Pin Hole Camera - Large Format???

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joeyk49

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Okay. Start laughing now...because in a few lines, you'll wonder why you didn't start right from the begining...

I am actually looking for advise/recommendations from those that might have tried this...

As a project for a group of Cub Scouts (HEY!, Don't jump threads just yet! I'm serious!) in which I want to see if I can spark interest in photography in them AND get them to create something with their own hands, I've decided to have them construct their own pin hole cameras. I'm planning to have them do this over a period of several 1 1/2 hour meetings.

I found a site that very simply describes how to construct one out of a Quaker Oats container and using b/w photo paper as film. Exposing a 5x7 inch piece of photo paper makes it Large Format photography, right. (Are you laughing yet?) We will be loading and developing the negatives in my, as yet unbuilt, darkroom. We will also be reversing the negative and creating a contact positive.

Does anyone have experience with this and do you have any suggestions for me? The group of four boys are of average intelligence and attention span (Okay, NOW your laughing...).
 

glbeas

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Heck I actually made a halftone in a Quaker Oats box (a lithographic dot picture for those graphic art history challenged folks) and we published it on the front of the newspaper. I made the hole in the side of the box, taped foil ovrer and pinholed it. Then I put lithographic film in with a halftone screen on top, gave it the prerequisite shadow dot flash exposure and set it outside the door of the office with a brick on top for 20 minutes. The brick is a very necessary accessory to the Quaker Oats camera, keeps it from being blown away. After the 20 minutes were up I took it into the darkroom and tray processed it to the proper dot size and went from there to the plate to the press.

Be very sure you can get the old style box with the paper lid, as the new plastic ones are translucent and will fog the paper inside. Of course you can use most any old box as long as it closes up light tight.
 
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joeyk49

joeyk49

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Its hard to find the old style boxes. The instructions that I received tell me to paint the interior, including the lid, flat black.
 

Jon King

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I did a variation on this with a scout den when they were in 4th grade. I'm not sure if I would do it with that group of kids when they were much younger - I'd have ended up doing too much of the work. If you are their normal leader, you'll know how to tame the wild pack of animals and keep them focused long enough to make the camera - Can you tell I was a Cub Scout leader? :wink:

The kids made the cameras, pinholes from soda can aluminum, and had a blast taking the images. Once I told them they could walk quickly in front of the camera in a 2 minute exposure and they would not be in the photo, they quickly came up with pictures of themselves in several places, hitting themselves, waving their arm so it 'disappeared', and so on and so on. Not a single 'boring' landscape image :wink:

I saw one of the kids, now 13, a few weeks ago, and he told me what fun he had making the images - from a teenager, I'll take that as a sign of success.

I didn't have a darkroom then, and was somewhat limited in time, so we made a corrugated box camera, and used polaroid film in a 545 holder. I looked at the oatmeal box idea, but didn't actually do it, so I don't have any experience with that.
 

jimgalli

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There are billions of old Oscilloscope cameras on Ebay for very little $. Most of them work with Polaroid pack film like 665 and 108. Since our attention spans are short and getting shorter, Polaroid is the perfect pinhole. The little buggers can see in 60 seconds if their "vision" is in fact fine art! You just throw the front of the camera away and tape a piece of black mat board with an appropriate pinhole and bam, you're an arteeeeeest.
 

Nige

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Paper is quite slow, about 4-6asa I work from, which allows you to do the nifty things mentioned above (and pictured below, although not a great example). When you're working on your exposures, you really need to contact print it to see if you've got the detail you want as the contact can reveal detail that doesn't seem to be there on the neg. If you standardise on on container, you can do some pre work to work out what works (exposure, pinhole size, construction requirements) and avoid boring the little minds and looseing their attention early (once they see the end result I think they'll forget the Playstation, Nintendo, etc for a few minutes!) If I was doing this I'd really want a way of developing the paper on the spot.

A good site to have a read of is http://www.mrpinhole.com/ There's some calulators to help you with your camera design and exposure.
 

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grahamp

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Large oatmeal boxes, cashew tins (using paper cut in a circle and the pinhole in the base), even a stereo pinhole. That last is a challenge. You need two similar size pinholes, and a divided box.

It might pay to have some pre-prepared pinholes. It takes time to make a clean one, and 1.5 hours is not very long in order to make the camera, and make / develop pictures. I have done it in around 3 hours with a group of adults.
 

127

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I made my pinhole from a card index box. I drilled out a large hole, and taped tin foil over it to contain the actuall pinhole (a LOT saver than having kids cut up soda-cans!). Vecro round the outside makes the light seal.

Paper works fine - use grade 1 if you can get it. It's cheaper than film, and you can dev/load under safelight (again - usefull for me, ESSENTAIL if working with kids), and get to see the negative develop.

I'd set up a darkroom "on location", even if that limits your location. I've always shot pinhole's around the local neighbourhood, as you can set up the dev trays, go out and shoot one frame, then return to the darkroom to dev and reload. The gratification is instant, and you can adjust exposures based on previous shots.

