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Posts Tagged ‘pinhole camera

Pinhole Photography

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In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted any pinhole photos. Like a year. I simply didn’t do it much this year. I wouldn’t say I lost interest, but with getting a new camera, it got pushed to the back burner. In December I put a roll of film in the pinhole kit camera and I didn’t finish it until last weekend. I have a lot of fun whenever I do it, I just have to make an effort to. Another thing that sort of slowed me down is, my favorite photo lab closed. The people there were great, and the prices were amazing too. Like cheaper than Walmart, but with amazing quality from people that were passionate about photography. A new camera store with a lab opened up close by and I decided to give them a shot. The price is higher, but I was pleased with the service, and for as infrequently as I do this I’ll continue to give them my business. As long as they stay open, anyway.

One thing I’ve determined by now is that shooting specific objects or scenes is a lot better with a pinhole than trying to do landscape or scenery. If the picture doesn’t have a lot going on, or a center point of attention, forget about it. There isn’t a lot of detail in any of these shots, but there isn’t near enough to make a good landscape shot. Without a focal point, shots become boring as well. Also, incorporating movement into photos has become my favorite thing to do. You don’t need super long exposures to do it, it only takes a second for an exposure to capture some movement against a still background, and the film is very forgiving (within 1-2 seconds, which is an eternity in exposure time) through the tiny pinhole. Just some comments/opinions I wanted to share.

Well, on to the pictures. All of these were shot with the Pinhole Kit Camera, using Fujifilm 200.

1/2 second exposure

I thought the idea of a windmill in motion would be great for a pinhole shot, and this turned out to be my favorite shot from the roll, but it’s too far away to highlight the windmill, in my opinion. I’m going to do this again, but closer.

90 second exposure

Likewise, I thought a clock pendulum swinging would make a cool shot, but it didn’t turn out that great. Note the Christmas decoration – that’s from last year… this is an old roll of film!

8 second exposure

8 second exposure

1 second exposure

That’s a pile of leaves with a rake laying in it, in case you can’t tell.

Happy Shooting!


Written by Jim

November 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm

SLR Pinhole Photography

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I finally finished a roll of film and though I’m disappointed in the results I figured I might as well post some of the shots.

All of the below were taken with my Canon A-1 film SLR loaded with Fujifilm 200 film.

I started the roll of film in October and only finished it a week ago. Most of the shots were just boring and aren’t posted. I was very excited about shooting the ones of the barn and shed, but was very disappointed to see that I hadn’t framed them well. This is one of my biggest challenges with the pinhole-SLR… to be able to use the view finder you need to have a normal lens on the camera, and the right focal distance equivalent of the pinhole, and I’m just not patient enough to frame the shot with a lens, then switch to the pinhole to shoot, then put the lens back on to frame the next shot… so I just “winged it” for these. Truth be told, I did try to use a point and shoot digital to get an idea of the framing, but you can see how well that turned out. Oh well, live and learn.

1/2 second exposure

1 second exposure

1/2 second exposure

1/2 second exposure

These next two are some shots I tried at night, obviously. I forgot to record the exposure length for them, but I’m guessing between 1 and 2 minutes for each.

Christmas Lights

Front Door

Written by Jim

December 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Some pinhole photography

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I managed to go nearly the whole summer shooting little to no photos, and nothing with the pinhole. In late August I finally loaded up the little pinhole camera kit and made an effort to go out and shoot with it.

I’m happy I did!  This little camera is so much fun, I have no excuse for not shooting with it more. Well, aside from the inconvenience and cost of working with film, but still, it’s worth it.

All of the following are from the same roll of film – Fujifilm 200.  I shot 20 shots and 12 actually turned out as recognizable images. Of those 12, the following are the ones I feel are worth showing.

1/4 second exposure

A Sunflower stand someone keeps in their yard not far from my house.  1/2 to 1/3 second exposure

1/4 second exposure

And these last two were taken at the town fair, where I shot the pictures in my last post.

“The Zipper”

1/2 to 1 second exposure

“The Round Up”

1/3 second exposure

Written by Jim

October 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

SLR Pinhole Roll #2 – SUCCESS!!!!

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8 second exposure

15 second exposure

Both shot on Fujifim X-TRA 200 film.

