Friday, February 19, 2010

Paint can Pinhole

I originally wanted to wait for this post so that I had a larger set of examples to share of what this “camera” can do, but after an interesting test at COS today, I think it’s too cool to wait.

As discussed earlier this week, you can make a pinhole camera out of just about anything that is light tight and can hold film/paper/etc – like I did with the body cap to my DSLR.  One of the most widely used versions of this is putting a pinhole into a paint can.  Most of them are matte gray or black on the inside, light tight, and the curved back provides interesting wide angles and distortion.


To make a paint can pinhole, simple drill a hole into the side of the can, tape in a brass shim pinhole and make a shutter out of something (I used the black plastic that holds darkroom printing paper and duct tape).  Simply load the camera with film or paper in an appropriate light free or safety lit environment and shoot.  The results will be a negative image that is upside down and backwards.

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Here’s an example of a negative print and it’s corresponding positive:

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However, another classmate and I played with putting color printing film into our paint cans and ended up with really amazing negatives (which I converted digitally to a positive because I was curious).


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The sky should be blue and the trees green, but instead the camera created this interested color scheme.  I love it and plan to do a lot more in the future.  Look for updates!

Diana Mini

Diana mini is a tiny version of the Diana that uses 35mm film either in square or half frame photos.  It has all the advantages of the Diana, multiple exposures, panoramic photos and Diana-esque images.  It also has a cable release for long exposures, as well as hookups for attaching a Diana F+ Flash.


Some examples (by the way, these are the cutest little negatives ever, I love them.  Plus the camera can just about fit in your pocket.)

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And since I’ve been back in the darkroom, here’s another Holga update.  If you aren’t shooting one yet, or at least thinking about it… well, I don’t know.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things that have pinholes already in them and a Holga update

While you can build pinhole cameras using a variety of mediums (more on that in the future), you can also buy cameras that are already premade pinhole cameras or cameras that convert to pinholes.  For example, there is a way to break a Holga to make it a pinhole.  Also, if you buy a Diana F+, it has a pinhole setting and removable lens for genuine pinhole photos.

There are a lot of ways of recording pinhole photos, ranging from 35mm film to photographic paper.  The Diana records images on 120 (medium format) film.  Another fun thing about using the Diana to record pinhole photos, is that you can change the aperture setting, replace the lens and continue to take regular pictures.

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As with any Diana shot, there is room for multiple exposures.  Pinholes also allow for long exposures during daylight, which can be interesting as well.  These are a couple prints I got off my first roll of film.  Some advice from experience: pay attention to whether or not you advanced the film after each photo!  I ended up with a lot of double exposures that weren’t intentional (although some I loved anyway, which is what makes Lomography so interesting at times).

Double exposure pinhole

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A little motion blur…

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Because of the longer exposure and my puppy’s movement, her head and tail are ghosted out of the photo.

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Also, as promised, I have a couple new B&W photos from my Holga.  Even if you’re not doing all the off the wall things I want to try with this blog, I hope these at least encourage or inspire you to spend $20 and take some interesting photos.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pinholes and the things you can put them in

Pinholes are the simplest of cameras.  They basically consist of a very tiny hole punched into some surface that is on one side of a light tight container with either film, paper or something to record a picture.  Then a shutter is used to limit exposure time.

Pinhole pictures are typically dreamy-looking soft focus pictures and depending on how a pinhole camera is built they can be very wide angle or have distorted lines.

The first part of building a pinhole camera is making a pinhole.  As the name implies, it can be made by punching a hole in something with a pin or sewing needle.  I personally use brass shim, which can be obtained in rolls from automotive stores or in small sheets from hobby shops.  Alternative materials include tin foil or repurposing the bottom of Pringles cans, soda cans, etc.


Here, you can see me making a pinhole by drilling the brass with a  needle.  The best way to get a small, round hole is to drill just until a bump forms on the bottom side of the brass, then use a sanding  block to sand the brass down until there is a tiny hole, like so…


For this particular pinhole camera, I want to put it on my Canon 50D.  The easiest way to make a DSLR pinhole “lens” is to put a pinhole into a body cap.  You can pick these up on eBay or Amazon for just a couple bucks.  Then drill a hole in the center where the pinhole will be placed…


Use electrical tape to tape the brass pinhole in place…


And you have a pinhole “lens” for your DSLR (or film SLR if you’d like to try that instead)



Since this version of a pinhole has a relatively low focal length, you won’t get photos that are as sharp as is possible from some other pinhole cameras, but I recommend using a low ISO and try making a couple of brass pinholes to experiment and see which ones work the best.  You’ll also notice these pictures require a long exposure time, meaning you’ll need a tripod or stead surface and a wireless remote or shutter release cable can come in handy.  (Some of mine had exposures of up to 20 minutes on ISO 100 inside my lit house).

