Pinhole Photography

Pinhole Photography

Etymologically, Photography is: Photo (Light) and Grafia (Writing), that is, writing from light. Therefore, to obtain a photograph, the presence of light is essential, whose contact with a sensitive material will enable the image to be fixed on it. With the camera obscura, the process of forming the photographic image was already in place, making it a machine for seeing images. However, only with a photographic camera (daguerreotype, talbotype, calotype) is it possible to fix an image. Therefore, the difference between the camera obscura and the camera that was attributed with the discovery of photography — the daguerreotype — is the use of materials that, when in contact with light, make it possible to fix an image.

Photographic cameras, as we know them today, as a result of technological advances, gained lenses to improve the sharpness of the image, elements to control the amount of light that enters the camera and reaches the sensitive material, the diaphragm and the shutter, which will be worked on later. However, it is still possible to experience the way of photographing from the beginnings of photography, as seen in the text “A Brief History of the History of Photography”, through the use of a pinhole camera or a Pinhole camera.

The English term Pinhole means “Needle Hole”. Its operation follows the principle of the camera obscura, that is, the light enters through the orifice (hole made by a needle), forming the image on the opposite wall, which, instead of simply being a wall (painted white or made with a tracing paper), it remains black; and a light-sensitive material is placed there, being capable of fixing the image, just like a camera. In this way, there is “writing of light”. The light enters through the hole and reaches the sensitive material, thus “writing”, the image traces of a real object.

Like daguerreotypes, Pinholes do not have a shutter to control exposure time. And, due to the fact that the light enters through a very small hole, the diameter of a needle, the exposure time must be long and counted by the photographer. As it is simple and low-cost, the process of building a homemade camera becomes a powerful instrument for possible imaging pedagogy, as it can be done by an experienced photographer as well as by a child in the learning process.

As in Pinhole there is no viewfinder, an element of the camera in which you see what will be photographed, or a lens, which determines what will be captured by the camera, photographs are always unique experiences. In this sense, “the photographer does not work with the device, but plays with it. His activity evokes that of the chess player: he also looks for a ‘new’ move in order to realize one of the hidden virtualities in the game program.”(FLUSSER, 2002, p. 23).

As the photographs show, images obtained with pinhole cameras appear inverted (as in camera obscuras) and in negative. However, they can be scanned and transformed into a positive. As the photographs show, images obtained with pinhole cameras appear inverted (as in camera obscuras) and in negative. But, they can be scanned and turned into a positive.
As explained above, the photographer not only photographs with a pinhole, but also produces his own camera, being able to enter into the photography process from formation to fixing the image. “With pinholes, the photographer becomes part of the black box, as if he could live in the camera.” (GOUVEIA, Studium Magazine, Edition 24). Thus, it is possible to establish a new relationship with images and a new way of understanding photography.