Pinhole Cameras – A Guide To.

Pinhole Camera Construction

Ok so, as the title would suggest, we are going pot-holing! In Croatia!


Pinhole cameras are a fun way of exploring the basics principles of photography.  They naturally produce very unpredictable results, depending on how well they are light proofed, how big they are, what shape the box is and how much they, or anything in the foreground moves.  You can also adjust the results by changing the exposure time of your image.

So to make your pinhole camera, you’re going to need some ingredients, not many though, most of them should be found around the house and if not, depend on your situation, you can remedy this by stealing them from;
Office Worker – The Office.
Student – Uni/College/Secondary School/Primary School.
Builder – Supplement your lack of glue with cement.
Farmer – Bailer Twine is the only ingredient needed.


So firstly here’s a list of items required to work this magic.

  • Box (Shoebox is ideal but any box can work).
  • Black Paint (Spray paint is neatest, though poster paints work too).
  • Sugar Paper (For making a removable tag, and for making light tight).
  • Scissors (These make things neater).
  • A small Pin (For the hole!).
  • Craft Knife.
  • Black Electrical Tape.
  • Foil (of the kitchen variety!).
  • Photographic Paper.


Ok so step one would be paint your box black, and make sure you get every part, inside and out, otherwise light leaking will become a serious problem early on.  One of the main issues with a pinhole camera is creating it light tight, and making sure your tag the covers the pinhole will also be light tight, otherwise your image will be over exposed and you will end up with nothing.  For this reason, you should also cover any holes in the box with the black electrical tape.

Next you should create a way of making the lid light tight.  Depending on your box, it may be naturally light-proof, however most wont and so you will need to make an overhanging seal around the lid to give it some extra light proofing.  You can do this with card or sugar paper, but once again paint it black and seal up any holes.

The next task is to make the pinhole.  This is best done by firstly cutting a small square in your shoebox, approximately 1 – 1.5 cm ², then tape a piece of tin foil over the hole, making sure that it is taped up so no light reaches the inside of the box.  Next you should find the smallest needle you have, and poke a hole in the centre of the tin foil, allowing one single tiny source of light to enter the box.

Finally you need to make some sort of shutter, this can be done in several ways, one of the most effective being to get some card and make a sliding wedge that fits into its own slot, built in front of the pinhole, however this can be fiddley but if you intend to use your camera repeatedly it is probably the best option.  However a far easier method is to create a black tab out of tape and card, then simple stick it above the pinhole, then when you are not using the camera, it falls down and covers the hole (although I personally would stick the bottom with tape as well and remove when using).

Mine looked far more scruffy

And Voila! Youre own pinhole camera.

All that is left to do now is to use it!  By sticking some Photographic paper opposite the pinhole you can then roam around and find something interesting to photograph!  Pinhole photography takes a bit longer than normal camera work and the lens hole is so tiny, so you’re looking at between 2 and 5 minutes exposure for each photo, however that is dependant on each camera so you will need to experiment.

Also, because of how the process of pinhole photography works, your image will be inverted on the photographic paper, so you will need to take it to a dark room and reprint it to get the normalised image.

Here is one I made earlier!

And that's it for this week on Art Attack!


About opinionatedalex

Less opinionated than one might think.
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