The World Inside a Box


Making your own little pinhole camera from scratch is sure fun and most likely will make you feel proud that not only because you built the camera yourself, you'll also manage to produce images with it! But to be inside a pinhole camera? Yes, it is possible with this tipster!

The World Inside a Box by mandi and miriel.

Some of you may have read the A Room with a Special View tipster about turning a room into a giant camera obscura. Living inside a pinhole camera was great for a while but when we started to crave fresh air we had to come up with something new. “Let’s go mobile” we said to ourselves and grabbed the largest cardboard box we could find in the infinite vastness of the archive.

You need

  • A huge cardboard box (should provide enough space to sit inside)
  • White packing paper
  • Spray mount
  • Duct tape
  • Strong cardboard, ideally black

How to

  • Make sure the box is dense and seal light leaks with duct tape (but keep in mind that you are not Harry Houdini and airtight sealing might affect your health!)
  • Line the inside of the box with packing paper
  • Cut a hole with a 5 cm diameter into the middle of one of the narrow sides
  • Cut the black cardboard into pieces large enough to cover the hole in the box and provide each piece with a different sized hole – Now you have some pinhole templates!
  • Cover the hole in the box with a pinhole template and attach it with duct tape. A larger pinhole will produce a brighter but blurrier image than a small one.

Now here starts the fun part, which is (of course) easier, better and even more fun together with a friend. We definitely had a good time and so did the people we met while dragging our box around, aside from the grumpy lady who started shouting at us from her balcony two seconds after we made a step on the courtyards lawn … so beware of paranoid residents/policemen/vigilante groups and ask your friend to watch out.

Carry your camera obscura outdoors and seek for a nice corner, be it a park or the nearest gas station. Place the box on the ground with the open side at the bottom, slip into it and start shooting that beautiful blurry upside down image of the outside world inside your cosy box (tripod and cable release are essential).


written by mandi on 2009-10-09 in #gear #tipster #pinhole #mandi #box #diy #tips #miriel #tipster


  1. luobodingr
    luobodingr ·

    Superb! I love the scale of this.
    I remember reading about a guy who turned the back of his car into a pinhole and drove around town with the hole open to get some amazing results.

  2. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    ayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - thats brill! i think i know what i will be doing this weekend!

  3. dogma
    dogma ·

    Nice idea :)

  4. stouf
    stouf ·

    Hoooo genius... I was already amazed by the "room with a special view", and this is incredible... And I really like the shot where mandi carries the camera... !!!

  5. ethermoon
    ethermoon ·

    wow. i really wonder what you can see inside. is it dark inside the box with just a small peeping hole giving the light?
    this is cool. i will try this thing if i have time...

  6. satanic57
    satanic57 ·

    Amazing! I tried a smaller scale version of this - made a small box, used a hole puncher as a light source and another big hole next to it enough to fit the lens of my camera in it. Captured it with digital - 3200 ISO / F4 / 30 + second shutter speeds.. check it out :

    Great idea!!

  7. iloveverdi
    iloveverdi ·

    this is so cool. I'm hopefully buying a house soon, I'd love to set up a camera obscura in it.

  8. miriel
    miriel ·

    we were surprised how bright it was inside the box!
    however i really recommend to try templates of different sizes - it is interesting to see how brightness and sharpness relate to each other.

  9. fogel
    fogel ·

    gah! i'm so new to this maybe i've missed something obvious... but i love this idea i just don't understand what cameras you can use inside the box? any? even digitial?

  10. miriel
    miriel ·

    @ fogel
    you can use every camera with a bulb (long time exposure) setting.

  11. akillerbluesky
    akillerbluesky ·

    every one should check out this site. its all about pinhole cameras and making them. it also has calculations.

  12. fogel
    fogel ·

    hmmm well i guess ill be figuring it all out when i try this this weekend (thank you sears for huge boxes) but doesnt the position of the camera from the pinhole in the box determine the "focal length" oh wait! you take photos of the white packing paper right?

  13. lucianamorin
    lucianamorin ·

    this is so amazing!

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