Pinhole photograph of ride at carnival

Pinhole photograph of ride at carnival, Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

In case you had forgotten , I just thought I’d remind you that today is World Wide Pinhole Photography Day. If you ask me, Hallmark is really missing out on this one. Each year, on the last Sunday in April, Pinheads around the globe make photographs with lensless cameras and upload their best shot to the official W.P.P.D online gallery. It is not a contest, there is no judging and no prize money. There are no predatory rights grabs either like so many photography contests these days. They ask only for the right to include your image in the gallery. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before submitting anything to a contest. They should claim only limited rights and then only to the winning entries, not all entries. Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day was created to promote and celebrate the art of pinhole photography.

The weather here in Philadelphia was lousy, heavy clouds and cold, so I thought I’d just take some quick pinhole images of Gus’s old Dodge and upload one to the gallery. Then I remembered the carnival was still in town, the whirling rides, lights on at dusk, would be perfect pinhole fodder. After crossing several chores off of my wife’s honey-do list, I sealed my fate by asking my son if he wanted to go back to the carnival.

After parking the car. I handed Wynn a twenty dollar bill and we parted company, him off to buy ride tickets and me to make pinhole images. I walked around and took photos with a Canon 20D, fitted with a D.I.Y. pinhole body cap, mounted on a Bogen tripod. I had been shooting for about an hour when I heard “Sir, excuse me Sir” from behind me. I know I’m in trouble when someone calls me “Sir.” I was being followed by two Rent-a-Cops, one male and one female. The male cop told me the owner didn’t want me taking any more photos of the carnival. My mind raced as I tried to think up a clever defense. I needed something like the closing remarks of Alan Shore (James Spader) in L.A. Law, but all I could up with would have sounded more like something Denny Crane (William Shatner) would blurt out. Not wanting to make a scene, I said “Okay, folded up the tripod and walked out of the carnival. To tell the truth I really wasn’t sure what my rights were in that situation, or the carnival owner’s rights or the rights of the church who owned the property. There were plenty of other people taking photographs with point and shoots but by using a tripod (necessary for all but the most impressionistic pinhole photos) I stuck out. Maybe it’s time for a high resolution, compact camera like the Canon G9.

I was down but not out. I retreated to the sidewalk. A public side walk, where I knew I had a right to shoot from. I set the camera and tripod down and looked up the street as if waiting for a ride. With one eye on the Rent-a-Cops, I pointed my camera at the twirling Zipper and pressed the shutter, turning away for the 15 second exposure. I glanced at the LCD screen and saw I had cut off the top of the ride. I recomposed and press the shutter again. Fifteen seconds later I looked down at the LCD screen on the back of the camera and I could see, I had it. I found my son, bought him some French fries and we headed for the car.

Evil Clowns

 Carnival Game

Clown Tooth Knockout Carnival Game

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting warmer. The trees are growing back their leaves, the grass is green and flowers are blooming everywhere. Spring is definitely here! And so is the local carnival. My son Wynn, now eleven, looks forward to it all year long. We never miss it and some years we even go twice. It’s not a big carnival, and the rides aren’t that spectacular but it’s our carnival. While I enjoy watching my son have a good time at the carnival, my motivation for taking him is not completely altruistic. I like to go there to take photographs. I try to be inconspicuous by taking only one camera and one lens, the 70-200 2.8. With this lens I can photograph colorful details of the rides and games. I can photograph people from a distance to capture them acting naturally rather than mugging for the camera. I take enough shots that at some point most of my subjects realize I’m photographing them. I smile and give them a little wave, most smile back, then continue with what they doing before they noticed they were being photographed. Once in while, someone will ask if I’m with a newspaper. I tell them I’m photographing for myself, it’s a hobby. While it’s not the whole truth, It is the truth. My favorite question is “Hey, am I going to be on TV?” I think it’s funny when someone confuses a still camera for a broadcast quality video camera but I guess those lines are blurring more everyday. I photographed the “Evil Clowns” last year. We’re going tomorrow night so I’ll post some new carnival images in a couple of days. If you’re going, don’t forget to check your local newspaper for the two dollars off a wristband coupon. It will pay for the 1/2 gallon of gasoline you’ll need to get there and back home again!