Saturday, November 5, 2011
How to make a pinhole camera
Over a month ago, I had made my first random object pinhole camera. I made it from a thrifted teapot and shared those images here from this past post. The camera and images were such a success and each image unique. I love the idea of taking everyday objects and incorporating them into a photographic way. So now I'd like to pass the knowledge around and give my own tutorial on how to make one!
To begin with, you need to find a light tight container to create your pinhole camera from. The easiest and most convenient are old metal tins. Beware of paper/cardboard containers! Though they may seem sturdy and light tight, unfortunately they are not thick enough to withstand strong sunlight. Even if you cannot find an old metal tin, many objects can be made to be light tight. (Like my teapot!) You just need to be creative and think of ways to block out the light.
To solve this problem, you will need to coat the inside of the tin with a matte black paint. Matte as opposed to glossy black is important because it is the only black that will not allow light to bounce around inside the tin. I used Rust-Oleum Flat Protective Enamel in matte black.
In order to calculate the f-stop you need to divide the distance from the pinhole to the imaging plane by the focal length.
Find the distance from the front of the tin to the back of the tin.
Divide that number by 0.014 mm
Answer: Roughly 304
My f-stop is then f/304
This number is important because it helps you calculate your exposure time when "shooting". It is the difference between sunny days (4 min exposure) to cloudy days (15 min exposure) You can find a lot of information on the internet to better calculate a closer exposure time from various time exposure charts. Here is one I found quickly as a reference guide.
You'll need to load the camera with light sensitive paper in a darkened room or through a photographer's changing bag. Then go outside, find a safe spot to set your camera down on, remove your "shutter" tape and start exposing!
Afterward, develop your light sensitive paper through typical development processes and you'll create a paper negative that you can reprint over and over again.
Good luck in making your own pinhole camera and feel free to email me with any questions!