Oh, pinholes. What’s better than a cardboard box for a camera? Discovering pinhole photography was like stepping through a door into an alternate universe.
Veronica Saddler at Cooper Union in NYC was my teacher. She told the class one day, “At some point you’ll take a photo that makes you fall in love with pinholes.” She was right. When i finally shot my first successful photo, I was hooked. The pinhole that got me was the one above, Gothic Bridge, just north of the Reservoir. That started the obsession. I started running all over the park taking photos of the bridges and tunnels. It took a couple of years to take these shots.
Above is the Terrace Bridge at Bethesda Terrace, with the 72nd Street transverse running on top of it. Below is the arch in the Ramble, one of my favorite places in the park. Below that is the infamous Bow Bridge.
Most of my pinholes don’t have any people in them because the exposures are long, about 30 seconds, so anyone who walks through the frame doesn’t register on the negative. I like the mystery of that, a strangely empty Central Park. Below is Eaglevale Bridge, leading to the west side at 77th Street.
This is one of my favorite pinholes, a shot of the El Dorado apartment building. That little Rustic Stone Bridge in the middle ground leads to Central Park West. Below is the beautiful Pinebank Arch Bridge, at the end of the Bridle Path in the south end of the park.
And last, Winterdale Arch, fittingly shot on a cold winter’s day.
I don’t know if Veronica Saddler is still teaching, but if she is, take her class! Here’s her website with some beautiful pinholes.
The best site I know for pinhole photography in general, which has both historic and technical information, is the Pinhole Resource. They carry a lot of beautiful books, too.
One of my favorite pinhole photographers is Ruth Thorne-Thomson. Check out her work here; she’s so clever and inventive.
And the idea that kept me going for years, those bridges! There are a bunch of books about the bridges of Central Park, but this is the one I used as a guide. I like all of the original drawings and photos. This one looks pretty nice, too.
In future posts, I’ll talk about building the cameras, technique, shooting and developing paper negatives, and how to set up a temporary traditional darkroom in a little kitchen while trying not to piss off the cat because he can’t get to his food bowl.