From the Prosper Road: A Pinhole Moment

Yesterday was a wonderful day.  I received my 4 x 5 color negatives  from Citizens Photo in Portland (,  the only place in the Northwest that will develop this film.  Thank you Citizen’s Photo, you did a great job. Two weeks ago, I drove up the Lost Coast of California  with  a friend also known as the Master of the Road Trip and here are the two images from our  Punta Gorda adventure:  one a image from my new fancy expensive  DSLR (see blog post, Paradise is a Road Trip) and one from my 4 x 5 pinhole camera on color negative film.  I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the negative film from the lab.  I am happy to report that I love the pinhole image very much. The pinhole image holds onto the feeling surrounding the moment,  not just the moment itself.  Let me explain:  up on that ridge on the  Prosper Road, the wind was whipping from the west off the Pacific Ocean.  It was the Golden Hour.  We were dressed in sweatshirts and hats and long pants because there was a chill in the air.  The light glowed and the ocean, far below, crashed and sang its own tune.  It was a moment in which I felt totally alert and totally relaxed at that same time.  It was all about the light and the wind and the sound of the waves hitting the beach.  How do light and moment translate feeling onto film?  What does the print have to do with it?  The print of the pinhole is soft and sweet and beautiful.  I printed one only and it is so close to done.   The DSLR print I keep trying to make it less perfect. I can’t seem to get it right.   Why is that?


Prosper Road to Cape Mendocino, Digital Image from my DSLR camera,   f16, 1/20 second, ISO 400


Prosper Road to Cape Mendocino, Pinhole Camera Exposure on 4 x 5 inch color negative film, two negatives scanned and stitched together in Photoshop.  f256/120 seconds, ISO 400.

These images were exposed at almost exactly the same time.  Go figure.


3 thoughts on “From the Prosper Road: A Pinhole Moment

  1. Larry Bullis

    Hi Janet! Long time!

    So, Lost Coast. Love it there. My wife and I did the loop two years ago.

    Did you happen to stop at Cafe Brio in Arcata? When I was in school at SF State, back in 1967, I shared a darkroom with Serge Scherbatskoy, which was in his apartment. One great thing about working in Serge’s darkroom was that once in awhile, I’d be invited to stay for dinner. Serge was a fantastic cook. After he got his MFA, he disappeared for all practical purposes, and Jack Welpott told me that he was selling vegetables out of a truck in Covelo. I lost track of him for, well, about 40 years. When we did the coast trip, several years ago, I searched for him on line, and found that he had started a bakery, and later, this small restaurant, right on the Arcata town square. We stopped, but missed him that trip. Two years ago, I planned it so we could catch him. It’s not a cheap place, but the line out the door and around the corner obviously had a lot of students in it. Really good. Best croissants this side of Paris.

    Serge and I, and Serge’s partner Phoenix hung out quite a bit with Imogen Cunningham. Them more than me. You’ll see Phoenix in many of Imogen’s photographs.

    Jane and I are heading to Santa Fe next month for the opening of the Pinhole Resource Collection show at the New Mexico History Museum. PR gave it’s whole collection to the museum and they are curating the show. Here’s a link to the press release. If the picture looks familiar (it’s mine) it’s because it was used on the cover of Eric Renner’s first edition of Pinhole Photography:…

    So you are on Bainbridge. Good place to be. I work at Rolling Bay Winery sometimes. Would be good to see you. Have we actually ever met?


    1. janet_photo Post author

      We missed the Cafe Brio in Arcata last summer. But intend to go back to the Lost Coast, there is a pinhole camera out under a bridge near Honeydew. So interesting to hear you speak of these people there. I think you and I met years ago when I was a student of Steve Soltar’s at the Factory of Visual Art in Wallingford. But we need to meet again, much to talk about. I am a part of the Pinhole Resource show at the museum in Santa Fe too but apparently was taken out of the show. Eric was sweet and regretful. Think my image looked too normal. But it is great to be a part of the collection and have been planning a 3 week road trip in June to go down and look at it and of course work. Three weeks equals 21 night exposures. Thank you so much for your description of Citizen’s Photo. I think I will do a blog post around it if you don’t mind. Now I know I must go and visit them soon. I push the film because it is underexposed at night with a pinhole camera. Just back from Baltimore tonight, at SPE where I won the 8 x 10 box of color film and handed out cameras for the Pinhole Project. Might I give you one? Thanks so much for the response.


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