Pinhole photography

On this page we finish making our pinhole, and attach it to the inside of the glazed and fired ceramic camera. We then assemble the negative holder inside the camera and try it out!

This is page four of four. Here is Page One.

step thirteen
Step thirteen Use a needle to make the pinhole. A stiff, thin embroidery needle works well for this. Ideally the pinhole should be about .3 or .4 mm in diameter and perfectly round. I use a 10x magnifying lens to check the pinhole. Use a very fine sandpaper to clear away any tiny metal burrs that may be around the pinhole. If you do a search on the internet, you'll find that commercially made pinholes are also available. A 400 micron pinhole is a good match for this camera, and not very expensive.

step fourteen
Step fourteen Black duct tape has been attached to the pinhole disk so that just a small area around the pinhole is showing. The black tape will hold the pinhole in place inside the camera, and it will also reduce any internal reflections from the metal disk that could affect the negative. Black weather stripping (found in hardware and building supply stores) is great for making a negative holder. It is spongy, so it has a bit of give when holding the photo paper negative in place. It also has an adhesive on one side, so you just have to cut the length you need and put it in place. Line up a 4 x 5 inch piece of paper on the back wall of the camera opposite the pinhole and use it as a guide for the negative holder. Notice that the camera has a matte black glaze on the inside.

step fifteen
Step fifteen Cut and attach the thin cork strip to the flange on your shutter. I use epoxy to glue it, and the cork is held in place with a rubber band while the glue sets.

step sixteen
Step sixteen You are now ready to try out your camera! If you find that you have light leaks where the top lid fits, try attaching some black weather stripping just under the lid flange.

Pinhole camera exposures with this type of camera are usually much longer than regular camera exposures. In full sunlight the exposure might be a full minute, and for interior photographs the exposures can last for hours. There is some trial and error at first, but if you keep a record of the light conditions and your exposure times you'll soon get a sense of roughly how long each exposure should be.

There are numerous photography sites online with details about how to develop your negatives. It only takes me about five minutes to convert the family washroom into a darkroom for developing negatives. I spent less than $50. on darkroom equipment, but with the digital age now upon us it is getting more difficult to find photography stores that still sell darkroom supplies. To make a positive image from my negative I simply scan the negative and invert its tonal values with a photo editing program.

Best of luck with your own ceramic camera!

Pinhole Camera Photography Home Page
Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175