“A Look Through the Pinhole with Camera Obscura”


It was dark inside the room. The only light came through a little pinhole that projected the image of the outside onto the wall across the room. At first, as your eyes adjusted, you didn’t quite know what you were seeing but then the image of the parking lot outside the building began to materialize right before your very eyes. This experience is known as camera obscura.

    “It’s kind of like the beginnings of photography,” Samantha Riding said. She was a non-judged presenter at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s University Day. She wanted to share a new experience with all those that stopped by her exhibition in the Pullen Art room.

    Instead of presenting, Ridings exhibition was non-traditional. It was something you had to experience firsthand. First, you were directed into the dark room where you could see the reversed image of the parking lot projected onto the wall through a small pinhole in the wall. After that, you could view Ridings photography work which was different variations of camera obscura. You had the chance to even look through a Pringles chip can like a telescope. With a thin paper covering the other end, you could see the reversed image of a window with the light filtering through.

    “It’s really easy to do. Just block out a window, cut a little hole in it and that’s it,” Riding said.

    Riding is a National Student Exchange student from Utah where she had been studying photography. Ever since she was young, she had always been interested in the art of photography and in 2011 she received her first DSLR camera. “I was just kind of learning on my own and then when I got to college I started taking classes,” Riding said.

    She is currently taking Photography III with Professor Carol Ayoob. “Since art is the expression of our values in any given culture, I’m always intrigued to look at the change from when I was a student here and looking at the population now, I’m always trying to find that connection,” Ayoob said.

    Camera obscura is actually quite an old photography method. “They used it a lot in renaissance time with artists,” Riding said. “They do it so that they can get the perspectives and stuff right.”

    Riding hadn’t even heard about pinhole photography until about two years ago when it was briefly visited in her photography class in Utah. She started to do some research on her own, which is what sparked her inspiration. “Last semester I did some pinhole photography,” Riding said as she showed examples of her work on a presentation board. “I took those on campus and then developed them in the dark room here and then it was like oh, University Day is coming up, is there something we can do that’s photo oriented?”

    Riding isn’t exactly sure where her career might take her but after she goes back to Utah and receives her Associate’s Degree, she would like to continue to pursue photography further. She had always liked the idea of working as a freelance photographer for an organization such as National Geographic.

    University Day is held each April at UMPI and is a time when students showcase their academic achievements through presentations. This year’s theme was Meet In the Middle and the objective of University Day is to give students the chance to not only share their academic accomplishments but to get to experience a conference like atmosphere and to show by example how important the out-of-the-classroom experience is.