October 20, 2021

Music Arts

Spearheading Arts Excellence

Film fanatics revive historical artwork of pinhole photography in aged morgue

3 min read

From the darkness of a previous morgue, a team of digital camera fans on Western Australia’s south coast are reviving the ancient art of pinhole pictures.

Customers of the Albany Digicam Enthusiasts (ACE) converted the tiny, windowless building into their darkroom a several years in the past.

The place lifeless bodies ended up when laid out for post-mortem investigations, there are now photographic enlargers and bottles of film developer.

ACE committee member Bob Symons explained the conversion took some get the job done but was truly worth it.

“When we very first opened the door, there was a curtain of cobwebs that hadn’t been cleaned for several yrs,” Mr Symons said.

“I experienced to get in right here with a water blaster … but, thankfully, the odor experienced long long gone.

Albany’s Bob Symons develops a photograph in the previous morgue that now capabilities as the camera club’s darkroom.(

ABC Good Southern: Tom Edwards


Calming respite from digital dramas

Pinhole photography is 1 of the oldest and most essential sorts of photography, the roots of which can be traced again to the mid-1850s.

A pinhole camera can be as straightforward as a mild-sealed box punctured with a little pinhole, through which mild passes and jobs an picture on to photographic paper.

For the reason that the sizing of the pinhole – its aperture – is so compact, it will take quite a few minutes to make an exposure, creating static subjects these as landscapes and architecture the most apparent option for pinhole pictures.

A fisheye photo of an old, stone church with a clock tower
Depending on the design and style, pinhole cameras can deliver images that have a distorted, fisheye outcome.(

Provided: Bob Symons


It has emerged as a traditionalist specialized niche in the film pictures revival that is in full move in Australia and abroad. 

Mr Symons reported section of the attractiveness was its soothing speed, a reduction in an increasingly rapidly-paced digital period.

“The dilemma with digital is that it truly is prompt gratification, while this slows you down,” he stated.

“You may go out and just take just a handful of photographs, but you don’t know what you have received till you go dwelling and get it into the developer.”

Three different pinhole cameras, with metal 'lunchbox camera' in front and cardboard version behind at left
Pinhole cameras can be built from a wide range of various elements, offering each unique features.(

ABC Wonderful Southern: Tom Edwards


Experimentation at heart of pinhole magic

Nestled in the peaceful confines of the ACE studio are a number of examples of the distinct pinhole cameras that users have built in excess of the yrs.

The building resources array from cheap and cheerful cardboard, proper up to elaborate, handcrafted steel concoctions with names like “lunchbox cam”.

One particular of the users even made international headlines 5 decades in the past when he manufactured a operating pinhole camera out of a potato. 


It is this experimental ethos which Mr Symons says will hold pinhole photography alive for future generations.

“You can make a pinhole camera out of just about something if you genuinely want to,” he said.

“The more experimental you get, the a lot more attention-grabbing the success … for me, that’s the genuine magic of it.”

A black and white fish-eye photo of a two-masted tall sailing ship docked in port taken with a pinhole camera
A duplicate of the Brig Amity docked in Albany, photographed with a pinhole camera.(

Supplied: Bob Symons


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