There are few things trendier right now than ersatz retro pictures snapped via iPhone and plastered across Facebook, sporting the old film look, the pinhole camera vignette edges — all done by app. So when a group of German garbage collectors started the Trashcam Project to convert trash bins into giant (real!) pinhole cameras to shoot images of the city of Hamburg, it felt like a breath of fresh air.
Pinhole cameras are perhaps the most primitive of photographic devices. They consist of a light-tight box (or light-tight bin as the case may be) with a hole on one end. The light of the image streams through the pinhole and is captured on a piece of film or photographic paper inside of the box. No lens, no sensors, no focusing — just light and film.
Developed by garbage collectors Werner Bünning, Christoph Blaschke, Mirko Derpmann and others from the Hamburg Sanitation department (as well as the technical expertise of photographer Matthias Hewing), the Trashcam Project chronicles the city through the eyes of the 1,100-liter trash bins, albeit abetted by the men who work to keep the city clean. No vintage-camera app required.
The results are nothing short of lovely.
Garbageman Hans-Dieter Braatz, shown above, takes a picture with one of the trash bin cameras. (Photo: Mirko Derpmann)
The tall ship Rickmer Rickmers in Hamburg photographed with a garbage container by Werner Bünning, Christoph Blaschke and Mirko Derpmann. Shot on a 106x80 cm sheet of Ilford Multigrade with 40 minutes exposure time.
The harbor of Harburg which is a part of Hamburg. There must have been a reflection in the foreground or a lightleak causing the foggy effect. Taken by Christoph Blaschke, Mirko Derpmann, Peter Hermann Schammer and Kai Erik Haake with garbage container camera; 15 minutes exposure time on a quiet day.
The Marco Polo Tower photographed with garbage container by Michael Pfohlmann, Christoph Blaschke and Mirko Derpmann. Shot on Ilford Multigrade with 10 minutes exposure time.
For more pinhole images as well as photos of the sanitation workers/artist, visit the Trashcam Project on Flickr.
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