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Take 5 Interview
The Take 5 Interview series is a continuation of featuring selected pinhole artists from around the planet. Each artist is asked a set of five questions that will shed light on their persona, their portfolio, and their creative take on this intriguing art form called pinhole photography. All questions are derived by Brian J. Krummel and answered by the respective artist in their own words.

July 9th, 2010 : Danny Kalkhoven
I'm Danny Kalkhoven from Utrecht / the Netherlands. My day time job is an IT consultant and my free time passion is pinhole photography.
When did you first get interested in pinhole photography and how long have you been practicing this art form? List any creative influences that have shaped your own personal style.

At a photography course in 2002, one of the other students was challenged to use pinhole in order to release himself from his "control attitude". Very recognizable! The image he came up with was of great beauty, with that pinhole dream-like quality. I decided to try it out myself and made a pinhole camera out of an old Agfa 6X6 folder. The first roll was totally under exposed, but the second roll came out good, and I was hooked immediately, and still am today. It helps me to stay away from technical issues, and concentrate on the image itself. No more looking for better lenses or other gadgets, but simply try to get the image you want with what's there: yourself, the camera and the available light!

Danny Kalkhoven
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My strong believe is that this enriches and deepens my vision, which shows in the results. I retry some lens photography now and then, but that immediately brings me in a nervous "control and adjust" modus which doesn't suit me anymore. There's so much to take into account: the framing, the exact moment, the diaphragm and depth-of-field, the shutter, and much more.

Since then, I have made about 15 more cameras for myself and others, bought some special cameras via internet, and even received a 4X5 camera as a gift!

Influences: a few days ago I was discussing this with one of my photo-club colleagues. And when I talked with about the way that a teacher/coach motivated me to follow my own vision, he stated "that's what you should have listed as the greatest creative infuence"... Hence this addition

It was the same teacher/coach that challenged me to use pinhole in 2002, to move away from technical gadgets and concentrate on the contents of the image.
His name is Pieter van Leeuwen, and he urged us to keep on finding our own vision. He stated "you won't win photo competitions that way (photograph children and fluffy young animals if that's what you want) but you will grow and develop your personal vision and creative language. That's what counts, and it will show in your work."

I still feel supported by this encouragment , and I think he's right. You can learn from many other artists, even those who's work you dislike. The list of artists and photographers (pinhole & lens) that I admire frequently changes with time, sometimes backwards again.

Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
For some reason the whole set of characteristics fits me and my photographic preferences like a glove. The "soft sharpness", the infinite depth of field, the extreme wide angle, the ghost-like movements and vignetting, it all works together when the image is good.

But very important is the "lack of control". The long exposures, the lack of a viewfinder, they add to the unpredictability and surprise. In the old (lens-) days I hated accidents, but with pinhole there's always a lot of chance and luck involved, turning many images to the better.

Copyright © 2010 Danny Kalkhoven
Pors Roland #2
beach in France, taken from the spot of the "action shot". The wide view of this bay, and the water being in motion for the 8 second exposure creates a quiet and easy atmosphere.
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I constructed a pinhole-zoom out of an old 6X6 camera, which isn't tested yet. This summer I want to try it out, fully unknown what to expect (or if it works at all). Also still waiting is the 4X5 camera that was given to me. I have bought some (outdated) film, and have acquired a few second hand filmholders, so it's about time to take this camera out in the field. Take it out to the city-centre at dusk, is my intention.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?

With pinhole the main tool is your vision, there's no array of gadgets to choose from. Of course this is also true for lens photography: the tools should support your vision and not the other way around. But with pinhole there's a lot less tempting stuff around, which realley helps me concentrate on the image. I was to say "focus" but that that's wrong word.

I often tend to get very close to my subjects, and the extreme wide angle combined with the infinite depth-of-field creates interesting images. The usual relations of small, large, near and far objects get mixed up, creating puzzling vistas with undefined relationships. Also, I often position the camera very low to the ground (or on the table), to achieve a 'sweeping' foreground and exaggerated perspective view.

Thru the years I have used 'regular' pinhole cameras as well as the famous pinhole blender, and also a wide angle polaroid, which I created out of an old polaroid back for microscopes. The films are Color and B&W, and occasionally I work with cross-processing.

Most of my work, including the "B/B series" is done with straight 120-film, extreme wide-angle cameras, in 6X6, 6X9 or 6X12 format. The developed film is then scanned, corrected for color and contrast, and sent off for printing. I used to do my own B&W printing, but about a year ago I got rid of my enlarger and darkroom stuff, because it was only gathering dust for a long time.

Why is pinhole photography important to you?
Pinhole photography has brought me a lot, as well for myself as in terms of recognition and achievements. And it continues to be very inspiring and challenging to create images with simple tools, concentrating on the message, and not on what your tools show. I also suspect that pinholers have more fun that lens photographers!