The Pinhole Camera:  Some Instructions

The Pinhole Camera: Some Instructions

I have been asked to post a blog entry about how to use the pinhole camera from the Pinhole Project.  The Pinhole Project is completely donation based.  No one will be denied a camera due to lack of funds.  If you know anyone who would like a camera and can’t afford a donation, please have them contact me.

I have been doing pinhole photography for a long time and the process is so simple that I forget that other people might be confused.  There are several things that can make your pinhole exposure  successful.   First, place your camera securely, so that it won’t move during the long exposure.  If you are placing it on wood, fasten the camera with pushpins or staples.  The featured photograph shows a camera in the entry way of my building, fastened with pushpins on a bulletin board.  It is placed facing due west and will remain there  for six months.  It is looking through the windows and doors of the entryway which might add some interesting shapes to the image, If you are attaching to a metal, concrete or brick surface, use strapping tape across the tabs.  You can’t use too much tape in this situation!  If you intend to do a very long exposure, through the rainy season, try to place the camera somewhere out of the weather–under the eaves of a house or on a porch.  The cameras are pretty much waterproof and a little water inside of them does not hurt, but it is better to keep them dry.  Finally, (and this is a step several people have missed), be sure to remove the pinhole cover completely.  The featured photograph shows a camera being exposed with the pinhole cover completely removed.  I recommend keeping the cover because before you take the camera down, the cover needs to be replaced.  I like to take a photograph with my phone or digital camera of what I think the pinhole is seeing.  It is always fun to compare the two shots when the pinhole exposure is complete.

The most important thing to remember:  there are no bad pinhole images.  You can take an image of anything.  But do keep in mind that the cameras are very, very wide angle.  They see almost 180 degrees.  Thus, something prominent in the foreground always adds visual interest.  If you decide to expose the camera indoors, be prepared to leave the camera up for at least a year.  The paper used in these cameras love bright lights and are not very sensitive  to tungsten type lights. Don’t forget to check on your camera once in a while.  They have been mistaken for all kinds of things and in public places they tend to disappear.  Sometimes a  camera will fall down.  No worries, just put it back up.  The happy accident can produce a wonderful image.  Finally, once you have completed your exposure, return the camera to the the Project and you will become a part of the Archive.  For a reloaded camera, just donate again and I will send you another one.  Thanks for being a part of the Pinhole Project and participating in the slow photography movement.