You might also notice dust showing up in pinhole DSLR photography.  Don’t worry, your sensor isn’t that dirty, but the super small aperture of pinholes means that you have almost an infinite depth of field and will see dust in your photos.  Nothing a minute or two in Photoshop won’t fix.

Another pinhole option (which I haven’t tried but am considering) is obtaining a laser cut pinhole.  You can also buy body caps for certain cameras that have premade laser cut pinholes.  I personally like the DIY approach and the trial and error of it.

I only have 2 days of successful pictures (and I like them more as I keep experimenting), but here are some preliminary examples.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Diana Polaroid/Instant Back

Remember all those cool attachments I said you could get for a Diana camera?  Well, one of them is a Polaroid back.  We bought one from Urban Outfitters, but they’re also available at freestyle.  Since Polaroid film is out of business, these actually use Fuji Instax Mini film.


These are pretty fun little pictures.  They can do all the weird things that the Diana can, including double exposures and long exposures.  However, they’re teeny tiny little prints (about 2x3 inches).  I think they’re cute as hell, but not good for anything other than just fun.  I scan mine into film strips.  All of these were taken either in Santa Barbara or Mt. Shasta and I had a ton of fun.  I’ve just ordered more film from freestyle, so expect to see more in the future.

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Hint: Click through to open the picture in a new page.  It’ll be easier to see each little photo.  The first pictures on the 2nd and 3rd strips are double exposure and the fourth on the 3rd strip is long exposure (and my favorite!)  Enjoy :)

It’s like Christmas day

Just received a shipment today from both Freestyle and Amazon, and went on a little shopping mission in Weed/Mt Shasta.  I have a whole lot of new goodies I intend on playing with.  No fancy tutorials this post, just possibly a preview of what’s to come and maybe an awesome shopping tip!

All the loot (including very special packing peanuts you saw in my last project/post)


All kinds of yummy film and paper


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Some empty film canisters, a matchbook and random hardware store stuff… I know it’s weird, I promise this will make sense later.


Not that you can tell in this picture, but a spare body cap and spare cover for the back of a lens cap.  Again, this will be interesting in a future post as well.


Liquid Light, which is a liquid emulsion.  Another sneak peak.


And the shopping steal for the day, which anyone in or around Weed, CA can benefit from…


This lot of Kodak film (8 rolls total) cost me $4.  That’s right, 50 cents a roll.  Well, one reason may be that I got it from a thrift store and it expired in 2003, but they’ve reported back good results despite its expiration and this film is great for playing around with since a lot of the stuff on this blog is experimental anyway.  The thrift store is located on the main street in Weed across from the bowling alley and still has a ton of the stuff.

Well, you might be able to guess some stuff for the future – while others might be a mystery, but I think I’m going to be having a lot of fun in the future.  Will post tutorials and explanations as soon as I have results.  :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Holga – 35mm mod

The first of many modifications that can be made with a Holga is using some basic household supplies to make the camera a 35mm camera.  Doesn’t sound that exciting, but since Holgas are made to use 120 film – which is taller than 35 mm film – that means the sprocket holes of 35mm film becomes usable space for recording photographic images.  Example:

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What’s more fun, is that achieving this is really simple.


Electrical Tape
Packing Peanuts or Foam
A darkroom or film changing bag for unloading film


Get ready to use a lot of electrical tape.  First, the red counter window needs to be taped shut from both sides, since 35mm film has no paper backing.


Next, tape the leader from the film onto the take-up spool in the Holga.


Use the foam or peanuts to center the film on the left side of the camera so that the film is basically running across the middle of the frame.


Now, since 35mm has no paper backing, I like to tape the back shut really well to protect from extra light leaks and fogging.


That’s about it.  Unfortunately, you have to guess on how much to wind before each shot.  There are guides on the internet where the number of clicks is counted out, but I usually just go once around the wheel.

Now that I’ve got my camera loaded, there are a lot of shots to play with.  Since you can press the shutter on a Holga independent of the winding mechanism, that means you can do double exposures or you can wind the film less than normal to create panoramic shots.

Finally, when the film is done, there is no way to wind it back into the canister from outside the camera.  This means getting into a light free space to unload the film.  You can either take it out of the Holga and load it right into a film reel and developing tank, or use the wheel on the film canister to wind the film back into the canister for later development.

Here are some examples from 35mm in my Holga from the past, but I’ll be sure to update once this roll is shot and developed.  Enjoy :)


Light leaks in all their wonderfulness!