If someone is wondering how to make pinhole cameras, they will be happy to find out it is not very difficult, and it makes for a rewarding project. Pinhole cameras reflect the most basic and earliest principles of photography, and are often required projects in intermediate photography classes. Here is a basic technique for the construction of a pinhole camera.
Using simple objects and materials, the construction of a pinhole camera itself is easy to do. One expense will be photographic paper and perhaps some black paint. The other materials used in construction of the camera can be found at home for the most part. Use a home darkroom, or if one if not present, access to a darkroom where the image will be taken will be necessary.
Use an empty oatmeal or coffee cylinder, a shortening can, or a peanut can. Inspect it for any damage, and if there is damage evident, toss it and find something else. Also needed are black duct tape or black electrical tape, black spray paint, heavy-duty aluminum foil, a number 8 or 10 sewing needle, sandpaper, and two pieces of cardboard.
The process, in brief, entails painting the interior of the cylinder and the cap with enough paint to render it lightproof. Two coats of paint will probably do the trick. Next, cut out a one-inch piece of the aluminum foil and tape it between two pieces of cardboard. Using the sewing needle, puncture the foil between the cardboard using a twisting motion to make a clean piercing. This will be the aperture hole.
Make a slightly larger hole in the side of the cylinder with a small drill, making sure there are no rough edges around the hole. Use sandpaper if the edges need smoothing. Place the aluminum foil over the hole in the cylinder so that the holes line up and tape the aluminum foil securely to the inside of the cylinder, making sure again that the holes line up.
Using another piece of electrical tape or black duct tape, place it over the outside of the cylinder over the hole. This will act as a shutter.
To test the apparatus for light leaks, take some photographic paper and insert it into the box. Place some black tape over the seams where the lid is and make sure the tape over the aperture hole is secure. Place the camera outside in sunlight for at least two minutes. Process the paper as if for a photograph, and if there are no foggy or dark areas on the paper, the pinhole camera is lightproof and ready to use.
To take a picture, place photographic paper on the inside of the can on the side opposite the aperture hole. Use tape to secure the paper, and if necessary, trim the edges of the paper so it will fit in the container without being bent. It is crucial that all of this be done in a darkroom under safelight conditions; otherwise, the paper will be exposed by any other light such as that coming from under a door. Secure the camera on a level surface and then lift the black tape over the aperture to expose the film inside. One needs to experiment with exposure times in different light sources to determine the correct time needed. Also the type of paper needed will affect the exposure times. More information can be found by referencing any photography technical reference guide for exposure times for specific papers.