Tag Archives: arts

World Pinhole Photography Day

Did you know that a pinhole can focus and project light? A pinhole in an opaque material is the world’s simplest camera! Yesterday was World Pinhole Photography Day.

History

The discovery of pinhole optics massively predates photography (the act of chemically recording a projected image). During the Renaissance, painters traced scenes projected onto a canvas by a pinhole on the opposite wall. The use of a pinhole to project images goes back to 5th century BC China.

A camera obscura uses a pinhole to project an image. Renaissance painters could then trace these images. (image source: Wikipedia)

Why Pinholes?

In an age of digital cameras and high-end optics, the pinhole endures, charming and simple.  In honor of World Pinhole Photography Day, I went on a pinhole outing.

You might ask, what is the point of pinhole photography in this day and age? There are aesthetic and practical reasons. I like knowing exactly how my lens works, for once. Even a prime lens can have upwards of a dozen pieces of glass in it. I have a good science background, and I can’t even touch that level of optics. A hole in black plastic. I get that. Pinholes have interesting properties. True, they don’t focus nearly as sharply as lenses. But because pinholes have such small apertures, they have nearly infinite focal depth.

Brief photography lesson: larger openings (apertures) allow more light and create shallow ranges of focus. This can be desirable in a portrait. Small openings permit less light and increase range of focus. This might be preferable for a landscape. Sufficiently small openings cause softening due to diffraction (physics of light stuff). If you shoot on an SLR, you may have noticed diffraction-caused softening on shots at f/22. The pinhole I use is f/177. This diffraction is what gives pinhole photos their texture.

The upshot: pinhole photos flatten a scene. Something a yard away will look similar to something 100 yards away. This allows a photographer to create interactions between different depths that wouldn’t be possible with a conventional lens. And finally, pinholes can create a really fun old-timey effect.

My setup

My setup is a bit like sticking a horse-drawn carriage on a rocket ship. I use a Lensbaby composer with the pinhole optics kit. My camera is a Sony Alpha 7s. Pinhole photography, due to the tiny amount of light transmitted, has slow exposure time. Exposures are often measured in multiple seconds. The Sony Alpha 7s is one of the fastest consumer cameras in the industry, with a maximum ISO of 409600. Thus, I was able to take decent handheld pinhole images even in low light by using high ISO.

Lenbaby pinhole on Sony Alpha 7s.

Lensbaby pinhole on Sony Alpha 7s.

The Images!

ISO 409,600, 1/6 second exposure. No tripod. Indoor shot on a rainy day.

ISO 409,600, 1/6 second exposure. No tripod. Indoor shot on a rainy day.

ISO 20,000; 1/60 sec.

ISO 20,000; 1/60 sec.

ISO 80,000; 1/60 sec.

ISO 80,000; 1/60 sec.

ISO 12,800; 1/60 sec.

ISO 12,800; 1/60 sec.

ISO 16,000, 1/60 second exposure.

ISO 16,000, 1/60 second exposure.

ISO 160,000, 1/10 second exposure. Indoor shot on a rainy day.

ISO 160,000, 1/10 second exposure. Indoor shot on a rainy day. I love how it looks like a 40s cheesecake shot.

More bookbinding

Winter is a great time to look outside at the cold rain and bare trees and stay in and bind books instead. Below are three projects from last week.

Book 1

Upholstery fabric makes great book cloth. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t need backing paper to keep the glue from coming through. It’s substantial enough that it doesn’t tend to bubble or warp. And it often has interesting textures that work well for a book cover. I love the fabric for book 1, the way it fits on the cover, the feel, and the sheen. Upholstery fabric can be pricy, but the retail price is similar to prepared book cloth. The fabric for book 1 was an $8 remnant; this project took at most 1/5 of that fabric. That’s not bad at all.

I did a coptic stitch with red waxed linen thread. At $16 a spool, it’s pricey, but it is a lot of thread. I’d estimate one spool could sew very roughly about 50 books of this size.

