The beginner's guide to pinhole photography

Copyright 1999 by Jim Shull All photographs by the author.
All rights reserved.
Amherst Media, Inc.
Buffalo, N.Y. 14226 Fax: 716-874-4508 Publisher: Craig Alesse Senior Editor/Project Manager: Richard Lynch Associate Editor: Michelle Perkins ISBN: 0-936262-70-2 Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 98-71750 Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, elec- tronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise, without prior written consent from the publisher.
Notice of Disclaimer: The information contained in this book is based on the author's experience and opin- ions. The author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this Table of Contents

You can do pinhole fotografy without know-ing anything about pinhole fotografy, orOrthodox Photography.
This manual has the basic informationabout the way of pinhole for uncommittedamateurs, artists who are allergic to tech-nical information, elementary and highschool teachers, and anyone baffled by f-stops, TL's, SLR's, RF's, and GTO's whowants to learn photography without theconfusion of the immense amount of jargonthat abounds in photography.

✔ Pinhole Fotografy
and Orthodox Photography

The most important difference between pin-hole fotografy and the more conventional"orthodox photography" is that a pinholecamera does not use a lens and an ortho-dox camera does. A pinhole camera usesinstead a very small, round hole, the pin-hole, which makes an image that can becaptured by standard light-sensitive mate-rials to make a photograph.
way of pinhole.
The way of pinhole brings new perspectives to the ordinary
stuff of our lives.
Jim Shull
Pinhole is a relatively inexpensive, fast andvery educational way to make photographs.
There is nothing "automatic" and there isno dependence upon proprietary film packs,batteries or equipment. People who go thrua pinhole fotografy experience gain a muchmore comprehensive understanding aboutphotography in general, and in less time,than any other method of learning aboutphotography. The resulting fotografs areusually interesting, often unique and occa-sionally amazing. It is also a lot of fun. Tosummarize, Pinhole Fotografy is: ✔ Cheap. The camer
✔ Fast. Almost as
✔ Educational. Since

Another ordinary, and for some folks indispensi-
ble, item in our lives: a satellite television dish.
The image-making ability of a very small,more or less round hole is not easilynoticed but has been known for some time.
There is evidence that the ancient Greekswere aware of the phenomenon. You can seethe phenomenon for yourself by going into adarkened room and making a small roundhole in a wall (such as a window shade),that looks upon the bright outside world.

Jim Shull
By holding a more-or-less translucent pieceof paper 6 to 12 inches from the hole, youwill see an (upside down) image of whateveris outside. If the hole is made large enough to fit asimple lens into it, a much brighter imageresults and new considerations are added;having to focus the image, and contendingwith lens aberrations. This contraption,either with or without a lens, was called a"camera obscura" (which is Italian for "roomdark"), by Italians of the Renaissance. Theyseem to have done the earliest explorationson the subject.

(left and above) Two not so normal views taken
By the sixteenth century, specially con- with a "normal" focal length pinhole camera.
structed portable darkrooms were in com-mon use by artists who would take their"camera obscuras" out to a select view ofthe local scenery and trace the projectedimage on paper. This device was also usedto help work out understandings and usesof central perspective, which was a primeconcern of most artists of theRenaissance. The seventeenth centuryDutch painter Vermeer is thought to haveused a camera obscura for many of hispaintings.
Jim Shull
The use of a lens was preferred at firstbecause of the brighter image projected,even though the lens aberrations and thenecessity of focusing the image were some-what a disadvantage. In the nineteenthcentury, when light-sensitive materials wereinvented that made photography possible, alens had to be used because these earliestmaterials were very slow to react to light.
As a result, the possibilities of pinhole weregenerally neglected, and many people nowthink that the main value of the pinholephenomenon is to demonstrate opticalprinciples in fifth-grade science.
A major advantage of a pinhole over a sim-ple (or not so simple) lens is "infinite depthof field." To see this for yourself poke a pin- "A major advantage of a hole into a thin sheet of opaque materialand hold the pinhole close to your eye (if pinhole over a simple (or you wear glasses, take them off). Hold one not so simple) lens is of your fingers a few inches in front of thepinhole and notice that your finger is about 'infinite depth of field.'" the same clarity as everything else beyond.
