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Manipulating miracles is fun and exciting


Take a look at these photos. It was the first time I did good with a pinhole camera.

No, not really.

Nothing like this is a complete loss, however, or even a loss at all. I learned a lot, like the importance of making sure the shutter stays shut until I’m ready to take the picture. I also learned that photo paper needs a hell of a lot of light, even in full sun. But I found out what a charge it is to watch a picture, or, in this case, a negative, develop. Instant gratification! I also learned I can easily imagine the dimensions of the picture my pinhole camera is taking.

Both of the pictures at the following link were shot to paper. I bought a couple of sheets today because I was too impatient to wait for the big roll of paper I bought on eEbay to arrive. I cut the paper in the dark. Despite that, using templates it was easy to get the right sizes. To avoid having to splash around in the dark, I made an amber light for developing by putting a saffron-colored scarf around a CFL. Worked like gangbusters. And now I know tomorrow I don’t have to work in complete darkness when I cut the paper for the cameras.

The pictures are from a wedding I performed today. (Yep, I’m a reverend, too.) I set the tripod up after the ceremony, carefully placing the pinhole camera where I could avoid chain link fences and what not. I shepherded the couple from the feast and was well on the way, I thought, to a proud moment. This was my new pinhole camera! After that, I was going to see how shooting paper in my new-to-me Kodak Tourist II would work. I was going to make good things of both of them. It was a sunny day. Life is good. What a better way to start indulging my new obsession than a wedding?

Looking at the developed negative from the pinhole camera, I could tell I didn’t get the picture I wanted. The shutter was open when I took it out of my backpack. It didn’t bother me a bit, however. I had developed my negative. I had wrung my hands a lot over what to do, how to do it, and then jury-rigging the operation because I was so anxious to get developing and seeing my pictures, etc.

The paper in the Kodak was way underexposed. What came out best was Maria’s white shirt. Without looking close, it seemed as if the blouse was standing there all by itself. The only other mark was a light problem because my son turned on the flashlight–jacking around as eight year olds will do when standing around in the dark. I went ahead and made really crappy contact prints just laying the wet negatives on new paper. Sure, I know that’s a half-assed way of going about things, but I was obsessed and really pleased to make them and have them work!

When the negatives were dry, I scanned them, finding out that my printer-scanner worked great. Once I reversed the negative, I saw that I also got a picture of Maria, my friend’s new wife–the one I meant to take.

This strange kind of double exposure wound up working as a finished print better than I thought. As I composed the print, the pic began to reveal something I had on my mind as I thought about and wrote the ceremony. It was on my mind as I drove to the wedding: There’s a certain kind of finality in what we think of committed relationships. That order, however, is not merely afloat in the seeming chaos of the world around us, however. It is, as well, made of chaos itself, such as the random influences of the personalities involved, how those influences and those personalities bend and influence one another to form another order and chaos, etc.

The second pic you’ll see through the Kodak. Despite underexposing the paper, manipulation after the fact reveals some of the character of these two people starting out on a new journey. Fear, anxiety, nervousness, etc. Very cool.

I’m thrilled. Crazy thrilled. We are going to the zoo tomorrow. I’ll load up the cameras with paper and make sure the shutters are shut until I want them to be open. Tomorrow evening I get to see what happened. Even if it’s a complete bust, I don’t care. Some practice, and…Wow!


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