My triptych project continues. I know I want these to have a more “narrative” feel and be about Chicago’s built environment, but I’m not sure where exactly I’m going with this. So I’m just going to make pictures and then think about a direction once I’ve got something actually produced. In the meantime, criticism gratefully accepted – whether “constructive” or not.
I want pictures that tell stories. So being me, I built a camera that I hope can start doing that about Chicago’s architectural spaces. This is it:
The idea is that the three pinholes take three different views of the same scene – the top ones are heavily up-and-side shifted within their sub-frames to look up at the architecture, and the middle one is shifted down to view the story down below. This is the kind of thing it gets, in one of Chicago’s more iconic locations:
For the tech-minded: The focal length of each sub-frame is about 30mm. The holes are shifted vertically about 22mm – the upper ones up, the lower one down. The idea is for the camera to look up and down without converging verticals. The upper ones are also shifted horizontally to ensure that they see “to the side” instead of straight ahead. They are also tilted up and down, respectively, in order to avoid the “washed out corner” effect of superwide pinholes. This is to keep any part of the image from being formed by the pinhole at a very reduced aspect ratio.
The holes are drilled in .0005″ (yes, that’s half a thousandth of an inch) stainless steel shim stock from McMaster-Carr. Each one is about .3mm (haven’t measured them exactly, but their sizes are all very closely matched). They are slightly larger than standard for the 30mm focal length, but the shift means the distance from each hole to the far end of the frame is closer to 60mm. I seem to be acceptably sharp – at least I haven’t got anything much sharper from any other medium-format pinhole. I’m getting roughly 1s exposures in daylight on Tri-X 320.
The film transport consists of a stock Singer Graflex 6×7 back. The body of the camera is made of black museum board (salvage from my time cleaning up studios in UIC’s School of Architecture almost a decade ago). Shutters are strips of aluminum roof flashing, with holes punched using an office three-hole punch.
If I have a frustration with the public spaces 360-degree panorama project, it’s with the number of images that I have to reject because the composition is just not strong enough. However, many of these contain parts, often 180-degree halves, that could stand pretty well on their own. Two cases in point: I made these two images as development tests, and I like both of them well enough:
However, both have bits that I think would work better on their own:
So the big dilemma is: Do I let myself crop these to get more effective compositions and alter the concept of the project (showing the enveloping nature of the space I’m photographing), or do I stick to my orthodoxy, and deal with the higher number of rejects? Or, can these stand on their own as singles, while the project moves on along its own track?