Analog Cafe’s Dmitri Tcherbadji is in the news again this week but this time it’s for his unique holiday creation, an instant pinhole camera made from gingerbread with a sugar glass lens! With the help of a Jollylook DIY Instax Square unit, butter, flour, eggs, etc., Dmitri’s second gingerbread camera has successfully rolled out a bunch of delightfully dreamy instant images.
Last year, the Canadian photographer and software engineer built his first gingerbread camera modelled after the Polaroid SX-70. He’s kindly written up the full instructions in this blog post linked here if anyone would like to attempt the fun culinary project themselves. The SX-70 gingerbread camera was a work of art but also a learning experience. Taking a few lessons from the previous winter season, Dmitri decided to go with a boxy square design this year.
“This is my second gingerbread camera project, following the 2021 Polaroid SX-70 model. This year, I decided to get ambitious and combine what I’ve learned from that experience and also what I’ve learned from building an Instax pinhole camera a few years back.” – Dmitri Tcherbadji, Analog Cafe Founder
Pinhole photography is one of the most accessible forms of film photography because anyone can create a simple DIY camera with a variety of materials found around the house. The essentials are a box of some form, tape, and a sharp tool to make a tiny pinhole. Creative possibilities for creating your own optics are endless. Dmitri’s version of creating the optics with sugar glass brings the DIY pinhole camera to the next level.
“Many DIY film and digital cameras use a pinhole to project the image; however, I have wondered if sugar glass could be used to create a lens since I saw light flicker inside my last year’s gingerbread camera. My research showed that it could be possible and that the results would be poor. Nevertheless, this was an opportunity to design my own optical system out of candy, which I couldn’t pass by.” – Dmitri Tcherbadji, Analog Cafe Founder
While the project has cost him a lot of instant film, Dmitri says it’s perfect for experimentation since it gives the inventor immediate results. Noting room for improvement, he says there will be a few more packs exposed before breaking the camera into pieces with friends. The final results we have seen so far from this year’s gingerbread camera project are nonetheless impressive considering the construction materials!
“As you can see, the images are very soft, lack contrast, and show lots of other distortions. Still, cranking them out of a piece of bread and sugar never ceases to feel exciting (and a little hilarious).” – Dmitri Tcherbadji, Analog Cafe Founder
This is a great way to add joy to the cold and dark winter season when an indoor project involving delicious seasonal flavours is very welcome. While it is an undertaking that involves getting the cuts of the pieces just right and even sanding them down with a cheese grater, the process and result are worth it.
“I’ve learned that gingerbread projects take a lot of time and planning, but they are enjoyable. Synonymous with winter holidays, they are also a great distraction from the endless screen time and an excuse to collaborate with others during construction or destruction.” – Dmitri Tcherbadji, Analog Cafe Founder
If you would like to see photos of Dmitri and friends breaking down the camera and perhaps sampling some of it, you can sign up for his newsletter at Analog Cafe here. Additionally, you can follow him for updates on Mastodon, Bluesky, YouTube, or Instagram.
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