IR Pinhole: Another Hot Mess by Jana Uyeda

It's been a tough month and a half for my photographic pursuits and I'll admit to feeling a bit lost these days. I haven't been focused on any projects and when I finally picked up a camera again I'd forgotten a few things like watching for horizon lines and tilting the camera up to play with dimensions. The resulting images were uninspiring which didn't compel me to keep shooting with either my Zero Image or the Bob Rigby. Weirdly I purchased a new lens for my Fuji Xpro1 this weekend as I'm conceptualizing a series of photos around my new pug. Yes, #puglife has overtaken my life and is even starting to influence my photography. Have you ever tried to pinhole a pet? It's impossible, no wonder I'm turning to digital.

This weekend I headed out to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, a Federal preserve popular with conservationists and bird photographers with giant camouflage-wrapped lenses. I shot 3 sheets of Ektar 4x5 and 5 sheets of IR with my Bob Rigby so it was a very productive afternoon. Here's one of the first sheets I exposed while walking out during high tide. The sun was on my left and you can see the dramatic results. I don't object to sun flares but right now I'm working on getting a nice, clean image so this was a bit frustrating to see. I have several other sheets to develop however, so I think my next few shots will be cleaner.

What have you been up to? I'm so sorry I haven't been keeping up on your blogs, I'm slowly returning to WordPress.


My first pinhole film swap by Jana Uyeda

A few months ago Alex, who manages the Pinholista site, contacted me on Flickr about doing a pinhole film swap and I eagerly agreed to do it. I've seen some intriguing film swap double exposures online and liked the surreal and often humorous images that resulted from these collaborations. There's something very liberating about doing a double exposure with no knowledge of what images were previously exposed on that roll. I've seen some terrific work from photographers who do their own double exposures, capturing specific images and overlapping them for effect. In this film swap with Alex I had no idea what to expect so the anticipation was high. We decided on doing one roll on Ilford HP5+ and another on Portra 400, but then I messed up advancing 6x6 in my 6x9 Zero Image pinhole camera, so I exposed a second roll of Kodak Ektar. It took awhile to expose the rolls but once I'd finished, I packed up the film and sent it off to Alex who lives in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. You can see the first roll of Portra on Alex's Flickr photostream and I'm putting together the images from our film swap here.

I would definitely recommend participating in a film swap and if you don't know of anyone get in touch with me. I'm a bit addicted to it now!

film swap_009
film swap_009
ferry bench
ferry bench

Lomography Bel Air: First Roll by Jana Uyeda

lincoln park trees

I fell for the Lomography hype machine on this one and I knew it when I entered my credit card information. I was excited about the Bel Air though. I'd been shooting my Holga 120PAN for awhile and loved the images it produced, but the body was a bit clunky and awkward to shoot. The Lomography Bel Air design was intriguing with its interchangeable lens and multiple format sizes. So I bought it and my camera arrived earlier this week. The design looks great, as you would expect from Lomography. The body is the same size as the Holga 120WPC and my Holga 120PAN, though it opens a little differently and there are some updates which makes loading roll film easier. I like the choice of battery size for the auto exposure feature. Two 1.5V LR22 batteries are easily loaded into a covered slot above the lens. The batteries don't add weight to the camera and are easily found at drugstores. Great decision and design. The bellows are made of substantial black rubber which is better than I expected. Extending the lens feels a little cheap as it doesn't open smoothly or lock into the body securely. There were a few times when I collapsed the camera and the lens kept popping back out, but once I found where it clips together, it was fine. The lens and viewfinder attach very simply.

Yesterday I had a chance to shoot the Bel Air for the first time. I chose to shoot 6x12, attached the 90mm lens and loaded a roll of HP5+. Here are a few shots from that roll.

lincoln park trees

winter trees

Setting up, loading then shooting the Bel Air was easy. The viewfinder was fairly accurate and the exposures were decent. There is the option to shoot manual by removing the batteries (this would leave the shutter speed at 1/125 according to the manual), or you can play with shutter speeds by adjusting the ISO settings on the exposure meter.

