I am currently working on a very exciting project, pioneering a new photographic technique that has never been done before. Have you ever walked through a forest, or sat under the shade of an oak in a summery field, and wondered what the tree might have seen over its lifetime? What it might say if they could talk? All the tales they could tells of things they have seen over the years? What if they could even show you?
Using my skills as an alternative photographer, I have invented a way of turning living trees into functional, long exposure cameras. This works especially well on trees with holes and other natural cavities, but can be used to convert any tree, dead or alive, into a pin hole camera.
How does it work?
The process is very simple, with some common factors and some that change from tree to tree. The basic concept is to turn trees into pinhole cameras. How this is done depends on the tree:
- Tree with no holes - a pre-made wooden camera front is attached to the tree, turning the trunk of the tree into one of the walls of the camera. These are all made by myself using 100% repurposed wood from old pallets. (see photograph below)
- Tree with a large opening - a lightproof sheet with an inbuilt pinhole lens is attached to the front of the opening, turning the whole opening into the body of the camera. (top left sketch)
- Tree with a hole - a pinhole plate is attached to the front of the hole, turning the cavity into the body of the camera. (top right sketch)
NOTE: This camera was made to demonstrate that they can be built using 100% recycled materials, including a beer can for the leans. Future cameras will have no visible branding of any companies or other signs of alcohol cans being used.
What is a pinhole camera?
Pinhole cameras are the simplest and earliest types of cameras ever to be made. They are made of 3 simple elements:
- A cavity of some sort, usually a box, such as the iconic 'Box Brownies'
- A 'pinhole' lens, which is any material with a tiny hole made by a pin to let light through
- Light sensitive material, such as photographic film, on which the image is recorded
Does this process damage the tree?
Short answer: Not at all.
My original designs used small pins to secure the elements of the cameras to the tree. However, after experimenting with other ideas, I have found that using strong tape such as 'T-rex tape' works just as well. Therefore, it is possible to turn any tree into a camera without causing any damage to the tree whatsoever.
How long will it take?
The instillation and de-instillation of the camera each takes around 15 minutes. This needs to be done on a cloudy day or after sunset in order to protect the film during this process. Once installed, the camera will take one continuous exposure for as long as it is left there - this could be as little as a day or as long as years, it's entirely up to you! The ideal length of time is 1 - 6 months.
I want to get involved! How do I help?
I am always looking for more trees to convert into cameras, so if you own any land with a tree or woods, get in touch! You can do this on the 'Contact' section of the website. Alternatively, you can simply email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to help but don't have a tree, you could still be of use. I will need help making the camera bodies, as well as installing and de-installing them. If this is something you want to help with, or you want to help in any other way, please contact me by the same means listed above.
Thank you - Kathryn