Pinhole exposure

I recently submitted my pinhole picture of a ukulele to a gallery on The Guardian‘s website and I’m really pleased to see that it was amongst their selection of favourite images. It’s the second time this image has been featured by others online (this was the first).


Without the space for a darkroom at the moment I really miss taking pinhole images, so it’s nice to see my picture out there waving the flag for me, until I have the space to set up a darkroom again.

Pinhole day…


Today is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

I took some pictures. I developed some pictures. I wasn’t really in the mood today, but I had got up at 9.30am in preparation, and had been thinking about a fresh assault on pinhole for quite some time, so I just got up and got on with it. Although at first it just wasn’t really happening in any remarkable way, just like my mood, overall I am fairly happy with my efforts today.

I uploaded the flute picture to the pinhole day gallery. A picture I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I want to eventually do a series of these. The main problem being that the flute isn’t terribly heavy and can get knocked/moved easily, as can the camera, and the cloud effect means moving everything else around it almost constantly. I’m sure I can perfect it eventually. Really I wanted it stock still for the duration of the exposure.

I took two shots of the flute and this was the best I have. In the meantime it serves as the second in most likely a series of pics of musical instruments I play less often than I photograph, that teach and inspire me for the next pinhole images. The first being the ukulele.

[The 6×7 weighs a ton so had no such issue there…]

Camera obscura

Today has been gloriously sunny and I’m not at work… so in advance of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, I took my homemade pinhole camera Button for a spin to check that everything is working properly. It’s been almost a year (don’t judge me – I’ve been busy!) since I last indulged the poor thing. I know this because it was pinhole day last year that I last took her out.

She seems ok. Even if my ability to stay really still for a minute and a half isn’t quite as impressive. I have never used myself as a subject before.

Focal length: 4" Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm Paper negative: 7" x 5"  Exposure time: 1 minute 40 seconds

Focal length: 4″
Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm
Paper negative: 7″ x 5″
Exposure time: 1 minute 40 seconds

Pinhole photography can be really exciting and rewarding. It is like watching magic happen. At some point I will probably write a full post about how I built my camera. There’s a little about it already over on flickr.

I already have an idea in mind for an image for pinhole day this year but I’m not sure yet if it will really work… we shall see.

Focal length: 8" Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm Paper negative: 7" x 5"  Exposure time: 1 minute 45 seconds

Focal length: 8″
Pinhole diameter: approx. 0.5mm
Paper negative: 7″ x 5″
Exposure time: 1 minute 45 seconds

I use photographic paper 5″x7″ in the camera, which I then develop in a makeshift darkroom at home. Because of the way that Button is designed I can put the paper 4″ away from the pinhole – half way down the camera for a wider angle setting, or 8″ away from the pinhole – sitting flat at the back of the camera for a “normal” view setting. My good friend Rob came up with this idea and I think it was truly inspired. I love that I can use two different settings.

For digital versions of my pinhole photographs, like the ones here, I then photograph the negative. Once I have that digital negative I invert it in Photoshop to get a positive “print” – then I crop and enhance the image where necessary.

This might seem a bit long winded, but in relation to making and developing a print with photographic paper each time it’s a cheaper and quicker way of finding out what the prints are likely to look like before using paper. It’s not always easy to judge what a print will look like from the negative, so I always convert the negatives this way first of all. It’s a good enough rough guide.

If I’m making a physical pinhole print, I’ll make a contact print in the darkroom straight from the 5″x7″ paper negative.