Pinhole (Estenopeic) Photography - History and instructions

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Pinhole (Estenopeic) Photography - History and instructions - Manual



    3 Linglie Mill, Level Crossing Rood, Selkirk, TDZ sEQ, UKwww. f I i ghtsof uk

    O l99B Deryck Henley. All Rights Reserved.

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    Who would have thought thatin the twenty first cenfury wewould be cclebrating aPinhole Camera?Since the earliest stages ofthe'Camera Obscura', to thehigh-tech modern35mm camer-as, the basicsare much thesame.

    Here we in-troduce you tothe simplestformof photography,where the lensis a basic pin-hole. Not thatthe resultswill be in anyway inferior.Many pinhole photographsare exhibited in g,alleries rurdmuseums around the world, andsland up'4ainst more contempo-raryphotographyWith this camela and someguidelines described in thls book,you can create your own photo-gaphs tirne and time again,

    We'd'also like to introduce youto the development which ledto the present day camera.This progression over thecenturies, pays homage tothe philosophers, scientisls,

    scholars, mathematicians. and showmen who

    ',, all contributed toprcsent dair pho-

    tography.ln an erawhcre thedigital age

    is taking oveqwe must nevefforget the sim-pler ways ofpro jectingand captur-ing a mo-

    ment in time, to cherish andkeep forever.You never know, in years tocome your photographs couldbe hanging in our galleries andmuseums as'lvorls of afi'.Good luck and we hopethis brings you inanyhours offun.

  • fire BeginningThe hand shadow must be one of image and it appears upside downthe simplest and earliestways of projectingan ima4e. Althoughwe take this forgranted, itwasprob-ablythe first step whichled to manyscienfific experimentsleading to simple photography.

    This Jamous drawing by Friseiusshows clearly a Camera Obst'ura.

    Although these scientists andmathematicians are too numer-ous to mention here, we willgive a simple account of thelandmarls which led to pho-tography as we know ittoday,We start in t544, vthercthere was a Dutch mathe-matician and physician calledGemma Frisius. He observed andillustrated the eclipse ofJanuary24th, t544 using a CameraObscura.The'Camera obscura' (min fordark room), is where a real lifeimage is projected onto a flatsurface through a small hole orapertnre.This projection, as in yourpinhole camera, inverts the2

    as illustrated by Frisius.These earlier Camera ob-

    scuras wcrc

    rnainly usecllirr astr

  • [rom the eighteenth centuryonwards, the Camera

    Obscura became more ofa drawing aid. Wittr the

    help from a lens it would allowartists and draughtsmen toaccurately sketch any imagethey required.This meant that to achieve therequired image, alandscape orbuilding for instance, they had tobecome more portable.By the end of the nineteenth

    commercial Camera Obscurasavzilable. These were simpleboxes with a sliding lens forfocusing. Many ingenious wayswere adapted to draw the imageyou could see.


    Many famous artists are thoughtto have used aCamera Obscuratocr eate an image. The s evente enthcentury Dutch painter 'Vermeer'is thought to have worked this

    way. Also the German artist'Durer' made wood cutsshowing'aicls to clrawing',

    These methods were veryhelpfrrl with perspective.

    Here left and below we have apicture advertised in 1897 as'Deans Solar Sketchette'. Yousimply put the drawing paper intothe base of the camera and in-serted your hand through the clothsleeve and drawwhatyou sant,

    Here we have examplesof some of the old Cam-era Obscuras, most ofwhich have long gone.Some though, still re-main and are still opento the public such as theRM Mile, Edinburgh,WS&rl:rif ;:,':-'t'

    the great union callrr"u^^tDouglas in the Isle of Man,the Clifton Observalory inBristol all in the IIKAgiant cameradfte CliffHouse in San Francisco and onein Santa Monicain the USA

    During the nineteenth century,several large Camera Obscuraswere built as places of enter-tainment and education.A lot of these were built inplaces ofgreat altraction such

    as sea-side resorts or places ofgreat beauty.

    'llf.1@S$W Tbe sign on tbe side ofthe buikling.-.r ' ' ir,']' on the lefi says;'AIIERA OBSCUM

    HE MOST WONDERFUI ANDENCIIAI,IIING F.YHIBITION. MarrelottsMiniature Yiew s of t bis lrne Iy CwdenShouing all the People & CbildrenMouing lihe Faries. Boats, Foliage,Flying Birds. Catlle. Horses & Cariages, aauing Flags Elc. Friends canbe Recognized altboagb so remarh-ably small as to a.ppear extremeb)Iaughable. It Sbous eaerything on

    tbe Garden as it appears.

