Monday, May 5, 2014

A pinhole adventure - More than just a pinhole

Pinhole Photography

An very inspiring session was conducted in the libraries , known as the Pinhole Photography. The workshop instructor was then Mary-Ann Teo. She is lecturing part time in various tertiary institutions about photography as well as teaching in classes at Objectifs. After participating the workshop, I observed something different in the pictures. This observation I will reveal towards the bottom of the post.

What is Pinhole photography?

It is a lenless photography whereby only a tiny hole is created in an enclosed container to allow light to pass through and forming an image on the photographic paper which is to be attached at the opposite end of the container. Care and cautious is required to create the camera as a slight mistake, the photographic paper which is attach opposite the pinhole could be overexposed and no image would be captured.

Pinhole vs Lens
  • Pinhole camera has indefintely depth of field, regardless whether the objects are near or far, they would be reflected with the same sharpness. 
  • However, due to the small aperture of pin hole, more time is required for enough light to enter through the hole to create a image. Longer time will be needed if the light is dim. Hence, moving objects creates blur image while a stationary building will create a sharper image. 
  • You have totally no control how long you need to expose the pinhole and you can't really see what you are shooting. Sometimes, you are in for a surprise!
  • The overall image captured by pinhole camera is usually softer in appearance than the lens camera.

These are the very reasons why some photographers love pin hole camera. The results of these images are astounding. You may want to google for pinhole images to have a look yourself.

How to make a pinhole camera?
Interestingly, I was told any shoebox can be made into a pinhole camera. I even read online that Pringles can can be made in to a pinhole camera!

If you are interested in photography and developing your own photos, you can try making one yourself using shoe boxes. This is a way to recycle those boxes. Otherwise, just sign up at the library e-kiosks or the "Go library" website.

Materials required
  • 1 shoebox with tight fitting top
  • Black masking tape
  • Black Construction Paper
  • Aluminium Foil
  • Card Stock
  • Cutter
  • Double sided tapes
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle

Pix 1: Sample of pinhole cameras
Pix 2: Materials required

Pix 3: The Developing  Solutions

Pix 4: And trays
1) First, decide where you want the pinhole to be, we usually choose the cover of the shoe box to make the pinhole. But prior to making a pinhole, make a hole as big as a pencil using a cutter.

2) Tape black construction paper all around the inside of the box. Make sure the paper sticks to the corner of the inside of the box. The inside of the box must be entirely black so that lights will not be reflected. Reflected lights ruin pictures.

3) Since now the hole that you have cut in step 1 is covered, use a cutter to trace and cut the hole again.

4) Tape black masking tape on the 4 corners of the shoebox both the covering lid and the shoebox itself. (As per the Pix 1 featuring the sample of the pinhole cameras.) This is to ensure no light could enter from the outside. We went a bit further by taping the sides of the lid so that it will make a tighter fit.

5) Cover the circular hole (mentioned in Step 3) with aluminium foil. Tape it to the black construction paper.

6) Make a pinhole on the aluminium foil using a sewing needle. Our instructor helped us to do this.

7) Make a manual shutter by covering the pinhole with a card stock. The side of the card stock facing the pinhole is entirely black. You may tape as below. This shutter is only open when you are ready to take a photo

8) Stick a masking tape at the side of the box which is just opposite the pinhole. Stick it in such a way that it would act like a double sided tape.

Pix 5: Ta dah! My pin hole camera ready to go!
Getting ready to start
We had a challenge because there is no dark room in the library. Even after switching of the lights in our room and those in the corridors, we can still see silhouettes due to the exit light which was just outside the room. So what we could do was hiding behind tables and passing out the photographic paper. We tried to stick the paper as fast as we can and then cover the lids tight.

Then, we are ready to go out to have a shot.

We are to target objects and lift up the shutter to expose light on to the photographic paper for a certain amount of time which our instructor had told us to. The exposure is dependent on the distance from the pinhole to the photographic paper. Also, it will depend on whether we have a strong light. If the light is dim, we need longer exposure time. We could only take 1 photo at a time.

After that, we closed the shutter and went back to the "not so dark room" to our photos developed using the solutions. The instructor and her assistant helped us with this.

Below are the outcome. Noted some part of the papers are darken... it is due to light exposure since we are not doing in a dark room. Nevertheless, we are all excited to see our products.

A shot of the playground
Plants outside the library. My shutter kept closing, so I have to open it again and again, resulting in motion 
This time, I turn the box the other way round, so that even if the shutter starts to close, it will not obstruct the pinhole.

Science behind the pinhole camera

Now I shall review what I discovered through this workshop.
The images are reversed.

A shot of the playground (Pinhole vs Lens)

Plant (Pinhole vs Lens)

Why? Light travels in a straight line. The top of the image will be reflected on the bottom of the photographic paper. Likewise, images on the left side would be reflected on the right side of the paper. (This is what I see in the image) It is the inverted copy of the actual image. Do you know that our eyes work in the same way? Images are captured upside down on our retina but our brain are smart enough to put it right side up.
However, if we try to put the developed photo the right side up, we noticed it is a mirror image of the actual thing we see. 

View solar eclipse
Further exploration in the internet suggested pin hole camera can be used to view a solar eclipse, it would not damage your eyes. You can view the image by inserting the pinhole between the sun and a piece of white paper.

Future explorations?

This workshop gets me pretty interested in creating my own pinhole images. However, to do that I must have a dark room. The only room I can think of is my storeroom but it is pretty packed now. I doubt I can put the various solutions into that room without creating a mess. Also, to think that I have to use the solutions only for one piece of photo is wasteful unless I run in and out of my dark room several times unloading and loading photographic paper before I develop them. That just puts me off. However, I do think it is an interesting activity to do with children. They would be very proud of their photography skills! Moreover, this project is one of the best to teach patience, in my opinion.

Now here's the chance to do pinhole photography
  • 10 May 2014, Tampines Regional Library , 1.30-4.30pm
  • 25 May 2014, Bukit Merah Public Library, 2.00 -5.00pm

If you are interested, register your interest in participation with library e-kiosk or in "Go Library" Website. Search under "pinhole". It suitable for children 12 year old and above.

PS: Above mentioned library programme is conducted in  Singapore libraries.

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This post is part of the "Care for the Earth" series

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1 comment:

  1. Woah a pinhole camera sure looks interesting and glad you benefited from the workshop! I love how the images turned out! Thanks much for linking up!


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