Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Matchbox Pinhole

So, it’s fairly easy to build a pinhole camera that can shoot sheet film or photo paper, but this camera is made for a roll of 35mm film and just requires a pinhole, a matchbox, an extra film canister and a lot of black electrical tape.


So, first take out the inner tray and cut a hole in matchbox, this is where your pinhole will go.  Tape that thing in, then tape the entire box outside to help with it’s light-tight-ness.

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Cut a hole in the matchbox tray.  This will be your photo frame (how much of the film is exposed at a time).  With this, whatever shape you cut will be the shape of your pictures.  The photos will even have interesting edges depending on how precisely you cut.  In theory, you could make heart shaped photos.


Next, pull out a couple inches of the film you’re shooting and run it behind the tray, but inside the matchbox.  This is how that frame you cut comes into play.  Then you’ll be taping your film onto the remainder of film in your spare film spool, which will be your take-up mechanism when shooting.

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Now, tape the heck outta everything.  Use another piece of tape as a shutter over your pinhole.

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To wind film, I attached a sawed off key on the take-up spool.  It’s about one turn of the spool for each frame.


Finally, I used hot glue to attach a nut which can screw onto a tripod.  I glued it to the side so that I could set the camera down and shoot on a flat surface instead of gluing it directly to the bottom.


Then shoot away.  A well lit exposure on 400 speed film is around 1-3 seconds – so you need a steady surface. (Your exposure will also depend on the pinhole you make/buy!)


I developed a couple rolls of this and had photos that turned out, although I didn’t think they were very interesting except in the method I used.  This is a good reminder to still think about your subject!  Just using a weird camera won’t always make for a picture you love. 

This picture I think is fun, and it shows how much detail the film picks up from the jaggedly cut film frame.  It also has almost a fisheye effect either from the pinhole I made or the fact that I shot expired film.  I can’t explain the distortion, but I would love to keep experimenting to figure it out.


Remember, if you try any of this stuff, post it in the comments or email me!  I’d love to share reader’s experience on this blog as well.

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