center your composition, and if you get a wide enough one you might be able to make some marks to indicate approximate edges. You could even get a zooming viewfinder (e.g. the horseman one) , but they are very pricey.
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    An external VF (including a simple wire frame finder) is almost certainly your best bet. The wire finder will be self-adapting if you put the frame on the front of your camera and the eyepiece on the back, so the separation varies with the 'zoom' in focal length.

    But there's still a certain amount of luck involved...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  4. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    My suggestion would be to use a set of "peep sights", somewhat like what you would have had on your .22 when you were kid out shooting groundhogs. Put a rear sight on each rear corner of the plane of film and put the front sight in the centre front right over the pinhole. Sighting each corner to front one at a time will give you the field of view. Do the same thing for the vertical.
     
  5. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    I have installed "viewing dots" on the sides and top of my various pinhole box cameras. These should protrude slightly above the box's surface. The idea is to have the front dot adjacent to the pinhole, and the two rear dots adjacent to the edges of the negative as positioned in the camera. Then by sighting along the dots you can get a fairly precise idea of the horizontal and vertical extent of the image field.

    Others do this in a similar fashion using lines instead of dots, but with a telescoping box camera of variable focal length, the dot idea should work fine.
     
  6. robopro

    robopro Member

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    Very good ideas! Something for me to think about. John, how did you know I used to shoot groundhogs with a .22? :smile: Local dairy farmers used to pay us kids a buck each to get rid of them... cows would step in the holes and break their legs.
     
  7. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    i kind of eye ball it. i set it up and then look at the hole and the basic direction. most pihole camreras are built on the wide side. i guess for me it helps that i just shoot lots and lots of pinhole images, so now i got a pretty good idea. some of the fun of it is guessing it and seeing the results. here is one shot that i miss judged a bit just yeterday.

    i found that i used so much film in my 4x5 pinhole camera that i perfected loading/developing/and composing sheet film. it has really helped me in my view camera shooting too.

    eddie
     
  8. robopro

    robopro Member

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    OK, I had this crazy idea that if I incorporate a film holder specifically designed to hold a ground glass, then I could 'dial in' a larger pinhole and (if I leave the back of the camera open) then with a black cover I could view what the camera will see, then 'dial in' the hole size needed for the focal length. Remeber, this camera will be both variable focal length and variable pinhole size.
    Sounds like a great idea, but for now it's all still on paper. If anybody knows of a technical reason why this won't work I would seriously love to hear it, because sometimes the greatest ideas on paper don't work in the real world...
     
  9. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    Robopro, I do this with my Speed Graphic, where I use the ground glass with a ~1/4" aperture plate up front to compose, then switch to the main pinhole + shutter lensboard to make the exposure. Not a crazy idea at all, works fine.

    The 1/4" size viewing hole is large enough such that a daylight landscape can be easily viewed under a dark cloth, and still see enough level of detail to adjust for composition. Focus, of course, is a non-issue with pinhole, so your view screen built into a used film holder doesn't have to be *exactly* at the same lens-to-film distance for it to work.
     
  10. robopro

    robopro Member

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    Cool! Thanks!
     
  11. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I've taken many shots with a f.800 pinhole on my Tachihara 810HD in outdoor daylight scenes by setting up and composing conventionally. The key is to have a light-proof focussing cloth and allow about 30 seconds for eye dark adaption. It's amazing how clearly and accurately you can see just before you run out of air!
     
  12. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I'm sure this goes against the primitive ethos of pin-hole photography so please excuse. I started off in pinholes along the lines described in the above post but sunny days mean irksome heat and suffocation under the dark cloth and there had to be an easier way.

    By juggling lens elements and pinholes placed inside various view camera lenses I found that, provided focal ratios exceed f.600 or thereabouts, the presence or absence of glass in the lens makes little difference to the final image. So now I set up the view camera and compose with a conventional lens in place. Then, leaving the lens aperture fully open I cover the lens with a pin-hole lens cap and make an exposure using the regular shutter. It is also easy to make comparison conventional and pinhole exposures.
     
  13. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    I have built two pinholes one in 4x5 and one in 8x10. both in wood and those has a reversable back with screen and fresnel. the thing is that you can see but not much! It takes a little while before your eye adapt and you begin to see some shadows!
    You have some idea of what you tking a picture of!

    A friend of mine uses a lens on the 4x5 and after adjusting the camera he change the lens to pihole, of course the pinhole manufactured to the lens size. He uses a 150 mm lens.
     
  14. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    Yes :smile: in your case this would help but, than you got to build a little bit more advanced pinhole! High up in the north of the globe we don’t care about heat very much :smile: Even summer the temperature won’t go higher than 25 celsius :smile:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/1X-Magnificatio...2QQihZ009QQcategoryZ93780QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem