Feb. 16--The art of Suzanne Edminster and Scott Hassler is proof you don't need fancy equipment or exotic locations to take great photographs.
Using an ordinary coffee can, a needle and a steady hand the Los Banos couple is able to take professional quality pictures that will be on display at this month's photography exhibit.
"It gives things a magical view," said Edminster recently of the pinhole camera technique she and her husband Hassler have become fond of.
In an ordinary camera, the lens makes the image on a film but with a pinhole camera, a small hole on an old coffee can, oatmeal box or even one's mouth replaces the lens. Light projects the image on film or paper inside the "camera." creating a picture.
The results can vary from a sharply focused panoramic view of Death Valley to a dreamy scene of backyard antics.
It basically makes the ordinary look extraordinary, Edminster said.
Photo and art enthusiasts, Edminster and Hassler discovered this extraordinary art three years ago while taking an extension course in Monterey offered by the University of California, Santa Cruz.
It took some practice, playfulness and a lot of patience but Hassler and his wife eventually got the hang of it and every month take pinhole camera adventures throughout California.
"It was a very unusual course I was actually surprised that courses like this were still offered," Hassler said about stepping into pinhole pros Chris Patton and Martha Casanave's class. "A lot of people I talked with point out that this is a part of the history of photography."
Edminster, an English and art teacher, said the technique goes as far back as the renaissance period painters who would use the pinhole technique to trace portraits. That led to the camera obscura technique.
"Anything can be a camera," she said pointing out that a camera is just a box with a hole. "Even your mouth can be a pinhole camera if you close it and leave a small opening."
Her husband was intrigued by the fact that even though technology has advanced at a fast rate, the basic principles and how-to's of photography hasn't.
"Not everything moves at the same rate," Hassler said.
Hassler and Edminster are currently sifting through their archives of pinhole and Holga toy camera prints to see which one's to enter into the exhibit on Feb. 22-25.
It will either be one of their backyard photo sessions using rubber lizard and bobble head skeleton props. Or it will be one of their personal photographs from camping trips to the desert or strolls in Monterey.
As an artist who uses different mediums from oils to photographs, Edminster said she is looking forward to the exhibit and hopes Los Banos residents begin to view photography, even their own, as art.