In this post, the amazing Jana Obscura, gives her views on the Vermeer Anamorphic pinhole camera. All text and images copyright of Jana…and many thanks to her for taking the time to write this for Pinholista.com.
Distort your world with a anamorphic pinhole
I was first introduced to anamorphic pinhole photography by my friend Espresso Buzz who purchased a Stenopeika and brought it along during our Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day stroll last year. He showed me a few examples and I loved the mind-bending (think Inception) distortion capabilities of the camera.
If you’re unfamiliar with anamorphic images, here is my brief and unscientific attempt at an explanation. In the anamorphic pinhole camera the film plane is curled, almost cylindrical in shape, and the pinhole directs light through the middle of this cylinder. During exposure the pinhole projects an image onto this circular film plane which results in a distorted shape. The distortion is further exaggerated when the film is unrolled and laid flat. The next time you see a shadow on the wall or desk, try tilting your hand a bit to see the how tilting the film plane can distort the final shape.
A few months after our WPPD stroll I started doing some research and realized that buying an anamorphic pinhole wasn’t going to be easy. There are a few pinhole camera makers who retail online but no anamorph. After further study I set about creating my own anamorphic camera using a soup can and gaffers tape with usable results. This was successful to a degree though I could only shoot one frame at a time, the soup can had no tripod mount and I wasted a lot of film by taping it into the soup can’s interior.
I started doing Flickr searches and saw that Cezary Bartczak aka Vermeer Cameras had built a few anamorphic pinhole cameras. Cezary is a craftsman. He builds each of his wooden pinhole cameras by hand and has a loyal following of pinhole fanatics. There were no anamorphs listed on his Etsy site but special requests could be submitted through his storefront. I sent the email and within a week I had confirmation that he would build my anamorphic pinhole camera. Admin’s note, at the current time the anamorphs are listed…oh for payday, please come quickly!
The Vermeer anamorphic pinhole camera takes medium format film with aperture f/140 and pinhole size 0.3 mm. At 6×18 it is my widest camera and Cezary suggests using frame numbers 2,5,8 and 11. The first roll in this camera was disastrous, as first rolls generally are. I had tightened the plate beneath the take-up spool too much, making it difficult to advance frames which resulted in a very loose roll. I also had no idea how to position the camera.
My second roll had a higher level of success. There were no sight lines to help me visualize the shot so I drew lines from the edge of the film to the pinhole. Advancing rolls in the anamorph was challenging as the film is curling around a cylinder and there is potential to bend the film while winding. I put painters tape on the knobs to indicate the unexposed and the take-up spool then I drew an arrow to indicate which direction to turn the knobs. I turned both knobs together to smoothly advance the film.
I am absolutely enjoying this very unique camera and look forward to creating more mind-bending images. There is a slight learning curve but the results are worth the extra effort and I’ve begun a running sheet of all the Seattle landmarks I’d like to distort. Happy shooting and I’ll see you online!
So, lots of thanks to Jana for this review, if you would like to tell the world about your favourite pinhole camera then you only have to get in touch.