Joined February 2007

A Jill off all trades and always keeping my fingers sticky in many, many pies…. this is one!

Pinhole Goodness

Recently I made my own pinhole camera out of an old biscuit tin. This endeavour was inspired by a wonderful artist going by the name of Steph Tout. I have based my design on hers yet have decided to make it that little bit different. I have made a two tiered camera with 3 holes on each level. So a total of 6 (note: since doing these I have had to adjust the camera and have made 4 holes each level – a total of 8) The idea is to have a panoramic image of a 360 degree view. I have alternated the spacing of each pinhole on the top and the bottom, so the spaces that blend together in one layer can be captured in the other. It has been designed with capturing onto film – with a space big enough to use 120 film or 2 strips of 35mm film in one space.

All the measurements I have included are in relation to a tin size of 130mm depth and 483mm circumference. With a focal length of 40mm and the optimal sized pinhole of 0.25mm; which gives the camera an f-stop of 133.

What I needed:

• 1 x used biscuit tin
• 1 x tin of all purpose – mega grip primer paint that is designed to stick to any surface
• One can of flat black spray paint
• Some sandpaper
• 2 × 240mm circumference piping at 65mm length
• 2 x blocks of wood cut to the inner circumference of the piping
• 2 x screws
• Some heavy duty glue
• Scissors
• Sharp pointy knife
• Some black – non shiny thick plastic
• Some string
• One very large paper clip – or equivalent could have used a stick or something
• Some non shiny black gaffer/cloth tape
• 1 x large empty beer can
• A drill
• A measuring tape
• A ruler
• A pin – approximately 0.3mm
• Bendy plastic tubing approximately 8mm in diameter
• A pen that marks on any surface
• A saw – preferably a circular so you can get the cut of the pipe as close and as smooth as possible
• Very small drill bits
• Time

The Process

I had to work out all of my measurements in relation to the tin size and then prime the tin and let it dry. Next coat was with the flat black spray paint.

Whilst it was drying I prepared the piping and the wood that was going to be attached to the bottom and the lid of the tin. (Here I had some help because I have a phobia of using saws) Once they were cut, I sanded and primed both of them in readiness for spraying them black.

Once the tin and piping was dry I measured up the black plastic to fit inside the tin… This is going to be the separator between the two film cavities. I poked a hole in the centre and threaded some string in and secured it on the other side with an oversized paper clip. This was going to be my handle to be able to remove the divider.

Next is to measure out where the pin holes are going to go. I positioned them evenly distributed around the circumference and in the middle of where each film starts and ends from the top and the bottom. As I mentioned before, the holes were alternated to cover all areas of the tin face but between the two levels. At the same time I bought some tubing which I measured out to just under the circumference of the tin and sliced it down one side. I then primed and sprayed it black and left it to dry. This was going to be used around the edge of the black plastic divider to ensure that there are no light leaks between the two levels. It was attached with black gaffer tape and it fits snugly inside the tin to offer a barrier.

Preparing the pin holes comes next. Because the biscuit tin is really thick, there would be no possible way for something as thin as a pin would go through the surface. So instead I got a large beer can – washed it dried it and cut it into 6 pieces. I then sanded the tin pieces, primed them and sprayed them black also. These are thin enough to poke a pin through but are also strong enough not to bend or break easily. It also gives me room to take them out and replace them if I ever need to. Where they are to be placed on the tin, I drilled holes in the places I measured and marked out previously.

Poking holes in the tin is probably the hardest part to this whole endeavour and I found that when I first did it, I had not made the holes smooth enough and too large – therefore the image was unfocused and overexposed…. I have now discovered that you can purchase minutely small drill bits from Ebay with diameters from 0.2mm upwards, which will help to rectify any problems from not being able to find needles/pins small enough…. I looked for ever – they are not easy to come by…

Once they are the right size and as smooth as you can get them attach them to the inside of the tin – lining them up with the hairpin measurements on the outside. I used a fair amount of gaffer tape to secure them and then resprayed the inside of the tin with black paint once again to make sure there were no white parts showing… (another note – its probably easier to attach the can on the inside and respray before putting the holes in, that way your holes won’t fill up with paint. You may not need to respray the gaffa anyway – make an executive decision when you get to that point)

So that is basically it! All that needs to be done now is to load some film into it in complete darkness and test it out. Oh and links to Pinhole Camera Calculators so that you can find out the best exposure time for your camera!

Hope this has been slightly useful for anyone who may want to have a go! Most of all – Have Fun!!

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