Using photo paper instead of film for pinhole photography

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freedda

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From a digital guy, some really basic darkroom questions (I think).

In a book about pinhole photography, they suggest using photo paper as the film, and then trying film once you get the hang of it. So, if I were to try this, I have a few questions about photographic papers:

How is the exposure time different from film? And do different papers have different exposure times, or sensitivities? And how would I know this?

Last year someone showed me how to use photo paper to make photograms, where we laid leaves and other objects over photo paper, then covered with glass and laid them out in the sunlight for a few hours. An 'image' of the leaves and shapes appeared on the photo paper. The person showing me this said the papers would have to be processed (developed? or its that word used only for film?) if I wanted to make the image permanent, but the image would be more or less steady on the paper if I did not expose them to light.

... So my question is, would this also apply when using photo paper in a pinhole camera - that I'd get an image, but it would not be permanent unless I further processed it?
Thanks, David
 

Rick A

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Many people use printing paper for in camera negatives. It is then processed normally (develop, stop, fix, wash) at which point you can scan and invert in PS or contact print onto another sheet of paper to make a positive.
See: https://www.photrio.com/forum/forums/paper-negatives.95/
 

RPC

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B&W paper has much lower sensitivity than film and is not sensitive to all colors. Some paper is only sensitive to blue, some to blue and green, and none are sensitive to red. Therefore, you would be missing part of the spectrum. Also, paper has higher contrast than film. Color paper is sensitive to all colors but would need to be heavily filtered for in-camera use, and would have high contrast.

The paper would have to be processed similar to film to get an image and be permanent.
 

Michael W

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B&W paper is good for pinhole cameras if you have access to a darkroom. If you don't, as I'm assuming from the information in your posts, then you are probably better off using film and sending it out for processing and scanning.
 
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freedda

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The paper would have to be processed similar to film to get an image and be permanent.
Thanks. And I will check out the paper negative posts too. But for now, I am curious, do you know why I got an image using photo paper when I did my photogram (w/o processing) but you say the paper would need to be processed to get an image?
 

Rick A

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Thanks. And I will check out the paper negative posts too. But for now, I am curious, do you know why I got an image using photo paper when I did my photogram (w/o processing) but you say the paper would need to be processed to get an image?
What you did was "lumen" images, not photograms. Photograms get processed just like any print, lumens don't. Processing photo paper makes it permanent.
 

Jim Jones

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. . . Last year someone showed me how to use photo paper to make photograms, where we laid leaves and other objects over photo paper, then covered with glass and laid them out in the sunlight for a few hours. An 'image' of the leaves and shapes appeared on the photo paper. The person showing me this said the papers would have to be processed (developed? or its that word used only for film?) if I wanted to make the image permanent, but the image would be more or less steady on the paper if I did not expose them to light.

... So my question is, would this also apply when using photo paper in a pinhole camera - that I'd get an image, but it would not be permanent unless I further processed it?
Thanks, David

This process you used is very insensitive to light. If an exposure required hours in full light, it would be hopelessly impractical to use it in a pinhole camera, which passes only a tiny amount of full sunlight through its tiny hole.
 

NedL

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The process you used ( called "printing out" ) does work with a pinhole camera, but the exposures start at a few hours ( in full sun ) up to many months ( to make something called a "solargraph" outdoors, or for indoor exposures ). It's really fun, but it's not normally what people mean when they talk about using photopaper in a pinhole camera.

Usually, photographic paper is "developed out", so that the image only appears on it after it is placed in developer. When you develop the paper, it's still much slower than film but the exposure times can be reasonable for a pinhole camera ( typically... a few seconds up to a few minutes outdoors... maybe an hour in heavy shade )

You need photopaper, developer, stop ( can use white distilled vinegar ), and fixer. You do need a place that can be made dark... a small closet or a bathroom or even just waiting until night and turning off all the lights and shutting the curtains in a room can work. It's very possible to do it without lots of trays and other equipment -- a single cheap plastic tray or pitcher can work just fine. You can buy a small red lightbulb so that that you can see what you're doing without exposing the paper -- we can point you to inexpensive options ( I started with a red "party light" from the hardware store, but it only works with some kinds of paper and isn't really a good choice for the long term. )

I started making pinhole photos on photopaper and I liked it so much that I never moved on... I still have never made one on film. There are various tricks to reducing the contrast that you can learn if you get going and like it and want to get more into it. You can also make a positive print by placing the paper negative from your camera on top of another sheet of photopaper and briefly letting light hit it. These are called "contact prints" and they are also a lot of fun.

