An Online Guide to Pinhole Photography
A pinhole camera is one of the simplest ways to get involved with and enjoy photography. The pinhole camera, or camera obscura, has existed for more than five hundred years and may even have a truly ancient pedigree. Unlike modern cameras, it does not require film or lenses -- in fact, even an amateur photographer can construct one at home using common household materials. Pinhole cameras are also a great way to introduce young children to the joy of photography and the basics of optics.
Features of Pinhole Photography
We've already mentioned that pinhole photography does not require film or a lens. In the most basic terms, a pinhole camera is simply a darkened box with a small hole in the body and a piece of light-sensitive filament inside. The hole itself acts as the lens, controlling the amount of light that enters the box. Over a very long exposure time, the light causes the creation of a negative image of whatever the pinhole faces. Pinhole photos tend to be less crisp than those taken with glass lenses, creating a unique look.
- Stanford: Photography Without Lenses
- Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day
- Tips and Techniques for Pinhole Photography
- Pinhole Photography Glossary and Procedures
- Science of the Pinhole Camera
- Lenseless Photography Gallery
- Mathematical and Optical Details of Pinhole Cameras
- All About Shadows and Pinhole Cameras
- Exposure Calculator for Pinhole Cameras
- International Center of Photography
Pinhole Photography Throughout History
Pinhole photography has existed since long before the invention of the modern camera. One of the first surviving references to the fundamentals of pinhole photography comes to us from the canon of Greek philosophy, in Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It is believed that some Renaissance masters may have used early pinhole cameras to help them in their work on anatomy and perspective, fundamental parts of the Renaissance. Pinhole cameras have been used by artists of all kinds in the centuries since.
- Bob Miller's Light Walk
- Detailed History of Pinhole Photography
- Inner Workings of a Pinhole Camera
- Were Pinhole Cameras Used by Renaissance Masters?
- Historic Modern Art Gallery From Nature (1926)
- Galileo, Early Optics, and the Pinhole Camera: Readings
- MIT Tech Article on Pinhole Cameras (1989)
- Contemporary Pinhole Photography
- Illustrated, Detailed History of the Pinhole Camera
- Yale: Guide to the History of Photography
Different Types of Pinhole Cameras
There are as many types of pinhole camera as there are photographers who use them. A pinhole camera can be made from virtually any material as long as a totally light proof enclosure is created for the light-sensitive material to sit inside. Generally speaking, a smaller pinhole is best, but smaller openings lead to longer exposure times. A pinhole camera photographer must be sure there will be no motion in front of the camera's "lens" for as long as it takes -- often several hours.
- Tripod-Mounted Pinhole Cameras
- The Pringles Can Pinhole Camera
- The Pinhole Resource
- The Pinhole Gallery: Making Cameras
- Instructions and Gallery of Pinhole Photos
- Double Slit Pinhole Cameras
- Artist Uses Entire Room as Pinhole Camera
- Pinhole Designer -- Free Software for Pinhole Camera Design
- Using X-Ray Film in Pinhole Cameras
- Solography -- Long Exposure Pinhole Cameras
Making Your Own Pinhole Cameras
One of the most interesting things about pinhole cameras is that you can make one yourself. In fact, self-made pinhole cameras are far more common than ready made ones, even among professional photographers. Pinhole cameras have been made out of many different materials, including potato chip cans, cereal boxes, and much more. It is possible to vary the output of a camera based on how it is made, so many photographers have several of them. Instructions on how to make your own are common.
- Authentic Assessment: Pinhole Camera
- Photography With a Pinhole Camera
- Directory of Research Papers on Pinhole Photography
- Joy's Step-by-Step Pinhole Camera Project
- Pinhole Camera Making With Metal
- Making a Stereo Pinhole Camera
- Leonardo's Wooden Pinhole Camera
- Peanut Can Pinhole Camera
- NASA: Illustrated Pinhole Camera Instructions
- Pinhole Camera Instructions for Kids
Pinhole Photography For Kids
Pinhole cameras are a fun and unexpected way for children to enjoy the delights of photography. These cameras are often used in the classroom -- not only do they make great craft projects, but they are also valuable for teaching fundamental principles of optics and art. Not surprisingly, many educators and nonprofits have come together to provide pinhole photography resources just for children.
- Pinhole Photography For Kids With Video
- Physics: Pinhole Camera Explained at Ask Janice
- Oatmeal Box Pinhole Camera Instructions
- Optics for Kids
- Room With a View: The Yurt Pinhole Camera for Kids
- Oklahoma Afterschool Network: Pinhole Camera Directions
- K-12 Activity for Pinhole Camera Making and Fun
- Wonders of Physics: The Pinhole Camera
- Science, Optics and You: How Does it Work?
- Observing Sun and Eclipse With Pinhole Cameras