Photograms and pinholes | Sat 11th August

Photograms and Pinholes

An experimental worksop day exploring the basics of photochemical image making on paper through making images on light sensitive paper without a cameras and also with a simple lensless pinhole camera. by the end of the day you will take away photogram images on cyanotype paper a pinhole camera of your own and photographs taken with it.

Day Course

You will be on the course with a maximum of one other person to ensure that you will get the best experience out of the day. The course will introduce you to the basic  techniques for pinhole photography and photograms:

  • A brief study of examples of pinhole photographs and photograms
  • Preparation of cyanotype paper for photograms
  • Cyanotype exposure test strip
  • Creating and developing two A4 sized photograms with pre prepared cyanotype paper
  • Making a pinhole camera from a readymade container
  • Estimating exposure times
  • exposure test strips
  • taking photographs with your pinhole camera using positive photographic paper
  • processing your  photographs in the darkroom

No previous experience required. All materials and lunch* will be provided. The course will be led by Hugh Davies.

* Lunch will be vegetarian/pescatarian using locally sourced products where possible. Please advise us in advance of any specific dietary requirements.

Tickets – Sold out – next course date 3rd November

Please order tickets below or contact us if you have any queries.

Tickets are delivered by email. To ensure that your tickets are not marked as spam please add to your address book.

Terms and information

Please be aware that all courses are held on the first floor which is only accessible by stairs. Please contact us  before booking if you have mobility issues so we can endeavour to accommodate your needs. All participants must be over 18 unless otherwise stated. 

If you wish to cancel your booking then please contact us as soon as possible . We regret that refunds cannot be given for cancellations received less than two weeks before the start date of the course. We will offer alternative dates for cancellations up to 48 hours before the start of the course. If we need to cancel a course for whatever reason we will notify all participants as soon as possible and issue full refunds.

By booking you confirm you have read and agreed to these terms.

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Pinhole Photography | what it is | a brief guide

Pinhole Photography

Pinhole photography is the term used to describe photography executed without a lens. Instead it uses the camera obscura effect where an upside down mirror image is formed on a surface in a darkened space by light passing through a small pinhole from an external scene.

Film and photographic papers

Pinhole photography can be executed onto standard photochemical film which is then processed in the normal way and prints can then be made with an enlarger. However the ability to cheaply make large format pinhole cameras makes it suitable for the creation of images directly onto black and white photographic paper. With standard photographic paper the developed image will be a mirror and a negative image. This image can be reversed by taking a contact print using a second sheet of photographic paper. The end result will be a  positive image which is also the right way round. Alternatively you can use special direct positive photographic paper. This will result in a positive image in one exposure but it will however still be a mirror image.

Pinhole cameras

One of the best things about pinhole photography is that you don’t need an expensive camera, in fact you don’t need a camera at all ! A lightproof container , a pinhole and a sheet of photographic paper is all you need!. You can use any old box, paint tin , old wardrobe, garden shed or almost anything as a pinhole camera.

Photographic results

Exposures can be worked out (a bit) but mostly its a good amount of trial and error.  The photographs that you get from a pinhole camera are very governed by the size and geometry of the light proof container you have chosen, the pinhole size, the length of the exposure and the distance from the pinhole to the photographic paper. One thing you don’t have to worry about is focussing! No lens means no need to focus , everything is in focus, you have an infinite depth of field!

The crudeness and the visual distortions of the images are all part of the pleasure of pinhole photography, something to be embraced and exploited rather than something to try and design out. It is of course possible to adapt high end digital cameras to take pinhole images but it is perhaps missing the point. Pinhole photography is not just about the technical use of a very small hole rather than a lens to create an image. It is an invitation to embrace a fun low tech way of exploring how to create photographic images !

Read about Lowestoft’s own pinhole camera hero






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George Davison –  A pinhole photography hero, millionaire and political activist from Kirkley, Lowestoft

Portrait of George Davison

A pinhole photography hero

Whilst reading about pinhole camera photography  I stumbled across Lowestoft’s own pinhole camera hero, George Davison.

George Davison

George Davison was born in Kirkley, (19 September 1855). He was the fourth child of William Davison, a shipwright and carpenter, originally from Sunderland. His mother, Eliza, (born Miller) supplemented the family income by running their home and the next door property as a boarding house. The houses numbers  36 and 37 Marine Parade still stand to this day. At the time they would have been newly constructed as part of  Morton Peto’s masterplan for Lowestoft.

George attended a local elementary school before going on to the secondary school, St John’s, Lowestoft. He continued his studies at evening classes and by the age of 20 had passed exams to enter the civil service. He moved to London in 1875 to take up a position at Somerset House.

Success as a photographer

At the age of 31 George Davison became interested in photography and joined the “New Camera Club of London” . Within a year he exhibited eight photographs in the 1886 annual exhibition for the Royal Photographic Society. This included two images of Lowestoft Harbour.

Lowestoft Harbour Entrance, George Davison
Lowestoft Harbour Entrance, George Davison

In 1887 he exhibited a further seven photographs. The next year he included a Fishing Fleet image as one of his six exhibits. In 1889 he included a photograph of Lowestoft Harbour at sunset as one of his twelve images.

By 1890 George Davison had turned away from purely naturalistic photography and begun to experiment with different techniques.  He developed an interest in the use of pinhole cameras to create more painterly and artistic effects. Using a pinhole camera he created a photograph of an old farmstead, later titled “The Onion Field” With its crude paper and strong painterly image it caused both aclaim and controversy when it was exhibited as one of 13 of his photographs at the Royal Photographic society in 1890.  As a result of the controversy George left the Royal society and co-founded “The Brotherhood of the Linked Ring “ A photographic society which was dedicated to “bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable” The society flourished until 1910.

The onion field, George Davison
The Onion Field, George Davison

Financial success

Meanwhile George’s passion for photography had introduced him to George Eastman a successful businessman and photographer.  This allowed him to leave the civil service in 1897 and ultimately led him to a position as a director at Kodak.  One of his first projects with George Eastman  was to help popularise photography through organising an amateur photographic competition in 1897. This was a huge success attracting to the exhibition of the winning entries over 25,000 visitors  in just three weeks. George Davison continued to exhibit photographs until 1911. He remains one of the most important pre First World War British photographers.

One of George’s photographs from this period in the Kodak Collection at the National Science & Media Museum is a panoramic photograph of the Lowestoft seafront taken in 1905. Whilst not a pinhole image it was taken with a No 4 Panoram Kodak camera, (introduced in 1899) illustrating his continuing fascination with exploring new techniques.

Socialist activism

Alongside his success as a photographer George’s passion and commitment to social reforms led him to start an anarchist magazine. A step too far for Kodak, he was asked to step down from the position as director in 1908. In 1912 George retired from Kodak at the age of 58, moving to Harlech in Wales.He had commissioned a mansion “Wern Fawr” designed by an architect friend  a few years earlier.

In Wales George Davison further developed his zeal for social reform. He used his considerable wealth as a shareholder of Kodak to help fund the Central Labour College in London and also the “White House“ in Ammanford, a study centre for welsh miners. The White House  nurtured many left wing political activists who went on to become both committed first world war pacifists and early members of the emerging labour and communist parties.

Ill health later forced George Davison to move to move to Antibes in Southern France  in 1930 where he died later that year.

George Davison
George Davison

For more information about pinhole photography see the world pinhole photography day website.

The next world pinhole photography day is on 23rd April 2018

Read more about pinhole photography