Today I had my last Christmas present -this was mainly funded by my mum, although to be honest, she didn’t know she had bought it for me until I announced it on Christmas Day : ) A one-day pinhole camera course at Photofusion. In summary, it was a great day. What did I learn most???? Patience. No quick pictures and reviews on an LCD screen here.

After getting to know our pinhole camera, putting on the stickers, constructing our exposure wheel we headed into the darkroom to put the exposure paper into the camera – shiny side up (if you do it the other way around then no negative and no picture). We were then let loose (tripods in hand) on the roof to take some test pictures. In our group of 5, we were given different exposure times to calculate the best time. This was so we would have a good idea when we went down onto the street.

Shot with a test strip (more on that below):

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Once we had taken our first shot we headed into the darkroom to expose our negative. Before we the chemical bit we had to ‘expose our negative’ onto the paper to get a positive. This was achieved by placing the negative and the positive on top of each other (with the positive on the bottom – more about this in a mo’); then the light was exposed onto the paper with a glass plate on top. The importance of having the positive paper on the bottom was made clear to me with my first attempt which produced a totally black positive as I had it the wrong way around.

This was my first proper time in a photographic darkroom – which meant we got to play with chemicals… well not really… the trays were set up for us, and Paul Ellis out tutor talked us through the process.  15 secs shiny side down in the PQ indicator and flip it over for 45 secs; then 20 secs in the stop bath; and then between 60-90 secs in the Hypam fixer.

We were then off out into Brixton to take 3 pictures – but in between, we had to come back to the darkroom to change the paper as we had no change bag. For each shot, we also had to take a test exposure strip with different developing times. From the test strip, we could then determine how long we could expose the positive to the light.

The final prints:

Now, there are only two more shots to show.. well one actually as the film picture  will be sent to me later. We tried to expose directly onto positive paper. For reasons that Paul suspects relate to a different ISO on the paper than he expected … this was the print obtained when we used it. Because it did not develop in the solution at all (in the alloted time) we discarded it in the final water wash…. but hey presto after about 3 hours in the water, this is what we got…. and you know what… I kinda like it!

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I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, I learnt a lot and would definitely recommend this course. I even ended up having my picture taken while out on the street… by other photographers fascinated by my use of the pinhole camera. Moreover, I am now really interested in darkroom work… so who knows where this will take me. I will definitely take my camera out for a spin again soon.

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