Published in the April 26, 2017 issue of The Bells
Townsend Memorial Library is hosting a new kind of exhibit that will last through the end of the year in honor of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, which is celebrated April 30. The exhibit displays works of art created through pinhole photography, which professor John Hancock’s Photography 2 class is learning.
“Pinhole photography uses a pinhole camera, or a camera obscura,” he said. “A camera obscura is basically a lightproof box with a small hole, or aperture, in it.”
The lightproof box houses a piece of photo paper, which is light sensitive and records what the small hole sees, just like the eye does.”
“After the paper is exposed, we take it to the dark room and develop it with chemicals using a wet darkroom technique. The image results in a negative photo, so we have to develop it twice to get an image.”
This is Hancock’s first semester teaching in-depth pinhole photography.
Although this technique of photography has been mentioned before in his classes, this semester’s students experienced the whole process, from building the cameras themselves to developing and hanging the images in the library.
“We built [the pinhole cameras] in class as a part of a hands-on, student-based learning exercise. I think student-centered learning is far more effective than lecturing.”
Besides the perk of avoiding lecturing, Hancock also enjoys the environment that is created through the process of developing the images.
“I like that we’re able to bring in a classroom community that works together and helps each other. It was more of a community of just creating without worrying about the outcome of a grade.”
Hancock jokingly said that his biggest goal for the semester was for his students to “have fun making art and wasting materials.”
But he added that his actual desire was to teach his students to “take control of stealing light and time; taking [coal] and turning it into a diamond.”
“Learning about the process and learning to appreciate it was my biggest takeaway,” said senior graphic design major, Kameryn Boggess. “We’re so used to snapping photos over and over, and just taking it again if we don’t like it.”
“I’ve enjoyed [learning pinhole photography] immensely, but it definitely took a lot of patience,” she said.
Though all parts of the pinhole photography process were fascinating to the class, Hancock’s favorite part is the hands-on aspect that developing photos in the darkroom demands.
“As nerdy as it sounds, it kind of feels like alchemy; magic in the dark. It has a zen, soothing quality to it, with the running water and the red lights.”
There are several different mediums of photography on display at Townsend Memorial Library, including digital images developed traditionally, pinhole photography, and art that uses rejected negatives from the developing process combined with drawing or paint to create a multimedia piece of art.
This unique exhibit is available on the second floor of the library through the end of the year.