My pinhole camera resting on a tire swing and spun around. Amazing how something so simple can show us something so amazing on such an "ordinary" day. Though I guess "ordinary" is a subjective term, and only means as much as we let it mean. No day must be ordinary, if one realizes that every occurrence can be an adventure waiting to happen.
I do sometimes get asked why I bother to shoot pinhole. Why not shoot a "real" camera. Actually pinhole photography is one of the oldest form of photography in existence. Euclid described the principles of pinhole imagery as far back as 500 BC. There are even some scientists who believe that ancient cavemen used rudimentary pinholes to assist in their cave paintings. But honestly, the long history is not why I tote my pinhole around almost everywhere with me (I did a 16 minute exposure at the carousel the other night). I like it because it is simple. A wooden box. A piece of brass foil with a tiny hole. Another piece of wood in the form of a sliding slat to cover the pinhole and in effect act as the shutter. Done. No need to worry about meters, focus, shutter speeds, whether the image stabilization is on or not. I once attended a lecture where the photographer encouraged the audience to shoot without a light meter. He explained that when one frees themselves of the need to worry about paying attention to the light meter, and instead just learns light and the exposure settings that go with it, they will be that much freer to concentrate on the other aspects of photography. It is sort of the same with pinhole, by making it simpler, and giving myself less to think about in terms of camera operation, it allows me to concentrate more on what I would like to take pictures of, as opposed to how I am going to take them.
I also shoot pinhole because I like the necessity of long exposure. The world looks different when shooting over a span of time as opposed to fractions of a second. We cannot see motion compressed into a single frame like cameras can. This fascinates me.
And finally I have to admit that sometimes I like things a bit soft, a bit impressionistic. Sometimes I do like them ultra sharp and crisp. To wring as much detail out of a scene as a lens and a piece of film are capable of. But sometimes I like the impression a place or time gives me. I will occasionally take my glasses off and look at the world. My vision is good enough that I can still see, but things definitely get softer. And at times this is appropriate. Sometimes the sense of a place is not conveyed through enormous amounts of detail, but through impressions of light, color or tone. Of shapes, patterns and relationships.
It is possible to do all of this with more traditional cameras, but at the same time pinhole does it all naturally. As with any camera, it is not perfect. Its characteristics are not for every scene. It is a tool, waiting for hands with an imagination behind them to reach for it and utilize its abilities. A camera is a key, unlocking doors to other worlds, with different cameras fitting different locks.