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First Pinhole Camera Photo

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 18 May 2009 in Miscellaneous and Portfolio.

My daughter Anna made a film pinhole camera for a school Design Technology project so we tried it out at the weekend.

The first few photos didn't work at all which I expected as I knew it would take a bit of trial and error to get the exposure correct.

No prizes for composition but, even so, we were both really pleased with this photo.

Exposure details: 2 minutes exposure in clear bright mid-afternoon light.

Photographed on Ilford Multigrade Photo Paper cut to about 5" x 4" to fit the camera. Developed as a negative with Ilford chemicals in our kitchen utility room converted into a darkroom.

We then converted the negative into positive images using a contact print method but this degraded the image too much so I photographed the negative and inverted and mirrored it in Photoshop which gave a much better result with far more detail.

There's some photos of the camera itself here and here

She designed and made it herself out of wood with brass edgings. The sides of the camera are decorated with applied marquetry timber veneer.


I've decided to enter the 'Cool Photoblogs' annual competition again this year. I'd really appreciate a vote from any of you who like my blog and who feel up to going through the registration process that is required in order to be able to vote: 2009 Photoblog Awards

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Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

I love the composition you have chosen here.

18 May 2009 8:07am

@Ana Lúcia: Thanks Ana!

Mirko Herzner from Germany

I guess this really worked out nicely. I love the strange object you have chosen for this unusual type of photography. Really adds another element of interest.

18 May 2009 8:09am

@Mirko Herzner: Thanks's a large seashell

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

It's a Talbot! Very cool and nice to see that you and your daughter are also mastering the old school technologies! :-)

18 May 2009 8:55am

Ravi from Bangalore, India

Cool shot and very well done with the Pinhole camera.

18 May 2009 11:02am

Scene by Sharon Photography from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

very interesting process - I think it turned out amazingly well. Thanks for explaining the procedure.

18 May 2009 12:18pm

Onlymehdi from Wayne, United States

Very coool

18 May 2009 1:41pm

Moridi from Tehran, Iran

Good effect.
She will be a good photographer.
Thank you.

18 May 2009 2:02pm

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

Oh Ian, that's really something! The tone, lighting, the grain... and that wonderful vintage feel in particular are sooooo lovely! Must be fun!:-) Feel so happy for you my friend...

18 May 2009 2:22pm

Betsy Barron from Chester Springs, PA, United States

cool!! very well done

18 May 2009 3:04pm

Jean-François from Les Issambres, France

YESSSSSSS fantastic ;)

18 May 2009 4:04pm

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Wow! This is pretty amazing! Well done! It looks like both of you had a lot of fun! Wonderful project to do with your kids! :)

18 May 2009 5:19pm

Daryl from Farnham, United Kingdom

Great job, working very well...

18 May 2009 9:03pm

Bookfool from Mississippi, United States

That's pretty sharp for a pinhole camera.

18 May 2009 9:34pm

Paula Camps from Mahón (Menorca), Spain

Nice shot

18 May 2009 10:50pm

Michael Rawluk from Williams Lake, BC, Canada

That is very cool.
I used to have a blast with pin-hole cameras when back inthe dark ages. I have even done some with the the Canon 5d.

19 May 2009 5:10am

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

As far as pinhole cameras go, yours is quite posh!! When I clicked on the link I was expecting an old shoe box or something similar so I'm impressed ! I'd love to have a go at making one at some point but as ever it's down to time. I'll wait until one of my daughters gets given the task from school. After developing your own film I'm going to have to ask, have you got the bug to experiment more?

19 May 2009 6:13am

@Mike: Mike, this is really my daughter's photo as she did everything. As well as actually designing and making the camera she also cut the photo paper to size and developed it in the darkroom. All I did was suggest an exposure time (2 minutes in this case). I'm not sure I'm that keen to carry on experimenting with pinhole cameras as, with this type of design at least, you are limited to one shot at a time before you need to go back in the darkroom to reload the camera and develop the photo you've just taken. Holgas have always fascinated me - I'd like to try that at some time. I'd also love to give medium format (or even large format for the tilt-shift) with velvia a try at some point. Now I know how easy it is to manipulate a negative into a positive using photoshop you wouldn't even need prints developing by a lab - just the negatives so they could be scanned.

Laurie from New Jersey, United States

The links to the camera didn't work for me...brought me to a login screen. :(

But this is really fantastic.

19 May 2009 2:48pm

@Laurie: Hi Laurie...sorry about the link. Does this one work?:


Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Very very well done to your daughter! The 'old' stuff is always the best, as theres so much more excitement of not really knowing how things will turn out : ) Its what makes photography fun - to experiment with 'new' things and develop ideas into images.

19 May 2009 5:15pm

Cricket-Tammy from Alabama, United States

Wonderful work. I really do like this image.

19 May 2009 5:56pm

Turnbill from Maine, United States

Neat! I made one of these a million years ago when I was in art school. After 100 attempts, I got exactly one good photo with it (raindrops on my apartment window and a streetcar both in focus). Learned a lot about DoF with it. I like this shot. The shell seems to be looming over the chair in a pleasantly menacing way. Very nice.

19 May 2009 10:42pm

Damon Schreiber from Toronto, Canada

Not bad at all! Who needs lenses?

20 May 2009 3:11am

Nataly from Santa Monica, United States

Congratulations, Ian! Great opening image and oh, you got seduced by film. I always new that there is no other way for a photographer.

20 May 2009 5:59am

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

Great shot...The first of many to come I think...She will be very successful!

20 May 2009 9:10am

Momo from Montpellier, France

very the homemade camera, nice work, and the lovely quality image it know you're only a step away from a holga ;-)

21 May 2009 11:17pm

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