Thursday, October 22, 2009

Through the pinhole.

As I mentioned before, the Lumix has a novelty setting called 'pinhole'. This is supposed to produce the effect of an old pinhole camera, softening the focus, leaching out the colour, and creating an ellipsoid penumbra around the subject. It seems a quaint irony that it is a mark of the camera's sophistication that it has a special function to mimic its primitive ancestor.

However, the results can be intriguing. Doubtless the same could be achieived using Photoshop, but would take more time, and also, doing it on the camera, the file size is significantly reduced, the images being well under a megabyte in size against the 4 mb or more when the camera is used normally, whereas using PS would probably increase their size.

I took it out the other day on a walk, on the kind of day at this time of the year when all is grey, bleak and sparse, the colours already leached out of things. The recent maize harvest, though welcome as always for opening up the countryside, revealing views which had long been absent, also temporarily has the effect that always occurs when something substantial is removed that one has become accustomed to seeing there, of uncomfortable, bereft absence, where other things struggle to fill the unwonted space. And the land always looks so muddied and spent, so sucked bare by it. The stalks are wan ghostly things, they look like an indecipherable script, an attempt to write from a bad dream, something wanting but failing to be understood.

Altogether, a melancholy day and a melancholy mood, and the dark-surrounded, desaturated, stripped-back pinhole images were exactly what we called for.





The tree stands forlornly over an ossuary of other trees.



In the view down to the mournful sarcophagus of Plémy church, I haven't desaturated the image at all, only warmed it up to make it like sepia.

And the scraggy sallows reflected in the factory warehouse window didn't need any enhancement to render them sepia,


neither did the sunburst view inland, to make it gloomily dramatic.



But in the orange opening of the iris foetidissima pod I have increased the colour, so that it seems to emerge quite joyfully from the dark around it.



The only remedy for melancholy is melancholy. We need shadows, even, or especially, invoked ones.
Next time, perhaps, Lumix will show you something more luminous...

17 comments:

Rouchswalwe said...

So you and the Lumix are a Blues duo! Yep, makes me feel better.

Barrett Bonden said...

An ellipsoid penumbra, no less; sounds as if it was ripped untimely from a stanza of terza rima. I have followed your interior monologue (on camera acquisition) with interest and find you have crossed a barrier which brought me up with a bump. Your new camera belongs to a genre in between the pocket varieties and a full-blown SLR. Is it called midi? I forget.

My starting point was the need to compose photos with something other than the LED screen which I find very hit-and-miss. The logical mix of quality, features and price led me to the midis where I hivered and hovered. Given they aren't anywhere near as bulky as an SLR I wondered whether I might, nevertheless, be inhibited from taking one everywhere on the grounds that it wouldn't fit easily into the pocket of my fleece. As it is it looks as though I'll be making do with a Canon Powershot A1100 IS which is pocket-portable and has a viewfinder. The question is: will you always take the Lumix with you?

I can see one reason why you might and that is your continuing fascination, and skills, with near-monochrome colour pix which I have commented on before. Since I have no talent for camera-work I can only sit back and admire this less-is-more philosophy, a sort of colorific minimalism. And I further admired the catalpa post; an individual eye is a given in much of your work but I especially took to something that used to torture me professionally while I was still gainfully employed: the way you managed to impose the Yeats text in a logical, pretty way while simultaneously ensuring that the background behind each letter rendered that letter legible. It was always much harder writing text on a factory production line.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful!
Why is it that our society has so little use for melancholy? It can be so informative and gentle...now we medicate everyone...
I made an old pinhole camera years ago in school...it was so fun.
SOMEDAY I will have time to get back to something more than family photos...I am so fond of B&W ans Sepia.
Blessings & thanks for a lovely tour of the contryside!

julie said...

I must to admit to a strong streak of jealousy, Lucy. My Lumix, an earlier model, has a decided lack of pinhole feature.

Lovely!

Plutarch said...

Melancholy is a gentle form of sadness which can be enjoyed. There is no suffering in melancholy, just an urge to think of things as they are, rather than as they might be or have been. These photographs, thanks patly to the pinhole but largely to your vision, are at a perfect pitch for a melancholy season. I enjoyed them and shall enjoy going back to them.
I have heard that it is called a "bridge camera" which is what I think my Olympus is.

Catalyst said...

Very interesting.

Lucy said...

Thanks visitors.

Elizabeth and Julie, hello old friends!

The Lumix camera is indeed a bridge, as was the last one, a Canon Powershot S3IS. It might fit into a large pocket, the Canon did until it had a lens protector sleeve and UV filter added to it, which made it look grander than it was. The Lumix is awaiting its UV filter, which should screw neatly onto the retractable part of the lense. It has a more powerful zoom than the Canon, and a Leica lense which the reviews said was better than many 'kit' lenses supplied with DSLRs.

Melancholy: 'Mithradites, he died old.' I love Elizabeth's description it as 'gentle and informative'. I say to the penumbra, thus far and no further. I may come back to this subject...

Meredith said...

Love that factory warehouse window. Such a spooky photograph. I agree with Plutarch that the others are a lovely melancholy match for the season.

Dale said...

Oh. Wonderful!

marja-leena said...

Oooh, I want one! Lovely shots, as always with a great eye. Interesting conversation here too on cameras and melancholia.

herhimnbryn said...

I do like the pin hole effect. The wndow is my favourite.
L. Just waht are the dimensions of this camera?

herhimnbryn said...

That would be window and what!

Dave said...

Great writing, Lucy! Yes, this effect can be achieved in PS, but I'm sure you're right that it results in a larger image. I've only used it a couple of times, and never to such good effect as you have here.

Anil P said...

I remember seeing the pinhole camera as a kid. A neighbour had rigged it up using a box.

It's intriguing the pictures it can throw up.

Lucy said...

Thanks again, and thanks for the Smorg, Dave!

HHB - the camera measures about 12cm wide, about 8cm high and, with the zoom retracted, about 11cm deep, so it's pretty dinky really. The specs at the Panasonic site are here .

Bee said...

Although I've much admired these pictures, which remind me of Depression era photography, I was just STRUCK by the thought that the only remedy for melancholy is melancholy. So true; I've noticed that I when I am touched by melancholia, I tend to wallow in it.

I didn't know about this pinhole thing. How did you discover it? Where is it on the camera?

herhimnbryn said...

Thanks for the info Lucy.