Guessing long-epxosures for pinholes

As Storm Dennis gathered pace, I decided that another indoors photo trip was my best option. I had looked into St Andrews Church recently, without a camera, and returned there with my Ondu multi-format pinhole, loaded with Ilford HP5+. St Andrews is the oldest church in Newcastle city centre and is believed to date from the 12th Century.

Unfortunately, I left my mobile phone at home. Now I wasn’t planning to take photos with the phone, but I do use it in other ways to complement my photography; I use it to time long exposures, and to tell the time, because I don’t own a watch. It can also provide an exposure meter, if I don’t have a dedicated meter with me, and provide information on the required adjustment for reciprocity failure. Perhaps it’s ironic that the completely analog process of using a pinhole film camera is made so much easier through access to a digital device.

I did have my spot meter and worked out the exposure time (for HP5+ at EI400) to be around five minutes; I guessed that adjusting for reciprocity failure would need something like an extra five minutes.

So now I had to guess when 10 minutes was up, with no phone timer, and no watch, and no visible clock inside the church. I also needed to know when it was nearly 1pm so I could go and meet my wife. It was completely silent in the church so very hard to estimate the time that had passed.

In the event, I was either reasonably accurate in my time estimate, because the exposures were OK, or I got away with it due to the latitude of HP5. I semi-stand developed the film, which should help to overcome any deficiencies in exposure.

To while away the time while the exposure was under way I sat in the pews for a couple of shots to try and record ghostly images. For the above image, I moved along slightly to make two ghosts.

During the final exposure (above) I noticed an electric fuse-box-type-thingy at the back of the church with a digital clock built in, so I could have made use of that to time the exposures. My time was now up, just as I finished the sixth and final exposure on the roll.

You’ll notice I’ve only showed five images out of the six I took. Another problem I had, which would have been solved if I had my phone with me, was that it was really hard to see the frame number through the red window on the camera back. With the phone, I could have used the flashlight to help me.

Because of this, I got the framing wrong and spoilt one exposure. The last image had an overlapping double exposure, although I’ve cropped most of it out.

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