Friday, May 7, 2010

How to build a pinhole camera

"Lots of small detail work, but for great effect!"

How I did it: The main thing is determining which container you want to use. Paint cans have been used before, to something as small as a film canister taped to a lamppost. For me I already had a tin of chocolate covered Altoids that was almost empty, so I decided to use that. Later I found an MnM shaped easter tin that, once emptied of its candy, would work fantastically!
I already had some flat black paint on hand from another project, so I painted the insides of both tins with it. To make the hole, instead of drilling down in to it I took a craft awl and a hammer and just punched it down through the metal until I felt it had a 1/4 in. hole, then hammered the twisted edges flat.
A few snips of some aluminum from a Coca-Cola can, a sewing needle and a blunt object to hammer it just barely through the aluminum, and the pinholes were created! To cut down on the reflectivity I colored them with a black sharpy since painting them would have filled up the hole by then, and I didn't have the forethought to paint them before punching the holes in them.
After that I hot glued one of the squares of punched aluminum inside the Altoids tin, and voila! Done! Just need to do a few more things to ensure there are no light leaks, like wrap the outside in some black tape, but for the most part it's finished! Damage to the MnMs tin during the whole punch had to be corrected with a repainting, so we're just waiting for that to dry before hot glueing the aluminum square in to that as well and sealing it up from light leaks. It feels good to be finally done with this project!

Lessons & tips: ~Make sure everything is black, whatever it takes. You're not going for aesthetics when you build one of these things so paint dribbles and sprays are to be expected.
~use a sewing needle to get the appropriate size pinhole. Any more than that and you risk your photo being overexposed. If you can find an accupuncture needle instead, that's better but will take longer to expose.
~Any item almost literally can be used to make one of these, so be creative. Altoid tins are just easiest to get your hands on and empty out the contents of via eating, so they're most efficient.
~Remember when you go to take pictures to load the film in TOTAL DARKNESS. Otherwise your film will be utterly ruined.

Resources: ~the basic tutorial that I followed:

~A slightly more advanced Pinhole Altoid cam:

It took me 3 weeks.

It made me super happy!

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