Pinhole Photography

This is an incredibly fascinating topic that I stumbled on quite by accident. There was a short clip I had read sometime prior about Making a camera out of a cereal box. Not convinced, I went further into researching the topic and by extension found Pinhole Photography.


Pinhole photography is the most basic variant of photography I’ve seen. It is incredibly elementary in its principle, instead of a traditional lens, or even a complex camera body; these ‘cameras’ can be made with an aluminum can, or, indeed, a cereal box. They’re essentially a box or can where a small pinhole has been cut or drilled. This pinhole catches light, which filters a reflection of the image onto the back of the box or surface, coined the ‘rear plane’. If you put film or a digital CCD device into this plane, you can effectively record photographs in this manner. In fact, this is a surprisingly popular form of photography; and some of the pictures I have seen are absolutely phenomenal considering the equipment that it was taken on. Even Sea Shells have been made into these lensless cameras, it is a really interesting craft! See about the concept of making your own here!

Pinhole cameras are small or large, improvised or designed with great care. Cameras have been made of sea shells, many have been made of oatmeal boxes, coke cans or cookie containers, at least one has been made of a discarded refrigerator. Cameras have been cast in plaster like a face mask, constructed from beautiful hardwoods, built of metal with bellows and a range of multiple pinholes. Station wagons have been used as pinhole cameras – and rooms in large buildings. Basically a pinhole camera is a box, with a tiny hole at one end and film or photographic paper at the other.


Pinhole cameras are used for fun, for art and for science.

Designing and building the cameras are great fun. Making images with cameras you have made yourself is a great pleasure, too. But in serious photography the pinhole camera is just an imaging device with its advantages and limitations, special characteristics and potentials. By making the best of the camera’s potential great images can be produced. 

By Tiffany Towles



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