Blog Archive

Apr 17, 2014

Next Best Thing Project Update

Project Plan:

Key Points: 
  • Amazing positive response
  • Still lack participants in Africa
  • Need additional participants in Asia and Australia
  • Social media connections
Next Step:
  • Shift from passive to active solicitation
  • Create social media project spaces
Last week I posted the project plan for "Next Best Thing," which aims to create a collection of pinhole photographs focused on landscape and culture, shot by photographers from around the globe over the course of a year.

My stated next step was to solicit pinhole photographers to participate. The goal is to gather 4-6 pinhole photographers per continent -- Antarctica excluded...unless you happen to know pinholers at the South Pole, please forward contact info ;).  My initial solicitation was passive, basically spreading the project plan around my social networks, in order to gauge project interest. The response was tremendous and positive. I'm awe-struck by the magnitude of talent presented by many of the photographers. To be honest, it's humbling they want to participate.

Now I begin active solicitation. I still don't have any Africa-based pinholers. I also need a few more photographers in Asia and north/central/west Australia.

I will post the project plan on (an amazing pinhole community forum) and search specifically for photographers in regions that lack coverage so far.

To everyone who has responded, thank you very much. It will be difficult narrowing down the list of participants in North America and many people who want to take part.

I've created social media connections for the project. Future project updates and connections will likely be made through these locations:

 My goal is to provide at least one project update per week, although that may slow down once the project gets running since it will work on a quarterly deadline schedule.

Thanks again to everyone for the phenomenal response.

Apr 7, 2014

"Next Best Thing" Pinhole Project

Project Update Week One:

PLEASE SHARE If you're interested in participating, please email me your name and location: SquarePegPinhole at

Recently I commented that if I could, I would quit my day job and travel the world shooting photos (pinhole photos specifically). It’s a fantasy most avid photographs own. A few days later I came up with the Next Best Thing international pinhole project (thank you ShellySometimes for the name suggestion). Since I can’t travel the world shooting pinholes, then I’ll bring the world to me. I think it’s an ambitious, but very doable project. What follows is just an initial project proposal. I expect some iteration as the project moves forward. Please let me know what you think and contact me if you’re interested in joining the project (email: SquarePegPinhole at Gmail or in the comments below). Even if you're not interested, please share with fellow pinhole photographers.

Initial Project Overview

What: Collection of pinhole photographs focused on landscape and culture, and shot by photographers from around the globe over the course of a year Why:
  1. Connect diverse communities and landscapes over the course of a year through the shifting light of our shared journey: the earth’s rotation around the sun
  2. Celebrate pinhole as a common “discovery” among the ancient civilizations around the world
  3. Promote film and an enduring photographic medium

Who: 4-5 pinhole photographers per continent (24-30 total photographers). The number of photographers per continent may vary to ensure geographic and cultural diversity. I will select photographers for the project from a pool of interested photographers. I will select photographers based on their location. In cases where multiple photographers from a region are interested in joining, I will randomly select from the potential pool.

When: One year, beginning July 1, 2014, with two images submitted on a quarterly basis

  • Film-based pinhole cameras must be used. They can be purchased or homemade.
    • NO digital pinholes
    • NO images designed to emulate pinhole photography
  • Any format of film may be used including paper and instant
  • Submissions:
    • Two images submitted each quarter
      • Scanned at a minimum of 300dpi (photographers’ responsibility)
      • Submitted by participating photographers to a project photo management site (to be determined)
    • There are two themes each quarter. Photographers will need to submit one image for each theme. The themes are:
      • Landscape (rural or urban) from the photographers’ regional areas
      • Culture - this is a broad term left open for individual photographers to interpret
    • Images should reflect the “season” for the quarter they’re submitted. I realize the concept of seasons varies greatly across the world. The idea is to capture how landscapes and the cultures change (or don’t) over the course of the year.
  • The Project begins July 1, 2014 and ends June 30, 2015. Photographers may submit images at any time during each quarter:
    • Quarter 1 submissions due September 30, 2014
    • Quarter 2 submissions due December 31, 2014
    • Quarter 3 submissions due March 31, 2015
    • Quarter 4 submissions due June 30, 2015

End Result:
  1. Each photographer’s quarterly submissions will be posted to a project Facebook and/or Tumblr page (not created yet).
  2. At the end of the project year, a book of the entire collection will be created using Books will be sold at cost through the Blurb website.
  3. After the second quarter, depending on project status, I will work to determine potential exhibition of some or all of the images. Exhibition will depend on a number of things including image quality, gallery interest and external funding.

If you want to join the project, you must submit two film-based pinhole photographs per quarter for the themes “landscape” and “culture.” Please do not ask to join if you are not willing to submit for the entire year. You will be responsible for purchasing, developing, scanning your own film and for submitting your images electronically. While you will retain full rights to your images, you must be willing to grant permission to use your images for things related to the project, including the Facebook/Tumblr page, final book and exhibition. There is no money supporting this project and the project is not expected to generate any income so photographers won’t be compensated in any way. Any external funding for the project will be used for exhibition and promotion of the project.

My Role within the project is to serve as one of the regional photographers (North America) and act as overall project manager. I will: chose and/or solicit pinhole photographers for the project, create the final list of participating photographers, send out group reminders on submission deadlines, create and manage project-related online spaces, post submissions to the project Facebook/Tumblr page(s), design the final project book, and work on public exhibition of the project (based on the criteria mentioned previously). Out of scope: I will not develop or scan your film or accept physical submissions. I reserve the right to change the scope and design of the project at any time, including cancelling the project for any reason.

Next Steps
  • Create project timeline
  • Solicit pinhole photographers

Mar 28, 2014

Novelty Begets Creativity

Willow branches against a blue sky
Nashville, Tenn.
Mamiya 645 Pro TL, Mamiya Sekor C 70mm F 2.8 C 

Infinite depth of field is one of the big reasons I love pinhole photography. INFINITE.

Ok, it's not really infinite, but sure looks that way to the human eye. There's an example at the bottom of the page.

Infinite depth of field means everything is in focus (soft focus since it's pinhole, but still....). For example, there're two objects in a five inches away from the camera and the other 50 feet away...both will be in focus. That's quite impressive to me.

Here's an experiment using the best camera ever - the human eye: 
  1. Hold a pencil about a foot in front of your face and focus on it
  2. Pick an object several feet away and focus on it
  3. Now, try to focus on both of them at the same time
Traditional lensed photography works like your eye. Normal lenses (most of them close down to f/22 or f/32, which is really small) can focus on close up things or far away things. At f/32 the depth of field can be quite wide, say 3 feet to infinity, but it's not's not infinite.

For the last 10 years I've shot images with infinite depth of field. It makes composing photos easier because you don't have to pick something in the scene to focus on, and more difficult because you can't use depth of field to single out a subject (a portrait with a blurred background vs. a portrait with a ton of visual noise).

So what do I do when I pick up a traditional camera?

I use the widest aperture possible and make the depth of field shallow as all get out.

Novelty begets creativity.

St. Nicholas Scott Troutman
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Zero Image 69, Kodak Portra 400

Mar 26, 2014

Mar 24, 2014

Some Time After Midnight

I so love this film. Sadly a limited production. It sucks for pinhole because it's such low contrast, but it works beautifully in SX-70. I'm down to my last pack :(

Nashville, Tenn.
Polaroid SX-70
Impossible Project Cyanograph film

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