How to Make a Pinhole Camera

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Making a pinhole camera can be done using a light-tight shoebox, a bit of black duct tape, black and white processing paper and a bit of aluminum foil. Create a pinhole camera to understand how manufactured cameras work with advice from a professional photographer in this free video on photography.

Part of the Video Series: Photography Tips Techniques
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm John Budden with Shutter Priority Imaging Center. Today what we're going to be doing is we're going to show you how to make a shoe box camera or a pinhole camera it's normally called. What we're going to need is of course we're going to need like a black and white paper, you know regular processing paper. Of course you can't expose this to light. We're just doing this during the daylight process so we can see what's going on. We need a shoe box that's kind of light tight. The best kind of shoe boxes are probably the ones that have the removable lid, not the ones that have the flap lids. What you're going to do is if they do have a flap lid we're going to have to actually get some kind of a tape, like black duct tape works pretty good to seal all your corners and any place where light would show out. We're going to use a little bit of masking tape. We're going to have to have, we're going to need a little bit of aluminum foil. Duct tape too is a really cool thing to have too around. So masking tape can work but duct tape's probably better and black seems to be less likely for light to come through. The firs thing we're going to be doing with the shoe box is the idea is we have to build a pinhole in order for the light to come through. And the idea is, it's not too critical, we want it big enough to where we can actually poke the hole through. Once the hole's through and then we'll make it nice and big here. So that way you can make sure we got our, a good hole in here. The next thing we're going to do is we're going to install what we call our pinhole. The pinhole is, I made it out of duct tape backed with aluminum foil. This way it guaranteed to be pretty much light tight. We're going to center this part of the hole where I poked the hole through the duct tape right over the hole we just poked. And what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead and tape this in place as such. You want to keep it as flat as you can. And once it's in place what we're going to do is we're going to take a very sharp instrument and we're going to gently poke a hole through the aluminum foil just big enough to make a little bit of a pinhole. And that is actually our lens now. The last thing we're going to do is we're going to make a shutter. The shutter I made out of duct tape and here again I used a little bit of aluminum foil to insure that light will not be able to get through. And we're going to install this shutter right over this pinhole as such. And we're going to make sure it stays taped down nice and tight. O.k., so now our shutter's installed. The next process that we're going to do is we're going to actually have to load the camera with film. What we're going to do now is opposite side where we put our pinhole, we're going to put a piece of paper here. Here again, I remind you that this has to be done in total darkness. What we're going to do is we're taping our paper in place as such. You want to make sure it's nice and flat then once the paper's in place we're going to go ahead and close our lid. Once the lid is closed, we are going to come in and we are going to go ahead and tape all the way around the box, tape all the way around the box here so we keep it nice and light tight. Now that your box camera is built and loaded ready to take pictures, what we're going to do is we're going to talk about how to expose your camera. What you're going to do is you're going to hold your box very stable, probably recommend that you put it on a table or something because the shutter speed is going to be around ten to fifteen seconds. What we're going to do here is all you do to expose is point your box wherever you're going to want to take a picture of. You're going to grab this tab and you're going to lift this open like this. This opens your shutter. Once it's open for ten to fifteen seconds what you're going to do is you're going to go ahead and you're going to close your shutter. At this point your camera has exposed your film but the next step would be, go in to a total darkness room, open up, take the paper out and then go ahead and then process your paper. And that's how you make a pinhole camera.

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