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Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography

My first experience with a pinhole camera came late in life. In May of 2012, my photographer husband designed the rectangular pinhole camera you see on the left. As we sat on our porch, we watched the solar eclipse safely unfold in front of our eyes. Pretty amazing! So, when I heard that the New Mexico History Museum was opening a new exhibit, I could not have been more excited.

The Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography exhibit opens April 27, 2014 and is available for viewing through March 29, 2015. The Sunday opening is from 1pm – 4pm and is really the perfect day to open as it is also Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. You can participate in this event, not only by attending the opening but by uploading your own pinhole camera photo to this site on the very same day. I have attached the instructions to this link. This will be a fun project, for young and old, and your photo will become part of the online gallery celebration. If you are at the museum, you can see the gallery of photos being entered online in real-time on the computer at the entrance to the exhibit.

Now, a little more about the exhibit: pinhole photography is lensless photography. There is no lens, no exposure meter, and no view finder. A tiny hole replaces the lens. Light passes through the hole; an image is formed in the camera. These images are softer – less sharp – than pictures that are made with a lens. They have an eerie, but beautiful feeling about them and one never knows what one will get when the photograph has developed.

There’s a photograph taken of the famous San Francisco de Asis church by Dallas Sells. This is a new perspective, of an often photographed church, seen through the pinhole camera. I thought this was just breathtaking and highly recommend you see this image.

I usually find myself drawn to one part of an exhibit more than the rest of it and this exhibit was no exception. I found the photographs of Jorge Monaco drawing me in for a closer look; searching the shadows for something unseen. I hope that you enjoy them, too.

Peruse the photographs, step into the life-size camera obscura, view the various forms of pinhole cameras (some used by NASA), watch the London Grammer music video shot with 600 pinhole cameras and learn all there is to learn about this form of photography. I can guarantee that there is something for everyone and invite you to share your thoughts and experience with us on Facebook when you have the time. Safe travels, Deb Swanson

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