In the era of iPhone photography and Huji-filled Instagram feeds, long-exposure-darkroom photography is a process that is probably not on the mind of even the most active amateur camera users. With “Long Exposure,” an exhibition at The Carrack gallery in Durham, attendees can both view and try their hands at a possibly unfamiliar process.
The exhibition, which runs until April 29, is specifically focused on pinhole photography. To start this process, a pin is used to poke a box, which creates a small hole that acts as an aperture. When light passes through the hole, the hole projects the image onto the film on the other side of the box, creating a “camera obscura” effect. This creates a negative that can be processed in a dark room.
“A pinhole camera works just like your eye works,” local writer and curator Chris Vitiello said. “The first pinhole camera I ever made was a cardboard pencil box that I turned into a camera, so you can make anything that you can make light-tight into a camera.”
The exhibit focuses on the pinhole photography of Durham-based photographer Gregg Kemp, who passed away in 2016. His widow Carmela Kemp teamed up with co-organizers Vitiello and Jon Twietmeyer, who teaches photography at Riverside High School.
Many of the photographs on display show Gregg Kemp’s unique eye and technique. In order to capture what he did, Kemp used methods like setting a pinhole camera on a bike and riding around on it, or leaving a camera outside for days on end. With the latter technique, he created images that depicted the rainbow-like path of stars and the sun in the sky.
“He had an incredible understanding of light, and that will come through when you look at his art,” Carmela Kemp said.
The organizers hope that seeing the possibilities of pinhole photography will inspire attendees to try it themselves, and thanks to the workshops that will take place at the gallery on the weekends, they will not have to leave the exhibition to do so.
In the workshops, which begin at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, participants can build a pinhole camera, take pictures with it and even develop their prints in a darkroom (that is set up inside the gallery).
“People can get excited about these images they’re seeing, and then they can make a camera and shoot right there,” Vitiello said.
Pinhole photography, which is almost as old as the medium of photography, is a process defined by simplicity. The organizers of “Long Exposure” hope to translate this into accessibility. The workshops are open to participants of all skill levels.
"It's been really fun," Tweitmeyer said. “One of the things that we really wanted to do was bring this media to the community and give them a chance to make art."
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