HPS activity this Saturday

Part II: Test your new pinhole camera

The first activity/field trip for 2011 will take place this Saturday, Feb. 12 at George Ranch Historical Park. Meet us at the ticket office at 11 a.m. This is the second part of three in the pinhole series.

This is also a sanctioned event from the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD). If you like the pictures you produce with your pinhole camera, consider submitting them to the WPPD.

If you could not make it to Part I this past Tuesday, you are still welcomed to join the photo-shoot outing. If you want to try to make a pinhole lens, bring a body cap (which you have drilled a hole 2-5 mm diameter in the center) and Nathalie Brouard will bring aluminium tape and accessories to help you complete your pinhole lens. Of course you can also use your regular lens and simply enjoy the location.

Advice for the pinhole photo-shoot:

  • don’t forget your tripod,
  • clean your sensor if using a dSLR (the smallest bit of dust shows very well with pinhole lens),
  • be ready for a little bit of post processing (low contrast images), and know that
  • pinhole images are very good in monochrome although they look great in color too.

Part II of this pinhole series will take place as the special assignment for the April 26 print competition meeting.

The George Ranch Historical Park is located 30 miles southwest of downtown Houston.

10215 FM 762 Road
Richmond, TX 77469
(281) 343-0218

  • Take US 59 South
  • Exit Grand Parkway/Hwy 99
  • Turn left (south) at the traffic light on Crabb River Road (FM 2759)
  • The Park’s main entrance is located 6 miles down the road on the right


  • $9 (Adults)
  • $8 (Seniors 62+)
  • $5 (Children ages 5-15)

HPS Meetings this week

Program Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 8 from 7-9 p.m.
Tracy Gee Community Center

HPS members, don’t forget to bring your camera’s body cap (or purchase one if you don’t have a spare) to the program meeting tonight. It will be turned into a Pinhole Camera lens!

Executive Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 10 from 7-9 p.m.
La Madeleine’s Country French Cafe at 10001 Westheimer Road

HPS Officers and Chairpersons, don’t forget the executive meeting. President John Kleb emailed you the agenda. If you did not get one or need more information, please contact him.

HPS Activity Outing

Saturday, Feb. 12 (Time & Location TBA at Feb. 8 Program Meeting)

Join your fellow HPS members on an outing to practice photographing with your “new” pinhole camera that was created at the program meeting earlier in the week.

Trials & Tribulations

Message from the President
February 2011

John KlebOver the past few weeks, I’ve been spending some time doing something I haven’t done in years — shoot film. I didn’t start again because “real photographers still use analog” or “I had to find my artistic vision again.” I did it for much better reasons—my sister-in-law told me I needed to get her old 4×5 out of her attic and use it.

Needless to say, I’m not turning down a free camera. But, I’m not buying a digital camera back that costs more than a new car just to stay purely digital either.

To put this into perspective for you, I haven’t developed a single piece of film or made a wet print myself since 1993. I started shooting with digital in 1999 with a Kodak DC-something. Until two weeks ago I had never pressed a cable release on a large format camera. And this past Saturday, for the first time in 18 years, I was sloshing chemicals around in a daylight tank.

I suppose fate had something to do with it. My sister-in law has reminded me several times over the past couple years that she had the camera and I was welcome to use it if I wanted. Again this year at Christmas we talked about getting it down.

A few days later while perusing my company’s buy/sell forum, I saw a post for darkroom equipment that one of our geologist was selling. Coincidentally she lived in The Woodlands and had the gear in storage there, about five minutes from the attic that held the camera.

In less time than it took me to drive there and back, I had a monorail camera, sturdy tripod, tanks, trays, timer, and safelight; all for $35. (By the way, the lady with the darkroom gear still has an almost new ZoneVI enlarger and a set of Speedotron brownline lights and powerpack with lots of goodies. If your interested, let me know and I’ll give you her number).