That's infinite depth of field. A more or lessscientific explanation for depth of field isthat an optical image is made up of verytiny "circles of confusion." When the circlesof confusion are small enough, they arecalled "points" and the optical image isconsidered to be in focus. Therefore, pointsof focus. A pinhole camera has infinitedepth of field because the pinhole createscircles of confusion the same size as thepinhole all over the inside of the camera,and the little circles of confusion are smallenough to be regarded as points of focus.

If you were taking this picture with
a regular camera, you would have
to choose whether to focus on the
building in the background, or the
car in the foreground. You'd proba-
bly end up with something like the
top image.
Because pinhole cameras have an
infinite depth of field, both the
building and the car are in focus,
despite the distance between them!
The bottom image shows the
results of shooting the same scene
with a pinhole camera.
Jim Shull
These have a high enough resolution to beacceptable as a coherent image, and maybeeven a work of art! Orthodox photographerscan use a small aperture to increase thedepth of field, but except for rather uncom-mon lenses, the depth of field is not veryextensive compared to a pinhole image.
Doing Your Own
✔ Building the Camera
Over years of teaching the way of pinholeI've evolved a distillation of ideas and tech-niques which can be useful for others,including teachers, and for workshop situa-tions.
There are lots of ways to make pinholecameras, all the way from total scratch tousing a ready made container needing a lit-tle modification, or modifying an existingorthodox camera. Try to avoid flimsy con- Jim Shull
tainers for modification into pinhole cam-eras; shoe boxes are a prime bad example.
Some of the Kodak boxes for films andchemicals are quite good. A light-tight lidand the film holding method inside thecamera are the most important details tobuild. Appropriate tools include scissors, X-Acto knives, model glue, ruler, black vinylelectrician's tape, etc. The use of artist'sblack acrylic paint is highly recommended toplug light leaks. A mundane tool (a stapler) becomes an interest-
ing foto.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
Supplies for
Pinhole Camera-Making:
sturdy box with a light-tight black vinyl electrician's spare cardboard for film/paper white paint (if using a dark box) Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
A "normal" focal length pinhole foto, taken with a basic box camera
placed on the deck next to a driveway.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
Foto of a horse skull made with a "wide angle" curved back camera.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
A foto of bleachers taken with a wide angle, curved back camera.
Jim Shull
The largest pinhole camera I've built wasfrom a refrigerator packing crate that wasoriginally made into a portable darkroom.
The fotografer could go inside to make anexposure and then develop the negative.
"The largest pinhole Instant fotografy! camera I've built was • Format Size
from a refrigerator It is important to decide on a size offotograf (format size) that is convenient to packing crate." handle, such as 4 inches by 5 inches. Theother important dimension is the focallength, which is the distance from the pin-hole to the "film" inside the camera. For the4 inch by 5 inch format, the focal lengthshould not be longer than 10 inches. A focallength of 2 to 4 inches produces a sharper,"wide angle" image. • Inside the Camera
The inside of the camera should be flat
black in order to prevent light from bouncing
around during an exposure and fogging the
film. Black acrylic artist's paint is excellent
for plugging light leaks in corners and joints
on the inside of the camera. The outside of
the camera should be white, or at least not
too dark, to help prevent heat buildup inside
the camera during an outdoor exposure. A
method to hold the "film" in place is quite
important, partly for easy loading in the
darkroom and partly to hold the "film"
securely while you are out with the camera
scouting around for the perfect pinhole
Jim Shull
• The Pinhole
The most important detail to a pinhole
camera is the pinhole, and while it can be a
hole made by a pin, it is usually a hole made
by a needle. Any hole of about the right
dimension in relation to a focal length will
form an image, but a perfectly round hole in
a very thin material will make the best
image. So while it's possible to produce an
image by stabbing a hole in the lid of a cof-
fee can with a slightly used shingle nail, a
nicely drilled needle hole in thin brass or
aluminum (or gold foil for a little more
class) will produce a superior image, as will
high-tech holes produced by laser.
