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New cameras, old bridges | by Zeb Andrews
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New cameras, old bridges

I recently added a new camera to the family, it's a Reality so Subtle 141 pinhole camera. The camera is a curved plane 6x17 panoramic pinhole camera made by a fellow named James Guerin in France. (I'll link to his page at the bottom of this post.) But let me explain a bit more about this camera first. So it has a curved plane, right. Why? Well, one of the quirks to many other wide angle pinhole cameras (and some non-pinhole cameras too) is that as you get a narrower camera with a wider piece of film, the resulting exposure on that film is brighter in the center than it is on the edges, sometimes significantly. So a curved plane camera runs the film across a curved surface designed so that the entire negative from left to right is equidistance from the pinhole, plus the curve of the film makes sure that light from the pinhole also strikes at roughly the same angle across the whole surface of the film. Effectively this adds up to give you even exposure across the entire negative.


Curved plane pinholes aren't a new idea. But James' RSS141 adds one interesting little feature. The camera has two pinholes, one right above the other straddling the middle point of the camera. The reason? With a curved plane camera, if the camera is not perfectly level, i.e. it is pointed up or down, you get a bowed or bulging horizon due to the projection of the image across a curved surface. Normally this would mean that if you leveled the camera your horizon would end up dead center of the image in every single exposure. So the RSS141 has an upper and lower pinhole to offset the horizon along the rule of thirds conventions. Want your horizon weighted to the top of the frame, use the upper pinhole. Pretty ingenious. The two pinholes also serve to give the camera a little bit of rise and fall as well for other potential purposes.


Of course when I first started to think about it my immediate thought was that I wanted the distortion, not to eliminate it. Easy enough to do, just tilt the camera. Though I admit, I am still wrapping my mind around which tilt gives which distortion, it is mildly counter-intuitive. This image is made with the camera tilted slightly up, for example.


So of course, I take the new camera to meet an old friend. Partially because sunset looked so promising that evening and I was just getting off work. Convenience is the father of all invention after all.


To learn more about James' cameras, start here:

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Taken on April 10, 2014