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Mary Carr-Chaisson

Pin Hole Photography

Mary is an island artist who uses a pinhole camera (seen here) to make her unique images. This is a very basic camera that can be constructed out of found materials such as cans or boxes, provided it is made light-tight.  This can be done by lining the interior with black construction paper, and taping the sides with black electric tape.  A small piece of pie plate or thin brass can be used to make the camera lens.  The aperture is made by drilling a tiny hole into the brass or pie plate.  This is then attached to the body of the camera.  A material such as a piece of cardboard or cork can serve as the camera shutter.  When taking the picture, a piece of film or photo paper is placed inside the camera opposite the lens.  The shutter is then removed from the camera, and the light enters though the tiny pin hole to expose the film or paper behind.  A watch can be used to count the time required to take the picture.  This type of camera has no light meter, viewfinder, multi-aperture lens, or other features of standard cameras.  A lot of patience and practise is required when using a pinhole camera.


Mary enjoys the abstraction, distortion, uniqueness, and magnification that can be obtained with pinhole photography.  In her images, she likes the nostalgic feeling they evoke in the viewer.  Mary takes pictures from a worm’s eye view by placing the camera on the ground.  Mary says about her work “When I’m taking a picture, I get down on my knees and study all angles of the subject and try to visualize how the photograph is going to look”, and that although the resulting images are often unpredictable, she finds it exciting.

Most recently Mary is exploring the Encaustic Process.   The encaustic process, when used in photography, refers to applying hot beeswax over a photographic image. This wax can be pigmented with color or remain white or creamy beige and it can give the image an intriguing surface and density.  A photoencaustic art piece is a 'sandwich' of a wooden base, a white base of paper or gesso attached to the wood, a photographic image and many layers of wax or encaustic medium.

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