There are several ways the ideal size of holecan be calculated for any particular focal length, however it's my experience (with all due respect and admiration to those who have made the calculations) that about any size of hole will produce an image. The chart can be used as a rough guide. In gen- eral, the smaller the hole, the sharper theimage and the longer it takes to make the A fairly simple and reliable method of mak-ing a perfectly round hole is to drill thrubrass shim stock of .001 or .002 inchthickness (obtainable from automobileparts stores) with a number 10 handsewing needle, which is presumed to be adiameter of .018 inch. Shove the eye end ofthe needle into the eraser of a pencil toprovide a convenient way to hold the needle.
Twirl the point of the needle on the brass in Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
order to form a dimple in the brass. Turnthe brass over and sand it with very fine(600) sandpaper or crocus cloth to remove "With some practice a the dimple. Then drill with the needle on perfect 'pinhole' can be that side to open up the hole a little. Turnthe brass over and sand the other side and made in 5 minutes." then drill to increase the size of the hole.
After 4 or 5 alternate sandings anddrillings of both sides, the hole will beexpanded to the full shank diameter of theneedle, and it should be perfectly round.
With some practice a perfect "pinhole" canbe made in 5 minutes.
Jim Shull
• General "Types" of Cameras
Books on photography often state that the
"normal" focal length of a given format is
the diagonal measurement of the format
size. Therefore, the "normal" focal length of
"Even greater wide- the 4"x 5" format is about 6 inches, whichamounts to about a 40° to 50° angle of angle effects result from view. With pinhole the results from camerasthat have a shorter than normal focal curving the 'film' holder length, or "wide angle," are usually finer in in the camera." resolution, have more contrast and requireless time to make an exposure. A 4" focallength will produce a wide-angle effect ofabout a 60° angle of view. A 3" focal lengthresults in an 80° angle of view. Even greaterwide-angle effects result from curving the"film" holder in the camera, which alsosomewhat equalizes the exposure over the"film" plane. This camera can be made froma tube or cylinder, such as a Quaker Oatscereal box.
Jim Shull
A wide angle foto of farm equipment made using a camera with a shorter than
normal focal length and a curved "film" plane.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
A wide angle, frog's eye view pinhole foto.
Jim Shull
The "telephoto" camera, which has a focallength that is longer than "normal," is quiteeasy to make, but extreme telephoto (whichfor the 4" X 5" format is a focal lengthlonger than 10 inches) is not especially sat-isfactory. Factors of diffraction and "circlesof confusion" enter in that make low con-trast (gray) and low resolution (fuzzy)images.
A "telephoto" view is made by using a longer than normal
focal length. For this image, the camera was placed on a
nearby ledge, about 5 feet from the subject.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
A "telephoto" pinhole foto can be fairly sharp and of good con-
trast. The camera was placed on the beam in front.
Jim Shull
Stereo pinhole is another simple thing. Acamera made from a long box that will takea 5" x 8" piece of paper is a convenient size.
Make a divider in the center, put in two pin-holes 2" to 3" apart, and expose both sidesat the same time. ✔ The Darkroom
With the pinhole installed, the camera isready to be loaded for an exposure, whichrequires some sort of darkroom for theloading, unloading and processing of the"film." A darkroom for pinhole use can bequite simple and inexpensive. I've madedarkrooms out of cardboard, black sheet "The most difficult detail plastic and appliance crates, and dark- is the way in and out." rooms for camp or workshop situationswhere there was no water or electricity. Themost difficult detail is the way in and out.
A door that goes directly into the dark-room means that every time the door isopened a blast of white light gets in and allthe darkness goes out. For a small scalesituation with people that stop and thinkabout it before going in or out, this is OKaltho inconvenient. A much better methodis to construct some sort of zig-zag, walkthru light baffle. This can be done withcardboard, black sheet plastic, packingcases and the like, along with lots of ducttape.
Jim Shull
It is advantageous if the wash part of pro-cessing can go on outside the darkroom,like in a convenient sink, or pond, or river, orthe ocean. This means that people can lookat their stuff in white light with out havingto suspend darkroom activities. If there isa shortage of water, the use of a washingaid after the fix can cut done the amountof water needed for the wash, or the fotoscan be washed later when and/or wherewater is available. Most photographicpapers can survive unwashed for a fewdays.
