Making pinhole camera

It is a while since I last made a pinhole camera but as I am now trying to teach some photography basics in college it is time to have another go.

I found an excellent website article on how to do this: matchbox pinhole camera. The equipment is fairly basic:

  • A matchbox  (standard matchboxes are usually just the right width for 35mm film) – can always find empty ones on the internet or craft shops
  • A new roll of 35mm film.  Any type will do, but normal colour print film 100 or 200 speed works very well
  • An empty roll of 35mm film with at least 1cm stub of film sticking out.  Ask at your local photo labs, they normally throw away/recycle these.It may be possible to find some on eBay
  • Some thin cardboard (the box the new film comes in is fine)
  • An empty aluminium drinks can such as a cola can
  • Black PVC electricians tape
  • The plastic from a spiral binder, or any small piece of thin, curved plastic
  • A fine sewing needle or pin
  • Scissors
  • A sharp craft knife
  • A black marker pen

You follow the instructions on the website making sure that all light is excluded.

The photos, from I remember, are not that bad.

The film can be processed in a lab or a darkroom.

This is lomography at its most basic and amateurish but fun.

Analogue film experiments

I am sad to say that my first experiment in film developing did not work at all. When I took the film out of my canister there was nothing on it so I did a Google search for an explanation. It appears that some light must have got into the film. I am undaunted and want to teach this stage to some students I am teaching so I have splashed out on some new equipment.

Despite film developing being something of a niche interest these days there is still plenty of competition for any products which turn up on eBay. Having been outbid a few times I eventually got my hands on:

  • a black changing bag (essential for making sure no light gets onto the undeveloped film)
  • a Paterson film tank
  • a squeegee for getting the water off the film
  • a bag of washing soda (from a small independent shop)
  • a packet of vitamin C powder
  • some coffee
  • an old fashioned bottle opener
  • a pair of scissors
  • a thermometer
  • washing up liquid
  • Clothes pin or binder clips
  • a packet of Adofix P
  • a couple of measuring jugs

I also got a Paterson darkroom light by accident which will come in handy should I ever print out the images.


The developing kit

The theory goes like this:

  1. First shoot a roll of b & w film.
  2. Get together the ingredients and equipment.
  3. Put the film, scissors, bottle opener, reel and developing tank into the changing bag.
  4. Get the film out of the cannister using the changing bag and an old style bottle opener.
  5. Still in the bag, snip the end of the film and wind onto the reel which comes with the developing tank.
  6. Now pop the film into the tank and snap on the lid. The film should be safe now.
  7. Make up six ounces of coffee at 20°C.
  8. Add half a teaspoon of vitamin C powder. Stir.
  9. In another cup mix six ounces of water with three and a half teaspoons of washing soda. Stir.
  10. Mix the coffee mix and the washing soda mix together and heat up to 20°c again.
  11. Mix up the fixer according to the packet instructions.
  12. Add the developer to the tank and put the lid on. It needs to sit in there for around nine minutes. Agitate for a minute to make sure that all the film is coated and then agitate three times every minute.
  13. Pour out the developer. Keep the film in the tank and wash it through three or four times.
  14. Pour in the fixer. It needs to in there for five minutes. Again agitate three times eac minute.
  15. Pour out the fixer. It can be reused a few times so store it in labelled container.
  16. Now wash the film again maybe three times. For the fourth wash add a spot of washing liquid to ensure the film dries spot free.
  17. Hang up and let to dry.
  18. The film can now be scanned or printed.

I am hoping to try this out when I get to the end of my current film.