I was relieved to see some images on the film after I pulled it from the spool, but saw some issues when I started to scan these in.

Some of the exposures were off. Of course, I should have known better when I look at the subjects I shot. I was trying to expose the roll quickly and didn't take the time I should have. That being said, if I ever attempt a longer exposure (my comfort zone) I would have to figure out a easy way to attach a cable release or some contraption to the shutter release which is at the front of the Bel Air by the lens. I wouldn't be able to hold that down with my finger for long without shaking the camera.

One of my biggest concerns was the lack of focus. I've played with a lot of funny cameras - holgas, dianas, french fry cameras and the like, and have seen some nice, sharp areas of focus from them. If you've shot a Holga or Diana or other Lomography camera then you're familiar with the 1m -> 1.5m -> 3m -> infinity focus settings. Most of the time I had the lens set to infinity and frustratingly, none of the images were in focus. I did take the time to measure exactly 3 meters from a tree and set the lens at 3m before taking this shot.


Here's a closeup of the tree itself.

roots crop

The very, very soft focus is very frustrating and I wasn't expecting this. I have gotten lovely, sharp images from my Holga 120PAN like this boat.

Holga 120Pan boat

I'll continue to play around with this camera, though I don't feel inspired to commit too much time to it yet. If you're shooting the Bel Air and have some tips let me know! I'd love to see what you're shooting and hear about your experiences.


A few more takes from the water taxi by Jana Uyeda

Now that the rains are upon us, I think I'll be experimenting from within the water taxi but I had a few scans to post so I'm putting them together here. That gentleman on the left of the frame with sneakers happens to be in a lot of the pictures I take from that vantage point. Funny how I didn't even recognize how regularly he appears in my shots until just now. You can see him at the 'blonde' here in that familiar pose.

Exploring movement through a lens-less camera by Jana Uyeda

This photo is a black and white take on the color pinhole shot I posted about earlier.  The landscape perspective was a favorite, but I didn't like the blown out sky so I decided to try the shot again.  I also wanted to see this in black and white.  So - voila!

One of my good friends often refers to my style of photography as 'shitty photography.' To explain her description, she refers to the 2008 movie Yes Man with Zooey Deschanel whose character teaches a 'jogging photography' class. If that doesn't make sense to you, here's a YouTube video to illustrate.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIYlasVsJ_M&w=420&h=315]

I've gotten a lot of questions from passengers while taking pinhole images on-board the West Seattle Water Taxi. They often ask what kind of camera I'm using, praise me for continuing to shoot film or wonder how old the hardwood Zero Image camera is. I think one of the most important questions I get is why I prefer to shoot pinhole.

The easiest answer is that I shoot pinhole because it doesn't look like most photography I see online. I'm inundated with sharp, saturated images everyday and the softness of a pinhole camera combined with the tonality of film are pleasing to my eye. The Economist recently posted an article about the growing trend towards analogue photography called Difference Engine: Digital disillusion. There is a definite sense of satisfaction when a roll is exposed correctly and developed properly which I don't get from shooting other cameras.

My pinhole series, specifically the Water Taxi and Shopping Carts series, are about exploring movement through a lens-less camera. Though a pinhole is not as sharp as modern glass lenses, it captures a great amount of detail without the harsh edges. While those details are important and can help to draw the eye of the viewer, paradoxically it's the blur that focuses my imagination. I'm not interested in freezing subjects, like the flag on the water taxi, because the boat and my city are constantly moving.  I want my pictures to be more than just a snapshot of the day.  My idea here is to capture the pace of my city as it moves, changes and evolves.

So there you have it. My attempt at explaining my own 'shitty photography' and I hope it was an enjoyable read. It's certainly helpful for me to write these blog posts as I don't always understand what I'm doing unless I type it out.

Have a great week and happy shooting. Mahalo!