Pinhole Photography

Pinhole photography mimics the techniques that were used for the very first cameras. It does not contain a lens. A pinhole camera can be a can or box that is very dark, or almost black, inside. Although the technique to make a pinhole camera is easy, loading the film and developing the pictures take some practice.

Characteristics of Pinhole Photography

A pinhole camera has no batteries nor does it use electricity. Instead, it uses a tiny pinhole to allow light through in order to expose the film to the subject of the photograph. This is unlike modern photography but the results can produce stunning photographs. It does take some practice to take a suitable photograph unlike most of today's point and shoot digital cameras.

Taking a picture while using pinhole photography enables the photographer to make unique art that has a depth not usually seen in digital photography. The picture has a softer texture and the field of vision is wider. The length of time that the film must be exposed to the subject in order to produce a picture with a pinhole camera varies widely from a few hours to a few seconds. Because a pinhole camera looks so unusual compared to today's cameras, using one is an artistic experience itself.

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History of Pinhole Photography

The ancient Greeks used a form of pinhole photography in order to watch an eclipse safely without harming the eyes. Early astronomers used a small, dark room, called the camera obscure, to look at the image of an eclipse as it fell upon a blank wall opposite the tiny pinhole drilled in the wall. The hole allowed the image to come into focus.

In the late 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci began to use this technique in order to study perspective. Other artists soon followed his lead. As the procedure became more popular, camera obscures were made in smaller versions until a box camera was made. A silver plate replaced the blank wall and a glass lens replaced the pinhole.

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Pinhole Cameras

Pinhole cameras do not use a lens to make a picture. They use a tiny pinhole to focus and reflect the incoming light onto the film that is mounted on the opposite wall. The amount of time needed for the film to be exposed can range from a few seconds to a few hours. There has been a recent rise in the popularity of pinhole cameras as photographers begin to appreciate their unique characteristics.

The pinhole must stay tiny or else the picture will lose it's focus and become fuzzy. The pinhole forces the light to be focused in the small part of the camera as long as there is no other light. An image will start to form. It will be upside down because light rays at the top of the pinhole hit the opposite wall. The same is true for the light rays at the bottom of the pinhole.

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How To Make A Pinhole Camera

There are many variations of pinhole camera. There is a basic premise that is involved. Some sort of box or can that can be made light tight so that no light can enter is the base of the camera. A tiny pinhole is made at one end. Tape a piece of light sensitive paper to the opposite wall from where the pinhole is.

One set of plans for making a pinhole camera calls for using a recycled potato chips canister. The canister is cut in two pieces making a short piece with the metal end. Using a thumb tack, a small hole is poked in the metal end. The clear plastic lid is put back on the open end of the shorter of the two pieces. The long piece and the short piece are taped together, then covered with aluminum foil to ensure that no light can reach inside.

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There are a number of physics elements that are involved in pinhole photography. The bending of light to make the image appear upside down and the filtering of the light rays into the tiny hole are just two of the concepts that are explored when using a pinhole camera.

Pinhole photography mimics the techniques that were used for the very first cameras. It does not contain a lens. A pinhole camera can be a can or box that is very dark, or almost black, inside. Although the technique to make a pinhole camera is easy, loading the film and developing the pictures take some practice.