I can't remember exactly how or why, but a few weeks ago I read some reference to pinhole photography online, googled it, and then became acquainted with my new obsession. Pinhole photography! It's awesome!
The basic concept is of a camera obscura - A tiny pinhole in one side of an otherwise light tight box will produce an upside down, reversed image opposite the pinhole. If this projects onto film, well, then you've made a camera and now you've got a picture (or at least, a negative).
This sounded like the coolest thing in the world to me. I mean, how fun would it be to make your own camera?
So, I found the following instructions on how to make a pinhole camera out of a matchbox that uses 35 mm film: http://alspix.blog.co.uk/2005/12/
The instructions are really easy, so if you want to make one, just go there and read about it.
I think my matchbox was a tad too tight fitting for my film. My 'frame' on the inside of the matchbox got all bent, which you can kind of see in the following pictures. Also, I had a wee bit of difficulty figuring out the whole film advance thing, but I blame that on my not having shot film in forever.
Anyway, here's the matchbox pinhole camera:
Electrical tape is my friend.
And here are some pictures from that first roll of film (I used 100 speed Kodak black and white TMax):
Shutter speeds for the three above pictures were, from top to bottom, 1 minute, 10 minutes, and 1 second. The one I did for 10 minutes, I just set the camera on my bookcase and then screwed around on my computer until the timer went off.
A really cool thing about pinhole photography is that the depth of field is unlike that of regular cameras. Normally, if you take a picture of something really close, the objects in the background are blurry. But with pinhole photography, everything is in focus.
The matchbox camera was kind of a pain in the butt to deal with, mainly because after you shoot all of the film, you have to basically destroy the whole camera in order to take the film in to processing. So, my next solution was to go to Goodwill and pick up some junky 35 mmm cameras to convert to pinholes.
I have two pieces of advice for you if you want to do this - get the thinnest camera that you can find - fat cameras are going to give you serious vignetting. Also, if you're intending to use a lens cover as a shutter, get a camera where the lens cover button moves easily. I'll explain in a moment.
The first regular camera to pinhole conversion that I did was the Klutz camera. This is what it looked like at first:
The yellow slidy thing in the front is the lens cover. Unfortunately, this is hard to open and close without shaking the camera, so after the second roll of film I shot in the Klutz, I just fashioned a shutter out of stiff paper to use instead of having to open and close the lens cover all of the time.
Anyway, first I knocked out the cheap plastic lens in the Klutz. Then I disabled the actual shutter by just kind of jamming it up inside the camera. After that, I increased the size of the hole in the front by drilling through it with a big fat drill bit.
I was a litle more exact this time and fashioned a pinhole roughly the size that the pinhole camera builder recommended to me (pinhole camera builder available here: http://www.mrpinhole.com/calcpinh.php
). I did this by scanning part of a ruler that had millimeter markings on it into my computer at 2400 dpi. Then I scanned in the bit of tin I had drilled the pinhole in at the same dpi, and compared the size of the hole I had to where I was coming up on the ruler. It's a pretty good way to get close to an exact measurement, because when you're trying to drill a hole that's .298 mm, that's kind of hard to judge by sight alone.
After I had my correct sized hole, I cut the piece of tin into a circle and krazy glued it to the Klutz.
With the pinhole attached to the camera, I checked to see of the lens cover (now the shutter) would still open and close. It did. Yay! I finished up by decorating my camera with Moo Stickers and sewing a little wallet for Moo cards that I then attached to the back of the camera with Velcro, so it's detachable.
(My husband's Moo cards are in the picture - I hadn't received mine yet when I took it
The final thing I did for the Klutz before I started shooting pictures was to sew a little stabilizer pillow for it. Since you use longer shutter speeds with pinhole cameras, I wanted to try and make sure the camera would shake as little as possible when I was taking pictures. Here's the finished rig:
Finally I had a pinhole camera that was reusable. The main benefit of repurposing an already existing 35 mm camera into a pinhole was that the film advance is a lot easier to deal with than the matchbox pinhole.
So, here's some pics from the Klutz:
You'll notice that the corners of the pictures are black. That's due to something called vignetting, and basically means that something was obscuring the pinhole view in those areas. That's why I said that if you're going to retrofit a 35mm camera into a pinhole, the thinnest cameras will work the best, because you'll be able to keep the vignetting down to a minimum. That being said, I kind of don't mind the vignetting. When I got some pinhole pics developed the other day, the guy at the drugstore asked me, "Why do all your pictures look like they were taken through a toilet paper tube?" So that was pretty funny.
I've made one other pinhole camera so far, the Vivitar Gray. This is another 35mm retrofit from a camera I got at Goodwill. The main difference between this and the Klutz is that the lens cover (now the shutter) moves really smoothly, so I can open and close it without camera shake, and it's motorized, which doesn't really mean anything besides that you just have to hold down a button and the camera will advance the film or rewind it.
I also put a piece of Velcro on the back of this so I can exchange out my Moo wallet from the Klutz.
My vignetting with the Vivitar is a little more severe than the Klutz, and I also have a little "bug" along one edge from where (I think) I disabled the shutter. Here are some Vivitar pics:
Anyway, I'm totally in love with the whole pinhole photography thing right now.
If you have an interest, check out this page - it's from the Worldwide Pinhole Society, who are gearing up to celebrate Worldwide Pinhole Day on April 27th. http://www.pinholeday.org/support/
Thanks for looking, and if you have any questions, let me know, because I have become freakishly obsessed with this.