I have never been really interested in pinhole photography. No reason, just never gave it much thought. But having enjoyed yesterdays pinhole workshop at the Lomography store in Antwerp, and it recently being world pinhole photography day, I thought I'd give it a shot and build my own medium format cigar box camera!
A week or so ago I participated in the pinhole workshop held at the Lomography Galery Store Antwerp. There was quite a turn out and as usual we had lots of fun! Some of the examples that were shown during the introduction were very impressive and got me intrigued. So in honor of today being world pinhole photography day, I decided I would build my very own pinhole camera. I just finished and I’m very proud of my medium format cigar box camera!
Today is Sunday, which means all the shops were closed. That means everything I used for building the camera I found laying around the house, nothing exotic. All I needed was a cigar box, an empty soda can, an old key, a metal washer, a small magnet, strong tape, and the odd bits and pieces of cardboard and packing foam.
In order to make the work a bit easier I first took the lid of the box. Next I cut a piece of sturdy cardboard, exactly the inner size of the box, so I could use it as an inlay. As you can see I drew some lines and circles on the cardboard, they helped me indicate where the film would have to go, where the pinhole should be, what circle would be exposed, etc. If you need help calculating the appropriate pinhole diameter for your box, check out this very useful page.
To hold the film and take up spool in place I used strong cardboard tubes, cut out an opening and closed up the bottom and the top. The tube that will take the film has an opening in the top cap for the winding mechanism to pass through. I duct taped both tubes to the cardboard inlay in such a way they flip open outwards to put the spools in.
For the winding mechanism I used an old house key, parts of a film canister (the cap on the outside of the box, the bottom of the canister on the inside of the box), and some black foam in between to prevent light leaks. Once in place I used superglue to attach the canister parts to the key to make sure it can’t come off, but still turn around!
Next thing was making a shutter of sorts. First I cut a piece of aluminum from an empty soda can, super-glued a metal washer onto it, cut it out, punched a tiny hole, and glued it to the front of the cigar box (obviously after drilling a hole through the box!). I specifically used a metal washer so I could use a small magnet for the shutter.
That was it, I was done building and ready to load! Loading the camera was easier than loading a Diana camera. Just put the film under the left tube, spooled the paper on a take up spool and put the under the right tube, making sure the key caught on, and put in some extra black foam just in case of light leaks. I closed the box, flipped it over and turned the key until the magic number 1 appeared in the hole I drilled in the back.
The only thing missing is get out there and shoot! Tomorrow… It’s been a long day ;-)