We couldn’t find the cable release for the camera, and there was only one film holder. That wasn’t a problem a trip the Camera Co-Op couldn’t solve. I walked in fully admitting that I didn’t remember much of anything about processing film, and handed over my wallet.

A box full of chemicals, sheet and roll film, cable release, and a changing bag later, I was ready to go — ready to go scour the interwebs and a couple old books from the 1950′s and figure out what the heck I was doing.

Like a little kid at Christmas, I had to get home and set up a couple old hot lights and some foam core in my office for a quick still life. Into the spare bathroom went trays on the floor and towels stuffed all around the door. I developed my first two sheets of 4×5 film; and discovered I can overexpose like a champ!

Back to the drawing board.

"Buffalo Bayou" by John KlebThe next Friday, a good friend of mine and I spent the afternoon along Buffalo Bayou taking a little photo walk. I’d shot in the area several times before and wanted to go this time to expose some more film in my old Pentax 35mm. I knew I needed the practice of not having a histogram to go by.

We spent an hour or so and I shot most of a roll. That roll was finished up outside the studio the next day. When Donna (my better half) and I went back on Saturday to spend some time getting the developing gear properly moved into the studio, we split another roll through the Pentax shooting with the studio lights, and another two sheets under the lights with the 4×5.

The rest of the morning was spent developing what we shot. Eighteen years does leave one a bit rusty.

I took me three tries to get the first roll spooled. Then later, I found out it stuck together at several places. I didn’t let the second roll dry long enough so it curled up.

The sheet film did better since I have to tray develop it. That process showed me all the light leaks in the room though. Most of the portrait shots we took just didn’t look good. There was too much grain to make them attractive. I had forgot how much grain could be in film.

A couple shots from downtown came out acceptable. I really can’t tell how good the 4×5′s are. I don’t have a loupe anymore, and my scanner works with 35mm and medium format, but not large format. I guess a different scanner goes on the equipment list this year.

All of this made me realize a few things though.

Learning really isn’t done in a curve, it’s a learning circle. When you think you’ve gone over the hump of the learning curve, try going back to the beginning again and you’ll find you have another uphill climb.

I found a little humility in the fact that the young and dumb 15 year old me was a better print maker.

I found that I don’t know squat about large format, and the difficulty of it is enticing.

And finally, I found that there’s a lot to learn about something you already know a lot about!

~ John Kleb, 2011 HPS President

Learn, build, test your own pinhole camera!

Pinhole Cap

We have a special treat for February’s program meeting — that is, we’ll be transforming your camera into a pinhole camera. How? Simply by creating your camera’s body cap into a pinhole lens! This exercise will be led by the 2011 HPS activities chairperson Nathalie Brouard.

If you don’t have a spare camera body cap, you can purchase one very inexpensively at a camera shop such as the Houston Camera Exchange or the Camera Co-op.

Note: the lens will be safe and should not to allow dust onto your sensor.

This will take place on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 from 7-9 p.m. at the Tracy Gee Community Center.

The following Saturday, February 12, we will go on an outing to test your new Pinhole dSLR camera. The destination will be decided during the aforementioned program meeting. A couple of suggestions have been George Ranch and Hermann Park. Time and location to be determined and will be announced on the Website.

The special assignment category for April 2011′s print competition night is Pinhole Photography, so you may just get your entry for that category captured during this field trip!

A pinhole camera is a very simple camera with no lens and a single very small aperture. Simply explained, it is a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box. The result is often an ethereal image that will not be sharp but more focused on a more impressionistic artistry.

Consequently, the April theme coincides with the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, although technically, it is always the last Sunday in April which makes this year’s occuring on April 24. Additionally, Pinholeday.org listed HPS as one of their worldwide pinhole photography day events.

January print competition slideshow

The first print competition for the 2011 year was judged by photographer Bob Warren. Slideshow of the meeting is courtesy of HPS member Leslie Stessel. The special assignment theme for the month was “The Narrow View.”

Print competition winners and photos will be posted in the near future once all photos have been received.

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