How to make a pinhole camera?


1)Needed for the camera:

1a) for a simple camera:
Shoe box (without holes)
Sewing needle
Tape (normal scotch and black electrical insulation tape)
Ruler and pencil
Scissors
1b) for a better camera:
As in 1a) plus:
A piece of thick aluminium foil: very suitable are small pet foot trays or pizza bottoms.
A stanley knife and fine sanding paper
1c) For a “super de luxe” camera:
Matte black paper or matte black lacquer (spray can)

2)Needed for the dark room:
Glossy foto paper (best “RC” (= resin coated), no baryt paper! “Multigrade” may, but must not. With "normal" paper best choose gradation 2 1/2 or 3. Optimal is a size between 18 x 24 cm (± 7 x 9,5 ich) and 20 x 30 cm (± 7,9 x 11,8 inch) (The mostly used paper formats)
Trays: Foto trays, big tupperware boxes, buckets, flat flower pots (or any other thing waterproof)
Chemicals: Developper, fixer, water, vinegar, funnel, empty bottles
Dark room lamp (yellow-green or red), piece of flat glass (broken window?) half the size of the paper size and a stop watch, normal office lamp fitted with a 60 to 100 watt bulb or a real enlarger
Foto tongs, sponges or screen wipers and clothes pegs
3)The making of the camera:
3.1) Inside:

1.Draw with a ruler and a pencil two diagonal lines over the cover of the shoe box or in the shoe box to determine the ideal point for the hole (Even where, in the cover or in the box, But it is just easier to draw and cut in the cover)

2.For a simple camera prick with the needle a small hole in the crossing of the two lines

Disadvantage of this method is that the borders of the hole are "raffled out" through the structure of the board and therefore the picture looses in sharpness.

3.For a better camera cut in the crossing of the lines with a stanley knife a small hole of ± 1/2 x 1/2 inch


4.To do this, put the cover (or the shoe box) on a thick layer of newspaper, a plank of wood or something similar to avoid cuts in the tabletop !!!
5.Cut the aluminium to a size of minimum 1 x 1 inch and prick with the needle a small hole in it. If necessary, make it floughness by sanding it with fine paper. Control: Keep it against the light, the hole must be nicely round.
6.Tape the piece of aluminium with black tape inside the box (or the cover), pay attention that a) the hole in the aluminium also can "look" through the hole in the box in and b)the hole is not taped closed from inside.

7.For a “super de luxe” camera: cover the inside of the box and the cover with matte black paper or spray them with matte black lacquer.
8.If it is a camera for multiple use, put a piece of tape into the box (or the cover) where you then can fix the negative with another piece of tape without destroying the box (see drawing) or two strokes of double sticking tape (see foto)


3.2)The outside:
1.Tape around the opening of the hole stripes of tape for a good working of the “shutter”.
2.If it is a camera for multiple use, tape it on the outside with waterproof transparent self adhesive foil, , otherwise with some pieces of tape around the pinhole to fit the shutter on.
3.3)The “shutter”:
It consists of a stroke of black electrical insulation tape folded double on one side for ± 1/2 inch.
If the outside of the camera is covered/taped with self adhesive foil, the shutter can be removed without damaging the camera. After exposure, the shutter is just taped back onto the old place.

3.4) The complete camera:

4)To make a foto:
4.1)Testing the camera on light leaking:

Let the cursists write their name in the darkroom on a small piece of foto paper (to determine afterwords the defective box) and tape it with the glossy side towards the pinhole. Then let them tape all corners, sides and possible light leaking spots of the boxes with black electrical insulation tape and make a short walk in open air with the cursists and their boxes.
Develop the exposed papers: if they stay white, everything is o.k., if they are gray or even black, the box is not light proof!!! if wanted/needed, control the box (hold it against the light) and repeat step 4.1)
4.2)The “REAL” foto:
With a normal pinhole camera for beginners, it is nearly impossible to determine the exact exposure time, but that is not necessary. (see point 6: developping) A good exposure time depends on the weather, the diameter of the pinhole, the size of the box etc. A good start for middle Europe is 10 to 20 seconds.
Method: For being that a relatively long time, put the camera on a solid onderground, under windy conditions even steady it with a full soda can, a shoe or even a brick etc.
Without moving the camera, tear the black tape away from the shutter and tape it back after 10 - 20 seconds on the same place over the pinhole.
5)The darkroom:
Any (class)room that can be completely darkened is suitable.
The yellow-green or red lamp may stay turned on all the time.
Cut the sheets of foto paper in two pieces of more or less the same size.
Mark the paper with small letters in one of the corners on the backside with the name of the cursist and put it into the box.
Shoot a foto.
6)Developping:
6.1)Chemicals:

Paper developper (best liquid) and Fixer, also liquid. Read carefully the "how to use" etc. specially concerning the risk of allergic reactions.
Normaly these products are diluted 1:9 with tap water and then are ready to use.
The time in the bathes is indicated on the packaging.
Stop bath: If a developped foto is put from the basic (alcaline) developper directly into the acid fixer, the latter will be spoiled. Therefore the foto is immersed between the two chemicals for some seconds into a stop bath. This can be water, better is water with some vinegar to neutralize the base of the developper.
Final flushing: after "fixing" put the paper for 5 to 10 minutes in a bucket (or something similar) of water. (On the following foto is on the left the enlarger and then the trays from developper over stop bath and fixer to final flushing.)

6.2)Working:
Develop the exposed paper, fix and flush. Always use the foto tongs: one for each individual tray (WARNING: some people are allergic against developpers !!!) Then gently wipe away with the sponge or the screen wipers the surplus of water and let the foto dry hanging on clothes pegs.(Depending on the paper quality, 10 to 30 minutes, if the surface shows no more blistering or water drops, it's enough)
Note: For the test stroke according 4.1) flushing and drying is of course not needed.
The result is a negative! Depending of the camera (diameter of the pinhole, distance pinhole-foto paper, weather conditions, exposing time etc). this can go from light grey to dark grey. From this negative we have to make a positive like from a "real" film. Professional foto labs do that with a lot of electronics to determine the optimal exposing time, we do it with a test stroke.
6.3)How to make a test stroke:
Put a small stroke of foto paper with the glossy side face up, next the paper negative with the glossy side face down and on top of it the piece of glass.
Switch the white light on (office lamp or enlarger) and start the stopwatch. Every 10 seconds move a piece of light proof board (or the box of the foto paper) further over the negative so e.g. the first part of the positive gets 10 seconds of light and the last part 60 seconds.

Switch out the white light, develop and fix the test stroke. (flushing not necessary)
Switch the white light on again and determine with which exposing time the best result was obtained.
6.4)The making of the "good" foto:
Than switch out again the white light, put a piece of foto paper the same size as the negative with the glossy side under the negative and expose it with the selected time.
This time well flushing, drying et: voilà.
7)When finished:
Pour the stop bath and the end flushing in the WC.
Fill developper and fixer in the empty bottles. If you plan shortly another lession, keep them (diluted developper is still usable for some month and fixer for nearly one year). Otherwise bring them to the container park.
Rinse the empty trays well and clean everything up: The chemicals can give ugly brown spots!!! Also watch your clothes. Drips are nearly unremovable!
Every last Sunday in April the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is celebrated.
Have a look on

WPPD


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