D.I.Y. Monday: Pinhole Camera How-To [part 2]

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If you read part 1 of this DIY, you now know what a pinhole camera is! This post is devoted to how to build a pinhole camera from scratch and the next two posts will be decorating your pinhole camera and tips for great pinhole photos. :) YAY! this post is pretty long & technical. if you have any confusion on a certain step, there are tons of other tutorials all over the internet (each one being a little bit different). A huge thank you to my wonderful dad for doing most of this tutorial. He's super amazing at building things, so I was very lucky to have his help. Enjoy!  

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Step 1. Decide on the enclosure or housing. We used a wooden pencil box from a craft store. You can use almost anything box that is dark inside.

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Step 2. Determine the internal divisions. Divide up the space inside to hold the film roll, the area for the film to move across the pinhole (this determines the frame size) and the area for winding the film forward. Since our wooden box was larger than we really needed for the three main areas, we used the remainer as an area (to the left) to store extra film rolls.

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Step 3. Measure areas and cut black foam board to provide area separations. Make slots in the foam board for the film to advance across pinhole (see photos above). Do this on both sides of the pinhole area. then glue the foam board into place with craft glue.  

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Step 4. Provide height spacer (we used a metal nut) and a foam board wedge for the top of the film roll to hold the roll in place.

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Step 5. Drill a 1/4" hole in the center of the pinhole area. Cut a small square piece of a Soda can and glue into place over the hole that was just drilled for the pin hole. After you let it dry, punch a pin hole in Soda can metal with a pin and fashion a shutter for the front of the camera.   

Here's my shutter.... 

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I used a piece of craft foam and a piece of paper to make my shutter. The foam is glued to the wood on three sides (no glue in the area where the paper shutter slides in). The paper shutter has a slight fold on the outer edge to make it easy to pull quickly.    

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Step 6. Drill a 1/4" hole for the winder on top of the enclosure. Measure for wooden dowel rod with wooden spool on top for length. Glue metal nut inside winder area at bottom for a guide and add a rubber washer inside on top for a retainer.   

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Step 7. Paint inside of camera black, do not paint pinhole. Let dry. I used acrylic craft paint. 

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10.) Install film and test. We used a piece of tape to attach the film to the winding bar. We learned that two rotations of out winder (bobbin) is the correct rotation after each exposure. 

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This is how you take a photo! Simply uncover and recover your pinhole. I took very quick exposures (appx. 1 second each). 

ETA: To get the film back into the roll without exposing it, simply take it into your closet (any completely dark room) when you have finished the roll, open the camera and push the film back into the camera by hand (it's easy) OR take it to your photo lab (still in the camera, of course) and they can manually roll it for you in their dark box! 

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We hope that our tutorial has been helpful to you today! This is the most experimental project I've done here. Lots of things need to be learned through trial and error (most of all film rotation techniques!). There are tons of great resources (other tutorials, youtube videos ect) all over the internet if you have any questions or need more clarification. There is more than one right way to build a pinhole camera. In fact, every single camera will be at least slightly different & that's the beauty of it! Feel free to take this basic information and translate it for your own lovely custom camera. ♥        

In Part 3 I'll show you how to paint and decorate your handmade camera with a cute custom strap! XO. elsie

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