Ian
 
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joeyk49

joeyk49

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I may pre construct the lenses for safety reasons.

Its a small group, only four, so there will be few control issues (hopefully). They're chatterboxes, but really good kids. Third grade does seem a bit young, but its part of their badge work and I thought it would be a whole lot better than just throwing some disposable cameras at them and waiting for WalMart to do the "magic".

I had planned on constructing the cameras in one session and doing the photography in another. I did want them to see the images materialze and take advantage of the cool factor.

With failing light issues in the afternoon, I may have to test exposure times before the real photo session. We'll see how it works out.
 

smieglitz

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For several years I taught at an art camp for blind and visually-impaired kids in Michigan and we made our own pinhole cameras out of gallon paint cans. I predrilled a large hole in the cans and painted the interiors flat black but had the kids make their own pinholes in brass shim stock and tape it over the larger hole. They used black tape as a shutter. They had a gas doing it. It was important to use the large negatives and contact print them so that the kids with some vision could actually see the content of the images. The big pictures actually let them examine things in detail and see things that would be too small or fleeting for them to see normally.

We also used Polaroid type 55 film in a camera I made by attaching a graflock back cannabalized from an old Speed Graphic to a piece of 3/4" plywood that I had cut a 4x5 hole into, and covered the front with an opaque sheet that held the pinhole shim. It gave a very wide angle effect and instant feedback. We printed those negatives on cyanotype paper that the kids coated themselves. You might make some cardboard or wooden box cameras that take a 4x5 holder in this manner as someone else suggested. (Polaroid Corporation also graciously donated several boxes of film to the project as did several other local vendors of photo goods. You might contact Polaroid or photo retailers about a similar donation for your group.)

They also made cyanotype photograms and we even did several on 9x9 foot square muslin, laying the kids on it, etc. A great time had by all.

I think you will find introducing the Scouts to photography very rewarding.
 

Tammyk

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If you use the NEW Quaker box, the lid is indeed plastic and black paint may not be enough. I also add black paper to the inside of the box lid as well as a strip of black electrical tape around the lid to help the seal.

Have fun!
 
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joeyk49

joeyk49

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Thanks for the advise Tammy, et al...

This may wind up being just as much fun for me as for the kids...
 

mdohoney

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I did a similar project with 1st-5th graders. Third graders can do it! Check out www.paintcancamera.com. Also check out f295 website, and World Wide Pinhole Photography Day images from there. While the oatmeal carton is a great design, paint cans would be quicker. If you drill a large hole, then put in an aluminum can pinhole (predrilled for time's sake as well as safety, then use a strip of flexible magnet from the craft store for a shutter you'll be up and running in a hurry. When I make cameras from cookie tins I use a frame of flexible magnet painted black to keep the pinhole in place. I've tried it to hold the paper too, but it cuts down on exposure size and isn't that reliable. You may know this, but try doubling exposure times, and doubling again if not enough. It's fun to have many cameras for each view to get the best exposure. Have fun!
This image was made with an oatmeal carton.
 

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mdohoney

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Forgot one thing: try a foil and rubber band 'bonnet' over the lid to keep the light out. Contact paper and black paint aren't enough. And you're right- pinholing is great fun!
 

Woolliscroft

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We used to do this with students. I found that the best boxes to use as cameras were the fairly rigid plastic boxes that luxury biscuit (cookie for non Brits) assortments come in. They have snap on lids made of cardboard in a plastic surround. The matte interior didn't need black paint to control reflections. Make a half inch hole in the middle of the lid and stick aluminium foil over it on the inside. Make a pin hole in the foil with a fine needle and stick a piece of heavy insulating tape over the outside to act as a shutter. The boxes will take a sheet of 8 x 10 printing paper which can be held in place with bluetack. Use VC paper without a filter or soft fixed contrast paper for the neg. To expose, just point and take off the tape. We found that 3-5 minutes was enough on a sunny day and correspondingly more in dull weather. Ordinary B&W paper is not panchromatic and the results can look a little odd but you can also use Panalure or even sheet film (both of which need less exposure) if you don't mind doing without a safelight at the darkroom stage. After exposure replace the tape shutter and dev, fix, wash and dry normally.

To print, if you have a proper 8 x 10 contact printer, fine. Otherwise get a sheet of clean, clear glass a few inches bigger than the neg (tape up the edges for safety). Make a sandwich with a thin (quarter inch) sheet of plastic foam for support, a sheet of face up printing paper, the neg face down and the glass. You can expose by room light, but an enlarger is more directional and allows VC filters to be used.

Incidentally, if you also want them to get something of a feel for optics, try using boxes of different lengths. You can get quite nice telephoto and wide angle effects by using very long or short cameras and even a zoom lens effect with nested boxes or an old camera bellows. Remember that the effective f number of the pinhole will change with focal length, so exposure times will differ markedly.

David.
 
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