‘Bridging Brooklyn’ | Experiments on Large Format Pinhole Camera

by Shibu Arakkal Comments 2



My photographic experiments with large format film and a pinhole camera brought me to a series of consequent works I call ‘Bridging Brooklyn’.

These bodies of land that are tied together by these visually sculptural human links, almost as if the islands were held in place from drifting away, are as much New York’s identity as its skyscrapers.

The many hundreds of people that traverse these bridges, lost in thought and still purposefully heading to their destinations, harp on a way of life that underlines New Yorkers’ sense of purpose and achievement.




The scale and perspective of seeing these bridges hovering over my camera and leading the eye to land and its concrete dwellings and to split the work into vertical and horizontal parts, almost like each part were photographs in itself, was sublimely satisfying.

The works from these series were photographed on large format black & white film using a 4×5 pinhole camera.

My fascination for making photographs with this analogue medium is the extreme simplicity in the science behind it and the extreme difficulty in its process to achieve a near perfect photograph.

With over two decades of photographic experience behind me, this medium tested me in every sense, laying down in front of me a very steep learning curve.




There is the very delicate and light sensitive handling of unexposed film while loading sheets of it into camera backs, to carrying them safely through varying heat and light conditions to get to the point of actually exposing them. Then there is the challenge of exposing a sheet of film within a pinhole camera which is equipped with a very tiny hole and isn’t meant to have the luxuries of an aperture or shutter to vary the exposure. And finally when one can master the art of exposing the sheet of film to near perfection (in ever changing light conditions), there is still the little matter of being able to view the composition with the camera lacking any sort of a viewfinder.

With all that said, there is the absolute joy of knowing you have got everything right and more importantly, just the way you wanted it.

This is the very art of knowing one’s craft and the principles of Zen, all rolled into one photographic medium.




These experiments of mine, from doing everything right in its analogue stage to taking the process into a digital stage, shifts photography into the realm of photographic art. A realm of possibilities, interpretatively and as an artistic expression, elevating an already complete photograph whilst being true to one’s career-long line of enquiry, philosophy and artistic style.

In the works above, the digital stage of the process was used to create my signature techniques of mirrored, multiplied and layered montages.

Shibu Arakkal

Monsoon Twenty Eighteen



Working Photographs











Shibu Arakkal‘Bridging Brooklyn’ | Experiments on Large Format Pinhole Camera


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