The Camera and Me: Heather Oelklaus and her 1977 Chevy, Little Miss Sunshine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Devoted to the art of pinhole photography,   Oelklaus ruminates on her largest and most ambitious camera

Words by Heather  Oelklaus, as told by Isaac Huxtable.

It all started on World Pinhole Photography Day. It’s the holiest of days, and takes place every year on the last Sunday of April. In 2011, I had a party to celebrate. Everyone made their own cameras out of boxes and exposed photo paper. I said that next year, I desired to use a truck. I dreamed of  a camera which could take really big pictures, but wouldn’t be too heavy to carry on a photoshoot. I started to search Craigslist, eventually finding a big yellow 1977 Chevrolet. My favourite film is a discontinued Kodak E6, which came in this yellow box – the same shape and colour. I thought, well, this must be a sign.

I took the Chevy for a test drive, talked the price down, and took her home. I called her Little Miss Sunshine. We have a really good relationship. I feel like she’s a person – she definitely has a personality.

© Heather Oelkaus.

When people first see her, they could just see an old truck. I always say: “Well, why don’t you come inside and sit down? ” They sit on the beanbag chairs, and I tell them to close their eyes, let their brain adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings. When they open them again, they see this upside down, backward world. To be able to give that feeling to people is what it’s all about. I love it. It’s otherworldly in there, perfectly. If you are looking for what magic is, it’s inside a camera obscura truck.  

I started creating pinhole photography in 1992. It’s all very simple; with Little Miss Sunshine, there is a hole on the passenger side. You drive to the spot, get in the back, wait for your eyes to adjust, and set up the blackout curtain on the opposite wall. I frame up my image, make sure it fits within my 5’x10’ magnetic easel on the wall, put on my red headlamp, and pull the curtain back. Next I place 84 sheets of 8”x10” unexposed photo paper on the magnetic ease and make the exposure. The pinhole is so tiny it comes out to be an aperture of about f1497. On a bright, sunny day, it may be a 12-minute-long exposure. I sit in there, watching the planet transfer itself onto the paper. The longer you stay, the more you see. You start seeing colours, and then you can see cars driving by, people walking. It’s a wonderful place.. Then, if the time is up, I shut my aperture and put all the exposed photo paper away, drive home, and process it in my own darkroom.

“Little Miss Sunshine support me face my doubts. You learn a lot when you have to affect the oil on your camera or fix it when it breaks down on either side of the road. ”

© Heather Oelkaus.

Little Miss Sunshine supports me face my uncertainties. You learn a lot when you have to affect the oil on your camera in addition to the fix it when it breaks down quietly of the road. Being a wannabe mother out on the road and taking into unfamiliar places to take the a long exposure, you just don’t know what to expect. People are inquisitive about Little Miss Sunshine and inquire all kinds of questions. It is not really how many people have never experienced what like inside a camera obscura, Little Miss Sunshine helps you me get out of my rut by allowing the impressive to change into wonderful feelings with people and places she has even taken me.  

Their bond between time, light, and thus life is what I love. The masturbation sleeve is squeezing life through that may tiny hole. That’s how come I named my up-to-date series Taking Time, enjoy it I feel like I’m in the time I’m taking, plus taking the time to sit and uncover.   Little Miss Sun rays has definitely taught other patience.

Looking forward, I want to interact with the believed image more. The last result I did, I took this tool to a Covid-19 testing domain parking lot. When I was taking the picture, I stood half way between the aperture and the layer of the eye, interacting as a shadowy discern.    

I’ve yet been photographing for 35 years proper now, and it takes a lot inside surprise me. I about know what everything is going to is before I click the shutter. But Little Miss Shining sun always surprises me. Each of our detail is so sharp and so beautiful, she picks up relating to things I never notice when you’re getting started. Like I said, she’s magical.

© Heather Oelkaus.

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined generally the British Journal of Photography considerations in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Associate. Prior to this, he examined a BA in History associated Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.

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