If you click on the link in my signature you can find some pinhole photos made with photo paper ( all the black and white ones ), and some solargraphs too.
Have fun!
 
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Check this out.

 

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Last year someone showed me how to use photo paper to make photograms, where we laid leaves and other objects over photo paper, then covered with glass and laid them out in the sunlight for a few hours. An 'image' of the leaves and shapes appeared on the photo paper. The person showing me this said the papers would have to be processed (developed? or its that word used only for film?) if I wanted to make the image permanent, but the image would be more or less steady on the paper if I did not expose them to light.

hi freedda

like rick said the photographs you made were lumen prints, or they could have been just plain old sun prints too. they were lumen prints
if the leaves &c tthat you put on the paper were green and when you left them in the sun they kind of oozed and sweat and this stuff
mixed with the paper. and you got an image that looked kind of intense like this : https://duckduckgo.com/?q=lumen+prints&bext=msl&atb=v125-5&iax=images&ia=images

if it just looked like a photogram, not something as wild as the lumen prints thats just a sun print. you can put film negatives on paper or anything really ( as in photo gram )
and in minutes or hours you will get an image ( using a contact frame or just resting the "stuffs" on the paper ) you will get an image but it will be ephemeral ( more or less )
you can also make something similar to what ned referred to as a solar graph but instead of using a pinhole camera left open for months, you can use any old camera on "time" or "bulb"
with the lens wide open ( f2 or 5.6 or whatever ... ) and you will get an image stained on the film too. this is what Joseph Nicéphore Niépce did to make the first photographs
( i do these too, they are a lot of fun ! ) and he called them "retina prints" http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/firstphotograph/niepce/

have fun !

john
 

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Hi David,

The ISO for the paper is around 6. The best thing to do is to verify it yourself. Here's a link where the author shows you how to test the paper's ISO. https://emulsive.org/articles/working-with-paper-negatives-part-two Basically, you will take a number of photos of the same scene under different ISO assumptions, develop the paper negatives, and check to see if you feel you have captured enough details in the shadow region.

Paper negatives also tend to be of higher contrast so some people use a more diluted (weaker) developer. Again, you need to experiment and tune to your liking. Once you have settled on the ISO, you will then need to take a few more photos and experiment with developing it in various dilutions of developer and pick one that gives you the best highlights.

Paper negatives can be used to make positive prints through contact printing. You basically press a clean sheet of photo paper to the paper negative, emulsion to emulsion, under a sheet of glass. You then develop the print normally.

This web site may be useful in helping you determine your exposure time. http://www.mrpinhole.com/calcpinh.php Using a pinhole of 0.5mm on a 4x5 for example, your exposure time will be around 51 seconds if the ISO is around 6.
 

RalphLambrecht

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From a digital guy, some really basic darkroom questions (I think).

In a book about pinhole photography, they suggest using photo paper as the film, and then trying film once you get the hang of it. So, if I were to try this, I have a few questions about photographic papers:

How is the exposure time different from film? And do different papers have different exposure times, or sensitivities? And how would I know this?

Last year someone showed me how to use photo paper to make photograms, where we laid leaves and other objects over photo paper, then covered with glass and laid them out in the sunlight for a few hours. An 'image' of the leaves and shapes appeared on the photo paper. The person showing me this said the papers would have to be processed (developed? or its that word used only for film?) if I wanted to make the image permanent, but the image would be more or less steady on the paper if I did not expose them to light.

... So my question is, would this also apply when using photo paper in a pinhole camera - that I'd get an image, but it would not be permanent unless I further processed it?
Thanks, David
from my experience , it is safe to assume an ISO of '3' for photographic papers. I highly recommend using a std yellow filter for the exposure to control contrast. However, if then copied to another piece of photographic paper face-to-face,very reasonable positives can be obtained.
 
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freedda

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Thanks all. I think I have the info. I need, and you have given me a good sense of what is required (and the pluses and minuses) of each material and method.

Yes, what I did last year with leaves and photo paper was to make lumens.

Best, David.
 

michr

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One very nice advantage of using paper negatives vs film is that you can load and develop the paper under a safelight. With most types of film, you have to work in complete darkness. Being able to see what you're doing good when you're first starting out.
 
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