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April 2007

through the pinhole

April 15, 2007

water tower
A couple of weeks ago I came across a guide to making a pinhole camera out of a small tin. It seemed like a nice idea, and reminded me of walking round Kyoto with Graeme and his brother and their pinhole cameras a couple of summers ago, so I was toying with the idea of trying to make one when it occurred to me that I probably already had the materials to hand to try some pinhole photography there and then. Some digital pinhole photography, in fact. A few minutes later I was ready to go, having set aside my Canon lenses in favour of a pin-pricked piece of black card attached to the camera body with masking tape. And look! It worked!

The pictures I took indoors came out quite dull and misty but they proved the general principle, so a couple of days later I took my hi-tech pinhole camera for a sunny late afternoon wander around the neighbourhood. The results are (obviously) pretty lo-fi, and I had to turn the contrast and saturation up a bit on my computer, but I quite like their grainy, dreamy feel. The speckles, incidentally, are almost certainly an indication that I need to clean the inside of my camera.

Anyway, if anyone else feels like having a go, let me know — I’d love to see the results. I think you could probably place the pinhole over another lens, but you’d have to use longer exposure times (the above were all about a couple of seconds at ISO 100 and propped on a wall and the ground respectively). Experiment is the only way really. The smaller the pinhole the sharper the image should be, but the less light you’ll get (so you’ll need a longer exposure). There’s lots of info on Wikipedia. Good luck.

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electric sanshin

April 6, 2007

Electric sanshinLast week I finally got around to installing the electric pickup that I bought when I bought my sanshin a couple of years ago. Which means I can now plug my sanshin into a guitar amplifier and play Okinawan folk songs at unprecedented, cutting-edge volumes, should I so wish. I can also, more importantly, do things like record it more easily, put it through guitar effects pedals, and play with other, louder musicians.

It was a musical weekend, too. Having hardly played guitar in public at all in the last few years, I played twice in one weekend. On Saturday my sister’s theatre company put on a cabaret to raise money for a play they’re planning to put on in the summer. My friend and band-mate Jess lent her harmonies to an old song of mine. It was a very nice evening. I love a cabaret.

On Sunday, Jess put on an acoustic gig at her actual house to raise money for the mental health charity she works for. A bunch of people came to listen to songs, eat battenburgs, and drop money into cans. For the sake of variety, I brought along my sanshin and played the old Okinawan song “Asatoya yunta” (安里屋ユンタ) — somewhat incompetently, it has to be said, but heck, I think even an incompentently-performed Okinawan folk song is still usually better than no Okinawan folk song.

…I just found an Eisa group playing a nice version of Asatoya yunta on YouTube. (The music doesn’t actually start until about 40 seconds in but it is well worth the wait).

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