• Safelight
Essentially, a darkroom is a place where
white light is excluded but red to orange
"safelight" is present. For situations where
"A word of caution; no there is no electricity, the safelight can bea hole to the outside covered with red cello- safelight is totally phane or red blockout film (used for graphic safe for light sensitive design purposes). A flashlight with redmaterial over the bulb can also be used.
Where there is electricity any red to orangesafelight is OK including homemadearrangements such as a 1958 ford taillight lens with a 7 watt bulb inside. A wordof caution; no safelight is totally safe forlight sensitive materials and some safe-lights are safe for only a few minutes. Allphotographic paper should be kept in a lighttight place at all times. Most people learnthat basic rule when they turn on the whitelight and then notice the box of paper withthe lid off.
Jim Shull
Other equipment for the darkroom wouldinclude 4 trays big enough for 4" x 5" paper.
Inexpensive office or household plastic con-tainers usually work well. 2 or 3 pairs oftongs are quite desirable but not absolute-ly necessary. Other darkroom items thatare more or less nice to have but notessential would include a timepiece, such asa wristwatch that indicates seconds, athermometer, various measuring containersof the kitchen variety, contact printer,paper cutter, and such really non-essentialthings like air condition-ing, stereo and refridgefor refreshments.
Gotta have:
4 trays big enough for 4"x5" paper Nice, but not essential:
2 or 3 pairs of tongs a clock that shows seconds And maybe even:
air conditioning? Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
✔ Darkroom Events
• The Light-Sensitive Stuff
When a more or less workable darkroom has
been set up, the loading, unloading and pro-
cessing of the "film" can commence, which
brings up a point to ponder, namely, what
to load. While any light sensitive material
can be used to make a pinhole image, such
as film and enlarging print papers, I recom-
mend enlarging print paper for the following
1. Most papers are Orthochromatic, mean-
ing they are not very sensitive to redlight and are used in safelight condi-tions. This means the entire cycle ofloading, unloading and processing can beobserved. Regular Panchromatic films aresensitive to all light and require total "This means the entire darkness during processing.
cycle of loading, 2. With papers the same chemicals can be
unloading and processing used for positives and negatives. can be observed." 3. The developer for paper takes less time
to do its job than developer for film.
4. Paper is cheaper than film, which is in
keeping with the low cost way of pinhole.
My usual method is to buy 8" x 10" printpaper and cut it down to 4" x 5" (in thedarkroom).
So now that the camera has been loadedand an exposure made, what's next? Jim Shull
• Chemicals
The standard chemicals are in readiness in
the trays; developer, stop bath, fix and
water wash. They will function at tempera-
tures between 50° to 100°. The ideal tem-
perature is 68°, give or take 10°. The
exposed paper is first placed in the tray of
DEVELOPER for about 2 minutes, then
dunked in the tray of STOPBATH for 10 to15
seconds, then into the FIXER tray for 5 to
8 minutes, then to the water WASH for
awhile (usually the longer the better).
Once again, the DEVELOPER is any brand ofpaper developer. The development time of 2minutes is sort of typical, with 1 to 4 min-utes being the usual range.
The STOP BATH can be plain water, but asnort of Acetic Acid will make it much moreeffective. Acetic Acid is a standard photo-graphic chemical, just follow the formula on "When it becomes the bottle. Indicator Stop Bath, anotherstandard photographic chemical, is even exhausted, it turns purple, better, it makes the stop bath look yellow.
a clear indication that the When it becomes exhausted, it turns purple,a clear indication that the stop bath is stop bath is pooped." pooped. The stop bath will stop the develop-er from developing the image, which for agood exposure is not of much concern. Moreimportantly, the stop bath will neutralizethe paper. The developer is alkaline and thefixer is acid and would soon be renderedworthless by the developer if there were nostop bath. It works the other way aroundas well.
Jim Shull
The FIXER eschews obfuscation (a 1970'sbumper sticker comment). It will fix theimage so that white light will not turn theimage black.
The WASH gets the fixer out of the paperso the image won't turn brown and ulti-mately fade. An optional product known asHypo Clearing Agent will speed up the washtime and reduce the amount of water thatis needed.
".the developer stage is In keeping with the inexpensive way of pin- the moment of truth." hole, your well-washed but still wet nega-tives and/or positives can be dried betweenthe pages of a telephone book, a volume ofart history, or simply allowed to dry on aconvenient surface.
