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The Power of a Small Hole : Pinhole Photography
Lee Jeong-won Junior Reporter  |  Leejw1203@uos.ac.kr
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[0호] 승인 2006.06.23  
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What can you do with a tiny hole? Perhaps you have no idea. You can do something fantastic with it if it is a camera lens.

Can you imagine a camera without a lens? Maybe it might be hard for you to imagine it. There are, however, people who create beautiful pieces of work by way of taking a kind of photograph without a lens. It is called ‘Pinhole Photography.’

The UOS Times introduces the pinhole photography, an art created by a camera that works without a lens. Who is the first person that thought about the power of a pinhole? Usually a pinhole was used to study sunlight. For instance, Ibn al-Haytham, also known as Alhazen, is an Arabic physicist and mathematician, and he found that images are formed only by means of small holes, and that a candle located on the right-hand side makes an image on the left-hand side of a wall by conducting an experiment with the candle and halls. From his observations, he deduced the linearity of light.

Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, was one of the first to make pinhole photographs in the 1850’s. He also coined the very word ‘pinhole,’ or ‘pin-hole’ with a hyphen, which he used in his book, The Stereoscope, published in 1856. By the way, you need a special camera to take a pinhole photo. How can you make a pinhole camera?

There are various ways of making a pinhole camera, which may be roughly divided into two groups. One is just replacing the lens attached to a common film or a digital camera with a pinhole. Isn’t it very simple? The other is making all parts of the pinhole camera: pinhole, camera case, film wider and so on. If you want to make a camera, you can use almost anything from boxes to cans.

Compared to a common camera, a pinhole camera differs from a common film or a digital camera in that a common camera cannot take clear pictures of figures that are too close because the lens has a limited focal distance. A pinhole camera can, however, take a picture clearly even if a subject is very close to the camera. Nevertheless, in order to get enough light to create a nice image through this very little hole, you should push the shutter for a longer time than with a common lens.

And also, while pressing the shutter, you should be careful not to shake the camera and must use a tripod or something to fix the camera. A photo taken by a pinhole camera has attractions distinct from a normal photo. First, a pinhole photo has a new image. Its image can differ from an ordinary image seen by our eyes because a pinhole photo is completed by just pressing a shutter. Usually humans or common cameras can see only an object in some distance.

By contrast, in taking pictures with a pinhole camera, it doesn’t matter how distant or near an object is. The flexibility of a pinhole camera enables us to see new images of an object that is not seen with our naked eyes.

The second is a vignette effect, or a gradually darkening phenomenon of a photo’s edges. Thanks to the vignette effect, pinhole photos look dreamy and fantastic. Finally, although a pinhole camera is not a good device for taking a picture, it can make surprisingly wonderful images.

Thanks to the marvelous scientific development, anything can happen by just one click. There is no exception in photography. People can take pictures and edit those so easily using digital cameras and computer softwares. For this reason, photography is taken little of these days. However, pinhole photography will give you what you can’t get without effort.
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