As two Year 10 photography students who go to King’s School in Winchester Hampshire, we spent a few days at H4Photo for our work experience this year. One of our projects was to make a pinhole camera using craft items, most of which you may already have at home!
We also had an opportunity to practise our studio portrait photography on each other and we even got to do some children’s photography with a real H4Photo client – nerve wracking stuff! We got to use 2 of Jill’s manual film cameras to shoot some images for our coursework. To see our gallery of images from the week, please click here: Click on this link
Making a pinhole camera is fun and easy to do!
We thought you might like to see how we got on with making and using our pinhole cameras – we hope you enjoy reading all about it!
We used the Orms TV template and instructions that we found online and plenty of supplies from a successful and enjoyable trip to Hobbycraft. It took quite a while to cut everything out and stick it to some thick, black card, then cut it out again. We also found the task of assembling the card into something that at least looked relatively similar to the instructions, pretty tricky. Instead of using glue (which definitely would NOT have held the camera together) we turned to gorilla tape, although it didn’t look as pretty, we had a camera that wasn’t about to fall apart and was fully protected from any light exposure.
The hardest part or the project was putting the film into the camera! Yes, it may not sound that bad, but when you can’t see what you’re doing because your hands (and the camera) are inside a changing bag, which is a portable dark room used for changing film out in the field, then it’s considerably more difficult. You must make sure you are doing a number of things correctly such as: Lining up the holes as perfectly as possible, making sure you’ve wound the film as tightly as you can and put the case back on, not to mention the fact that you can only hope you’ve done it right!
The pinhole camera works by firstly turning the knob on top 360 degrees. This moves the film inside to the correct position where it will be exposed to light. To let the light in, you must open the shutter on the front very carefully, trying not to shake the whole camera. Make sure that before you do this, the camera is pointing at what you want to photograph! You need to raise the camera slightly higher than where you see through the viewfinder because otherwise you won’t capture the whole image you want. The reason for this is that the viewfinder is above the pinhole. Keep the camera as steady as you can, then close the shutter again. This creates your photo. Turn the knob on top another 360 degrees each time you want to take a new picture. Once you’ve taken all the photos you want, you will need to develop the film.
Once we had finished making our cameras, we went to historic city of Winchester to take some photos using our pinhole cameras and our digital cameras, so we can compare them and get the biggest range of photos that we could. We took photos of various things including architecture, nature and people who where kind enough to let us. Judging whether it was sunny or cloudy, we determined how long to open the shutter for. If it was sunny, we only opened it for a few seconds but if it was a bit cloudier it was about 10 seconds. We also had to be very careful when taking the photos to keep the camera still to avoid blurry images. We were also taking images related to our course, which is light and dark and choice of colour, both of us have incorporated the street photography into our course work so we mainly focused on that. Making these pin hole cameras was really good for the developing ideas aspect of our course work as it showed advanced photographic skills and the ability to not only to take photos but to understand how cameras work and how to make them.
After developing our rolls of Ilford FP4 35mm film, which is actually easier than you might think, we discovered that we had some very interesting and unexpected results! Because we held our cameras when the shutter was open, our pictures were quite blurry from us moving about. Here are a few examples of the pictures we took with the pinhole cameras.
Our pinhole camera pictures are best viewed from a distance, squinting your eyes and reminded us of many of the earliest photographs ever taken.
Click the link to view the Orms TV video tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEhk7lZhGIA)
and print the pinhole camera schematics and instructions by clicking on this link http://bit.ly/17jZFvb.
Our tips and tricks:
- Watch the video tutorial, we would have done things a little differently!
- We found that using a thick black card, made the camera more sturdy
- Cut out everything very precisely!
- Find something sturdy, like a wall or a tripod, to place the camera on whilst the shutter is open
- Make notes about what you have taken a picture of, like the exposure information and what your subject is.
We found the project to be really fun and interesting to learn about how cameras actually work. We would like to try it again, using our own tips and tricks to improve our final images!
Until next time, Izzy and Ruby