I've been having fun lately finding new ways of using new and old technology to perform photography. In particular, I've been looking for ways of fusing new and old technology to perform photography. I've used an antique camera casing to perform digital photography (here) and now I felt it was time to use a new digital camera for a much older type of photography: pinhole photography.
A traditional pinhole camera is one in which a very tiny aperture lets light through a dark casing to shine on a piece of film at the back. It really is just a camera, but without the benefit of a glass lens to really focus the light.
Thinking that the sole difference between a digital camera - in this case, a dSLR - and a traditional film camera is only that the digital camera has a sensor instead of film, I figured it'd be possible to construct a pinhole for the camera in place of a lens.
I started by ordering four dSLR camera covers for my camera. Yes, four, because I learn by doing, which typically involves some mistakes.
The pinhole needs to be tiny. Tiny. Are you thinking tiny? Great! Make it tinier still. The laws of optic indicate that the larger the aperture, the more you will get just a blob of light without detail. Tiny. Tiny enough that drilling a hole into the camera cover will not work in and of itself.
So to do this I started by drilling a wider hole into the camera cover. It turns out that my drill wasn't charged, so I ended up using this awesome antique hand-drill to do the job. It felt good to use.
Obviously, this hole is too large. It needs to be smaller, which can be done by building a cover for it. Slicing up a soda can will do the job.
(I did a lot of slicing)
The idea is to poke a tiny hole into the soda can piece and then tape it light-tight onto the camera cover:
Lo, it now becomes a pin hole. This cover now, in essence, contains the focal point for my camera.
And to the table we go! Here is the set up I used. I have this lovely old small replica of Castle Segovia that I decided to use as a model for some testing purposes.
My first picture was less than satisfactory. It was a big blur of light with a little bit of something completely out of focus in the middle. Behold, a picture which I have since entitled Something.
Remember when I said the pin hole needs to be tiny? It really does need to be tiny. I used a finishing nail to tap this first hole, and it was way too large. I then started using a sewing needle with a tiny point. Here's the difference in sizes:
And here's the first picture with the much smaller aperture:
Photography is all about optics and light. The best picture in the world is ruined if their isn't enough light for it to have been made. Ansel Adam's famous Moonrise would have been impossible if he were even 15 minutes too late.
That notwithstanding, the pinhole camera is just playing with light, so I put the pinhole cap onto a set of macro extension tubes, essentially "zooming" in on the subject:
Despite that the picture is of poor quality, I appreciate how just putting the tubes between the sensor/film and the focal point brought the subject closer.
As it turns out, I happened to have a cheap set of VR "goggles" from Five Below (oh how I love Five Below for their inexpensive gadgets). I took them apart and placed one of the plastic lenses in front of the pinhole, and it did exactly what I thought it would do, and what the glass in any camera does: it focuses the light.
I still did not like how it looked with the extension tubes, but with the new lens-filtered pinhole, the final shot turned out pretty neat! I ended up glueing the plastic lens onto the cover with the pinhole to make my own lens out of it. I'm looking forward to taking it outside!
(c) All images and photographs, unless otherwise specified, are created and owned by me.
(c) Victor Wiebe