Spotlight #4 – Danny Kalkhoven

Spotlight on Dutch pinholer Danny Kalkhoven – I’ve known Danny online since 2006 when we used to frequent the F295 Lensless Imaging forums.

(click images for larger view)

Hi Danny, can you tell us why you shoot pinhole? 

Back in 2002 I attended a photography course, the teacher spotted my G.A.S. and challenged me to try pinhole to make me concentrate on content rather than technical stuff. I didn’t know what pinhole photography was and had to look it up. I built my first pinhole camera out of an old Agfa Silette 6X6.

That approach to photography immediately suited me and my interest in “what to photograph”: mundane everyday thing and situations viewed a bit different than normal…or something like that. Anyway, from that moment on I was hooked on pinhole. In a year or two all my lens cameras were traded in for pinhole cameras, books, lots of film supply etc. I never looked back, although I regret a bit that I even sold my Hasselblad 500C (it was bought secondhand). G.A.S. is not completely cured, I have about 10-15 pinhole cameras in all formats including anamorph…but at least it is a lot cheaper than lens gear. Somehow the unique properties of pinhole fits me like a glove. The ultrawide angle, the endless depth of field and especially the long exposures and the unpredictability of the process attract and amaze me time and time again. In my old “lens days” I hated to lose control but with pinhole I welcome it. I think the English word is ‘serendipity’.

What do you like most about pinhole, do you think it is suitable for all kinds of photography?

After twenty years of pinhole photography I am still not sure if the pinhole effect should be very prominent in the image shouting out to the viewer, or a subtle effect that gives a mysterious extra to the image. Sometimes I like it when the movement of people or water immediately show “it’s pinhole!”, but not always.

Pinhole can be used for every type of photography, from landscape to portraits. But it always challenges the photographer to really think about what you want to show. And in way, for me, that is why pinhole has brought me so much: concentrate on content, on the story you want to tell.
In the beginning I used pinhole mostly on objects and still life situations, but in recent years more and more people come into the pictures. And often I pose myself, as a partially transparent ghost in the picture. I know that when you are static for about half of the exposure, you will become a ghost. 

Which formats do you use, and what is your workflow?

My favorite cameras are the RSS66 with two pinholes, a 6X12 camera from a long gone brand, and the anamorphic cameras. Occasionally I use the RSS35R (it works great with that clicker) and sometimes a 6X9 camera made out of driftwood. I also have a RSS 617 with curved plane, but that isn’t used much, although it gives great panoramic images. Maybe I should take it out more?

Almost always I use color film and have that developed by the lab. Then I scan the negatives with my Epson V600, and do a little processing in Photoshop Elements. Mostly things like “auto color correction” and “auto levels”. I’m not that great with Photoshop, in my day job I am working with computers and software and processes a lot, so I want to keep it as simple as possible.

How do your family react to your pinhole photography? in both the making/taking and
them seeing the results.

“Dad has a hobby, but it’s not dangerous”. That is the attitude in the family HaHaHa. But they can appreciate what I’m doing and they show up when I have an exhibition. Two images have made it to the walls of our living room, printed on acrylic glass. That really makes the images stand out. One is a square RSS66 shot of people entering a attraction at a pier and the other is an anamorphic image of a library hall.

Why did you choose the RealitySoSubtle cameras? What do you like about them and
what would you like to see improved?

My first RSS camera was the 617. Beast of a machine but I don’t use it enough. After my first home made 6X6 camera became a bit shaky at the tripod connection I needed a new go-to 6X6 camera.
I ordered the RSS66 camera. That camera has not let me down. It is compact and sturdy, the film transport is good, and the extra pinhole is very convenient. I love the wide-wide-wide angle. Images come out fine, so nothing left to wish for…the only thing is the shutter, I sometimes get fiddly with opening/closing it with short exposure times (1-3 seconds). Nowadays I simply open the shutter with my finger in front, then position the camera, and use
my finger as the shutter. Works fine!

Thanks Danny!

His website is and his instagram is @danny59utrecht

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