Project reflection and development, part four

Its been a whirlwind of a weekend shooting camera obscura test.

Published on the 27th October 2019

Continuing with the Bonfoton lens test as it cuts my exposure time down by so much I can actually capture people without the ghosting of my previous shoots. I am still working on exposure times to get that perfect projection.

Whilst the Bonfoton is great for what it does and how quick images can be created I feel that the process is still missing the pureness of Abelardo Morell’s process, I feel that I am cheating in a way, from not having to go through that hour after hour process Morell went through when he first started creating his camera obsucra images.

” Basically, I cover all the windows in a room with black plastic so that the room is totally dark. Then I make a hole about 3/8″ looking out on some interesting view. What happens is that through this small opening a fairly sharp, upside-down image of the outdoors appears on the wall opposite the hole. It helps if the wall is a light color. After a few minutes in the dark, I am able to see pretty clearly stuff happening outside now blending with the room. Then, I get my camera and focus on the projection on the wall. It has to be sunny when I take these pictures and even then the exposures need to be eight hours long. When I first started, it took me half a summer to figure out the exposure time and what the best hole size should be.”

Abelardo Morell

I feel I may come back to this style of creating the image in the future. I know that I would get more out of the whole process if I did. It would make me also look into different ways of adding people to the images.

I have still been testing on medium format film as well as digital. The roll of film still needs to be finished before I can see the outcome, This is the side of film that has the most draw to me creating things that you are unsure of till development.

Technical development

As mentioned I been working on the exposure time more than anything this weekend, trying to reduce it down to a comfortable duration for the sitter.

All covering of windows is still being done with tin foil, as I have not had time to build more reusable black bag covers. the set up still takes a fair while.

Bobby: Test shoot (Saturday morning)

I really changed the way I had been shooting from the previous shots. I push the iso up to 400 and the fstop to 5.6 with the longest exposure time of 29 seconds

Not really liking the outcome of the photos I feel they lose the colour a little of what I was getting when shooting on iso 100 and the depth of field is not as great as it is at f5.6, I tend to use depth of field in my shots as I feel it brings the images together more. Still, this process has managed to capture the sitter “Bobby” better, without ghosting.

Simon: Test shoot (Sunday morning)

I decided to keep at 400 iso as I was testing film along with digital on this shoot and the 120 film was a 400 asa, I was thinking that I could do light meter and timing test with the digital and the capture one final image on film as well, after getting it all correct with the digital testing. Film still has three exposures left on it, before I can develop.

The differences in the above images are quite large. (not including the angle) I felt that fig 1 was too much greeny/blue tinge to it from the five minute exposure, which makes it feel very surreal. Fig 2 came out a little more normal due to the exposure being at three and a half minutes, whilst I dropped the fstop to f20 for more depth of field. I then got Simon to sit for me and shot in between the setups of both of the above images.

iso 400, f20, three minutes 21 seconds exposure

The outcome was the best I have had so far. The clarity of the projection and the way it fills the room works great. There is a little movement for the sitter but this will vary from person to person. It would still be possible to cut the exposure time a little more.

Ian: Test shoot (Sunday afternoon)

Working within a room that has a lot of stuff can be a problem, the walls tend to get obscured by the items. Which does not help with the projection. This is about the interior of the house as much as the exterior of the projection. We had to makeshift a canvas as a partition from the bookshelves.

iso 400, f20, three minutes 20 seconds exposure

I have been trying to get a better understanding of where this project is coming from, what am I trying to create here what is the meaning of it. In my next few test shots, I am going to get the subjects involved by asking them what they are feeling during the process of being in the room.

Hopefully, this will help me with my direction.


Smithsonian Institution,1995,(page 9)