To rehash a bit more elaborately; the devel-oper stage is the moment of truth. If agood exposure was made the image willbegin to appear in 20 to 30 seconds andnot turn black all over. This makes the expo-sure a "keeper," at least for technical rea-sons; aesthetic reasons are another con-cern. If the exposure is obviously not akeeper there is no reason to go thru therest of the trays. Reload the camera andtry another exposure. "Bad" exposures andtheir causes are discussed in the table onthe next page.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
Two Symptoms of "Bad" Exposures.
A.—The paper remains blank white, or
1. The paper was loaded in the camera
the paper to the light sensitive side.
2. The shutter was not open during the
3. The exposure was not long enough by a whole lot.
B.—The paper image is very dark, or
1. The camera has a big light leak
2. The paper was exposed to white light by mistake.
3. The exposure was too long by a whole lot.
Jim Shull
✔ Making Positive Prints
After a few exposures have been made thatturn out OK, you will have a good idea ofwhat works with the particular paper you "The basic method is are using along with the general light condi-tions of the moment. The next trick is to known as contact printing make a positive print from a negative. The and it can be done either positive is what people ordinarily call a pho-tograph (fotograf). The basic method is known as contact printing and it can bedone either wet or dry. The dry method gen-erally results in better prints but the wetmethod can be done as soon as the nega-tive gets to the wash.
• Wet
When the negative is in the wash, an unex-
posed piece of paper is also placed in the
wash for a minute or two. Then the negative
and the positive-to-be are placed together
face to face (emulsion surface to emulsion
surface) on some sort of support and the
excess water and air bubbles are skooshed
out. Make sure the negative is between the
source of white light and the unexposed
paper, which usually means the negative is
on top. Turn on the white light for about
one second, then put the positive to be in
the developer and put the negative back in
the wash. With a few exposures a fairly
good idea of the proper exposure time can
be determined.
Jim Shull
• Dry
If you can wait for the negative to dry, the
dry method is simpler and can make better
results. A piece of glass is needed to main-
"If you can wait for the tain close contact between the negative negative to dry, the dry and unexposed paper during exposure. Theconstruction (or purchase) of a contact method is simpler." printing frame or printing box with its ownwhite light source is usually worthwhile ifthere are lots of negatives to print.
Jim Shull
The following few pages will help you begin toget an idea of what kind of negative will pro-duce what kind of print. Closely examiningyour negative will determine which picturesyou decide to print.
A negative that is too dark, produces a print that is too light.
A negative that is too light, produces a print that is too dark.
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
A well exposed negative is one that has well defined areas of light and dark (i.e. it's
not overwhelmingly dark or light).
Jim Shull
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
Jim Shull
Doing Your Own Pinhole Fotografy
Returning to the business of making anexposure, otherwise known as "taking a pic-ture." There are factors about making anexposure that require a lot of study andtesting (as a lifetime project) in order tounderstand all the relationships and possi-bilities. Regardless of that, it is not diffi-cult to make a successful exposure withour rudimentary pinhole cameras, and for alot of simple cameras that have beenaround since the Kodak appeared in the19th century. For the way of pinhole, makingthe exposure mostly consists of loading thecamera, going to a likely place to take apicture, parking the camera where it can't move for a long exposure (like one minute),going back to the darkroom and processingthe exposure. An ability to produce a wellexposed negative is learned thru experience,and the way of pinhole is a fast way of get-ting the experience. This is the way mostpeople acquire and improve their ability tophotograph.
Jim Shull
✔ The Four Factors
Regardless of our casual approach, thereare certain factors that are in effect everytime a photograph of any kind is made.
"Knowing the factors will Having some information about those fac- also make it possible to tors can help in understanding what hap-pens and why, or what doesn't happen and calculate an exposure." why not. Knowing the factors will also makeit possible to calculate an exposure for var-ious conditions, or to relate the way of pin-hole to the photographic methods like thezone system, or maybe even to the way ofZen. These can be conveniently regarded asthe Four Factors. They are fundamental tophotography because if any one of them ismissing, a photograph cannot be made.
The factors are listed on the opposite page,and treated in more detail in the rest ofthis chapter. The Four Factors
for Exposure
1. Light.
How much and what kind. Measured 2. Sensitivity of "film."
