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‘Faraway Look’ – Using Pinhole Cameras

Faraway Look by Gene Duncan

The accompanying photo was made in the late afternoon outside the Reflections of China show, and was designed to capture the wealth of artistic detail and delicate textures, as well as to tell the story of experiencing the beauty and tranquility of a land far away. The structure at right is a stunning scale reproduction of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing that is part of the visually and culturally rich World Showcase at Epcot.

The image was made on 4×5 color negative film using a pinhole camera, which is a box with a hole at one end. No lens, no shutter, no focus. The purity of the image is what strikes me first. This (non) technology of pinhole photography is unique, and requires much patience and educated guesswork. This is my first and only pinhole photo to date.

The image was created for a convention planner magazine ad, touting the wonderful and varied venues available within the Walt Disney World Resorts.


  • Gene and Sandy – I totally agree. I’ve seen several blogs where pros take point and shoot cameras or cell phone cameras and produce excellent images with them. Certainly the tools help to some degree (no matter what you do with a point and shoot camera, you won’t get a great shot of the caretaker in the Haunted Mansion–but that’s a somewhat unique circumstance where technology–high ISO capability–really does make the difference), but its the 12″ behind the camera that really makes the difference. Give someone whose never taken a picture before a Nikon D3 and give Gene an iPhone…my money is on Gene for the better shot.

  • The China Pavilion is one of my favorite. Having gone to high school in Southeast Asia (as an expatriated American), I had developed a love for the architecture and culture of the region, specifically Chinese.

    The colors you have captured in this photo are fantastically vivid. I love it…two thumbs up!!!

  • What a strikingly beautiful shot, Gene! There’s just so much “atmosphere” present – such a dreamy quality to the photo! And isn’t it just amazing how, even though we have such sophisticated digital technology, it’s possible to get such a beautiful result by going “back to the roots” of photography? (My father, who had been a professional photographer for almost 40 years himself, was actually quite a bit jealous towards the end of his life over my use of digital technology… so I made a point of telling him that the fundamental lessons he taught me over the years were the main reason for any success I’ve had in photography – the digital aspect just made it more convenient to practice – and retouch – the results!) Please keep posting as often as you can – I check this blog daily to see if you’ve added any more gems like this! 🙂

    • Thank you Sandra. Well spoken. Digital technology has changed so much of photography as we know it, and many feel that the end product is merely a reflection of the quality of the camera. For me, the technology today is nothing more than a wonderful tool- no different than giving a carpenter a better hammer. Fortunately for me, I am not a carpenter, for no hammer at any price would help…:-)

  • I find it hard to believe that this is your first pinhole shot from such an experienced photographer. Can’t wait to see more of this style from you…love your work.

    • Thanks Matthew. It’s hard for me to believe, as well, but it’s true. That photograph was tougher to execute than I had anticipated- it was aiming a box at a subject and guessing at a very long exposure. Although this was my first successful pinhole image, it came after many, many failures. Now that we’ve moved away from film, I am waiting for a pinhole camera with a digital back…maybe.

  • Very interesting… the concept of pinhole cameras has always amazed me – it just doesn’t seem like that would work, somehow. Very cool.

  • The colors are so vivid! They remind me of the old Technicolor musicals. Beautiful photograph!

  • Absolutely gorgeous. When I was in HS I took 2 photography classes and one of our projects was to make pinhole cameras! I only wish my photography could come out as beautiful!

  • Excellent photo!

  • Absolutely beautiful image; the colors are amazing!

  • Great picture Gene!

  • Great photo and great post. Keep these kinds of posts ooming!

  • Great photo Gene. I love how the colors come out from the late afternoon sun. Also gives it some great depth with the red fencing going back in the pinhole technique.

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