Pinhole swirls

Discussion in 'Pinhole Photography' started by Perry Way, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    I had a busy weekend. 18 sheets of 4x5 through the pinhole camera. It was all I could do to develop them, 8 last night from yesterday's shoot and 10 tonight from today's shoot. Today's shoot I went to one of my favorite places to "farm" photos, an Oak preserve/park. First time with pinhole there. It was like rediscovering the place fresh, for the first time. How would I compose each shot.. everything had to be rethought from shooting my RB67. So the sun was high, it was poking through the canopy in many places, and I made a real point to keep the direct rays from hitting the pinhole dead on. That meant recomposing after I composed sometimes, 3 or 4 times. But I slipped up on one. There in the darkroom, not 5 minutes ago I finished fixing that sheet.. and wow, this is quite unique looking. You can clearly see a pitch black spot (the sun) and then emanating from that point in like a hemispherical manner are rays. It's like rays and swirls.. and the outermost part of it is roughly circular or ovalish. Swirly all over. So much of this interferes with the composition I can't tell what it was I was shooting.

    I'll be really looking forward to print this one up to see what it looks like. Maybe it will be a throwaway, but maybe it will be one of those keepers that is hard to duplicate again.

    Anyway, we'll get to that bridge tomorrow night or the next or later on this week, but for the moment I'm real curious what it is I've experienced. Has anyone had this happen before? What is this strange effect I'm noticing? If there was a lens on this camera then it wouldn't be making that much of an impact. There'd be refractions and reflections and then that iris effect thingy that causes several disks repeating down a linear fashion but not on the entire negative. What I have is the entire negative affected.
     
  2. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    Shooting pinhole into the sun is quite interesting, you don't get "lens flair" as such just light rays splitting everywhere
     
  3. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Well this is more than just simple rays. It's also hemispherical swirls.. undulating about like waves going out from a drop of water hitting the surface.
     
  4. skinnyvoice

    skinnyvoice Subscriber

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    I've had the rays of light splitting, but not in a swirly way. This was shot on a Zero 2000 6x6

    [​IMG]
     
  5. edp

    edp Member

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  6. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    This is an amazing picture. I like that a lot. The rays are part of the picture and not overbearing. They help it actually.
     
  7. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Those are some nice pinhole shots on your flickr. Rays are nice, swirls are .. well.. I just finished making some contact sheets. Wow these are like overbearing. In some of these, there is too much swirl so that you cannot make out the subject matter. Anyway, live and learn. So you think the pinhole tunnel causes this eh? Maybe so. It is a brass plate and it's definitely thicker than tin foil. I'm thinking about ripping off this brass and putting actual tin foil in place because I've made a gaff tape/foam board pinhole camera before and it wound up looking real nice (the results). I've been having some issues with this camera not being sharp enough and I think the brass plate is just too thick.

    Anyway, a few really decent shots though, and in a few moments I'm going to go do some enlargements. I had a little mishap earlier tonight with a burnt out bulb in the safelight. Drove all over town looking for replacement bulb and it's one of those odd sizes. So for the moment I took some black construction paper and formed a funnel and place the safelight shade on the end, gaff tape it up and then tape the funnel to a cheep hardware store worklight with one of those cheep grips on it that never holds and falls off everything you try to grip it to. Yeah baby, MacGuyver, eat your heart out! Don't try to interfere with my darkroom time! hehehe.
     
  8. Romary

    Romary Member

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    My gut felling (or thinking with fingers, as I would say in French), is that you have difraction or/and reflexion on the edge of the hole. For normal light (e.g. the grass or shoes on your photo) no problem, you do not see any problem. But the sun is a lot more luminous and you create this kind of aspect. On some pinhole, I have see a circle which was obviously a reflexion of the sun on the edge of the hole.
     
  9. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Contact print of the offending negative. Well, the worst one. There are others! :rolleyes: I think this has to be that effect a couple of you mentioned with regards to reflection inside the pinhole "tunnel". It's quite interesting looking but totally detracts from the subject. And would you believe this is the negative out of the lot that I wanted the most? :mad: Strange how things work out like that...
     

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  10. Romary

    Romary Member

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    With pinhole, often, you do not obtain what you wanted to have. This also why I like pinhole.
     
  11. edp

    edp Member

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  12. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    This is a good idea and I will keep this in mind in case I find thinner brass somewhere, but I've already removed the thick brass plate and in it's place I've put a single sheet of 120 film backing from Bergger (black on both sides). I'm going to purposefully compose a shot today sometime where the sun is directly aimed at and we will see if I can duplicate the swirl. If not, then I'm leaving the film backing. I've used that before in a homemade pinhole camera and it worked great.
     
  13. DannL

    DannL Member

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    My thoughts are that this is caused by the gaps in the leaves in the canopy of the trees. Each gap is a pinhole of sorts, each at a random distance and angle from the camera's aperture. The leaves may be moving and reflecting, and the sun is certainly moving during the duration of the exposure. I wouldn't be surprised to see results like this under those conditions. Unless by chance dew or condensation formed in the pinhole during the exposure. That could be another explanation.
     
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  15. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Actually this same effect is noted on other negatives where there is a lot of sky and no canopy or leaves... like at the marina. I'm going with reflection in the pinhole due to the thickness of the plate. The brass plate has a thickness of .5mm. I measured it this morning when I disassembled it. With a hole of .5mm and a depth of .5mm that makes it kind of squarish. I'm thinking the 120 film backing will give me a perfect result. And of course I'll come back and share my findings when I develop it later tonight.
     
