Pin-hole Photography

Pin-hole photography is a traditional technique where photographic paper is stored inside a dark space (box, room, can, wheelie bin and pretty much anything else thats dark) and exposed directly to the light by a small hole made in the object. Exposures are long, and they range in time from the size of the object and the amount of available light. The image that they produce is a negative, and it has to be converted to a positive, so it acts as a opaque 35mm / 120mm film negative. Once the image is converted, you have yourself an interesting physical exposure of the light at the locate, a true print and in interesting effect that can be creatively distorted by the type of object you use.

We got taught how to do Pin-hole photography using beer cans. This particular type of pin-hole photography was presented to us by a video by Justin Quinnell; a photographer who specialises in being creative with household items to take photographs. He uses can photography a lot because of its interesting aesthetic. The paper curls around the can so when its exposed, the curvature distorts the image into a fish-eye aesthetic, something that looks unique to the un-trained eye. I found this technique really interesting to use, and took some interesting images that I didn’t think were possible before.

How to make the camera

1/  Get a beer / energy can thats 500ml and empty its contents

2/ Draw around the top of the can onto the black card and cut around it to make a cycle the size of the top of the can

3/ Cut into more black card 8 cm in width and 4cm in length to ensure the can is light-tight

4/ Cut 1cm tabs around the paper and fold them inside

5/ Secure the cycle made earlier onto the folded-in tabs with black duct tape to create a lit to the can

6/ Get tin opener and remove the top from the can some photographic paper can be put inside

7/ Use sand paper to smoothen the edges made by the tin opener (prefered), or cover them with tape

8/ Put the lid on the the camera, get the pin and pierce the can about 1cm under where the lid stops

9/ Put some tape over the hole so it can be peeled on and off to acts as a shutter

10/ Ensure the camera is light-tight, if there is anyway the light can get in just cover it with tape

Insert the photographic paper inside the can in a dark area, make sure the matt side of the paper is facing the inside and not covering the pin-hole. Once the lid is put back on and the hole covered you can shoot exposures outside for 20seconds and inside for 6minutes, but the exposures are dependent on the available light.

Remove the paper in dark after the image is taken and put the image in the developer for a minute, the stop for 30 seconds and the fix for 5 minutes. Leave you print in the wash for 10-15minutes and then leave it to dry. You can then scan it onto photoshop and invert it to a positive.

Top tip – when the image has been in the fix for 2 minutes you can take it into the light on a tray and take a photo on you’re phone and invert on an app so you can see you’re result quicker, just ensure you put it back in the fix for the remaining time shortly after.



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