Capturing Resilience: Seaside Stories Through a Pinhole

After enduring a grueling four-week battle with illness, I finally mustered the strength to venture out with my trusty pinhole camera. Eager to rekindle my creative spirit, I opted for a brief excursion to a quaint section of the Eastbourne seafront. This particular stretch of beach, frequented by fishing boats and adorned with the relics of abandoned vessels, never fails to offer new photographic opportunities.

Equipped with my Mia 4 x 5 pinhole camera and three film holders loaded with six sheets of Fomapan 100, I embarked on my mini-adventure. However, things didn't go so well from the day before when the seemingly simple task of loading film turned into a saga. My usual dark space in the loft was compromised by recent spotlight lighting installations in the bedrooms and bathroom below meaning my loft was no longer light tight, forcing me to improvise with blankets and create a makeshift light-proof area which had worked, but was just hassle. I found an old film change bag which I haven't used in many years and thought, it would be a good idea to use, frustration mounted as my film change bag proved too small for the large format film, resulting in a challenging and somewhat comical struggle.

Anticipating scratches and fingerprints on the film due to the cumbersome process, I resigned myself to imperfections. The prospect of investing in a larger film change bag or film changing tent is something I certainly need to prioritise in the next few months.

Thankfully, the marriage of analog and digital technology came to my rescue. A stint in Lightroom allowed me to meticulously remove the unwanted artefacts – dust, scratches, and fingermarks – that had found their way onto the film during the chaotic loading process, there were a few more than I had anticipated so I ended up leaving a few as I haven't got all the time in the world to sit glued to a computer screen removing tiny little imperfections, I decided I need to embrace imperfections at times.

Despite the challenges, the short trip proved invigorating. Emerging from weeks of indoor confinement, the biting cold felt more pronounced, yet the brisk sea breeze provided a refreshing respite. The experience, though chilly, breathed life back into my creative pursuits, leaving me eager for more photographic explorations on the path to full recovery. 

I opted on shooting the Fomapan 100 at 400, this was because my first light meter reading was giving me an exposure off 8 seconds and adding the reciprocity failure of Fomapan this was giving me a final exposure of 1 minute, normally this is not a problem as I prefer the longer exposures, part the reason I like Fomapan, but on this day with the cold weather and still not feeling 100 percent , I didn't feel like standing around too long, pushing to 400 gave me a final exposure for my first photo off 6-7 seconds.

I stand developed the film in Ilford DDX with a 1+9 mixing ration, agitated for 1 minute and left to stand for 45 minutes before a Stop and Fix.

As mention the camera I was using was the Mia 4x5
Focal length 35 mm
Pinhole diameter 0.2 mm
F-stop 175
Angle of view 133 deg

1: The first photo is this simple one from down on the seashore using this larger stone as foreground interest. As I carefully arranged the shot, the tide gracefully ebbed and flowed around the rock, presenting an opportunity for a captivating blend of motion and stillness. However, my timing proved to be off. Unfortunately, as I opened the shutter, the tide had stealthily retreated and only as I was closing the shutter did a nice wave come back up the beach which would have certainly made for a better photo. However, Im still pleased with the result.

Exposure 6-7 seconds

2: The second photograph captures the essence of simplicity with an old, weather-beaten sign sternly cautioning against venturing onto the rocks. Despite its straightforward message, the sign bears the scars of being a popular target for beachgoers testing their stone-throwing skills. I've done some similar before and when I had the energy ran and jumped on the rocks to create the exposure however I didn't have the energy for that on the day. Instead, I opted for a more contemplative approach, letting the atmospheric clouds serve as a backdrop. The result is a straightforward yet compelling image, allowing the worn sign to tell its story against a canvas of dramatic skies. While I lacked the vitality for adventurous rock hopping this time, the photograph stands as a testament to the beauty found in simplicity and the enduring character of this seaside warning.

