So, Worldwide Pinhole Day is coming up in a few days—are all of you pinhole-ready? Are your pinhole cameras armed and ready to shoot? In case you’re among those who prefer making their own special pinhole camera for the occasion, this checklist of things you need to remember when making one could be of help!
The thought of building your own camera, even if it’s just as crude and simple as a pinhole camera, can be daunting. There are often many questions: Where do you start, what should you use, what should you keep in mind? If you’re planning to shoot with a pinhole camera of your own, whether for the upcoming World Pinhole Day or beyond, here’s a 5-point checklist that could help you create the perfect DIY pinhole shooter.
One of the most important things to remember when making a pinhole camera is the pinhole itself. The hole shouldn’t be too big, or else it will overexpose the photo. According to Kodak's Pinhole camera page, the angle and sharpness of your pinhole photos will depend on the diameter of the pinhole and its distance from the film.
If you’re making a camera with the pinhole positioned 3-6 inches from the film, the best results will be produced by a pinhole aperture of 1/75 inch in diameter. To make this, Kodak suggests pushing a number 10 sewing needle through your material only halfway up the needle shank, rotating the needle as you do so to make it as circular as possible. One of the common mistakes when making the pinhole is pushing the needle through, so be careful to avoid that!
All cameras have to be made as light-proof as possible, with light only passing through the lens. Since you’re making a camera from scratch, it’s always best to work with materials that will best keep light at bay. Avoid using translucent, thin, and light-colored materials when making your camera’s body. As basic tips, paint the interior of your camera black, and seal the seams using something dark and opaque (electrical tape works best for this).
Whether for short-term or long term use, you have the best chance of taking great shots with a sturdy pinhole camera. It should not fall apart with just a few use or minor mishandling. While cardboards and soda cans are fine, I think it’s best to work with more durable materials like plastic containers, soup cans, and even wood. While it may take you time to construct pinhole cameras using these materials, it may well be worth the trouble, as they can stick around with you for a long time!
Aside from being sturdy, your pinhole camera should also be secure—inside and out. The interiors should snuggly hold the film in place both during exposure and as you wind it for the next frame. There should be nothing rattling inside as you move your pinhole camera around, and nothing should come off as you wind or move the shutter. Also, your pinhole camera should be secure and stable enough during exposure, so you don’t get blurry shots!
After considering and applying all the tips above, don’t forget to personalize your pinhole camera! It’s the product of all your sweat and hard work, so it’s only proper that you leave the mark of your craftsmanship on it. Tell everyone that it’s your own pinhole camera—pepper it with stickers, paint something on it, stick materials on it, make it eye-catching!
Now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s take a look at some beautiful pinhole photos from the community for inspiration!