The f295 Symposium: A Preview

You remember the old joke about someone walking up to a great photographer and asking “How do you take so many great photos?” and the photographer replies, “The only secret is f/8 and be there.” Well, there’s a lot of truth in that old adage — but for some photographers the trick to getting great images is “f295 and be there!” F295, if you haven’t guessed, is the approximate aperture of a pinhole camera.

And if you’ve ever wondered just how you could build a pinhole camera yourself, or been curious about exactly how a daguerreotype is made, or perhaps how to build your own 8 x 10-inch view camera, then the f295 Symposium on Lensless, Alternative and Adaptive photographic processes that’s being held in Pittsburgh, PA from April 26-29, 2007 is an event you shouldn’t miss. The symposium will bring together aficionados of a variety of old-time photographic techniques along with experts in the various fields for four days of lectures, workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions. I absolutely love these early photographic processes and I’m thrilled that this organization is working so hard to keep the techniques alive. Talk about stepping into a cool photographic time machine!

Among the more interesting events I see on their schedule: On Thursday evening there is the symposium reception at The Daguerreian Society where they will offer viewing of their current show, Daguerreotypes Past and Present, featuring the work of Mike Robinson and Jerry Spagnoli, as well as images from the Society archives. The exhibit will include more than 50 daguerreotypes by both past and present craftsman.

And on Saturday morning you can take a workshop and learn the 19th Century technique of wet-plate collodion image-making. There you’ll learn the differences between ambrotypes (glass positives), glass negatives and tintypes (positives on tin). You can learn how to make a wet-plate image using a reproduction camera and original brass lens — and you’ll see just how dedicated the pioneering founders of photography really were. This is cool stuff!

And speaking of pioneering technology, also on Saturday there is going to be a Pinhole Camera Workshop. Instructor Tom Persinger is offering a hands-on workshop where participants will build their own large format pinhole camera, drill their own pinholes, expose images using paper negatives and develop them in the darkroom.

There’s a ton more information on the f/295 Symposium website, including all of the info you need to register. Registration, by the way, is cheap and costs only $120 if you register by April 22 (and $165 after that). Students can pre-register for just $70 with student I.D. You can register through their site or by phone (between 9am – 5pm EST) by calling: Carnegie Mellon University, Conferences & Event Services at: 412-268-1125.

This sounds like a great place to spend a weekend dipping back into the history of the medium and you never know how that knowledge will help your current work — even if you’re shooting with digital cameras!

More on pinhole photography here.

[tags]pinhole cameras, f295[/tags]

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