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It’s hard to miss freshman Walker Mulley when he walks around campus.

He’s lanky, walks with a dis­tinctive lean in his gait, pos­sesses a mop of dark curly hair that he often slicks back or parts like Maurice Moss on “The IT Crowd.” He wears three-piece tweed suits, bowties, a top hat, Doc Martin boots, and can com­monly be seen wielding a cane.

“I’ve heard some people refer to him as one of the most classy freshmen. He has a retro style,” freshman Colton Duncan said.

But his fashion sense isn’t the only thing setting Mulley apart. He also engages in amateur pho­tog­raphy, using a pinhole camera made pre­dom­i­nantly of card­board.

“I do admit­tedly enjoy the eccen­tricity of it,” Mulley said, smiling.

Mulley’s camera is a card­board box, vaguely the size and shape of a small digital camera. There are two wooden spools for winding the film inside. The lens is a single tiny hole –– hence the name “pinhole” –– that, when the card­board shutter is lifted, lets light inside the box and exposes the film. Mulley uses standard 35mm fijifilm, and gen­erally esti­mates his exposure time based off the weather.

Mulley is recent artist in the world of pinhole pho­tog­raphy.

“I had gotten my first phone with a camera and started taking pic­tures with it, but was upset with the pixels, so I tried using some antique fil­tering to soften them,” he said. “That’s when my parents noticed I was into weird pho­tog­raphy and so they got me a pinhole camera kit for Christmas 2011.”

It took Mulley a while to gather what he needed, so he did not start taking pic­tures until the Spring of 2012.

“I took my first picture on Easter: A long exposure shot of Easter dinner, hanging upside-down from the ceiling,” he said.

Mind you, Walker wasn’t hanging from the ceiling; his card­board camera was, with the help of a flexible tripod.

“He does a lot of exper­i­men­tation with the film that I think turns out really cool,” said freshman Megan Scott.“It’s mostly a lot of playing around, I like the style of the pho­tog­raphy.”

Mulley says he finds pinhole pho­tog­raphy to be fun and beau­tiful.

“I’m going for a sort of gritty feel. It’s weird because the film gets scratched by the camera and so it’s gritty, but the long exposure makes every­thing smooth and dreamlike,” Mulley said. “You don’t have to focus a pinhole camera, every­thing is in focus and the depth of field is pretty much infinite.”

Scott agreed that the pinhole pho­tog­raphy had a unique quality to it.

“I don’t have a lot of expe­rience with pho­tog­raphy so I couldn’t tell you the tech­nical reasons but I think film has a richness to it that digital doesn’t,” she said. “It’s cozy.”

Because Mulley uses standard 35mm film, he doesn’t develop the film himself. He simply takes the film to Rite Aid and asks for an uncut set of neg­a­tives to be developed. He invested in a neg­ative scanner and processes them himself.

“I cut the neg­a­tives myself because man­ually winding the film, the pic­tures don’t line up with the index marks,” said Mulley.

During the photo-taking process Mulley fre­quently pauses to jot details in a small notebook.

“I keep a journal of the pic­tures I take because some­times they turn out so weird that I don’t know what they are if I don’t write it down,” Mulley said. “It helps me keep track of how many expo­sures I’ve done, though it is unre­liable.”

Mulley doesn’t take pic­tures as often as he’d like.

“It’s a big event when I do,” he said. “I take pic­tures over break, it’s one of my few hobbies and so if I do have enough time I’ll indulge in it.”

Pinhole pho­tog­raphy requires pro­longed exposure and therefore needs to be steady, so Mulley gen­erally employs one of his two tripods, though he has used his knee as an impromptu rest on occasion. That and all the film prep work that goes into it makes it a fairly involved. But Mulley said the work was worth the payoff.

“The whole process is enjoyable,” he said. “I like analog, it feels more real.”

He said that the analog pho­tog­rapher has to factor in chance.

“I don’t know what I’m going to get, I’m man­ually doing my shutter times,” he said. “The three things I like best are the process, product, and sur­prise.”

Mulley said he enjoys looking for somewhat unusual set­tings, describing his art as a kind of “Analog Instagram.”

“I like to take pic­tures of indus­trial stuff, bricks, trains, peeling paint, and people. I like to take pic­tures of people who are dressed up,” said Mulley. “I gen­erally like simple com­po­si­tions because of the grain­iness and lack of detail. I try to set up inter­esting scenes as opposed to shots.”

Mulley would like others to give pinhole pho­tog­raphy a try, reminding them that it is very easy to make your own camera, espe­cially with the help of the Internet. And the pho­tographs are indeed striking, with the happy acci­dents they contain. Mulley espe­cially enjoys the flares caused by acci­dental exposure through seams in the box of his camera and double expo­sures, pro­ducing ghostly images on top of one another.

“He has a passion for this pho­tog­raphy and he does a good job at it,” Duncan said, “The feel he attains with his pho­tog­raphy, with the buildings he chooses, the back­drops — the envi­ronment he creates — it has a very, very cool feel to it.”

 

         mmeadowcroft@hillsdale.edu

 

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From Portland, Oregon. He serves as the paper’s Associate Editor. Meadowcroft is majoring in history and participates in theatre and is on the editorial board of the Tower Light literary publication. Meadowcroft has also worked for the American Spectator. He hopes to write after college on arts and culture, international affairs, travel, theology, and politics. email: mmeadowcroft@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @micahmuses