How to Make a Pinhole Camera for Children

Written by brian jung | 13/05/2017
How to Make a Pinhole Camera for Children
Kids can produce images like this with a homemade pinhole camera. (Getty Thinkstock)

In the world of digital photography where telephones and mp3 players are capable of taking photos, the creation of a pinhole camera is something of a lost art. Nonetheless, building your own pinhole camera and developing the negative it produces, can effectively illustrate several key principles of photography, principles that are even applicable to the digital camera stuck on the back of a kids' Nintendo DS.

Remove the lid of the shoebox.

Spray paint the interior of the shoebox with flat black paint. Use several light coats to prevent running or dripping.

Cut a 1/2-inch square hole in the centre of the shoebox lid.

Cut a 1-inch square piece from the thick aluminium foil.

Poke a small hole with a pin or needle in the thick aluminium foil.

Tape the thick aluminium square inside the cover so that the pinhole is in the centre of the hole you cut out of the cover.

Make the shutter out of black electrical tape. Take a piece of electrical tape about 2 inches long. Fold over one end by about a 1/4 inch to make a handle. Firmly tape the rest of the tape over the pinhole. When you take a picture you can simply remove the tape. When your exposure is complete, replace the tape.

In total darkness, or with only a red safety light. Tape some photographic paper to the bottom of the shoebox. The light sensitive side will face up. The paper will become your negative.

Replace the shoebox top and tape it with masking tape firmly in place.

To take a picture, place the pinhole camera on a firm surface, point it toward a still subject and remove the shutter. Exposures of 2 to 20 seconds produce the best results. Replace the shutter after completing the exposure.

Remove the paper film in the darkroom and develop your negative using darkroom chemicals. Darkroom chemicals can be dangerous. Darkrooms should be well ventilated and lit with safety lights. The developing process must be monitored by an adult.

To create a print from your negative, place your negative image over another sheet of photo paper in the darkroom. Expose the paper to a 15 watt white light for about two or three seconds. Develop the new paper to make your print.

Things you need

  • A small cardboard shoebox.
  • Piece of thick aluminium foil (from a foil to-go container, for example)
  • Black electrical tape
  • Masking tape
  • Modelling knife
  • Flat black spray paint.
  • Black and white photographic paper
  • A darkroom and photographic development chemicals

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