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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.

December 18th, 2009 : Becky Ramotowski

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.
My first real dabbling with pinhole photography came about eight years ago when I hand drilled a teeny hole in a piece of aluminum can with a sewing needle and put it in a hacked Holga. It was so simply elegant to make a photo that way. I was instantly enamored with the technique. I never tire of using pinhole cameras to create, and I've built about 20 variations of boxes out of all types of found objects and materials. I'm mostly inspired by things in nature and natural pinholes. I had experimented with projecting pinholes made with my crossed fingers during total solar eclipses to project the tiny pac-man like Sun images on the ground but the pinhole bug never really bit until later when I hacked that first Holga.

Intriguing shapes and scenery and of course light inspire me daily.

Becky Ramotowski
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Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?

The slowness of it suits me well. I'm pretty laid back, and don't like to rush or be hurried. I've had high stress jobs, so when I relax or play, I like to take in the whole picture so to speak. The light, shadow, smell, textures and character of the place I'm photographing are important to me. Often I close my eyes for a short time after I find a place I want to make an image of, and then just breathe it all in before I ever attempt to capture it with pinhole.

When I create a pinhole photo, I'm hoping a lot of that place's essence comes through in the final piece.

Copyright © 2009 Becky Ramotowski
White Sands on Black Friday
2 seconds Exposure. Image was made with my custom Da Vinci pinhole camera on
Fuji instant film.
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
This is not a new technique, but I would really like to build a large camera obscura on my property in New Mexico. The light here is hypnotic and I believe it would be like walking into another world if I had a big walk-in box.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
Paper negatives are a favorite right now since I've been making solargraphs for the past two years. I'm an astronomer, so I enjoy seeing what the Sun has been up to for lengthy periods. I select interesting foregrounds and locations to place the tiny homemade pinhole cameras and then leave then unattended for up to six months. The documentation of a six month photo is tremendous. The minute fragments of grit and small elements of rain, snow and condensation that find their way into the camera and the effect it has on the paper is always a welcome surprise. It's like opening Pandora's Box each time because you never know what's going to come out-though most of it is always something good!

Copyright © 2009 Becky Ramotowski
This is a solargraph that I made by leaving a small pinhole camera beside the river road during a visit to Moab, Utah.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
The coveted "decisive moment" for most photographers is often fleeting and elusive. With pinhole photography, the decisive moment is more like an ongoing "decisive story" because exposure time is greatly extended. I think some photographers worry too much about trying to capture those transient moments and with pinhole photography there is no stress. Time stands still in a different way for pinhole artists.
Final Thoughts: I first saw Becky's work on Facebook. Her solargraph images are wonderful and creative. To check out more of her personal work, check out her Pinholephilia blog. Becky is also the author of "Secrets of Stargazing" a Sky Publishing book and I highly recommend this title for those interested in the night sky.

- BJK, December 2009.