Pinhole Cameras

Pinhole cameras involve the creation of your own camera. You can use many different boxes or tins to create a camera. The process that I completed includes;

  • Find an almost light-tight cardboard box and cut a hole to fit a side of a tin can. Tape up any light cracks inside the box, including corners and joints
  • Cut a square out of a tin can big enough to cover the hole you have just made in the cardboard box
  • On this square of can, use a pin head to hammer in a hole – the smaller the hole, the longer the exposure time BUT do not make a very large hole as this will be more difficult to work with. Sand down the hole so there is no lip that the light can ‘catch’ on
  • Stick the can to the inside of the cardboard box using electrical tape. Make sure not to cover up the hole
  • Make a shutter/a flap for the outside of the box, so that you can control the light into the box. Test this so you know you can remove it and put it back on safely
  • When in the dark room, place your photographic paper, which is sensitive to light, at the back of the box making sure that the emulsion side is facing the hole. Seal the box using electrical tape. If you are unsure if your box is completely light tight, add an aluminium foil lid which will keep it light tight
  • Put into position outside, facing something that has sunlight hitting it, or in a desired position if cloudy. You will have to do several tests to determine your exposure time. For my box, it was 5 minutes. The faster the exposure time, the more likely you are to get camera blur from people, items or the camera moving. There is a high level of maths that can get involved however, most of the time it is trial and error
  • Once you have captured your image, go back to the darkroom and develop the image in the appropriate chemical baths. As your negative image comes out, you can determine whether you need a longer or shorter exposure time

What is created in the camera is negative images. The more light that has hit the paper, the darker it will be. The less light that has hit the paper, the lighter it will be. To see the positive images before developing, I used the inverted screen on iPhone, which was successful in showing me which photographs looked successful in positive.

To make the positive images, a glass easel was used by placing the negative emulsion side down to the new photographic paper that is emulsion side up. This will invert the image as well as the hues to create a positive image. Before choosing the settings of time and filter in the darkroom, a test strip was completed before developing any of the negatives into final positives. Below is two examples with 5 second steps and using two different filters; a 2 and 2.5. The higher the number of the filter, the bigger the step in tones, which allows you to see detail very well. You are able to see in the left hand image that there is more detail of the building, however the right hand side shows more detail and clarity overall. This process was completed each time before a positive was made to determine the timing and filter that needed to be used for that image.

I was very pleased with the final positive images and my understanding of filters and the use of the enlarger in the dark room. I did find that there were dark streaks appearing across my paper and this was due to an unclean developing technique. I tried to rectify this, however I believe the chemicals were being held in the tongs. I would like to try with a new pair to see if this continues to happen. I enjoyed this project as it was something completely different to what I was used to, and allowed me to step outside my box a little. It was difficult not knowing what I was taking an image of, however that was part of the excitement. When viewing other people’s works, many of us had taken an image of the stairs behind the building, and it was interesting to see the many different perspectives of the one item. I would like to carry on with pinhole photography and the idea of the unknown and the concept of taking an image of the mundane and making it seem beautiful and interesting.

Five of these were chosen for sans camera, the first photography assignment.

2 thoughts on “Pinhole Cameras

  1. Pingback: Photography Assignment One | Charlotte Abraham Art

  2. Pingback: Photography Assignment One | Charlotte Abraham Art

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