World Pinhole day! – Pinhole tipster

The 29th April is world pinhole day! So to celebrate we thought we would look back on our pinhole tipster by Ky Lewis from vol. 5 to get you in the mood.

she’s a pinhole wizard

Ky Lewis is a pinhole wizard! Here’s some tips to creating pinhole magic!

I love pinholing, experimenting and making cameras. I use many different types of pinholes ranging from simple fold up cut-outs and film pots to beautiful Ltd. edition Zero cameras and all of those in between. Here are some of the basic things to remember when making pinhole images.

step 1: Choose Your Camera

I may have too many cameras and too much choice and often find myself with two or three in my bag because they each give a different result.
The Cylindrical Cams, like my homemade ‘cashew nut cam’ and the Pinhole Blender Family created by Chris Peregoy can be used either by exposing as one long negative of multiple blended and exposed shots or as a single shot with a heavy vignette.
Wide Angle/Panoramic multi format, The Holga WPC (wide panoramic camera) 120 and Zero 612 (6 x 12 6 x 9 6 x 7 6 x 6 6 x 4) With these it is important to make a note of the mask you are using, it is easy to get carried away and forget. The panoramas are amazing from these.
Mid Range, the ones I use include, Pinholga; DianaF+ and Operator; matchboxes, P-Sharon, modified and homemade and Instants which can include polaroids and instant backs. I could go on as there is never an end to the range of pinholes you can find or make, from the smallest pine nut shell to whole aircraft hangars!

step 2: Theme

Try to go out with an existing theme in mind, it’s easy to get distracted as it’ so much fun. Do you want emotive, narrative or subjective, will it be a series of images or a single shot.

step 3: Film and Paper

We all have our favourites, I have fave films for different cameras, it depends on the f-stop of the camera, light conditions, what you hope to do, fast film for low light, slow film for building up an image in stages or at least to allow for some visible blur. The slower the film the longer you have to make the image but that also means that you could get camera shake. There are too many varieties of film to describe each but my favourites are expired Velvia 50 or 100 which I love using in the blenders, Kodak T400CN, EBX and Agfa RSXII and Precisa. Experiment, take notes for each shot, not always easy as you get lost in the moment and forget but if you do it will help to refer back to later when processed. Find out the f-stop so that you can get an idea of the timings for 100ASA and then adjust as needed. Remember the latitude of E6 is different and you must factor in reciprocity failure. Cross processing film also makes a big difference to the exposure.
I don’t use paper as often as film, mostly because I prefer to make the images and not worry about carrying changing bags with me, if you use paper you will be getting a negative image unless you use the Harman Direct Positive Paper.

step 4: Tripod, cable release and light meter

These at some point are all nice to have but you can get by without them. If you have no tripod, learn to hold your breath and steady the cam on a surface. This depends if you love blur or not. I have walked with my DianaF+ while exposing the film to get a sense of motion. A lot of the cameras have an option for cable release which means a reduction in camera shake, also very useful for locking long exposures. A light meter is a bonus but I would say that it is not essential, I have for a long time used gut feeling and that is good to develop. Once you know the pinhole specs then you should be able to determine the length of the exposure in certain light conditions. There are a number of online resources to help with this like and

step 5: Viewpoint

The wonderful thing about pinhole is that everything from foreground to background can be in focus, use this to your advantage, unusual angles low to high, get the foreground in. Perspective can be very useful for both drama and deception, get up really close make small things look large, change reality!

Step 6: In Camera Fun, Experimentation

Don’t forget to have fun and don’t get bogged down in the technicalities of pinholing. Try doing multiple exposures and panoramas, make your own cameras from waste objects such as containers and tins or better still, if you are feeling adventurous, make them from scratch. Start with a small matchbox which is the perfect size for 35mm film.

Step 7: Processing your images

I would suggest if you have a local lab then ask them to not cut your negs. When you are first making the images you have no idea if they are overlapping and cutting through your best image would be rather upsetting, mind you this happens even when you have been doing them for a while, best to cut your own negs!

Tipster and all photographs by Ky Lewis


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