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I did my very first box for this project, following this set of videos for guidance. Sage Reynolds YouTube channel seems like an excellent source for book binding expertise. I’m sure I’ll be back there.bookbind-04049 bookbind-04048

Book 2- Dragonfly journal

For Book 2, I did my first long stitch book. For this binding, you simply sew through the spine. It was quick and pretty painless. I added a dragonfly embellishment to the cover, which I designed in illustrator, and had my Silhouette Cameo cut out. Another use for a favored toy. (Read more on the Cameo.)bookbind-04040 bookbind-04037

Book 3- Mad Scientist Lab Notebook

Book 3 features more raised details. Again, I did a coptic stitch. The endpaper I printed using the Silhouette Cameo’s art pen. It took a long time to draw all those paths, but I am in love with the result. The black slipcase (my second box!) features a mushroom cloud, cut with the Silhouette Cameo.

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The cover features a radioactivity symbol. I’m really excited about the mad scientist theme, so I’ll probably do more of these.bookbind-04034

Creatures on Parade

This weekend the art department at the university put on a creature parade. Alum Stan Winston made creatures for Jurassic Park, Avatar, and others. So the art school made some creatures and some sound tracks for those creatures and paraded them around grounds. It made for a nice photo outing. The students were very proud of their creations and seemed to have fun with it. Little kids didn’t know quite what to make of the beasts, but gave them a healthy space for safety.

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Miniature Books!

This weekend at the festival of the book, I saw an exhibition about miniature books. The exhibition is a traveling show from the University of Akron including about 80 small or odd books. At the exhibition, Molly Schwartzburg, the curator of the miniature books collection at the University of Virginia, gave a talk about the exhibition and about mini books in general. The university has a collection of several thousand miniature books, which by their definition means no bigger than 3″ in any dimension when closed. Some of the mini books are made for artistic purposes, and others for practical purposes. The Knights of Columbus used to send miniature books containing short stories to soldiers during WW1, packing the tiny books with cigarettes. The Akron exhibit didn’t adhere to the 3″ limit, but all of the books were eccentric.

Below are a few pics from the collection.

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This does fold flat- “Solar Terms” by Ling Luo

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“Altar of Transformation” by Cathie Bleck

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A bunch of accordion style mini books.

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“Pig, hog, bacon” by S. V. Medaris, showing the life cycle of a pig on one side and bacon on the other.

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“I went to the mountains, but they were not there” by Rachel Mausier- a really cool combo of book arts and something more like origami.

 

Vironevaeh: Hiroshige Influence

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the paintings of Japanese artist Hiroshige. So I got inspired and tried my hand at something along those lines, something like a science fiction Hiroshige. The drawings are set in the world of Vironevaeh: Science Fiction Fairy Tales (which, btw, is free on iPad =) ).

The first, done in watercolor, shows the city of Vironevaeh on the North Bay with Mt. Viro-Vit in the background. The second is a tweaked version done in markers. The third is the linework for another, depicting a Vironevaehn holiday called Digurtian Day. The Digurtian Day celebration is labeled in Vironevaehn. Many of the Hiroshige paintings are labeled in Japanese, so it felt fun to channel that spirit.

Happy Friday! I’m off to the Virginia Festival of the Book!

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viro-city-marker-smaller viro-digurtian day-medium

Making Lovely Books

As my blog might reflect, I have a tendency to lurch from one area of interest to the next. Last week, my interests moved again to bookbinding. The pile of lovely paper and fabric sitting in my office called out. (hollanders.com has some lovely stuff.) So I tried a few new things.

The book below is covered with Japanese linen. I used an exposed stitch on the spine, and exposed linen tape. This is the first time I’ve cut a hole in the cover. Appropriately (see last week), I found a Hiroshige painting in the creative commons to use in the hole.

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Next I made a book that closes in the front with a bone clasp. The cover is black imitation suede.

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Finally I did a more formal binding of my Zish and Argo story. It’s a pretty simple binding with only a single 7 page signature, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. In the second picture below, you can see one of the spreads. All of the illustrations are digitized watercolor paintings.

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Japanese Art: Hiroshige

I have a beautifully bound book of the paintings of Edo by Hiroshige I found a few years ago. Since that acquisition, I have grown fond of the style of Hiroshige. He is an artist in the ukiyo-e style, or woodblock prints of daily life from 1800s Japan. The composition style is quite different from contemporary western works. A lot of Hiroshige’s works can be found online as part of the public domain. Wikipedia has a number of images in its gallery.

Vincent van Gogh drew stylistic inspiration from the works of Hiroshige. Below are nearly identical paintings by van Gogh (right) and Hiroshige (left). Many of van Gogh’s paintings have composition reminiscent of the ukiyo-e style.

Below are three of my favorite paintings from “one hundred famous views of Edo”.

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