DIY Pinhole Blender


Many are familiar with the pinhole camera: a small box with a pinhole covered by black tape. Point the hole at something you wish to photograph and lift the tape to expose the film or paper inside. Develop the film or paper and you have a pinhole photo. Pinhole cameras with multiple holes are known as Pinhole Blenders, a term trademarked by Chris Peregoy, who develops multiple-hole cameras and sells them.

Making a Basic Multi-Hole Camera

You can easily make your own version of the Pinhole Blender using simple objects and tools. First, you will need a camera body. An oatmeal box, a tin food can, a potato-chip can and other similar containers will make good cameras. Make sure there is a removable lid (or you'll have to make one), and that you can make it light-tight by painting or taping any light leaks. Some people also paint it matte black inside to eliminate errant light reflections on the final image. Next, use scissors or a utility knife to cut a small, square hole in three sides of the box. The holes will frame your pinholes, so place them at equal distances around the middle of the box. They should also be all to one side to make it easy for you to point all of them in the same general area of your subject at the same time. Now you are ready to make the pinholes, which can also be referred to as the apertures. Use a clean, empty soda can and cut three square pieces of metal from it. The metal pieces should be larger than the square holes in the camera box. Use tin snips or heavy-duty scissors to cut the metal. Flatten the metal pieces so that they hug the sides of the box. You can also use several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil instead of metal pieces, but foil will not be as sturdy. Make a pinhole in the center of each metal square. Use a large sewing needle for this. It is very important to make all the holes the exact same size because light should be coming into the camera through each hole at the same rate. Wind a length of tape around the needle before you punch the holes and insert the needle up to the tape to ensure uniformly sized holes. Using black photographic tape, center each metal aperture piece over a hole on the camera box and tape them down. Make a shutter by folding a piece of photographic tape in half so that there is no adhesive exposed. Use this flap as your shutter. Tape one shutter along the top and bottom edges to the box to cover each aperture. You will manually flip the tape shutter up to uncover the aperture for your exposures. Now your camera is ready. Insert a piece of photographic paper or sheet film into the box on the side opposite the pinholes. Place it on the ground, a rock, a table or another stationary platform and open each pinhole for the same length of time. It does not have to be simultaneous. You can now develop the paper or film; the resulting image will be a blend of the scene in front of the camera during exposure.

Enhancing the Camera for Roll Film

The camera can be enhanced to use roll film if desired. For this it is best to use a flat container, such as a single-serving soup can or tin that bulk film comes in. Place a one-inch section of PVC pipe in the middle of the box to wind the film around, and use an empty film cassette to roll the film onto after each exposure. Inside the camera, the film roll and empty cassette will be next to each other with the film wrapping around the center PVC core. Make holes in the top of the camera through which the plastic cores of the film roll and empty cassette can protrude. You can insert a chopstick or a key as a film-winding mechanism. Rewinding the film at the end of the roll allows you to take the film to a lab for development.

Keywords: Pinhole Cameras, Make your own camera, do it yourself pinhole camera

About this Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a B.A. in English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her book, A Travel for Taste, was published in 2008.

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