I started the Holga Pinhole Project as a way to push my creativity and photography skills. Did it work? I dont know for certain but I feel like a better photographer today then when I started this project. However, I feel in love shooting with the pinhole camera. The small aperture and lack of lens allows me to turn the world into a dreamland. The blur of city life gives the images a beautiful sense of motion. So I am ending this as a project and focusing on pinhole photography full time. Excited to continue this journey and see what I can create.
Here is a contact sheet from one of the early rolls walking around Ambler PA with the Holga Pinhole camera. I had Ilford HP5 Plus 400 in the camera so I tried to hand hold it. My decision was a mistake. The images on the contact sheet appear sharper than when I scan in the individual frames. Each shot is hazy and very dreamlike. Pinhole cameras will never be tack sharp. But this roll pushes that pinhole effect a little too far. After this roll, I started putting the camera on something stable like a trash can or the curb.
I purchased an Epson V700 photo scanner to digitize the negatives. This scanner gives me the quality required plus the ability to scan up to a 4x5 negative from a large format camera. I spent the morning setting up the scanner and its various software. Crossing my fingers that the rest of the afternoon will be spent scanning in my collection of negatives.
Roll # 3, 4, and 5 developed smoothly. It didn't take long to get the handle on loading the 120mm film on the reel. Each roll went on the reel on the first or second take. I also avoided leaving finger prints or streaks on the vast majority of the negatives. My only issue has been exposing in low light. The pinhole camera came with the below exposure "guide" stuck on the side. Fine weather: 1.5-3 seconds Overcast: 4-6 seconds Morning or Dusk: 7 seconds Upwards I was able to expose the sunny/overcast frames fairly well even with this limited information. However, I attempted a fair number of low light shots in these rolls which failed to turn out at all. The reel contain clear negatives after development. The exposure time was not long enough to even record any information. I found a better exposure guide on Mr Pinhole's website ( http://www.mrpinhole.com/exposure.php ). Enter the f-stop of your pinhole camera and it will generate a great exposure guide. I then downloaded a light meter app for my phone so i didnt have to carry my digital camera with me. The combination should allow me to capture the range of shots I want.
This is my current process that I cobbled together from reading various internet forums and websites. I guarantee that this process will change over time but it works for me right now. I chose stand development as a way to control the development particularly in the highlights. The pinhole camera eliminates the possibility for a perfect exposure. Each exposure is a guess at best. Stand development utilizes a highly diluted developer for a long period of time without the agitation that is common in traditional development methods. The combination of high dilution, hardly any agitation, and long development time creates a very sharp image where the highlights are not blown out.
Chemicals: Rodinal diluted to 1 parts per 100 ml TF-5 Fixer mixed per instructions (1 part fixer + 3 parts water)
Process: load film into the canisters and create a water bath (70 degrees) for the chemicals and canister
1. Rinse film for 2-5 minutes with 70 degree water and dump out
2. Add the diluted Rodinal. Slowly tilt and rotate the canister 90 degrees. The goal is to do this slow enough that the film reel does not move in the canister. Do this 2 times and set the timer for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, repeat the process 2 more times and set the timer for an additional 30 minutes. Empty the developer out.
3. Add the TF-5 fixer and agitate for a minute and a half.
4. Rinse the developed film for 5-10 minutes
5. I hang the wet film in the bathroom to dry out
Hope this is useful.