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Last Saturday I participated in a camera obscura course held by Mr. Hans G. Hästbacka, who photographs only by self-made cameras. Just Google his name, he does not have a website or social media I think…

Camera obscura has always fascinated me so it was really nice to get to actually take photos with the most simple camera out there – a pinhole camera. The actual camera was a coffee box from the 50’s or 60’s with a small hole and a piece of photography paper inside attached to the back side where the light would leave its mark. The shutter was a piece of ”Jesus” tape.

The exposure times are pretty long and vary a lot by the amount of light. In direct sunlight it takes about 6-8 seconds to get a good exposure and in the shadows outside we are talking about few minutes. Inside, it is way more. While the course was held, Hans had an exposure of 4-5 hours inside the castle (the course venue)…

The cameras in question. Photo with the Fuji X100V.

I first took these two photos with a 25 second exposure time. I thought the light was pretty stable on the shadow side of the castle walls. They came out pretty much okay, maybe a little too short exposure time. It was crazy how much the lighting conditions and time outside mattered. You can see my legs are invisible because I didn’t stand the whole time there and the exposure was so short.

Here you can see how the white wall is burned out basically, but the wall and wooden stand is dark. This wasn’t the most ideal place to take a photo with a 25 second long exposure.

Next I took these two in the darkest place possible inside the castle court yard. The exposure time was 2 minutes and way too short. I am surprised that the images even worked out somehow…

Bummed by the last session, I took the same picture with a double exposure time, 4 minutes. And it looks so good in my opinion. You can compare the one above to this. I look like the ghosts in the castle…

The way we took photos was that each of us were given two cameras, and after taking the shots, we would run over to the dark room where Hans had prepared the film developer, stop bath, fixer and rinsing water. Then the negatives would go through ’em all and we would see how the image looked. Then we had to adjust our exposure for next shots based on the results.

I didn’t want to take another picture with the same composition and exposure time, since I didn’t know if we had enough time for more images. So I took this image with 6 second exposure time. Crazy how it took the shadow of the wall and all in that time…

We did have time for one more round. So I decided to blew it. Well, partly only. This is a 30 second exposure of me standing in a stairway. Which is bad. And below is a 30 second exposure of the castle yard. Which is good.


I enjoyed the course a lot and the basic idea of photography became crystal clear in this course… It cannot go any simpler than this. And yet, you can take beautiful pictures. No electronics or even mechanics involved. Some chemistry yes, but the actual process of taking a shot is about paper and light. Nothing else.

I would highly recommend everybody to try this basic technique if you haven’t yet. It is very pleasing and rewarding.

Btw, the images that I got from Hans were negatives. So how I got them to positives? I very professionally took photos of them with my iPhone under the kitchen table, flipped them in Photoshop (since they are mirror images), cropped a little and then inverted the colors. I don’t own a scanner so that was the way I did it in quick notice. I assume I would get better quality and right size with a scanner but this’ll do for now!

Have a nice whatever you are doing!


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