A pin hole camera is very easy to make, but to
take pictures with it you will need access to a means of developing the
The principle is identical to the camera obscura experiment. This time
we will use a biscuit tin instead of a box. My preference is Bourbons,
but this is a photographic irrelevence - this is really what biscuit tins
were made for!
Take the lid off the tin and have a hole punched in the middle, this hole
should be small, no more than 1.5mm across - put the lid back on the tin
and that's it, one pin hole camera! Ok, not quite, biscuit tins are invariably
highly reflective inside and reflected light will be a problem. To prevent
this stick matt black paper onto the inside of the lid, leaving a hole
for the "pinhole" to shine through, this is exactly how the
examples were taken. If you are really keen you can paint the inside with
matt black paint
To take pictures you will need the assistance of a friend with some means
of processing black and white pictures. All they need do is tape a piece
of printing paper in the back of your tin, in the safety of the darkroom.
Put the lid back on and tape up the lid with black electrical insulating
tape, cover the hole with another piece of electrical tape and take outside.
Set up the camera on a steady surface, untape the hole and leave the camera
for about a minute. Tape up the hole and return to the darkroom to process
the paper and consume bourbons. This may take several attempts before
you get the exposure time correct but all being well quite good results
can be obtained. The measure of success is the number of bourbons left
over - the more left over is a measure of how consumed with the task you
Using this technique will give you a paper negative, this can in turn
be contacted to another piece, exposed and developed to produce a positive.
If you follow this process to the end you will have in effect performed
the Calotype process announced by William Fox Talbot in 1839. Alternatively
you can emply a little computer technology and scan the negative and then
reverse it in a photo editing package.
To confirm all the above was true, I converted this tin into a camera.
The picture shows the, er.......conversion just beginning - how I suffer
for my art!