My First Pinhole Photos

Posted on March 6, 2012


Thanks to Jim at St. Pete Free Skool this past Sunday afternoon I learned how to make a pinhole camera. It was much easier than I thought. Processing the photos is also much easier than I thought. Following are the 3 photos I took (and a few Philip took) and the process that we followed (again, very easy) to make the camera ourselves. I still have my coffee “can”era, though no photographic paper to take anymore shots myself, but I’d like at some point to acquire some and the learn the development process from negative to inverted photo (we didn’t complete that part but instead scanned the negatives into the computer and used Photoshop to “process” them) so that I can produce more of these on my own.

Boat, 2012, St. Pete, C. Chetelat

Aloe, 2012, St. Pete, C. Chetelat

Camera, 2012, St. Pete, C. Chetelat

Friends, 2012, St. Pete, P. Bloom

Charlei, 2012, St. Pete, P. Bloom

Steps to a Coffee “Can”era
1. Acquire a coffee can (preferably the metal type not the paper type, as it will be more light tight naturally)
2. Remove a portion of the label on one side of the camera, approximately in the middle of the can
3. Using plyers, hold a needle (I’d tell you what gauge, but we used dollar store needles that had no gauges on them) very firmly in the center of the naked can section and hit the plyers with a hammer, driving it through the can
4. Ensure that your needle has in fact gone all the way through the can. If it hasn’t, repeat step 3 until you can push and pull the needle through the hole relatively easily (there will be a bit of resistance until you sand the rough edges out of the inside)
5. Using a fine grit sandpaper, sand the inside of the can where the rough edges are until it is satisfactorily smooth (or leave this if you want it there for effect)
6. Tape black electrical tape over your hole. This is your shutter. Folding over the end of the tape that you will be opening and closing will make taking your picture easier as you won’t have to pry up the tape each time.
7. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit flush inside the lid ridge, to further ensure light tightness, especially if the lid is not a dark color (mine happened to be black to start with)
8. Insert your photographic paper of whatever size (keep in mind that parts of your photo will be curved because you’re using a rounded can – see the effects in my photos above) and either using a chart or some testing (guess and check), determine exposure time for your lighting and photo paper.

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