Pinhole images by David Tefft

Flower #1      copyright © 2000 David Tefft



At First Light


Photographs can reveal truths or hide evidence.  They can record, transcribe, document our realities or can be a house of cards with smoke and mirrors.  The evidence in my photographs are the visual truths found in the photographic process after my experimental manipulations with the instant 4 x 5 Polaroid positive/negative film.  What is photographed always contains light, the primary agent in all photography.  Sometimes the image pictured is real, and later camouflaged by the alchemy of the darkroom.  The trajectory of a representational image is subverted by the photographic process, which now becomes a synthesis of the two activities of “taking” the picture and “making” the image.  Thus the process- as- art becomes an integral part of the composition embracing the random chance and chemical providence.


The organic schema of the photographic process interrupts the picture plane incorporating several layers at once; the physical reality photographed, the physical reality processed at the time of the film’s development, and the physical reality in the final printing stage when the prints are toned (sometimes as many as four toners) and or bleached.  Many of these images further intensify their original picture source with the use of pinhole photography, vignetteing through the use of 19th century lenses and or multiple exposures.


Historical precedent for my work an be found in Fox Talbot’s early calotypes or sun pictures as well as Gustave LeGray’s subtle use of multiple exposures; while contemporary references include Henry Holmes Smith, Emmit Gowin as well as Ellen Carey’s constant exploration of the photogram and Polaroid processes.


David Tefft

MFA Candidate in Photography

Spring 2000 

David Tefft, from U.S.A.

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Web page last updated August 25, 2003
All pinhole images in this page copyrighted ©2000, Joseph Francis