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7 Steps to Making a Pinhole Camera

pinhole camera

This Sunday is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day! In these 7 steps, you can make your own pinhole camera out of materials around the house and take black and white photos with it.

1. Gather materials

You will need a box, photo paper, thin piece of metal like a can or brass shim, tape, xacto knife, needle, and sand paper.

pinhole camera lens

2. Make pinhole

The pinhole is like the lens of the camera. Poke a tiny hole in the brass shim with a needle and sand it smooth. Trim the shim so there is a little space around the hole.

3. Make camera box

You can use a shoe box, oatmeal box, or whatever. The box must be light-proof. When the lid is on and the shutter is closed the inside is completely dark. The only light comes through the pinhole. Make sure there are no holes or openings in the box. Seal it and paint it flat black. Cut a small square opening in the box for the pinhole to go in.

pinhole camera shutter

4. Put in pinhole and make shutter

Tape the pinhole behind the square opening with electrical tape. Center the pinhole in the square. Then make the shutter which is just a flap that covers the pinhole from the outside. It can be made from some more tape.

5. Load the photo paper

This must be done in complete darkness. You can make a darkroom in a bathroom or closet and use it for developing and changing paper. Tape a piece of photo paper to the inside of the box across from the hole. Put lid on and make sure the shutter is closed. Now you can go out in the light.

pinhole shutter

6. Take a picture

Point the camera at what you want to shoot. It works best when it is bright and sunny. Depending on lighting and clouds hold shutter open for 30 seconds to 4 minutes then close. Everything has to stay perfectly still. Go back to the darkroom and take paper out to develop.

7. Developing

You will need developer, fixer, water, tongs, towels, and a safe light in your darkroom. It must be pitch black when the safe light is off. You can use orange LED Halloween lights as a safe light. It is cheaper and you get more light than a small red darkroom bulb. The paper from the box will be a negative. To make the positive put another piece of photo paper under the developed negative face to face. The negative must be on top. Use a piece of glass to press them together and turn the lights on for a few seconds. Make sure your extra photo paper is safe and covered or it will develop all black. Now develop the positive. It goes in the developer, then water, then fixer, then water, and then air dry.

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