I was at a bit of a loose end back in the early Spring and trawling round some blogs and sites I started to get interested in the idea of pinhole photography. How simple the whole concept, a lightproof box or container of some description a sheet of light sensitive material, either film or paper and a tiny hole for the light to travel through.
I decided to have a go and started with a beer can camera. It had the added advantage that the first thing you have to do is empty the beer can! Then cutting off one end and replacing it with a cardboard lid covered with gaffer tape and using a pin to pierce a hole and some insulating tape to act as a shutter, the whole project took about 10 minutes.
Could something so simple really take a picture? Well, I had a supply of Ilford Multigrade printing paper so using my changing bag I cut a 5″ x 4″ sheet and put it into the can. Researching the matter of exposure time seemed to indicate that the paper had a ISO rating of about 3 – 5 and the pinhole an f number of f200 or so ( I really needed to scan the hole to calculate it properly but obviously couldn’t do that with a curved tin – that would have to wait for Markll.
Anyway I took the camera outside propped it firmly on a garden table and opened the shutter. I have to admit that I dont remember for how long but it was somewhere in the region of 1 minute to a minute and a half. It took several attempts to find this exposure and its a bit laborious as after each exposure its back to the darkroom develop the sheet of paper and assess the results. (Sorry I’ve missed a few stages out, I wasn’t developing the paper in the changing bag, I blacked out our utility room but thats for another blog)
This was the result:
Not exactly brilliant and certainly lacking in contrast but I was amazed at the detail and the comparative sharpness.
There is a fair amount of cropping from the original which is like this I’ve rotated the image in the above photo to the correct aspect as obvioulsy everything is reversed in the original):
Which rather shows how uneven my pinhole was!
But I was hooked on the idea and decided to try something a little more sophisticated:
A wooden box that I have had lying around for years storing odds and ends caught my eye. It has a sliding top and I thought it could perhaps be used for panoramic shots so I taped up the edges, put a couple of guides inside to hold the paper, drilled a large hole in the front and then cut out a section of another beer can ( emptying it first of course) and made the required hole and taped that behind the large hole in the box. This time I did scan it and was able to calculate that it had an f number of around f300.
So off I went again trying a few shots firstly with just more 5 x 4 paper and here’s a couple of examples of what I got:
I didn’t have any further opportunity to try anything else as we were going away but I will definitely be trying further with perhaps a Mark lll (if Canon can bring out a new model every few months so can I!) and I might try some film, either buying some 5 x 4 sheet film or cutting up some 120.
Anyway I’d highly recommend pinhole photography and if you have children I should think its a great way to get them interested.