  16. DannL

    DannL Member

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    That being the case, I would be interested in seeing a close-up of this pinhole. I can only imagine. :wink:
     
  17. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    The 112 film backing has a wee little problem. To be brief, uneven pinhole. I took two shots roughly the same. One with TMax 400 the other with Tri-X 320. Both of them have rays, not swirls, but there is an elongation of the rays on one side of the frame that has a wee bit of undulation of fading in and out to it but still it is not swirls like the other one I uploaded earlier. And upon further examination, knowing what the negative looks like I can see where there is a little lip on the pinhole I made with the needle. Anyway the negs are still drying, even 2+ hours after photo-flo and hanging up. So I'm going to forego the printing. That was just an exercise. I did prove that the swirl effect was the brass plate that was on the camera.

    Now onto the next subject.. lack of sharp focus. Still there is not a strong focus on anything. I'm starting to think I really need to buy a "real" professional pinhole camera. This one I bought is nice, it is handmade from birch, the craftsmanship is actually quite nice. But at this point I'm seeing the merits of buying a Zero Image 75B Deluxe 4x5 camera. It's expensive, but I am thinking this is the best way to go. There are additional benefits with that camera. There is a remote shutter release, there's an actual shutter, its got interchangeable pinholes, and it's got body extensions so you can shoot in 25mm, 50mm or 75mm. Only one problem.. I just bought another camera that was on my watchlist on eBay the whole last week and now I'm holding myself back from spending any more money on hardware until next month.
     
  18. edp

    edp Member

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    1/2 mm thick brass is more like armour plating than foil ;-)

    As for lack of sharp focus, how long is the focal length in the camera you're using? Depending on which formula you choose and what value you pick for the constant, a 1/2mm pinhole is appropriate for something like 14 or 15 cm. Up to a point, if you use a smaller hole, you'll find it a bit sharper. If you make it too small, it'll get softer again due to diffraction.

    http://home.online.no/~gjon/pinhole.htm#formulas

    I've used pinholes between 0.15mm and 0.25mm for focal lengths from 20 to 50mm and got acceptably sharp images on 6x9cm film. Not that pinhole photographs are about sharpness, of course.
     
  19. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Yes, the Zero Image 4x5 is a fine camera, and the pinhole quality is high. But don't expect true "sharp focus" from any pinhole. I can't judge your photos against mine, but even my Zero Image won't give perfectly sharp focus. It's a pinhole! You just can't expect "sharp focus" from a lensless camera like a pinhole, although the results can be very satisfactory with my Zero Image...

    The "soft focus" effect of a pinhole is just one of it's charms.
     
  20. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I like that swirly effect, with a bit of Jimi Hendicks....some weed....now I'm feeling it.
     
  21. Øyvind:D

    Øyvind:D Member

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    No problem: downsize the print: use enlarger or scanner/printer to make a copy smaller than the negative, I believe a 8x10" negative will be supersharp on a normal pc screen
     
  22. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Like I said, the soft focus is in my opinion actually one of the charms of pinhole. And I have made very satisfactory A4 sized enlargements of my 4x5 pinhole images, and an A3+ sized digital print based on a scan of one of the A4 analog prints, that still looks extremely nice.
     
  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    The key to making pinhole images sharp is in how perfect the pinhole is, and how well it was treated to not have any internal reflections. Any shiny surface in the pinhole will cause light scatter within the frame. The thickness of the foil also makes a difference. The less 'tunnel' there is, the sharper the image will be.

    I use a Zero Image 2000 6x6 camera, and like Marco I appreciate the ethereal, dreamy, and soft look it gives. But it's incredibly sharp for a pinhole!

    On a technical level, sharpness isn't all that important in viewing a photograph. But tonality is. Keep working the pinhole material. Find subject matter that suits the look of the camera and off you go. Don't worry about sharpness.

    One of the sharpest pinholes I've ever seen is made in China by Skink. Andrew Moxom of these forums built a 4x5 camera around one of those pinholes, and it's really amazing how sharp it is.

    I attached a print scan from one of my 120 format pinholes from the Zero Image. Would you want it to be sharper?
     

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  24. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Actually Thomas, it is your pinhole shots uploaded to the gallery that got me really questioning how come I couldn't get better than I was with my 4x5. And it's what got me looking at the Zero Image camera too, only I don't want one of the medium format ones, I want the 4x5! I do want sharper than I've gotten. What I don't like is blocking of leaves or bark of trees beyond a few feet. That's what I'm getting.
     
  25. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I have been eyeballing the beautiful ZeroImage pinhole cameras for a few weeks now; am about to splurge on the 6x9 Deluxe multi-format (6x6, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9). This thread is of interest to me regarding "swirls" and "flare"; while often an unwelcome blight on 35mm, with pinhole it adds dimensional and creative interest and on that point is worth dabbling with. The element of inherent unpredictability and especially, the soft, dreamy and rather 'other-worldly' effect these cameras naturally produce has instant appeal (that means I'm not out to strive for any degree of sharpness other than what is naturally delivered!) — even from those accustomed (and rather tired of) pin-sharp 6x6 or other larger format photographs. This is getting exciting.
     
  26. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Thomas, you are right the pinhole quality of the Zero Image cameras is high, my 4x5 gives very satisfactory results in this respect, comparable to your MF shots.

    Some type of reflections, even with the high quality of the Zero Image pinholes, is just inevitable, since the "inside" of the "tunnel" of the pinhole is probably impossible to make completely black / anti reflective, and a pinhole will always have some "thickness" no matter how thin the material used.

    So, look for example at the effect of the strong street light in right section of this image (Zero Image 4x5), very much comparable to the rays caused by the sun in the images of 1SharpMonkey, you just have to accept it...:

    [​IMG]

    Marco