The modern-day camera’s humble beginnings can be dated back to the invention of the camera obscura or ‘dark chamber’ in Latin. Early applications of this optical device were used by painters and drawers as a way to better replicate their subject matter.
Once light sensitive materials could be fixed after being exposed and developed the camera obscura was resized into a portable box. As technology advanced, the camera continued to stray away from its minimalist origins. Despite all the luxuries of computer powered cameras, there is still an allure to the purity that pinhole photography offers the photographer.
Anyone can make a pinhole camera as long as they have a box that can become light tight if it isn’t already, a sewing needle, a thin piece of tin, a utility knife, gaffer or electrical tape, sandpaper, flat black spray paint, and light sensitive paper. After painting the inside of the box with the spray paint, apply tape to any area that might cause a light leak inside.
This next step may seem counterproductive but cut a square into the side of the box where you want the pinhole to be. This square should not be larger than the thin piece of tin you have. With the sewing needle, very carefully work a hole into the middle of it. Sand down the hole with the sandpaper until it is smooth. This is how the sharpness of the projected image is determined without a lens.
Once your pinhole is created, tape the piece of tin over the square in the side of the box. With a piece of tape placed over the hole, put a piece of photographic paper against the side of the box that is opposite the pinhole. This should be done in a darkroom or under safe lights, so the paper is not exposed. Once the camera has been assembled take it into the light. After a few minutes return to the darkroom and process the paper. If the paper remains white throughout the development process, you have officially created a pinhole camera.