Pinhole Camera Tutorial


Pinhole Camera Tutorial

Pinhole Camera Tutorial

Hello 8ball55 here. Lately I’ve been experimenting a lot with film photography methods and whatnot. My first experiment was with the well known pinhole photography. Pinhole photography is very simple. All film photography uses the same method. Light enters through a small pin sized hole which then shines on to a paper film on the opposing side where the paper film captures the light. Here are the supplies for making a pinhole camera:

  • light proof box (such as a shoebox)
  • soda can
  • scissors
  • black tape
  • sand paper
  • light sensitive photo paper (such as Ilford Multigrade IV)
  • a light proof room (also known as a darkroom)


First step into making your pinhole camera is making the exterior, a simple shoebox will do. Make sure it is completely light proof because the only light we want to go on the light sensitive film is the light from the pinhole. Paint the interior of the camera black so no light reflects on the inside. Next we will make the lens. Get the soda can and cut a small square out of the aluminum can. Then get a needle and with the tip, poke a small hole in the aluminum square. Not too big, the smaller, the more precise the picture will be. But if it is smaller you will need to have the camera sit still longer since it would need to capture more light. Next, you will sand the aluminum square until it’s smooth. Cut a hole in the light proof box for the aluminum pinhole lens and tape it on there using electrical tape. Next we will want to create a shutter flap so that we can open it when we want to take a picture. Cover the lens hole using electrical tape so no light can get through. Time to load the camera with paper film. Go into a completely dark proof room, or a darkroom if you have one. In the dark, or using a special darkroom safe light, get your light sensitive photo paper and cut it to fit in the side of the camera. Now tape the light sensitive photo paper on the opposite side of the  pinhole lens on the inside of the camera. Make sure the light sensitive side is facing the lens. Close the box and make sure it’s sealed shut with no light leaks.


Now you are done with the camera and it is time to take a picture. To take a picture go out to a place of your desiring and open the camera lens flap and wait. Exposure time depends mostly on the paper’s speed, surroundings, pinhole size, and focal length. However there are charts and calculators online to help with that. I usually experiment with different types of papers and set different exposure times to see which one works the best. Generally on a sunny day outside you should have them out for about 1-2 minutes. However, like I said it depends. Now close the flap and it’s time to develop the photo.



The tools required for developing can be bought online, however there are DIY methods which are found such as mint tea and caffeine and Vitamin C. There are 3 main parts to developing:

  • Developer
  • Stop Bath
  • Fixer


Developer is used to convert the photo crystals to an image. Usually a negative in this case.

Stop Bath is used to halt the photo sensitive crystals from further continuing to capture light, usually water will just do. Just wash off the crystals which haven’t been developed.

Fixer is used to rapidly remove the left over photo sensitive crystals so that once your image appears, it won’t go bad because the left over photo sensitive particles would fog out the image.


Usually you buy these chemicals online or in a darkroom supply store. But we are going to be showing you how to make your own developer, stop bath, and fixer using home methods. I can’t guarantee these would work 100%, I am not responsible for  any defection that happens. Just to let you know in case you didn’t know, I wouldn’t recommend using any important photos to develop using this method.


Developer supplies:

  • Fresh ground, or instant coffee (NOT DECAF)
  • Vitamin C powder (much like Emergen-C)
  • Washing soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
  • Water


Pour 22g of coffee into 500ml of water. Add 10g of vitamin C powder to the solution. Then in a separate of 500ml, pour 32g teaspoons of washing soda and mix. Mix both of the two solutions and you have your developer.


Stop Bath:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Water

Pour 5ml of lemon juice into 200ml of water



  • Salt
  • Water

Alright so this one is kind of iffy, because I heard this might or might not work. However most people had success with using a ton of salt into water as a fixer. Usually you need to leave the paper in for 2 days. You might be better off just buy the fixer chemical. But if you want to be completely DIY, I can’t blame you. So here it is:


Pour 300g of salt into 1L of water. It doesn’t matter what kind of salt. You will need A LOT of salt, A LOT of mixing, and A LOT of waiting. The max solubility of salt is ~360g/L so this is going to take a while to dissolve


Darkroom Developing:


Now that you have made your solutions, get 3 trays for each solution and place each solution in each one.

First, Develop the paper by placing the paper in the developing tray. Developing times depend on the film type. Usually the package the paper film came in has a chart of times, but generally it’s 1-2 minutes. No more than 5. But I could be wrong, so as I say before DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT!

You should stop once you see an image start to appear on the photo paper.

Next, Stop Bath. Place the paper inside the stop bath after you developed. Let it stay for about 30 seconds to a minute.

Next, Fixer. I would put the salt water fixer in a Jar and place the paper inside a jar if you don’t have a permanent darkroom and doing this whole thing inside a completely dark closet or bathroom like I did. Place the paper inside the salt water fixer jar and let is stay there for about 2 days. After 2 days everything should be good and now you have you negative image.

Scanning and reversing Negative image.

Since paper film is in most cases developed into a negative image, you need to scan the image and upload it onto a computer with photoshop. Using photoshop reverse the image and do some color adjustments and you should get a photo in Black and White, or color depending on the paper type. Mine looked like this after I developed it in the school darkroom using darkroom supplies and chemicals:

Have fun!


  1. Now I know who the brainy one is, I’ll keep looking for your posts.

    • 8ball55

      Hey Gerry,

      Thank you, we appreciate your interest in this subject. If you are interested in more projects you can check out the portfolio page. It’s got a lot of cool projects.

  2. Very neat article post.Thanks Again.

  3. Wow! Thank you! I constantly needed to write on my blog something like that. Can I take a part of your post to my site?

    • 8ball55

      Hello Suba,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. You may take a part and post it if you’d like. Thanks for letting me know.

      • Great! You have brought up a very fantastic details , regards for the post.

  4. I like it 😀


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