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Film Photography Tips

Pinhole Photography: Right Back to Basicsby Laurie McArthur

W

hy Pinhole Photography?

Itís fun. Itís creative. Itís educative about the basics that photographers deal with whenever they do their thing.

What is Pinhole Photography?

At its simplest, a pinhole camera is just a light tight cardboard box with a piece of aluminium pie dish containing a pinhole to expose the film or photographic paper.

Of course you need to design a shutter, (your thumb will do), some way to hold the film in place and a system to seal up the opening where you put the film in the pinhole camera.

There is no viewfinder; you just point the pinhole camera in the right direction. You can draw some lines on top of the camera to indicate the field of view.

Exposure times for pinhole photography are usually measured in minutes.

Exposure Determination.

Work out your exposure by the hit and miss method, also known as exposure determination by experimentation. This is where you say "Ooooh. I reckon about two minutes." Then if it turns out ok, well and good. But if itís not right, you either double it or halve it for the next exposure, depending on your assessment. Nothing wrong with that method for pinhole photography.

Suitable Camera Size.

Letís say youíre using 4"x5" photographic paper. The diagonal of your paper is about 160mm. If you make the distance from the pinhole to the paper about 50mm to 80mm this will be ok. Length of about half the diagonal of the film. You could make the length 20mm to 50mm giving quite a wide angle. Thereís nothing to stop you building your pinhole camera around a four foot length of drainpipe giving you a 1200mm telephoto pinhole camera, except that the exposure time might be in the order of several hours or all day.

My best pinhole cameras have used 8"x10" film and have a length of 50mm to 70mm. Everything is in focus from 250mm to infinity. Angle of view is around 135 degrees.The light runs off at the edges of the image.

Note: 100mm = about 4"

End of Technical Stuff.

There is much more technical stuff that can be studied but thatís all you really need to know to get started. So empty the breakfast cerial packet and build a pinhole camera.

Page 1 of 2. (To continue this article, go to Build Your Own Pinhole Camera)
About the Author Laurie McArthur is a wilderness landscape photographer, based on the New South Wales Far South Coast, Australia. Laurie's images may be viewed at http://www.southimage.net/