Pinhole photography

I use several very different cameras for my pinhole camera photography. Some of the black and white photos are made with an odd homemade camera that has three shutters and a curved film plane. Each shutter points in a different direction and the images overlap on the film. I wanted to have a camera that would create a radically different type of image from our usual perspective, to open up new creative possibilities, and to make the most of the inherent characteristics of a pinhole camera. A flat plane film holder can also be inserted behind the middle shutter to make more conventional images with the side shutters closed.

I also use ceramic cameras. These are both wheel thrown and hand built, and fired in a reduction kiln to 1,300 degrees centigrade. With two of the cameras the film is on the circular inner wall of the pot. Being curved, the film gets a wide angle view through the pinhole.

Another camera I use for black and white work is a simple can with a pinhole pierced through one side.

The colour photos are made with an old Nikon F2 camera body that has been adapted for taking pinhole photos. The lens has been taken off and extension rings are put in its place with a pinhole disk at the front end.

The film used in the black and white cameras is actually a piece of photo paper. This makes a large negative that is scanned and inverted into a positive image. Black and white photo paper is not designed to be used this way, so its response to coloured light adds another unusual dimension to the image. The colour images are made with regular 35 mm colour negative film.

The multi-aperture camera
The multi-aperture camera for black and white work is made of black foam core board, black duct tape, black weather stripping, thin brass shim for the pinholes, some stiff black plastic for the shutters, and a black painted can for the film holder. Three velcro strips hold the lid snug, and black buttons are used to slide open and close the shutters. The outside dimensions of the camera are: 16cm high, 37cm wide and 23cm deep.

The multi-aperture camera
A 5 x 8 inch piece of photo paper is wrapped 260º around the film holder. The film is held in place with pieces of weather stripping. Weather stripping is also used as a sort of light gasket underneath the lid edge. The distance from each pinhole to the film is 12cm. Since each pinhole is approximately 0.3mm in diameter, the camera has an f-stop equivalent of about f/360.

An example from this camera

The ceramic camera
Pinhole cameras can be made from just about anything. This panorama camera is made from stoneware clay that has been kiln fired to 1,300°C. It has a matte black glaze on the inside and a cobalt blue glaze on the outside.

The stopper on the front centre is the shutter. It is removed and then replaced to make the exposure. The pinhole was made in a piece of aluminum sheet metal and attached on the inside of the camera, behind the shutter. A 5 x 8 inch piece of photo paper is fitted into the curved inner wall to give a 97° panorama view.

An example from this camera

The ceramic box camera
This is a ceramic box camera. It uses a 4 x 5 inch piece of photo paper held flat against the back wall of the camera to create the image. It has a matte black glaze on the inside and a iron coloured glaze on the outside. The stopper in front is the shutter.

The distance from the pinhole to the negative is about 12 cm, the pinhole has a diameter of 389 microns, so this camera has a f-stop of about 300.

An example from this camera

The can camera
This very simple camera was made from a peanut can. It measures 9.4 cm high, and has a diameter of 10 cm. It was painted flat black on the inside. A curved piece of sheet metal, with a black weather stripping backing serves as the shutter. A 3 1/4 x 8 inch piece of photo paper wraps 330° around the inside of the can to make the negative.

It's part of the magic of pinhole photography that images can be created with little more than a can that has a hole in its side!

An example from this camera

Ceramic camera
This is a smaller sized ceramic camera, but it still takes a 5 x 8 in. photo paper negative. The stopper in the front works as the shutter, it has a cobalt glaze with stencil patterns, and the camera has a matte black glaze inside. It measures about 23 cm tall.

An example from this camera

The ceramic anamorph camera
This ceramic camera is made in a style called an anamorph. An 8 x 5 inch piece of photo paper is rolled up lengthwise and fitted inside. The little lid on top is removed to make the exposure. The large lid on top of the cylinder is removed to access the photo paper negative. The lids are held snug with a thin strip of cork on the inner edge of the lids. The appendage off to the right side is for mounting the camera on a tripod. It has a 1/4 by 20 T-nut set into a piece of wooden dowel. The camera is about 19.5 cm tall overall. Anamorph cameras are fun to use because they really twist the images around in unexpected ways.

An example from this camera

The colour camera
I use my old Nikon F2 for colour pinhole images. The lens has been taken off and a set of extension rings have been attached. A brass pinhole disk has been attached to the end of the ring set. With this arrangement it's possible to see a very faint image in the viewfinder, which helps in composing the image. Ordinary 35mm colour film is used.

An example from this camera

Pinhole Camera Photography Home Page
Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175