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
- 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.
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:
- First shoot a roll of b & w film.
- Get together the ingredients and equipment.
- Put the film, scissors, bottle opener, reel and developing tank into the changing bag.
- Get the film out of the cannister using the changing bag and an old style bottle opener.
- Still in the bag, snip the end of the film and wind onto the reel which comes with the developing tank.
- Now pop the film into the tank and snap on the lid. The film should be safe now.
- Make up six ounces of coffee at 20°C.
- Add half a teaspoon of vitamin C powder. Stir.
- In another cup mix six ounces of water with three and a half teaspoons of washing soda. Stir.
- Mix the coffee mix and the washing soda mix together and heat up to 20°c again.
- Mix up the fixer according to the packet instructions.
- 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.
- Pour out the developer. Keep the film in the tank and wash it through three or four times.
- Pour in the fixer. It needs to in there for five minutes. Again agitate three times eac minute.
- Pour out the fixer. It can be reused a few times so store it in labelled container.
- 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.
- Hang up and let to dry.
- 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.