Exposure 6-7 seconds

3: The third photo was of this bait which I presumed had been abandoned I've seen it here before and it's certainly not moved any time in the last couple of years, the light had started to break through the clouds which had drastically reduced my exposure times I was getting meted readings of under one second which is very hard to do with a Pinhole camera. Thankfully I found my coloured black-and-white filters in my bag and applied a red filter over the pinhole, this normally adds around 2 to 3 stops, my filter particularly seems to work better with 2 stops added to the exposure time which bumped my exposure times back up to around 20 seconds
Particular shot I'm actually really pleased with a bit disappointed with the upside down boat to the right I think it would've been a little bit nicer if it was looking out to the sea but even so I quite like the composition and overall image of this photo.

Exposure time - 20 seconds - red filter

4: The fourth image is from the ramp of the Lifeboat Launching Station, the clouds behind had started to look quite nice and stormy, keeping the red filter on for an extra long exposure and to slowly add some motion in the sky it's a photo I actually quite like it's one I have done before with the 6x6 pinhole camera and honestly it's one and I will probably be back to photograph again I don't know why but I find there's something quite appealing about this building and the long ramp leading up to it, maybe next I will try it with my 6x12. The image was slightly wider but this particular one had a fair few scratches, fingermarks etc on outside edges so I have had to crop it in slightly.

Exposure time - 30 seconds - red filter

5: My sixth shot immortalises the Old Pleasure boat, a once vibrant vessel that delighted crowds with leisurely rides from the beaches heading along to the Beachy Head Lighthouse. Now, it sits weathered and seemingly in slow decay, possibly undergoing a gradual restoration that hasn't visibly progressed over the years. This nostalgic relic serves as a poignant reminder of a bygone era, triggering childhood memories of joyous boat rides that I, like many, cherished.

Capturing the boat from the front, it stands proudly despite its aged state. The decision to frame the shot in landscape orientation was a deliberate one, aiming to enhance its appeal with the meandering path along the side and the presence of other weathered boats. While the outcome may not have fully met my expectations, the photograph has sparked a renewed interest to revisit and explore more angles of this decaying yet evocative piece of maritime history.

Exposure time - 16 seconds - red filter

6: My sixth and final shot was off this beached fishing boat I spent a little bit of time debating which side of this boat to photograph, one side it was quite a nice clean image, much brighter but maybe not a lot going on. the other side (which I photographed) looked almost derelict, lots of junk chucked on the floor but I was particularly drawn to the movement in this image the old rags and ropes hanging off the side of the boat flapping in the wind and the appears to be a dead tree just to the left slowly moving in the breeze.
Out of all of the images I feel that this may be my favourite, I was not expecting it to be but for some reason it just seems to appeal more to me, it has a slight derelict look I'm pleased with the sky and the slight movement on the rag hanging over the side of the boat, I think a slightly longer exposure time may have benefited to bring out some of the shadow detail, or maybe just heading out on a brighter day would help for a more even exposure.

Exposure time - 20 seconds - red filter

As I wrap up this reflective journey with my pinhole camera, each shot has become a snapshot of both personal resilience and the enduring beauty found in the mundane and weathered corners of my seaside haven. From the rhythmic dance of the tides to the stoic warnings etched on battered signs, and the silent memories held by the decaying Old Pleasure boat, these images tell a story.

The constraints of my recent illness may have slowed my steps, but they couldn't diminish the spark of creativity or the longing for exploration. As I anticipate future outings with renewed energy, I'm reminded that each frame captures not just a moment frozen in time but the spirit of resilience, nostalgia, and the untold tales of the seaside.

In the simplicity of these scenes, I find a quiet celebration of life's retreat and flow, where beauty lingers in the overlooked, and memories, like waves, leave an indelible mark on the shores of our existence. Here's to more adventures, both behind the camera and beyond, as I continue to unearth the stories that await in the familiar and the forgotten. 

Until next time, may your journeys be filled with inspiration, and may the click of the shutter echo the heartbeat of the world around you.



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