So, you’ve bought yourself a fancy digital single lens reflex camera with an expensive lens.

Why not take off that lens and try taking photographs without it?

Do what?


And why?

How? First you will need a camera body cap. That’s the circular piece of plastic that fitted in to the lens opening to seal the camera body when you bought it. You can use the one that came with your camera, but I’d advise you get another one. Most specialist photo shops can sell you one for a few bucks.

You’ll also need a largish drill (size doesn’t matter), a sharp pin, some sandpaper, sticky tape and a piece of heavy-duty aluminium cooking foil. The sort of foil used to make pie dishes is ideal.

Drill a largish hole in the centre of your camera body cap - removing the cap from the camera first, of course. The size isn't particularly important, but it should be fairly big.The large drill shattered the plastic here, making a rather ragged hole. But that doesn't matter. It's going to be covered by the foil.

If you don't have a large enough drill you can cut a square hole out of he plastic using a craft knife.

Next, cut a square of aluminium foil, significantly bigger than the hole you’ve just drilled and, using your pin, make a tiny hole in the metal.

Very gently sand down the outer edge of the hole – where the pin pushing through has raised the foil slightly – so it is flat. And then very carefully work the tip of the pin in the hole again to remove any burrs and make it perfectly round. The object is to get a perfectly round hole that is as small as possible.

Having made a pinhole to your satisfaction (you can hold it up to the light to see how it’s going) position the foil on the inside of the body cap so the pinhole is in the centre of the bigger hole and stick it in place with the tape.

Fit your modified body cap on the camera in place of the lens and ... voilá ... you have a pinhole camera.

But why do this?

Because you can learn a lot about the physics of photography, you can get some strange and unusual images ... for example, pinhole cameras have an extraordinary depth of field ... and it's fun.

World Pinhole Day is coming up in exactly one month. On the 26th April.

Here’s an image I took for the event last year.

This year, why not make your own pinhole camera and join the fun?

Getting high

I took these two photographs from high on the old city walls of Lucerne, Switzerland. There was no more than a few minutes, and a few steps between them ...

I didn't think about it when I took them.

But now I'm processing them it's got me wondering.

Something in my subconscious trying to make itself felt?

Silver lining

I was only half-awake as I went downstairs in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, so I didn’t switch the light on. That was a mistake.

On the penultimate step I missed my footing, fell the rest of the way down and landed heavily on my heel.

Then I was wide awake. The pain was exquisite.

The next morning my heel was still painful, so much so that I began to wonder if I’d broken a bone. Do we have bones in the heel that can be broken? I’d no idea but, whether we do or not, I decided to go to hospital.

After an interminable wait ... I was ‘walking wounded’ ... a doctor x-rayed my foot and told me nothing was broken. It was simply a bad bruise. But, so that I could rest it, he ‘prescribed’ me crutches for a week.

I hobbled about for the next few days, drawing sympathetic looks and trying to avoid probing questions about the extent of my injuries. By the end of the week it was time to take the crutches back to the hospital but, before I did so I thought it could be useful to take advantage of the opportunity.

The next morning was forecast to be clear so I packed the crutches, my camera and a tripod into the car and drove high up into the mountains to find a suitable ridge. There I fixed my camera on the tripod, facing the rising sun, activated the self-timer and scrambled up on to the ridge with the crutches ...

With well over 400 sales now, it’s turned out to be one of my best-selling photographs.

Man arrested on suspicion of photographing a drain


Shome mishtake shurely?


Stephen Clark, a man of good character, had never been on trouble with the police before. He is an Oxford graduate in politics who lives a blameless life in Manchester, UK.

However, despite this, he was arrested twice in the space of two hours by the Manchester police.

He was then held under arrest for two days, had his home, laptop computer and camera-phone searched and had his fingerprints and samples of his DNA taken.


Because the police suspected he was taking photographs of a drain-cover. And, of course, it is a well-known fact that 'what a drain-cover looks like' is an essential piece of terrorist intelligence.

It appears that the police subsequently found no sign of any drain-cover photographs in his possession. If they did, they're not saying anything. And they released Mr Stephen without charge.

However, they are keeping his fingerprints and DNA samples.

Anyone out there still think that if you're innocent, you have nothing to fear from the UK's surveillance and control laws?

Anyone for Grufts?

The UK's greatest dog show, Crufts, is on once again.

But, unfortunately, you can't get into the show unless you're a platinum-plated pedigree pooch. Exclusive isn't in it.

But is that a good thing?

Not necessarily. There's been a lot of controversy over them there fancy dogs.

The UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) has accused the Kennel Club (organisers of Crufts) of setting such restrictive breeding standards for pedigree dogs that many breeds are becoming unhealthy, bizarre mutants.

For example, it appears that some Pekingese dogs are now bred with such flat faces they can barely breathe. And pedigree German Shepherds have weak back legs that prompted one critic to call them, 'half dog, half frog'.

The storm of criticism that ensued has resulted in the BBC dropping it's television coverage of the show, Spillers pet foods, a major sponsor, pulling out, and a number of other animal welfare organisations voicing their concerns too.

All in all, you're probably better off with a mongrel mutt, filled with hybrid vigour.

And now we mongrel owners have our own online dog show - Grufts - run by the UK's Guardian newspaper. Just enter photographs of your dog and you could win awards in:
  • Most stylish
  • Most talented
  • Most loveable
  • Most heroic
  • Best Lookalike (your hound can bear an uncanny resemblance to yourself, a famous dog or, indeed, a celebrity)
  • Best-travelled (your picture, Photoshopped or otherwise, should show your dog in an exotic location).
Entry is free and you retain copyright (important ... always check that with competitions). There are no prizes, as far as I can see, but if you win your hound will get the honour of Best in Show, and maybe an appearance in a UK national newspaper.

Jess will be there.

Update 12/03/2009

Jess wasn't even in the running. Nowhere close. The winner was Tosca - not the sort of dog you'd want to meet on a dark night. Or even in broad daylight. But his story is amazing and turns everything around. Read it, consider what what humans can do, and see him, here.

Only one small thing has me wondering. Could his owners have taken a more flattering photograph of him? Or were they deliberately trying to make him look bizarre?