Measured with ASA, ISO, DIN or ANSI 3. Interval.
The amount of time the light is allow go thru the hole. Measured by shutter 4. Aperture.
How big the hole is that the light goes thru to get to where the "film" is. Measured by "F" stops. This is wher comes in. The f-stop is a simple ratio expressing the relation of the the hole to the distance from hole plane. Therefore, a 1" hole and length creates a ratio of 1:6, or f/6.
Jim Shull
For orthodox photography the usual tech-nique is to take a light reading with a lightmeter that has been set to a particularASA, ISO or DIN number, which is the film "This is an art part of "speed". The reading will show a range of photography, as well as possible "F" stop and shutter "speed" com-binations, one combination is selected, and being philosophical the exposure is made. On the surface, it looks very simple, but there are a lot ofinteresting, sometimes peculiar and oftencomplex elements to each factor and theirrelations to each other. The subjective judg-ment for each factor that the photograph-er has is also part of the equation. This isan art part of photography, as well as beingphilosophical territory (filosofical for pin-hole). For pinhole the factors work thusly: • Light
The more the better, especially if the "film"
is enlarging paper. Paper is much more sen-
sitive to the blue end of the spectrum so
daylight is about the best light usually
available. Also, paper is slow stuff com-
pared to film.
• Sensitivity of the "film"
Manufacturers of enlarging papers don't
rate papers with ISO numbers, but often
use ANSI numbers. A 200 to 300 rating is
fairly slow and 750 to l000 is relatively
fast. Also the contrast grade of the paper
usually affects "speed." Most papers of
grade O, l or 2 (soft papers) are faster
than higher grades of the same paper.
Variable contrast papers can be used and "It is my experience that their rating will be for no filter. It is my the lower, soft grades of experience that the lower, soft grades ofpaper generally give better results, at least paper generally give for the kind of pinhole fotos that I like.
better results." Single weight paper is easier to use, andcheaper, than double weight.
I usually use a medium speed, single weight,contrast 2 semigloss paper. I use an ISO of4 which I learned by trial and error. Mostpapers are about the same. You can takeyour particular brand and at least startwith ISO 4, then adjust accordingly. If youuse ortho film, there will be an ISO rating inthe instructions, sometimes two or three. Ifso, use the one for white flame arc. • Aperture
This is the ratio of the size of the aperture
(pinhole) to the focal length. The focal
length is the distance from the hole to
where the film is. So if the hole is one inch
in diameter and the focal length is 6 inches
(distance from hole to film plane), the ratio
is 1:6, or F/6. For example, a number 10 nee-
dle is .018" and if used with a 5" focal
length, then:
= f/277 (f/280 is close enough)
This is another reason for not using a lightmeter; even the best seldom chart beyondf/45.
Jim Shull
To save you from tiresome calculations,here's a table: Needle no.
Best Focal Length
The table below shows the resulting f-stopsfor varying focal lengths with a .018" pin-hole.
Focal Length
• Interval
Generally known as shutter "speed." With
pinhole the shutter speed is usually more
than 15 seconds and can even be hours. In
my opinion, if the exposure takes more than
"In other words, to heck 10 minutes then the conditions for the wayof pinhole are not sufficiently auspicious. In with it; wait until the sun other words, to heck with it; wait until the sun is out. Such slow shutter speeds meanthat the shutter can be quite rudimentary.
I use black vinyl electrician's tape to coverthe pinhole. A finger over the pinhole willsuffice for a quick trip out and back intothe darkroom.
To calculate shutter speed, a basic law isused: at f/16 on a bright sunny day, theproper shutter speed in the reciprocal ofthe ISO number. Therefore at f/16, on abright, sunny day, with ISO 4 paper, theshutter speed should be 1/4 second. However, pinhole cameras often have muchhigher f-stops (see the chart on the oppo-site page!). The following key shows theshutter speeds for different f-stops (stillon a bright, sunny day with ISO 4 paper).