  • The First images The First Cameras

    With thediscovery of'light

    sensitive material' during the earlynineteenth century thiswas to change theCamera Obscurainto the simplecunetL.Earlylight sensitiveor photographicmaterials were veryslow to react to light.To compensate for this alens was added to the camera toincrease the 'aperture' or holesize. This helpedto shorten the timeit took taking a picture without los-ing the picture darityor focus,This was to mean tha pure pin-hole photography took more ofa back seat while photographyusing a lens progressed.There were a few pinhole camerapioneers though. Sir David Brews-ter, an English scientist, was oneof the first to make pinhole photograpts in the 1850's. He was dre oneto create the word'pinhole'.


    Tbe earliest known photograPhis credited to a wealthy French

    Ian cnr ner callc d. J o sep h N i ce p h oreNie|cs (1765-1839. He crcatedthis image called 'View fromthe window at Gras'in 1826,The photograPb was nnde ontop ofNiepce's bome using apeutet plate sensitise d u i tbJudea. Takenfrom a Cam-era Obscura, the exposure

    was eigbt hours long.

    William Henry Fox Talbot, be-tvteen 1844 and 1860 was instru-mental in advancing the processofphotography.

    Talbot madc nnny exPuiments.In kte 1835 at his home inEngland, he produced tbisphongraph ofanindan at his

    home tahen ui,tb a Cmnera

    Sir WilliamCrookes, John Spillerand Villiam de WiveleslieAbney, all in England wereall early pioneers to try pinholephotography.Probably one of the oldest wasan English Archaeologist calledFlinders Petrie (1853 -1942).During his excavations in Egyptin the 1880's, he produced manypinhole photograhs.

    The first cameraswentmuchinlinewith the devel-opment of pho-tography. Earlycamefas wefefairly crudewoodenboxes.These improvedusing beautifultimber suchas teak andmahoganywith finelyengineered brass fittings.Although cameraswere

    use it. Eastrnan's Kodakpocket camera was thefust mass-produced version andwas inexpensive c ompared with

    plate cameras. kr 1900, Eastnaninfoduced fte now farnous 'BoxBrovmie u'hich was sold for $1in the USA and five shillings inEngland It sold over 100,000 in

    the fintvear.This was to become the demise ofpinhole photograpfur

    Betrly cameras kke tbese ex-arnples uere band-made.

    The picture aboue istbe'tr[ot$etrap' camera

    prodaced Kodahand a'Komhi'

    from \ W ffi. S"i***x$u.$ \Pubtisbed inL* an Amuicanw

    a 20tbcenturypinlnb

    rehyralytookotr \ re \cam-ffiffi#:&%ffiwhlmaddnpfiltedcrn-' w:Sllrazsilnwwdesignedto


  • The PrinciplesHaving shown you the history ofthe camera, here we show yousimply how it works.

    FocusThe pinhole c rflera, unlike acafircrawith a lens, has an 'infi-nite' depth offocus.This means the'pinhole' with theright size hole will keep all theimage in focus.You will probably notice if youtake a photograph of a personclose up, the background be-comes blurued. A clear or sharpimage is known as'in focus'anda blurred image is known as 'outof focus'.

    Experiment shotaing how the pinhole ueates an inf,nate depth offeld.

    To experiment with this, poke a back plate. Insert the black cardpinhole in a thin sheet of opaque and put a sheet of semi{ranspar-mateial and hold this close to ent paper such as tracngpaperone eye (if you wear glasses, or household greaseproofpapertake them off). Hold one of your over the back of the cafircra,.fingers a few inches in front of In a darkened room point thethe pinhole. You should see your carflera towards a light sourcefinger and the background both and the image will appear upsidethe same clarity, therefore both down and back to frontwill be 'in focus'. This is catled (inverted). All the imageinfinite depth of field. proiected ttrough the camera willA simple scientific explanation be in focus.


    for this is that the optical imageis made up of tiny 'circles ofconfusion'. When the circles ofconfusion are small enough, theyare called 'points' and the opticalimage is considered to be infocus. Therfore, points offocus.A pinhole c mera has infinitedepth of field because thepinhole creates areas of confu-sion the same size as the pinholeall over the inside of the camera.These little circles of confusionare small enough to be regardedas points of focus.Experiment by constructing thecamera in this kit and leave off the

    tightIn a darkenedroom, it is diffi-cult to see objectsclearly. In fact in acompletely darkroom you canwave your arms in front of yourfaceandsee nothing!

    Iight rays trauel in strai,ght


    In theI' same wayour eyes are

    designed to see, a camera needsfight to work. Any form of whitellght is alright, but like your eyes,the brighter the light the easieryou see.

    With tracingpaper ouer the back oftheopen camera lou uill see the image.

    With a camera,the brighter thelight, the shorterthe exposure.All light travelsin straight lines,rays travelling

    outwards from a light sourcewhether it is the sun, a light bulb

    or candle. When these rays hit anobject they are reflected again instraight lines. What we see withour eyes is the object illuminatedwith reflecedlight.When you create a pinhole in yourclmetl, the light rays divergefrom a light source. They continueto diverge aft er passing tlrou$ thepi