An Unusual Pairing – Pinhole Photography & Color Film


A simple hole through a black box with some light sensitive material inside is the basic recipe for pinhole photography. The technique has withstood the passing of time, and is beloved among many analogue photographers. The look of a pinhole photo is immediately recognizable thanks to the soft focus from the long exposure which blurs any moving object.

We made an unusual choice, and decided to see how far we could stretch our Lomography Color Negative 120 ISO 100 during long exposures. We then loaded our Diana F+ Camera & Flash, which features a pinhole aperture at ƒ126, and off we went to take some photos.

First exposure 43 second, second exposure 36 min. Photo credit: Elisa Parrino

With analogue photography, we are actively determining the outcome of our photos from the very first choice made. Therefore, we should consider what we are shooting and the characteristics of our camera of choice.

Let's look at the specifics of pinhole photography. The aperture is fixed to the size of the hole, that will influence every other choice we make. Then it comes down to our choice of film stock, and the hour of the day we are shoot. Not all pinhole photos must have long exposures, but if we consider long exposure anything above two seconds, it is likely.

The Reciprocity Law

Long exposures have an effect on a film’s latitude (the extent to which the film can be overexposed or underexposed and still achieve good results.) This is called reciprocity failure law. It is made more noticeable in color film because of the color shifts that can take place, which is one reason why black and white photos in pinhole photography are much more common.

First exposure 32 seconds, second exposure 10 seconds, third exposure 8 seconds, fourth exposure 2.15 minutes. Photo credit: Elisa Parrino

Reciprocity failure law establishes the inverse relationship between the intensity and duration of light hitting the film, defined as intensity × time, which determines the reaction of the light sensitive material. At the extreme ends of the spectrum, the relationship between exposure time and intensity of light may be very different.

With long exposure times, the film curves start to fail and slow down. Essentially, the number of photons turning into silvers don't have enough time to transform; therefore, we need to give a longer exposure time to get more photons doing their jobs.

First exposure 8 seconds, second exposure 16 seconds, third exposure 26 seconds, fourth exposure 2 seconds. Photo credit: Elisa Parrino

As mentioned, black and white film is common among pinhole photographers because when this process is taking place, there could be a color shift. However, with the new generations of film, there is hardly a visible color shift at all. During our shoot we had a range of exposure times, from two seconds to thirty-six minutes, and even at the longest length the colors remained close to reality.

The natural low contrast and the soft focus we get from pinhole images could be counterbalanced by using a high contrast film. However the environmental factors that will influence the outcome of your pictures vary substantially in pinhole photography.

From these results, we can't find any reason not to shoot more pinholes with color stock. The dreamy soft focus transforms any landscape into a surreal place where we wonder about its inhabitants and the stories and secrets they hold.

To all pinhole lovers, now is time to experiment with color film! Take advantage of our significant price reductions on 120 film. Refill your stock here.

written by eparrino on 2023-11-28 #gear #tutorials #pinhole-photography #color-film #long-exposures #color-negative-120-iso-100

Mentioned Product

Lomography Diana F+

Lomography Diana F+

Take timeless and dramatic photos on 120 film with the Diana F+. Create stunning soft-focused images and customize it with sweet lenses or even an instant back for additional effects and flexibility.


  1. tenseandy
    tenseandy ·

    This seems to me creepy and simultaneously genius. It's awesome!

  2. polaroidlove
    polaroidlove ·

    Great photos. 😊📷

  3. eparrino
    eparrino ·

    @polaroidlove Thanks :)

  4. eparrino
    eparrino ·

    @tenseandy ✨ Thanks

  5. polaroidlove
    polaroidlove ·

    @eparrino, no worries. 😊

  6. stereograph
    stereograph ·

    I never had any problems with Colorshifts and Schwarzschild Effect.
    Expired C41's are very nice for pinhole because of the long exposure times
    the sluggish emulsion get enough light to develope fine colors!
    i was able to shoot a superia 100 at box speed in my WPC 120.……

  7. eparrino
    eparrino ·

    Ohhh they look nice! @stereograph

  8. stereograph
    stereograph ·

    @eparrino thank you! :-)

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