Pinhole photography: Goodbye instagram, the art of ‘slow photography’ is making a comeback

Pontefract may be the home of liquorice but it is also the lesser known home of “probably the world’s largest pinhole camera,” according to a Yorkshire artist.

Bob Clayden - aka the Pinhole Wizard - stumbled across Pinhole Photography when he was trying to capture the minute’s silence which was held in memory of Princess Diana’s death.

He said: “I was trying to work out a way to capture the whole minute in a photo and that’s when I discovered pinhole photography and I’ve been hooked on it ever since.”

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Bob has since experimented with pinhole photography all over Yorkshire as well creating a suitcase into a pinhole camera.

Pinhole Wizard Bob Clayden with CoActive charity who modelled for the photosPinhole Wizard Bob Clayden with CoActive charity who modelled for the photos
Pinhole Wizard Bob Clayden with CoActive charity who modelled for the photos

He said: “The results are much more satisfying than a normal photo, as they capture a moment in time rather than just a snapshot.”

Pinhole Photography is a basic form of photography using a lightbox, pinhole or aperture instead of a lens. Light passes through the pinhole to project an inverted image. It is often used at home in scientific experiments or to capture the eclipse of the sun.

After discovering pinhole photography around 25 years ago, Bob has now transformed a Victorian summer house in the Friarwood Valley Gardens park in Pontefract into a giant pinhole camera.

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He said: “It’s probably the biggest pinhole camera in the world.”

Based inside the Valley Gardens, which is now a park, its land is steeped in history - much like pinhole photography.

The park has been built on top of the land which used to have a friary on the site until the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-16th century. Prior to that the area was renowned for cultivating liquorice and rhubarb.

Now Bob, alongside local artist Rose Knight, is bringing a bit of heritage alive by using the pinhole camera to create life size full length portrait negatives on two metre long silver based photographic paper.

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Bob said: “We worked with members of CoActive Arts charity who had the challenge of sitting on a bench to pose for a photo for 15 to 20 minutes.

“We then exhibited the photographs at Portobello Gala (Wakefield) with funding from Wakefield Council’s Culture Grant, as well as making them into a book.”

Bob added that pinhole photography is becoming increasingly popular as people are getting bored of the excessive amount of meaningless social media photos.

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