Shutter Speeds (in seconds)
Advanced exposure info is provided onpages 73 and following. Jim Shull
This mostly takes care of the basic busi-ness of the way of pinhole fotografy. I rec-ommend using this information and making "This mostly takes care some exposures for a while. You will probablyget some ideas for pinholy possibilities, of the basic business which will increase your interest, magnify of the way of pinhole your joy, and generally demonstrate whypinhole fotografy has significance beyond being a funny way to take pictures. Also,questions may begin to form which are usu-ally a variation on "what am I going to takea picture of?" The next chapter suggests afew possibilities.
Nifty Pinholy Ideas
• Try high-contrast paper, or "litho" films,such as Kodalith. It's not necessary to usethe specified developer. Dektol will developanything. However, the best high-contrastor tonal range possibilities will result withspecified developers.
• Try panchromatic stuff, otherwise knownas regular film. It's more of a hassle in thedarkroom but it sure is fast exposing, andyou can modify orthodox cameras in orderto use roll film.
Jim Shull
• Try X–Ray film. Orthochromatic and fast(but not cheap).
• Make your own light-sensitive emulsions,such as the gum bichromate process, andapply to different shapes or surfaces, like "Modify a Polaroid the inside of a rubber ball. Info about thiscan be found in books on alternate photo- camera and expose graphic methods.
• Distorted images such as the image offa Christmas tree ball or convex mirror, orwindows with water drops on them.
• Modify a Polaroid camera and exposecolor film.
• Multiple images by using several pinholesin different kinds of patterns.
• Use unround-pinholes, such as a narrowslit or a square hole.
• Try infrared film.
The image to the right was created using an array of
three pinholes in a "normal" flat-back camera.
Jim Shull
When shooting this image, three of the five pinholes in the
"normal" flat-back camera were used.
Nifty Pinholy Ideas
The negative of the same image shown on the previous page.
Jim Shull
Nifty Pinholy Ideas
This pinhole foto of some old farm equipment was shot with a
"normal" flat-back camera, using three pinholes.
Jim Shull
Foto of an ear (with surrounding head).
• Lie down next to your camera and take apicture of your ear (or some other view ofyour anatomy).
• Halfway thru an exposure, put an objectin front of your camera, or move some ofthe objects that are in view of the camera.
This will result in transparent "ghost"objects. Also, anything moving about duringan exposure will not show up in the fotograf.
A view of a busy downtown will appear to bedeserted.
Nifty Pinholy Ideas
Shot with a "wide-angle" curved-back camera, a child's ball
was removed from the foto mid-exposure to create the ghost-
ly image you see in the upper left-hand corner.
Jim Shull
• Take a picture of an object and processthe negative. Place the negative in anothersituation and fotograf that. The negativewill be a positive in the next negative.
A negative looks like a positive on a negative fotografed of it.
If you print the second negative, the original negative will once
again look like a negative.
Advanced Exposure Tips
While the info in the manual is adequate forthe more casual pinholer, experienced pho-tographers will notice the omission of infor-mation about reciprocity failure during thetypically long exposures for the way of pin-hole. For those of you who must know every-thing and have good light meters and wantto pinhole according to the Zone System,here is some additional info to carry you onto the perfect pinhole fotograf.
Jim Shull
Reciprocity means that when shutter andaperture values are changed step-by-step,say, from f/16 at 1/125 second to f/l1 at1/250 second, the two exposures would beidentical as far as the film is concerned. However, this reciprocity conks out whenexposures are extremely short or (as we areconcerned about in pinhole) extremely long.
Since the phenomenon has been known forquite some time, fairly accurate (andlengthy and complicated) compensatingfactors have been worked out. They look likethis: Indicated Exposure X Reciprocity-Failure Compensation
= Actual Exposure Time
= 1 minute, 52 seconds However, not all photographic emulsionsrespond the same way and some papersare much more sensitive than the compen-sating table indicates. Testing and com-plete notes of test results are in orderhere. Prayers and incantations may also beof some help.
Perfection: Advanced Exposure Tips
When making precise calculations for expo-sure, you may also find it helpful to aug-ment the shutter speed key on page 59 byadding two intermediate slots between themajor slots of aperture and shutter speed.
The resulting table would look somethinglike this: Shutter Speeds (in seconds)
This kind of key works the best with pinhole,since the f-stop of the individual camera ininvariably something odd like f/290 whichdoes not fit the standard progression.
Extra intervals on the key will make thingsa little more precise.
