Bethany de Forest

Bethany de Forest (1966) works and lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and works there as an artist ,pinhole-photographer and filmmaker.During art school (Utrecht and Amsterdam, the Netherlands) Bethany started creating diorama’s, which she then photographed.

Her objective was to show a “realistic” and slight absurdist imaginary world, in which one can supposedly wander around. Creating the illusion that what we see is life-size,

an actual place we can visit.

Her inspiration stems from objects she may find or materials that appeal to her. Or landscapes she has seen during her travels.The settings and ideas often come into being during the creation, due to and kind of action-reaction process. The final result frequently turns out totally different then from the original beginning phase.

The images often have a faraway feel to them. There always seems to be an element of suspense present. A mysterious darkness, seemingly sweet sometimes but coming so close that even butterflies can bite.

Bethany primarily works with ordinary materials. She uses candle wax to build an ice palace and colored candy for a colorful dollhouse, while thousands of sugar cubes are used to construct the King Frog's castle. She taught herself the skills of the tiffany technique to construct a church-like building, which she then covered with meat appearing as stained glass. A close-up perspective causes an unusual reality to emerge. The daily elements are hardly recognizable in these strange worlds.

About pinhole

The models/ diorama's, often no larger than a reasonably sized box, are captured by means of pinhole photography.To create the illusion of space, Bethany uses mirrors. This complicates matters, for it causes the camera to appear in the picture.

The camera therefore is a part of the setting and is fit to blend in with the surroundings. Either by a camouflage mirror covering or the location (in between the trees or behind a hill). When looked at closely the camera can often be discovered but is unrecognizable as being a camera.

This is essential for the image.

To create a pinhole picture, you need a pinhole camera. This is a camera without a lens; the light reaches the film through a tiny hole (the size of a pinpoint). Many objects can be turned into cameras; boxes and cans are extremely useful.

Bethany's first camera was a matchbox, which she used to create black and white images of a very small model (the glass house).

This is one of Bethany's favorite aspects of pinhole: building a camera of which the shape and measurements correspond with that what you need. Nowadays Bethany uses modified cameras, because of the comfort of a film transport-mechanism.

She rids these cameras of lens and shutter and inserts a piece of metal-foil with a small hole in its center.

Another unusual aspect is that no button is pressed, just remove the cap (or piece of tape) and let the light do its work.

The shutter times are much longer than with ordinary photography. A picture taken from within a model can take anywhere from one minute to a halve hour. Outside, in the bright daylight, exposure times are considerably shorter, but still several seconds long.

Although a pinhole image is never completely in focus, in fact a pinhole-picture lacks a focus point, a perfect pinhole is essential for an as sharp as possible Image ; round without any irregularities.

It's a technique with endless possibilities of experimentation.

See → Pinhole photographs


Pinhole camera's