A new start and some pinholes

It was a special day for me today – the first day of being semi-retired. I decided it was time to reduce my working week to 3 days per week and a primary motivation for this is to spend more time on photography.

So I kicked off this new era with a relatively local trip to Blyth in Northumberland with a pinhole camera, the Reality So Subtle 6x6F. The camera was already loaded with Ilford FP4+, and there were 9 frames left. I had meant to pack another roll of film but forgot – in practice the 9 frames were quite enough for a half-day trip. In the afternoon I developed the film in HC110 and scanned them in the evening.

Blyth West Pier
This sewage pipe is surprisingly popular with photographers
The end of the West Pier with the East Pier in the background
The net monster
I had to heavily crop this one to remove a railing in the foreground.

One reason I bought the RSS 6x6F pinhole, to complement the Ondu pinhole I already had, was beause it has a filter ring. I want to use that to mount an R72 infrared filter at some point, but on this occasion I used it to mount an ND32 neutral density filter, which requires an extra five stops of exposure.

I have relatively little experience with really long exposures but what prompted me to buy the filter is that my pinhole exposures in bright sun were coming out at about two seconds and I’m not really confident in opening and closing the pinhole shutter acurately in that short time. Adding the ND32 filter increases the exposure to 60 seconds, and I actually used 120 seconds for most of these shots to allow for reciprocity failure. Any inaccuracy in timing a two minute exposure is unlikely to be significant.

I like the effect of the longer exposure on the water, but not so much on the sky as the identity of individual clouds is lost. Image two, of the sewer pipe, is the only one here not taken with the ND filter. You can see that the 2 second exposure gives much more detail in the clouds.

I’ll keep on experimenting with and without the filter, and perhaps rating the FP4+ at EI 50, to see what I like best. I could also use a polarising filter for a more moderate increase in exposure time.


  1. Nice post – and congrats on being semi-retired. I am fully retired, but not obsolete or extinct . . . Enjoy the new freedom!

  2. I really like these Kevin. Sometimes it’s good to capture the natural shape of clouds, but sometimes I love seeing that more dramatic look that long exposures give, as in some ouf your shots here, especially the bicycle one. Just makes the sky look like it’s hurtling by. Oh and the ghostly figures in the background add even more to this photograph, great work.

    This also reminds me to dig out an ND filter I bought a few years ago but have never properly used and try some long(er) exposures myself…

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