Bill Brandt – Artsy and my early, quasi pin-hole experiments

Hybrid pinhole/lens nude in landscape - tribute to Bill Brandt

Hybrid pinhole/lens nude in landscape – an early tribute to Bill Brandt

I got an email from Artsy who were researching BIll Brandt when they came across references I had made to his work as a source of inspiration early in my career. This is their Bill Brandt page on him, by the way, and this is where I referred to him: Canis Lupus Familiaris.

Bill sparked an interest in me for strange perspectives and massive depth of field and that interest has been rekindled in recent times digital focust stacking techniques.  Whereas this finally permits photographers to exceed the physical optical limits  and produce crystal clear images with massive depth, I have not used it in a ‘landscape’ context in recent times.

Stacked images dont suffer diffraction blurring and artifacts which are unavoidable when using small apertures for depth of field. Bill Brandt’s famous nudes were shot with large format lens-less pinhole cameras. The degradation of the images due to diffraction is not at all upsetting in his work – in fact it enhances his chosen subject matter.

I never made or shot images with a pinhole camera. Instead I took apart a wide angle lens for 35 mm and had some disks made with tiny apertures (0.6mm) which I dropped into the lens substituting the existing aperture. The lens focal length defined the angle of view in this case but the pinhole defined the depth of field. Naturally very little light reached the film so exposures were very long and direct sunlight was required.  And diffraction limited the crispness of the images. I played around with this for a while and did not persist.

I include two very early images I made using the technique describe above.

With miniature fast sensors and lenses as found in cell phones, these extreme perspectives are easily achieved these days and they don’t shock as much as the perspectives in Bill Brandt’s work did in his day.

Hybrid pinhole/lens image - tribute to Bill Brandt

Hybrid pinhole/lens image – tribute to Bill Brandt




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