O pinhole photography, we love you so.
Ever since our first oatmeal box pinhole camera in 5th grade, we have adored you. Your artsy images, your depth-of-field — our wee hearts go pitter-pat, o pinhole.
If you haven’t tried pinhole photography for yourself, now’s the time: Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is this Sunday, April 26th!
We’ve got everything you need to get ready for the big day: photos to get you inspired, ways to make your own camera (or where to buy one) and crazy DIY cameras that other folks have made. Let’s go!
p.s. We hear Mom’s Day is coming up again. Order by Tuesday April 28th if you want to surprise her with an awesome Custom-Made Photo Bag!
How Pinhole Cameras Work
You can see this effect for yourself by creating a camera obscura. Black out all the windows in a room, except for a 1-inch sized hole. The view from the window will be projected onto the opposite wall of the darkened room.
Room-sized camera obscuras can be found at tourist attractions from San Francisco to Edinburgh. In fact, the world’s largest photograph was taken by converting an abandoned airplane hangar into a camera.
Photo credit: afroboof
Pinhole Photos Kick Butt
There’s so much to like about pinhole photographs. Since there’s no lens, there’s no limit to how close or how far away you can focus. You could have a tiny figurine in focus in the foreground and the Brooklyn Bridge in focus in the background.
Plus there’s the dreamlike quality you get from long exposures — anything that moves, even in a slight breeze, will come out blurry and ghostly in the final image.
Making Your Own Camera
Many people start out with the photo-paper-in-an-oatmeal-box version, but that requires access to a working darkroom.
Using film is easier since you can get it processed at any drugstore. The easiest way to try pinhole photography for yourself is to make a 35mm version with a winding mechanism.
ProPhotoLife has a great tutorial on how to make a tin pinhole camera. You can get everything you need at a craft store and/or hardware storefor about $10.
Or you could spend even less and make a matchbox pinhole camera!
Photo credit: matchboxpinhole.com
Pinhole 2.0: The Digital Version
If you have an SLR (digital or otherwise) you can make a pinhole camera for practically nothing by covering the camera body with black paper and aluminum foil. Check out MAKE for full instructions on how to make an SLR into a pinhole.
Digital pinholes are really fun to use because of the saturated colors and the ability to check exposure as you shoot.
Photo credit: Craig Loftus
Why DIY When You Can Buy?
Not up for making a camera from scratch? No sweat. There are loads of different versions you can buy (not to mention free designer pinhole cameras you can download, print and assemble at home!)
Using a Pinhole Camera
The exposure time will depend on the size of the pinhole aperture. The smaller the pinhole, the sharper the image, but the longer the exposure.
The internet abounds with ways to calculate exposure, but (with more fun and less math) you can just guess.
Shoot a test roll and write down the exposure time and conditions for each shot. Try 1-2 seconds in bright sun, 5-10 seconds in cloudy conditions, and 5-10 minutes indoors. When you get the roll developed, check your notes to see what worked best.
Photo credit: .=BB=.
Anything Can Be a Camera
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of these crazy-pants pinhole cameras!
Photo credit: Chris Keeney
- Check out Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day HQ for resources, links, and info on how to upload the photos you take this Sunday. Or just browse though last year’s gallery!
- Want to know more? Photo.net has an exhaustive history of pinhole photography, plus instructions on making your own.
- Chris Keeney’s website has a wealth of information about pinhole photography, from sources and resources to history and how-tos.