Ondu pinholes at Hexham Abbey

My last few pinholes have been with the RSS 6x6F camera and I realised recently that I hadn’t shot the Ondu multi-format pinhole camera since purchasing the RSS. When my son and I decided to visit Hexham Abbey I naturally thought about what camera to bring. I had shot there with large format and medium format so decided for a change to take a pinhole approach.

Since cathedrals, abbeys, and some churches often offer a view including a tall chancel and impressive roof, I thought that a vertical view with the widest setting on the Ondu might be worth a try. I loaded a roll of FP4 and left out the film guides which results in the camera capturing a 6x12cm image.

My meter readings suggested that an exposure of 15-30 minutes would be needed once reciprocity was accounted for. Now I could just about manage to wait around for 15 minutes between shots but a 30 minute shot was going to make it impractical to take more than a couple of shots.

So I decided to expose each of these images for 15 minutes. If they were a little underexposed then at least the highlights in the windows wouldn’t be burned out.

I took four shots in all at the Abbey. Three are shown here, but one in landscape orientation didn’t look so good so I haven’t shown it here.

Given that the camera only gives six shots in 6*12 mode I could have shot a lower exposure index, say 80, and given the whole film a reduced developing time to contain the contrast range. But I didn’t think of that, and hey it’s only pinhole.

For the image above, I knew that I only wanted part of the image that the 6×12 etched guides were suggesting, but I had already made my choice of format and decided just to waste a but of film at either side.

With two shots left on the film, the next day I took the same camera to a stretch of the Devils’ Water, a stream to the south of Hexham. Now I was out of doors so there was much more light but the shot still needed 15 seconds as it was shady around the river bank.

By now I was heading back to the car and in the mood to take the remaining shot so I could develop the film the next day. That’s a time when I might experiment and have a happy accident or I might leave my judgement behind and wish I hadn’t taken the shot.

This time it was closer to the second shot and I got a not very interesing tree picture. I miscalculated the framing, which remains difficult without a viewfinder, even after practice, and included too much grass in the foreground (cropped out in the version below) and cut off the top of the tree.

On reflection I was particularly happy with the first three images, and given that pinhole photography is a bit hit-and-miss, that’s not a bad keeper rate out of 6 images exposed.



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