Some Assembly Required: Michael Farrell & Cliff Haynes’ Straw Camera

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

Straw Camera

Cliff Haynes & Michael Farrell, London, UK

In 2007, Cliff Haynes and the late Michael (Mick) Farrell began collaborating on the Straw Camera, an experimental analogue camera made from 32,000 drinking straws. Not to be confused with a pinhole camera, which creates an image from a single point of light—the straw camera creates images from many points of light.

Over several years, the straw camera went through different iterations during the team’s quest to create a camera made with drinking straws. In the first iteration, the light viewed from each individual straw is recorded onto the photosensitive paper at the opposite end. The straws have an F-stop of f127 for a ten inch long, two millimeter straw. The camera presents a 1:1 view of the subject, with each straw having its own density and hue. Initial tests with a small prototype led to the construction of a 20x24 inch camera. Once they had achieved success with black and white images, they used color paper as a negative, contact printing it onto another sheet of color paper to create a positive image.

The resulting images present an accurate rendering of the subject, while reminiscent of a pointalist impression and early television images. Due to the unevenness of the straws, the camera has its own unique signature that changes slightly each time more straws are added as they settled into the box.

Photo made with the Straw Camera

Learn more about the straw camera on their website.

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