Photog Sets Out to Document US National Parks With Her Pinhole Camera


For most photographers, names like “Yosemite” and “Yellowstone” likely conjure impeccably detailed images in the Ansel Adams tradition. San Francisco photographer Ashley Erin Somers, however, thinks there’s something to be said for a more low-fi aesthetic.

She’s started a project to photograph some of the biggest attractions in the National Park system with a homemade pinhole camera, with the end goal being to produce a fine-art photography book documenting her work.

Somers hopes to raise $10,000 via Kickstarter to fund the project, after already doing productive shoots in Yosemite, Yellowstone and a few other parks.

Grand Canyon of the Yosemite

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Old Faithful, Yellowstone NP

Old Faithful, Yellowstone NP

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Somers acknowledges on her Kickstarter page that these locations are already abundantly documented, but she hopes her aesthetic will prompt viewers to see — and treasure — the parks in a new way.

Here’s her Kickstarter campaign video:

“This isn’t just a photo book for others to look at,” she writes. “It is an example of what you can do with our nation’s parkland. You can be inspired to create art, write novels, dance, or just meditate on their beauty.”

Somers hopes to start the trip in a few weeks and have the book ready by Christmas. She’s currently about a third of the way to her fundraising goal, with 10 days left to raise some $6,750.

If you want to find out more about her trip, or pledge $100 to get your hands on a signed, 8×10-inch hard-cover copy of the photo book, head over to the Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.

(via National Parks Traveler)

Image credits: Photographs by Ashley Erin Somers

  • Seth

    Getting tired of people asking us to pay for their vacations by disguising it as a “photo project” or a “photo book”.

  • Will Mederski


    and equally sick of seeing it on sites like petapixel which i come to for actually relevant knowledge and news related to photographer.

    sometimes i wonder if the editors have a quota of posts-per-day to meet or something, because some rather arbitrary posts have become regular.

  • PetaLame

    Pretty lame. When you go to a site like the Boston Globe site or Nat Geo, you see brilliant non-sense photography. On Petapixel however, it’s mostly some gimmick about using a weird type of camera to get below average pictures and pass it as an art project.

  • Jon

    I miss when people just did this kind of thing instead of needing it funded. Where’s the adventure anymore?

  • pgb0517

    These do have a different look. I like knowing that they aren’t just a filter job.

  • Zachary Larsen

    I want to go New York City and paint pictures of Central Park on old newspaper with Q-Tips and different colors of shoe polish. I need you guys to give me ten grand. A hundred books will get you a signed copy of a book full of my crappy paintings.

  • Yeah Buddy

    I am gonna do this.

  • rm

    Brilliance and mediocracy use the same door.

  • David

    Great.. More crappy pictures.. just what I wanted to see..

  • greenarcher02

    And suddenly everyone’s so high and mighty now that they have their pretty full-frame sensors and shiny fast lenses.

  • lidocaineus

    On one hand, I totally agree. People used to just do this of their own volition and reap the rewards (if any) after the fact, so it does seem a bit backwards.

    On the other hand, if people want to pay for this kind of thing, who am I to stop them? Its our choice to give or not give, and Kickstarter seems to be the place for that.

  • Andy Umbo

    Afraid I have to say, just another “sub-30″ riding the film train and acting like it’s something ‘new’. Also have to say, she should have perfected her technique before she decided to spout off about it, as a sheet film user for over 40 years, I can tell she can’t process for crap, the film has weird processing streaks all over it! Why don’t we decide to go to kickstarter and actually fund the talented….

  • John Mason

    But it does take money away from other projects that have more merit. There’s only so much that can go around.

  • lidocaineus

    That’s fallacious thinking. If you’re invested in a project personally enough, you’ll make it happen, Kickstarter or not. If you’re not into it personally, you’re doing it for the money, and if you’re doing it for the money and people toss it at you, that’s capitalism. There is no nebulous cloud of money – there’s what people will give money to or pay for, and what they won’t. “Merit”, especially in terms of money valuation, is independent of whether something is artistically interesting.

  • Mantis

    Yeah, I hate it when these photographers come into my house, and put a gun to my head, then force me to log onto Kickstarter and give them a few dollars.

  • Mantis

    That’s complete and total nonsense.

  • Jesus H. Christ

    Is somebody forcing you to look at them or something?
    There’s plenty of photography out there for everybody.

  • Frogg

    You sound old.

  • Dave

    It’s my opinion I am entitled to it. Just getting bored of people and their “projects” Fine have a project but can we have a little originality? By her own admission she is photographing the same scenes that have already been photographed but she is doing it with a home built crappy camera. I use old technology and suddenly I am an “artist ”

  • Jesus H. Christ

    I just don’t understand why you care so much about how other people spend their time and what they want to photograph.
    Seems silly to get upset about something like that.

  • superduckz

    I guess I’m doing this photography stuff ALL wrong. Sure I’m trying to go to nice places and I feel I’m taking nice enough photographs but I’m screwing it up by using modern equipment that takes clear shots AND doing it for the pure joy of it… AND on my own dime. WTFIWWM?

  • Mary Mother of Christ

    You all are jealous that she was up to 3 grand last night.

  • Jesus H. Christ

    Hi mom.

  • Mary Mother of Christ

    Christ on a Cracker! Cheese n rice!

  • Dave h8fl

    Get ALL the private funding you can. Public funding, my tax dollars and your bank account must never meet, or fund your so called projects. I saw your other stuff. You suck!
    Similar Stories has a link to “10 Photographers You Should Ignore”
    Make that 11.

  • Kelly Padgett

    So many bitter people.

  • mthouston

    If you are not happy with the stories that PetaPixel produces, May I suggest you go elsewhere then. And please feel free to post a link to all your brilliant photographic work for the the world to see.. if not, feel free to bugger off!. you Troll…

  • Andrew Hollywood

    Please excuse Petalame for having an opinion. To be fair he didnt know his opinion was wrong until you replied.