I was right, the pinhole was too small.  I used my new homemade bigger pinhole and the results are better than I could have hoped for.  I’m really looking forward to shooting like this!

Hopefully my hiccup in the last post didn’t deter anyone from trying this on their own. It might just take some playing around with pinhole sizes until you get good results.

Written by Jim

May 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

1st Roll With the SLR Pinhole: Failure

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I am very disappointed and sorry to report that the first roll of film did not turn out well with the pinhole lens I made for my SLR. You can vaguely make out what the images are, but they are all dark (appear to be under exposed) and are not in focus/not sharp. Considering pinholes are supposed to focus to infinity, this was troublesome. I did not bother to scan any of them in, there truly was little to no point.

When shooting, I shot multiple shots from the same position, varying the shutter speed from one to another, because I wasn’t sure which exposures would work best and wanted to compare results. Some turned out better than others exposure wise, and having shot a few rolls with my other pinhole camera I’m somewhat confident in my ability to choose exposure times, but all, no matter what, were out of focus.

So, I did some more research. My assumption is that focal length is the issue, and though it is too early to tell (haven’t taken any new pictures yet), after the research I do indeed believe that focal length is the problem.

I will only touch on focal length at a high level here, hopefully it’ll be enough info to make sense and help anyone out that is trying to do the same thing.

In the following paragraph I’m going to be quoting/paraphrasing from the book Adventures with Pinhole and Homemade Cameras by John Evans. It’s my main source of info and a very informative book.

For pinhole cameras, the distance from the hole to the image plane (film or a sensor) equates to the focal length of a lens. There is an optimum pinhole diameter for each focal length that will give the sharpest images possible. There are formulas and ways of figuring out what size pinhole you need, but simply put, if the hole size is too big the image becomes brighter and less sharp, and if the hole size is too small the photos become fainter and less sharp.

I wouldn’t say that my images are “faint,” they’re more just dark, but “sharp” they most definitely aren’t. The darkness also hints at too small a hole; think in terms of lens aperture and how an image will be too dark if the lens isn’t open wide enough, assuming shutter speed couldn’t be adjusted. I can compensate for the darkness by adjusting my exposure times, but nothing I can do would help with the sharpness when using a pinhole.

Long story short, I [think I] need a bigger pinhole.

Here is another area where I won’t go into too much detail, but I actually did measure the focal length of my camera as best I can and determined what size hole I need. Problem is, I can’t measure a pinhole; they’re way too small. Well, technically I could; the book gives very good instructions on how to do it, but it requires a bit of setup and extra steps that I’m not ready to commit too. So, I simply made one and by holding it right against my eye and staring at a light bulb, then doing the same with the old pinhole, I got it to the point where I feel the new one is bigger.  This is a very unscientific approach and I am fearful that I’ll blow another roll of film and will end up doing the whole measuring routine anyway. I’ll gamble and try my home-made pinhole first though.

One thing I did learn though, was, don’t waste a whole roll of film on a pinhole you don’t know will work. DSLR folk won’t have this problem, they can tell shot by shot how the images are turning out, and depending on the results can make adjustments or other pinholes as needed. For film users though, if you’re doing this on a SLR, I’d recommend making a few different size pinholes and only shooting a handful of shots with each of the exact same subject from the exact same position. Carefully record your exposure times and which pinhole you used for each. Then when you get your first roll of film developed you can compare the photos with your notes, determine which hole worked best, and you’ll be good to go moving forward! I plan to do as much with the next roll I shoot; I’ll use at least one more pinhole and determine which works best with the camera. That’s the plan anyway.

Hopefully the next time I update it will be to share my success and show some photos that turned out good. With any luck, this is just a bump in the road! If it doesn’t work out again, don’t expect another post about this until I get it right.

Written by Jim

May 2, 2012 at 6:15 am

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Shooting with a Pinhole Camera

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Following up from my last post, I thought it might be helpful to add some info about actually shooting with a pinhole camera in case anyone does want to try. Some of the below might be fairly obvious, but I figured I’d type it all out if it might help someone.

1) The camera needs to be very still when shooting. You’ll be using longer than usual exposure times, so if the camera (or subject) moves, even just a little, the pictures could be blurry. Use a tripod, or prop the camera against something solid and stable, like a piece of furniture, fence post, tree branch, try stabilize it against a wall, etc. It opens opportunities to be creative with movement though, too.

