Available Light

© Matthew Word Bain

As perhaps you can tell from the blurry quality of this image, this was made with a pinhole lens. Some pinhole lenses make sharper images, but the one I’ve been using tends to make for quite a bit of blur.

Making interesting images with a lens that reliably blurs what it sees has become a welcome constraint. I have found I must look at the world a particular way if I want to frame a scene in a compelling way.

I have found this lens needs more light than other lenses. I have found that conceiving of a scene by way of “painting with broad strokes” is helpful.

One way to do this is to grok the landscape in a simpler way, to see the simpler lines and shapes and light and shadow. Another way is to focus on tiny, well lit objects, to use it like a macro lens.

This image in particular was made a little past that time of day when there is enough light to make this lens happy. The result is an even further simplification of the scene than I would have preferred.

And yet, this image further instructs me as to the limitations and possibilities of working with this lens. This in turn teaches me more about my own interaction with light in the landscape and what is asked of me in this dance.

When do you find constraint useful? Do you ever get excited about working with constraints? What have you learned about your work or yourself from the challenges constraints impose?