Me and The Others

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Camera Obscura, Pin Hole Camera, and Lumen Prints



One of the things I find completely irresistible is someone who has a passion for their art. A home schooling mom friend here in England is into the art of the camera obscura, the pin hole camera and lumen printing. Over the last couple of weekends, as part of the Sydenham Arts Festival, Ky Lewis gave classes on how to make these three things. Her joy and passion in the process and delight in the outcomes are contagious. Picture of Emeline and Eliana’s parted hair listening to Ky’s instructions.



The Camera Obscura is really interesting, it shows how light travels in a straight line. Take a tube or box, then with a small hole in one end and a tube with tracing paper over and adjustable inner tube you can see an upside down image of what you see in the real world.  Look it up online for the explanation as to why. With the use of lenses (“borrowed” from a magnifying glass) you can change the focal length of the image. 1) Emeline looking into a camera obscura 2) Ky’s beautifully made and carved 3) my 1st camera obscura – rustic but works! I even made the lens moveable.

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What is a pin hole camera? For you young’uns, in the olden days before digital cameras, there was film. Film has a solution on it and when exposed to light it can record the image that is exposed. A pin hole camera is just a container with a hole (the diameter of a pin) that lets in light to a piece of film (in this case 35 mm). The images come out upside down and have a bit of a dreamy effect. To get a really clear picture takes a lot of practice. (exposure, focal depth, a steady hand, etc.)

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You may wonder what the round picture is about… that was one of the coolest things. We made the pin hole then held up the piece of metal to my iPhone camera lens and looked at my phone in photo mode to see that the hole was truly round. Neato, don’t you think.

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This was one of my pictures with my matchbook, pinhole camera.  The red dots on top and bottom are where I had light leaks that came in from the back of the camera, thus through the back of the film. I think it is an awesome effect. I also like how the cut edge of the box is so vividly clear while the image is fuzzy.

Lumen printing is a little different, in that you use a larger sheet of Photo paper (this is not to be confused with printer paper used to print photos from your ink jet – Not the Same). You lay objects down on the photo paper and leave it in the sun (UV light) and the exposure makes a print. The paper has to be washed in a chemical solution, rinsed and dried. We used two different types of paper, one that is more grey, the other more red.

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We gathers flowers, grasses and some folks used dead bugs. Eliana found an orange rind and a yellow feather.

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Eliana removing plant debris before going into solution, then a quick picture of mine before going into solution.  What is difficult to communicate in these images is the depth of detail in the some what blurry images. The contrast of detail and fuzzy is fascinating.

The weather was warm, the garden beautiful in its wildness. There was a yummy little cafe with delightful people all around. Learning and creating at the same time…my idea of fun.


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