Grade School Pinhole Camera
I will be assisting the Gifted & Talented teacher at my daughters school with her pinhole camera project. There are approximately 20 students, grades 3 - 8. Budget is an issue.
I think we have the printing aspect taken care of but I have never done a pinhole camera before, so I come for your advice.
I am looking for advice on what to make the camera out of (other than the oatmeal box, that is the standby). Looking for that one great idea. We will be using halved 5x7 B&W paper, though I am exploring getting some 5x7 ortho film. (We want to be able to do as much under safelight conditions as possible, the darkroom will be makeshift and youngest are in grade 3, as well.) I know I could use a paint can, but that would leave little for the kids to do to make the camera.
I am also looking at talking to some machinist freinds about having them make the actual pinhole in some sheet metal.
I have gotten great results from using black foamcore(FC) paper, white glue and a roll of black gaffers tape. Foamcore is very easy to cut and not that expensive. I would use the 1/4in. (FC). Make an inner box that would hold the paper and then a simple lid with sides to keep the light out.
Another way is to use an altoid tin. Cut hole in lid attach pinhole. Just cut Graded #2RC paper to size, insert in tin. Lastly an one of my favorites. Take the black plastic containers that 35mm film comes in, cut a 1/4 hole in the plastic insert pinhole cut and load paper and you are ready to go. This way alows you to make 3-4 containers at a time and no need to just take one pic. The containers can usually be gotten for free at the local photo dev. store.
As far as pinholes you can by them pre-drilled for $20 or so dollars for 100. Please e-mail me privately with phone number if you would like to talk.
Photo paper boxes -- especially the ones that held 250 sheets. Spray-painted matt black inside.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
On Nick Dvorak's page (http://idea.uwosh.edu/nick/pinholephoto.htm) he has the plans for a pretty simple camera you could make up ahead of time. Actually, there is more than one set of plans. You want the one described in his "book" http://idea.uwosh.edu/nick/Pinholephoto.pdf The Populist plans, while reasonably simple, are probably beyond the abilities of most kids below 6th grade. The "book" is a good classroom guide too by the way.
I used this plan to make up a bunch of kits for use during a World Wide Pinhole Photography event and it worked out well. However these were older participants.
If you aren't confident in your abilities for making the pinholes then getting a pile of them like FM2N suggests is a good idea. But they really aren't that hard to do.
You don't need a machinist to make the pinhole. A thin piece of metal, and a pin is all you need.
Here's a resource for you: http://www.pinholeresource.com/shop/home
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I'd advise a dry-run adhead of time of your camera making, exposure and development methods, just to ensure the bugs are worked out and the kids have a funner time than waiting around to see if you can make it work in class. For paper negatives I rate grade 2 paper around ISO 2-3. This means subject matter have to be brightly lit by sunlight, and exposure times of 15-45 seconds, depending on F-ratio of camera.
To help you get a ballpark exposure, I'll mention my metering method that seems pretty accurate with paper negatives (which have little or no reciprocity failure to deal with): I set my handheld meter (Gossen Luna Pro F) to ISO 3, meter the scene, then refer to the f-stop scale for an f-number that's 1/10 of the camera's f-ratio. For instance, if it's an F/150 camera than refer to the closest f-number to f/15 on your meter; then take the recommended time and multiply by 10. This will be your exposure time. For instance, if the meter suggests 4 seconds, then the recommended exposure would be 40 seconds.
To determine your pinhole's diameter you don't have to get real fancy and scan the hole with a scanner; just use a millimeter scale and loupe. Backlight the pinhole, position the metal so the hole is adjacent to your millimeter scale and you can guesstimate to within ~1/4mm the diameter of the hole. Then measure the focal length of the camera with the mm scale. Divide the pinhole diameter into the focal length; this should get you an accurate enough focal ratio of the camera to get reasonable exposures.
Originally Posted by Pinholemaster
We've used aluminum soda can material. You can cut it with a scissor. Use a piece of soft wood, or better yet, a cork, below it. Poke the hole. Get some fairly fine sandpaper and sand off the burr the pin/needle makes. It is best to blacken the hole, but that isn't really going to matter much for what you are doing. These won't be world class pinholes, but they'll do the trick.
Thanks for all your suggestions. Those that have offered to help, I will certainly take you up on it.
One of my favorite pinhole cameras is made from a box that business cards came in. Check boxes are also about the same size. I need to get about 3 times closer to the subject than I expect because the field of view is superwide, equivalent to about a 14mm lens on a 35mm camera. That makes for fun images.
Milliners needles are a way to get consistent pinhole sizes. Milliners have a constant diameter once you get past the tapered point. I used a #11 milliner needle IIRC to get about f/128 with a 2" (50mm) focal length. The needles were $2 a pack at the local fabric store. But really any thin needle will do. My exposure times for grade 2 RC paper negatives are about 15 seconds in bright sunlight counted using the "1 elephant, 2 elephant, 3 elephant" method.
Rubber bands are handy, such the ones that come wrapped around the mail (thick and stretchy). I use a couple of rubber bands to attach the camera to a scrap wood board for stability then prop up one end with a bean bag or rocks or a nearby stick if I want to tilt the camera. Or I attach the camera to another fixed object using rubber bands.
Experiment and have fun!
Gaffer's tape! Get a roll of gaffer's tape (usually found at film or video production houses, not typically in hardware stores.) Something like $20 per roll. This stuff is great for sealing up cardboard boxes, and is opaque. It also will release from most hard surfaces, and restick afterwards.