2) Your view finder is going to basically be rendered useless. (not having a DSLR, I’m not sure how digital would behave. my SLR’s view finder doesn’t show anything, unless pointed at something extremely bright, and even then it isn’t good enough to actually frame a shot.) I take a point and shoot digital with me and position it where I’ll have the pinhole, then take a test shot. It gives a decent enough rough idea of what your shot will be. Another alternative for framing shots, if you are using an SLR, is to frame the shot by looking through the view finder with a real lens, then swap to the pinhole for shooting. This can be quite time consuming. You can also just do your best by positioning the camera and sighting over it to judge the field of view.

3) To shoot like this, whether digital or film, you’ll need to manually adjust your shutter speed for each shot. (okay, modern digital cameras might be able to detect a proper shutter speed, but I’m skeptical. I’d still do it manually, or at least try for comparison) If you have a light meter, do some research online for some formulas or tips for choosing shutter speeds based off of your readings.

If you don’t have a light meter, never fear, it might just take more trial and error until you get consistent results. The kit I got came with some literature and an exposure guide. It’s been pretty trustworthy so far, so I’ll provide a break down here.

This is all assuming you are using 200 speed film (digital: iso 200) and your pinhole is very close to .2 mm.

– Outside and sunny: 1/4 sec
– Outside, mix of sun and clouds: 1/2 sec
– Outside, mostly cloudy: 1.5 sec
– Outside, overcast or dusk: 4 sec
– Inside, well lit: 1.5 min
– Inside, dim (candle lit): 3.5 min

These times should all be viewed as approximates, but it at least gives a starting point. You could also look around flickr for pinhole photos, or even my site here, and see what was entered as the exposure times. If you use a different pinhole size or a different iso setting/different speed film these times will vary as well. Keep in mind [as I found out later] the pinhole size needed will depend on the focal length of the camera, so if the size is much different than .2 mm, the shutter time will need changed as well.

4) KEEP A LOG. I carry a little note pad with me when I shoot pinhole shots and record my settings and the conditions for each. I record the weather, light conditions, how I held the camera, how long I kept the shutter open, etc. It helps when you’re looking back through your photos and comparing your notes. For example, if you see one shot from a cloudy day is a bit darker than you preferred, you can see how long you had the shutter open and will know to try for slightly more time when you’re in those conditions next. This is good practice for shooting in general. A digital SLR will of course track the shutter speed, but it won’t tell you anything about the lighting conditions or how you held the camera.

Hopefully this is at least somewhat helpful for any aspiring pinhole photographers. I am not a photography master, so please keep that in mind, but hopefully this could at least provide a starting point to work from.  Good luck!

Written by Jim

April 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

How to make a Pinhole Lens for a (D)SLR

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After making the Pinhole Camera Kit my sister gave me I’ve become really interested in pinhole photography. I’ve been thinking about getting or making another pinhole camera, but didn’t want to do another kit. I had heard of people making pinhole’s for their (D)SLRs, but wasn’t quite sure how it was done. My idea was to poke a hole through a camera body cap, put a pinhole in front of that, and voila – you’d be done! So, I did some searching online, and it turns out people do just that.

Doing various searches on Google one should be able to find different blogs and instructions on how to go about making a pinhole for an SLR. But, since there aren’t nearly enough blog posts about the same subject matter on the internets, I’m going to go over the steps again here.

This is really easy; pretty much everything can be done with household items and you don’t need to be especially mechanically inclined to do it.

Here’s a simple break down of the steps:
1) drill a hole in a camera body cap (the cap itself isn’t the pinhole; you attach a pinhole to it later)
2) make a pinhole in a piece of foil or aluminum
3) fasten the pinhole to the lens cap
4) put it on your camera


Okay,  on to the steps in detail:

First off, you need a body cap for your SLR. If you only have one I highly recommend getting an extra one (or two). You’ll be sanding it and drilling a hole in it, so it wouldn’t be wise to disfigure your only body cap. They’re cheap, I got one on eBay for $2.50 delivered.

Begin by sanding its front (the outside surface) down. This might not be necessary but is a good idea. Basically you want to make it smooth and it’ll thin the material which will make it easier to drill through and reduce the risk of shadows or light obstruction.