For pinhole fotografers who want to masterevery little detail, a handy guide for calcu-lating exposure is the Black Cat ExtendedRange Exposure Guide (see the back pagesof this book for ordering info). Pinhole Camera Plans
For those pinholers industrious enough to start from scratch (or for those who find themselves
lacking a suitable box to modify), the plans below will make an excellent pinhole camera. The
plans are designed for use with approximately 1/16" cardstock. Using a photocopier (or scanner
and printer, if you have access to these), the plans can easily be scaled up to a 100% pattern
(or you can just draw them out the old fashioned way!).
Acetic Acid
Can be used with water to create an A material (for pinholers generally paper) effective stop bath.
which reacts to light. The degree of its reaction is measure using ASA, ISO, DIN or ANSI numbers (see also Enlarging
How big the hole is that the light goes through to get to where the film is. This
is measured in f-stops (see F-Stop).
Film Holder
Hold the "film" in place in the camera. Circles of Confusion
May be either flat, or curved (for "wide- The constituent components of an image, when these are close enough together they are called points and the image is considered to be in focus.
An acidic chemical which fixes the image so that white light will not turn the image Refers to the light and dark areas in an image. High contrast images have strong Focal Length
areas of dark and light, low contrast The distance between the film plane and images have few areas of dark and light the pinhole. The "normal" focal length is but lots of gray.
is the diagonal measurement of the for-
mat size (see Format Size).
An alkaline chemical used to develop Format Size
images in the darkroom. Refers to the dimensions of the "film" that is used in the camera.
This is the "film" of pinhole. Compared to standard film, its reaction to light is Expresses the ratio between the size of quite slow. Since it is much more sensi- the pinhole to the distance from the hole tive to the blue end of the light spectrum, to the film plane.
it is best used in daylight. Generally Infinite Depth of Field
rated with ANSI numbers for "speed" Objects are in focus no matter how close (rate of reaction to light.) to or far from the camera they are.
Refers to the exposure of the film to The amount of time the light is allowed to light. The four important factors to con- go through the hole. It is measured by sider are the kind of light, the sensitivity shutter speeds.
of the "film," the amount of time the shutter is open, and the aperture of the camera (see Film, Interval and Aperture).
Papers which are not very sensitive to red
light and are used in safelight conditions
(see Safelight).
Otherwise known as "regular" film, can also be used for pinhole. It is more of a hassle in the darkroom, but is very fast to expose, You can also modify an ortho-dox camera in order to use roll film.
Printing, Wet or Dry
Involves the making of a positive print from a negative. A red to orange light used in a darkroom to which lightsafe materials do not react strongly. Since shutter speed are very slow with pinhole, a piece of electrical tape (or even a finger) will suffice as a shutter.
Accomplished by placing a divider in the center of the camera with a pinhole on either side. Both halves of the film are exposed simultaneously.
Stop Bath
Used to stop the developer from develop-ing the image. Also neutralizes the paper.
This bath can be plain water, or you can use Indicator Stop Bath, a yellow solutionthat turns purple when it is exhausted. Telephoto cameras are those with a focal
length that is longer than normal (see
Focal Length).
Gets the fixer out of the paper so the image won't turn brown. An optional prod-uct known as Hypo Clearing Agent will speed up the wash time and reduce the amount of water needed.
Aperture, 12, 57-59, 73
Camera Obscura, 8-9
Focal Length, 26
Format Size, 22
Ghost Images, 68
Gum Bichromate Process, 62
Negatives, Evaluating, 46-51
Circles of Confusion, 10
Pinhole Sizes, 24
Polaroid, 62
Depth of Field, 10, 12
Printing, Contact, 42-45
Developer, 38, 61
Distorted Images, 62
Exposure, 52-60, 71-3
Self Portraits, 68
Advanced Tips, 71-73 Distorted Images, 62 Film Sensitivity, 55-56 Multiple Pinhole, 62, 32 Photographing Negatives, 70 Film/Paper
Stop Bath, 38
Enlarging Paper, 37 Holder, 22-23, 27 Wide Angle, 18-21, 26
Zone System, 71
Loading, 32Panchromatic, 61X-ray, 62 Other Books from
Amherst Media, Inc.
Black Cat Extended Range
Into Your Darkroom
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