Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pinhole Picture from Arizona

Last January, I hid 5 pinhole cameras in the desert near Phoenix, AZ with the goal of taking some stunning pinhole photographs, taking advantage of the bright desert sun and the reflective desert sand.  In order to ensure that they wouldn't be found, we pulled over at a random place along N. Bush Highway, walked about 50 feet in the desert, and plastic tied the cameras to stumps or desert flora.

I still think it was a pretty solid plan, but there were a few flaws.  First, the desert in Arizona gets so hot that even the photo paper doesn't want to deal with it.  It looks like after only a month or two of hot days, the photo paper curled up in the oven-like can and completely stopped exposing.  Second, my estimation of how much light reflects off the sand was pretty far off.  The parts of the image that looked at sand were just dark and indistinct.  The simple fact is that the sun is so bright that everything else may as well be black.  Third, it turns out that the desert there must see more pedestrian traffic than I expected.  One of my cameras was totally destroyed, and one had been torn open and the photo paper taken out.

The one shot that came out all right was less than ideal.  I had placed the can horizontally and facing East on the theory that I would get reflections of the sunrise off of the desert sand, and that the sunrises over Four Peaks would give a striking horizon.  I guess it sort of worked, except that the desert was nothing distinct and Four Peaks was partially obscured by some desert plants.

Sunrise over Four Peaks in Arizona.  Thanks to the Christoph family for helping me to place and retrieve this photo!  Placed Jan. 5, 2013, retrieved Nov. 9, 2013.  Film curled up in the can, so it was not exposing for much of that time.

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