I put sand paper on a sanding block and simply rubbed the cap back and forth, rotating it as I went to make sure it worked down evenly. I used a mid-grain sand paper to start, then finished with a really fine grain piece. Afterwards I washed the cap and dried it thoroughly to make sure no dust was left on.

Next, you need to find the center of your cap.

I used a digital calipers and double checked with a tape measure. A ruler would work fine. Mark the center with your skull and crossbones pencil. (you can see in the pic that I have a couple of markings… it took me a couple tries to get it right.)

Before drilling, I think it’s smart to make an indentation for the drill bit to seat into. I used a small push-pin and made a small indent so the drill bit would sit right in the center with little chance of moving.

Next you drill a hole.

(you actually want to drill down at a straight 90 degree angle to the cap, not at an angle as pictured)

I used a 5/16″ bit, but something slightly smaller or bigger would work. If you don’t have a drill, don’t worry. After sanding the cap, mine was pretty thin and the material soft enough that I could have just pushed something through if I wanted to. You could probably use a screw and just screw it in then remove it, or push a bigger nail through. If not drilling, I think it would be wise to start with a small screw or nail, then use something slightly bigger, then something slightly bigger yet, till you have roughly a 1/4″ hole.

With the hole drilled, I took a small piece of sand paper, rolled it up, then cleaned out the inner edge of the hole. You don’t want any stray pieces of plastic hanging in there, potentially getting in your shot.

The cap can be set aside now, we’re done with it for a bit.  (and sorry, I missed taking a picture of it at this point. shouldn’t be hard to imagine though)

Next, you’ll need to make the actual pinhole. I used a left over one that came supplied in the kit I got. I’ve made others already though, so will retrace the steps.

You’ll want a thin piece of metal to do this. Aluminum foil works, but it’s rather flimsy. The best to use is probably a piece of aluminum from an empty soda can. Whatever you use, cut it to about one square inch. I’m using aluminum foil for the demonstration.

In the center (doesn’t have to be exact), very lightly press straight down with a sewing needle, and continually rotate the needle as you’re pressing down.

You do NOT want to just push the needle through. ONLY THE TIP should puncture. The hole will be so small that you’ll need to hold it right to your eye and look straight at a light to be able to see through it. We’re talking small, like .2 millimeters-ish.

That’s the hole in the center.

It doesn’t take much force to push through foil, but if you do use an aluminum can, which I would recommend, it will take more effort. Just remember to keep twisting/rotating the needle as you push down. This is done to make a nice even circle with smooth edges for the light to pass through. With a can, you might need to start from one side, then flip it over and finish from the other. It can be hard to do, but makes for a nice durable piece with a smooth-edged pinhole, and that makes for nice uniform pictures.

Before attaching the pinhole to the cap, you want to “black off” the metal. This is done to reduce reflection that can mess up your shots. Some people use black paint or magic marker. I use black photography tape that came with the kit. It’s basically just black masking tape, so if you can find it anywhere, I’d recommend getting it.

I covered the back of my pinhole so that no exposed metal will show when it’s attached to the cap, then covered the entire front of it so there wouldn’t be any reflective surface showing and taped it to the cap.

Here’s a shot from the back with it taped to the cap:

You want it to be centered in the hole you made in the cap (which should itself be centered), so this might mean measuring the placement of the pinhole in the cap. I honestly just did it by eye. The risk is that if it isn’t centered, the images won’t center on the film or camera sensor, and the edges, top or bottom will get cut off.

Also worth noting: Some people even black out the middle with a black marker, but I haven’t tried that. The ink could actually get in the pinhole and obstruct light getting through. I’ve had fairly good results with just a hint of the metal showing in the center, so am leaving as is.

Lastly, just put the cap on the camera, and you’re done!

I am using a Canon A-1, which is a film SLR, so I will not have any sample photos until I finish a roll. I almost hesitated posting this because it would suck if none of the pictures turned out, but I’m pretty confident I’ve done everything correctly and what’s the fun in waiting. There is a lot of other info out there on the web, too, so please do your own research if you’re considering this. With a DSLR, obviously, you’ll be able to tell right away whether it works or not.

This really is easy to do, it only took me about a 1/2 hour, and I was stopping to take pictures along the way. If you’re at all interested in pinhole photography, I hope this helped somewhat; give it a shot!

Written by Jim

April 29, 2012 at 12:55 am