Dean O'Brien's Blog

Module 152MC Working with Light: Pinhole camera (task one: Street)

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I first had my experience with pinhole cameras almost three years ago when I was at college completing a BTEC National Diploma in photography.  Pinhole photography is just one of those things that never ceases to amaze people.  Even those who have no interest in photography.  Basically all it consists of is a container (anything from a tobacco tin to an oil drum) which is light tight.  All it then needs is a pinhole in it, which acts as the aperture where the light will pass through.  This then projects an image onto photographic paper which is inside the container.  Basically thats it in a nutshell…or tobacco tin…(excuse the joke).  Go to a darkroom, remove the paper and develop in chemicals.  Hey presto, there’s your image.  Tis’ witchcraft I hear you say…..

For such a basic thing,  pinhole cameras can produce some amazing results.  When building my camera I decided to use an empty grass seed plastic container.  This was ideal in some respects but not others.  The main problem being that the plastic was transparent, not very light tight and allowed light to pass through it.  I had to start by painting the inside and outside in matt black paint which I had in the garage.  This seemed ok at first until the adhesive qualities of paint on plastic are virtually non existent.  The paint started to peel off at the slightest touch.  After a further rummage around the garage I found a massive roll of black duct tape.  This was then used to cover the whole of the outside, base and lid ensuring that it was completely dark inside.  After that, it was just a case of drilling a 6mm hole in the centre of the box and taping my aperture in place.  The aperture being a small piece of metal with a needle hole pierced through.  Photographic paper is just held in place using blu tac.

The black & white image which you see on this post consists of a positive and a negative pinhole image.  It really does bring into question though about what exactly is a camera?  Its a box with a hole, which lets light in to capture whatever you point it at.  So why might you ask are we using such a basic camera in this hi tech digital age?  Its because the most important thing about photography is light.  Regardless of which medium you are using.  It is you who take the image not the device.  The device is simply used to contain whatever you see at that exact moment in time.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be working on various tasks which involve using the pinhole which I will post on here so please feel free to leave a comment.


Written by Dean O'Brien

May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

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